When starting your sourdough journey, there are a few tools that are essential in sourdough bread baking to get the perfect loaf!
When starting on your sourdough journey, it might seem a little overwhelming. Once you get started, you'll be making sourdough cinnamon raisin bread or cheddar jalapeno sourdough bread in no time at all!
Don't overthink sourdough though. Even though these are tools that will make your life a little easier, as long as you have flour, water, sourdough starter, and a bowl, you can make a delicious loaf of bread right in your own kitchen. These tools will make your life just a little bit easier! This sourdough glossary is helpful too to explain the different sourdough terms that are often used in your baking journey.
Must Have Sourdough Tools
Sourdough starter. Sourdough starter is essential in sourdough baking. You can make your own sourdough starter, buy one, or get one from a friend. When you first have your sourdough starter, it can be a little intimidating. Understanding how to keep a sourdough starter to important when tackling the fun and satisfying adventures of sourdough baking! You can either make your own sourdough starter, or you can get one from a friend. I got mine from a friend about 5 years ago, but making your own is a great choice too!
Flour. Bread flour is often used in sourdough recipes, but you can also use all purpose flour. To know the difference when baking, this post all about bread flour vs all purpose flour will come in so handy! Bread flour gives the sourdough bread it's chewy texture.
Dutch Oven. A Dutch oven is essential in baking sourdough bread. The sealed environment created by the Dutch oven promotes excellent oven spring which is the rapid rise of the dough during the early stages of baking. This contributes to a well-aerated and open crumb structure in your sourdough bread.
Bench Scraper. A bench scraper makes it really easy to move the bread dough from the counter or bench, to the parchment paper. Bread dough can often be quite sticky, so a bench scraper makes it quick and easy to move the dough without compromising the structure of the dough.
Parchment Paper. Parchment paper will make sure that the bread does not stick to the Dutch oven, but it will also make it easy to lift the bread out of the very hot Dutch oven. A silicone mat will work too if you have one on hand.
Bread knife. A good quality bread knife will make sure that you get crisp, even slices of bread. When cutting bread, make sure to use a serrated knife, a chef's knife or a paring knife won't work well to cut sourdough bread.
Tools That Are Handy in Sourdough Baking
Banneton. I'm adding this to the tools that are handy because it is handy to have a specific basket for just sourdough baking. If you don't have a banneton, don't worry! You can use a large bowl lined with kitchen towels. I've done that so many times and it has worked every time.
Bread Lame. A bread lame makes it really easy to score the bread dough before you bake it. Make sure that the razor is nice and sharp to get a deep, quick slice in the top of the bread. If you don't have a bread lame, you can use a really sharp knife too.
Glass containers. When you are refreshing your sourdough starter, it's nice to have glass containers to see how much your starter has grown. You want to make sure that your sourdough starter grows at least double before using it to bake. Any type of plastic or glass jar would work though for keeping your sourdough starter. I often use mason jars when I'm in a pinch.
Tools That Are Nice To Have But Not Essential
Dough Whisk. A dough whisk is good to have, but it's not 100% necessary. A fork or your hands will work to incorporate the dough properly in the bowl.
Stand Mixer. While a lot of recipes don't need a stand mixer, some do. A stand mixer makes the tedious task of kneading the bread fast and simple. Sourdough bagels use a stand mixer because that dough is very stiff and can be tough to mix by hand.
Why Do I Need To Use A Dutch Oven In Sourdough Baking?
The Dutch oven creates a sealed, steamy environment during the initial stages of baking. This trapped steam is crucial for achieving a crispy crust on the sourdough bread. The moisture from the steam helps delay the setting of the crust, allowing the dough to expand and rise properly.
The cast iron or ceramic material of a Dutch oven provides even heat distribution. This helps in uniform baking and browning of the bread, ensuring that the entire loaf cooks evenly. Consistent heat is essential for achieving the desired texture and flavor in sourdough bread.
If you don't have a Dutch oven, just make sure you have an oven safe pot that has an oven safe lid.
Do I Need A Bread Thermometer When Baking Sourdough Bread?
You don't need a bread thermometer, I've never used one. Bakers like to use it to make sure the bread comes up to 190-200 degrees F.
Underdone bread can be doughy and very unpleasant, so to make sure you always have bread that is done properly, a bread thermometer can be helpful.
Here are a few ways to make sure your bread is done properly without a bread thermometer:
- The crust of the sourdough bread should be a deep golden brown.
- Check for a hollow sound. When you knock on the underside of the bread, it should sound hollow. That means there's lots of air and a nice open crumb in the bread.
- The bread should come away from the sides of the pan. When you put it in a Dutch oven or a loaf pan, the sides will start to shrink slightly and come away from the sides of the pan.
- Don't cut the bread immediately. There's a lot of carry over baking when making bread. It's important to let your bread cool before cutting it to make sure the crumb isn't gummy and sets properly.