This page features recommended equipment for the amateur home baker. While not every item on the list is absolutely necessary (some are just nice to have and can be accumulated over time), a few are necessary for the artisan-style bread that we’re looking for. Check out the Books page for some suggestions on a little light reading.
The dutch oven is what is going to give you that beautifully crusty exterior. Depending on which recipes you are following, certain recommendations may also include the combo cooker. I have not personally tried the combo cooker (limited shelf space… le sigh), but it appears to offer easy accessibility when dropping the loaf in for baking which I struggle with at times on the higher-walled dutch oven.
Depending on your recipe, you may use a banneton style proofing basket (as above) or a batard style proofing basket for a more Tartine-style loaf of bread. When I was starting out, I attempted to proof in a simple kitchen container and got frustrated to no end. The proofing basket helps this immeasurably. I personally prefer a linen liner as I’ve had some frustrations in working with unlined or simply dropping in a towel.
The digital scale is an absolute must in bread baking with a certain science-level of precision required. If you don’t already own one for other baking or cooking in general, this will change your cooking all around.
Again, with the precision required in baking, having precise control over the temperature of water going into your baking can make all the difference in the world. In my early baking, I often ignored the final dough temperature and as such was unaware if I was reaching an optimal level for bulk fermentation. While the Thermapen no doubt takes the cake on the digital thermometer front, for my fellow Canadians this is not the most frugal of options.
When working with high hydration doughs, a bench knife (or bench scraper) is very handy in manipulating the dough. As I found a little late in my bread baking, the bench knife is also very useful in creating tension in the dough when shaping.
Nice to haves
If it is easy to maintain temperature in your kitchen, then this may not be necessary for you. Personally, the heating in my apartment is not great so I’ve had a hard time monitoring temperature during bulk ferment without one. Not to mention it is nice to confirm the temperature of your fridge for proofing.
With the seriously crusty loaves that we’re looking for, having a good bread knife can be helpful for getting a good slice. This does not have to be anything fancy. Local restaurant supply stores are a great source for cheap, quality knives in fact.