Must Haves for a New Home Baker

(BakedWithBridget) #1

Hello friends!

My name is Bridget and while I’ve dabbled with baking bread in the past, I’m excited to get serious about it in the new year! I would love to hear your suggestions as to what the must haves in my kitchen are as I embark on getting my starter going and really hone in on more specific home baking techniques.

What do I absolutely need at my fingertips to be a successful bread maker at home?
What are your personal pro tips for home baking?
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting to hone their bread making techniques?

I can’t wait to learn from you all and collaborate on future bakes :slight_smile: Happy New Year and Happy Baking!

Novice baker has questions RE "No-knead" bread and getting properly aerated bread:
(Melissa) #2

I’ve baked on vacation in other people’s kitchens and find at bare minimum, you need:

Med/large bowl or Tupperware
Cover/plastic wrap
Metal spatula or chef’s knife…bench knife is ideal…to divide dough if you’re making more than one loaf
Flex spatula…plastic dough scraper is ideal… to get all the dough out of the bowl
Smaller bowl or colander with tea towel for proofing
Dutch oven or clay baker (I’ve even used the ceramic inner part of a slow cooker with aluminum foil as a lid) OR pizza stone (but it’s hard especially for a beginner to get a good crust in an open oven) OR make the bread in a loaf pan and don’t aim for “artisan” style crust
Decent oven mitts (500 F is no joke)

(bengoshi) #3

Lodge Combo Cooker — easiest cast iron baker for oven (skillet side down)
A banneton (or two!) a must for shaping and final proof
The plastic shower cap type bags to cover the banneton
Cambro 12 qt round container and lid (to mix dough Forkish method)
A lame
Dough whisk
Extra credit dream item: Komo Grain Mill (cant live without mine)

As to tips:
*get a sourdough starter going and keep it alive, it’s worth the effort
*Start with the no knead recipe on home page or NY Times, then buy Ken Forkish book and go the stretch and fold method in a Cambro bucket, genius
*Retard bread dough overnight in fridge after placing in banneton, makes life easier
*Use parchment paper method to lift dough into the hot pot, safer and foolproof, better than the death defying sloppy drop

(BakedWithBridget) #4

Thanks so much, Melissa! I’m excited to get started :slight_smile: Happy Baking!

(BakedWithBridget) #5

Thanks so much for the tips! Love the Mark Bittman no knead recipe - a classic :slight_smile: Fingers crossed on the first hot drop, will definitely have parchment paper on hand!

(easummers) #6

I’m late to this party, but this is one of my favorite types of questions! My first thought after reading your question was: mixing bowl, wooden spoon, covered baker (cast iron dutch oven or the combo baker is inexpensive and very effective).

Then I saw Melissa and bengoshi’s lists. My 2 cents based on my experience, start slow with “stuff”. For example, I have tried the Danish dough whisk twice and prefer a wooden spoon along with a silicone spatula to scrape bow and spoon. Bread bakers swear by the whisk, it just doesn’t work for me :slight_smile:

I do think a bench knife and a silicone bowl scraper and the shower cap type reusable bag covers are great and no matter what you will use those.

Kitchen scale!!! If you are not weighing for baking, this is the time to start. Even though accuracy is not as crucial with these bread recipes, it helps as you are learning and experimenting to measure by weight. AND, when you get to playing with different flours, if a recipe says 300 grams of ap white and you want to try some whole grain in there, if you keep your total to 300 grams, you will generally be fine with a substitution.

I didn’t have a banneton until recently and only because I bought a clay oblong baker and wanted an oblong something for shaping. Prior, I used a mixing bowl or often a foil bread pan stretched into an oval. ( I got the clay baker as I liked the shape for me vs a big round).

Tips: start slow with something like the no knead on this site. And white flour. And instant yeast. Get comfortable with handling the wet dough and rising/baking times. AND what you like. Experiment with some flour substitutions in that basic recipe. Commercial yeast will take one variable out of the process. When you are comfortable with the doughs and the process, try sourdough. I made my starter from flour and water and time per an article on thekitchn before I found Breadtopia. I still feed and maintain per that article, 3 years later.

Still - as you have time, read the thread(s) here about starters …. lots of different thoughts and experiences and you can choose what seems best for your situation. FWIW, I live in Northwest Montana, cool house (62-66F), low humidity. My flour-water starter does great.

There are so many great videos and recipe tutorials on this site. As you gain experience and confidence, so many things to try. But I encourage a simple start in both tools and recipes.

My best tip: Have fun!!!

(easummers) #7

My tools of choice:

Bowl scraper, bench knife, rubber/silicone spatula, wooden spoon :slight_smile:

Cold house helper:

That little lamp sends some ambient heat to: ciabatta starter, muffuletta dough, sourdough starter. My oven with the light on gets to 90F which is a bit too warm. BUT, I saw another commenter on another thread talk about putting a bowl of water in the oven and the light on and I thought - that’s great for very low humidity and cool temps. Just check temp if you use the oven.

(Melissa) #8

I love the dough and lamp setup. It looks so cozy!

My weirdest dough warming recently was sticking the bowl in my still hot but just emptied dishwasher :joy: