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12 Must-Have Bread Making Tools to Take Your Baking to the Next Level

These are the tools that'll help you take your loaf from good to great.

Perhaps, like many, many other people, you have used some of your quarantine cooking time to learn how to bake your own bread. If so, then you've no doubt learned that bread-making is one of the most worthwhile foods you can cook on your own. Homemade bread is simple to make, has just a few ingredients, and tastes far, far better than the stuff you typically find on grocery store shelves. Plus, it lets you make so many other things—such as homemade breadcrumbs (great on crispy broccoli) or croutons for your soup.

Now, perhaps, you're ready to up your game. Perhaps you've been using a no-knead bread recipe, and wondering if doing a little more work could yield even better results. Or maybe a neighbor or friend loaned you some starter, and you've starting finding some of the online communities devoted to making sourdough. If that's the case, then you're probably ready to invest a little more in getting the right tools to make bread. But what should you buy? And what do you really need?

While there is no end to the bread-baking tools that are for sale, we're going to break down which ones are most essential, what they're for, and how to use them—plus recommend a high-quality version, and occasionally what you can use instead, if you just don't want to invest. We're also including a couple of our favorite books, which are just as important!

Like with most cooking, the best way to get truly good results is with time, attention, and the willingness to experiment and make mistakes. So no matter what you have on hand, keep baking! You'll be making incredible bread in no time.

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1 New World Sourdough
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$27.99
$17.99 (36% off)

If you're going to make good bread, you'll want clear, easy-to-follow, trustworthy instructions. And this slim volume by New Orleans baker Bryan Ford has just that. Starting with a simple "pan rustico" country bread, Ford's book includes dozens of delicious, easy recipes for everything from Challah and English muffins to plantain sourdough and NOLA-style French bread.

2 A Baker's Year
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$25.99
$19.59 (25% off)

Part cookbook, part memoir, this account of a year at North Carolina's Smoke Signals wood-fired bakery will inspire you to keep baking as much as it will show you how to make a great loaf.

3 Food Scale
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$29.99

A cup of flour can weigh very different amounts depending on how densely it's packed. And because even small differences in the ratio of flour to water will change a bread dough significantly, the best way to assure consistency is with a scale. Luckily, they're not expensive. We like this one as it can handle weights up to 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds—which is a lot of dough), and has a pull-out face, so you can read it even under a big bowl.

4 Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$56.99

A set of sturdy but inexpensive mixing bowls will come in very handy. Depending on the size of the recipe, and how many loaves it yields, you'll want anything from a medium to large size bowl to hold all the ingredients, and allow for both mixing and rising.

5 Stainless Steel Pastry Scraper/Bench Scraper
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$24.99
$11.97 (52% off)

You might be surprised how often these inexpensive items end up coming in handy. The bowl scraper is ideal for helping get all the flour in the bowl into the dough, and also for getting all of the dough out of the bowl when forming a loaf—especially when working with sticky dough. And the bench scraper is perfect for helping clean up a cutting board or counter that's been dusted generously with flour, for kneading.

6 Kitchen Towels
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$19.99

One of the things you want, when letting dough proof, is to keep it covered just enough that the outside doesn't dry out, while still letting air in and out. Nothing works better for this than a clean cotton towel. Bonus: If don't eat your bread all at once, you can keep it on a cutting board covered with the same towel for a day or two, and it'll keep the loaf from drying out too quickly.

7 Banneton Proofing Baskets
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$27.45
$19.95 (27% off)

These are not, strictly speaking, necessary—you can let dough proof in a steel mixing bowl lined with a towel. However, proofing baskets will give your bread a nice shape, allow a slightly better exchange of air while the dough proofs, and baskets come in different shapes, making it easier to make a boule, or a loaf, depending.

8 Bread Lame
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$15.95
$9.95 (38% off)

This is also not strictly speaking necessary, but a bread lame (pronounced "lahm"), used for making slices in the top of the bread just before baking, will help the loaves spring up to their best size, and helps you get that rustic sourdough look. If you don't have or want to get a lame, just use the sharpest knife you have. 

9 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven Set
Courtesy Amazon
Bruntmor amazon.com

Though you can bake bread on a pizza stone, or even directly on a tray in an oven, a covered oven-proof pot helps a lot. That's because it lets you traps moisture during the crucial early rise-time, and then open the lid and release the moisture in order to get a nice crispy crust. This pot lets you cook with it upside down, making it much easier to get the bread out when you're done.

10 Upgrade: The Challenger Bread Pan
Courtesy Challenger Breadware
Challenger Breadware
$295.00

While this is definitely pricier than a standard Dutch oven, it's designed specifically for bread-making and has a few features that you might find worth it. Namely, it's shaped to make it easier to make a variety of bread loaves, makes getting the bread in and out simple, and has handles for convenient lid removal. (Which is important: Those things get hot!)

11 Silicone Oven Mitts
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$19.97
$13.97 (30% off)

Speaking of hot, you definitely want something to protect your hands while moving things in or out of the oven. These gloves will ensure that you don't end up with nasty burns — and their sticky exterior helps cut down on dropping pans or loaves as well. Pair it with an instant-read thermometer, and you'll be able to safely pull out a loaf right when it's ready.

12 Cooling Rack
Courtesy Amazon
amazon.com
$14.99

To let bread properly cool, without moisture gathering underneath it, you'll want to give room for air to circulate. This rack is sturdy and large enough to hold a couple medium-sized loaves.

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