What Mixing Bowls or Tubs?

Cambro round tub

I went to a local restaurant supply store and bought round, see-through Cambro tubs (3) with lids in 12 quarts, 6 quarts, and 4 quarts sizes. I found them to be very handy, more than the common metal mixing or serving bowls I had in my pantry.

In any case, I prefer round mixing vessels over squares or rectangles, as there are fewer corners to attract and keep flour or dry dough.

Obviously, medium to large mixing bowls are perhaps good enough for incorporating and mixing ingredients, as many YouTube videos on breadmaking show. Does one need a stand mixer? Nope, unless one perhaps aspires to become a commercial cottage baker.

What Stand Mixer?

NutriMill Artiste Stand Mixer
NutriMill’s Artiste dough mixer

Is a stand mixer essential for a small-time cottage baker? Perhaps. I mixed dough once or twice weekly by hand for over five months in a 12-quart Cambro tub with a Danish dough whisk (see below). A large metal mixing bowl could have done as well as the plastic tub.

Alas, a NutriMill Artiste dough mixer sale caught my attention as all that manual mixing started to become a bit strenuous. I am just not 28 anymore.

Using a good stand mixer seems to mix the ingredients much better than my manual efforts, although I lost an exercise here. However, my shoulders told me that they appreciated the purchase.

The Artiste is quite a good little beast. After only 6 minutes of mixing some ~1800g of whole wheat sourdough with 80% hydration, the dough looks and feels supple, and a nice windowpane holds as well. But no, the mixer does not make coffee.

What Cast-Iron Dutch Oven?

Victoria 4-quart oven

I started by purchasing one Victoria 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven at around $45 on Amazon. Glad I did. It is not the most expensive Dutch oven out there; rather, it is an inexpensive cast-iron pot that seems to do the baking job perfectly well.

With only one Dutch oven at hand, I could only bake one loaf at a time. However, the kitchen oven is large enough to hold two 4-quart pots on the middle rack.

So, I got myself another Dutch oven. There are now two of them baking loaves of bread next to each other in the kitchen oven. That is a bit more efficient than baking one loaf after another with only one Dutch oven.

Cuisiland bread oven

Eventually, however, I was told by my family that bread shaped as a round is not as convenient to slice as bread shaped as an oblong. This is the battle of Boule versus Batard, really. What can I say? The customer is always right.

It is not possible to bake elongated batards in a round pot fit for boules. So, I emptied my wallet for two additional cast iron ovens from Cuisiland; each shaped more like a rectangle. The nice thing about them is that I can also use them to bake two short baguettes in each.

What Scale?

OXO scale

A scale that can measure in grams is essential for baking bread. I do not eyeball the amounts prescribed by a bread-baking recipe as even slight variations in weight make surprising differences. A dough too wet is a pain to work with.

This OXO scale is nice in that the display can be pulled out so as not to be covered and rendered unreadable by a large tub. However, the capacity of this scale is only up to 5 lb or 2.25 kg. A heavy tub with all the ingredients for two or more loaves might actually outdo this scale.

I kind of have come to measure the weight of water and flour in a separate bowl without taring.

What Mittens?

Long Silicon Mittens

Well, I had regular mitts for handling hot pots and pans already, but they were on the short side − meaning, they did not cover my arms. Reaching into a 500°F hot kitchen oven to remove or place a heavy Dutch oven is better not taken too lightly.

So, I spent my money on purchasing extra long silicon mittens so as not to get myself into trouble. So far, so good.

Even the bread is hot when it must be removed from the oven to cool for an hour or two.

What Bannetons?

baking equipment
Whisk, Lame, Bannetons

I did not know what bannetons were before starting this baking hobby. They are little proofing baskets to hold the shaped dough overnight in the fridge. I bought 9-inch round baskets (2), as well as a Danish dough whisk, a dough scraper, and a bread lame.

I already had a good bread knife and some spatulas, measuring cups, linen towels, parchment paper, bowl and bench scrapers, and smaller jars with lids.

All these come in handy for baking sourdough bread. I mean, think at Rembrandt. He had many brushes and then some to work with.

What Parchment Paper?

parchment paper
Pre-formed parchment paper for round pots.

I use quality parchment paper − compostable, unbleached and chlorine-free, to transfer the proofed dough from bannetons into Dutch ovens. I recommended avoiding waxed or greaseproof paper as it can stick to loaves after the bake.

That happened to me once, and getting rid of the baked-on parchment paper was no fun.

Using parchment paper under the dough in the Dutch oven also helps a little with preventing the bottom of the loaf to accidentally burn and stick to the cast iron.

That happened to me once as well, and prying the baked loaf out of the pot was no fun.

Most parchment paper comes in rolls and one cuts pieces off by hand on the serrated edge. Thay works just fine. Lazy as I am, I prefer to use precut rounds for baking boules and precut rectangles for baking oblongs.

What Silicone Spatulas and Scrapers?

Silicon Spatulas

Preferably multiple tools to stir and scrape, and stir and scrape some more. Silicone spatulas are a must. Most folks, perhaps, already have some of various sizes in their kitchens.

Btw, I use extra long chopsticks for stirring the starter after feeding. Some people even use the long handle of long, wooden cooking spoons, which are typically a bit thicker than chopsticks.

There seems to be never just one way of doing things.

What Work Surface?

Silicon Mat

So, I bought a large 24′ x 18′ cutting board to help shape the dough. But it slid on the table.

Some folks may have a large enough counter space in their kitchen. My granite counter surface is a bit small, and the tall kitchen table is probably not food-safe.

So, I bought an even larger 36″ x 24″ silicon baking mat. This thing works wonders: cheap, no sliding, and it rolls up for easy storage.

What Lame?

Lame with Razor Blade

A lame is a kind of scoring device. A razor blade on a stick, if you will. It works well to score the proofed dough before it goes into the oven and helps to pinpoint in what pattern the crust will break open.

A very sharp knife will do as well. I sometimes use a small boxcutter knife to do a quick slash.

It depends on the bread style as well. When I want an actual lip on a batard, I need to cut deeper and from end to end at an angle. It is like ‘what paint brush did Picasso use here or there?’

What Scouring Pads?

Scouring Pads

Wet flour is sticky, and it will dry and adhere like crazy to bowls and pans and jars and spatulas, etc. Understandably, baking recipe books and videos usually ignore instructions regarding cleanup. I always wonder how these big, commercial bakeries manage to clean up their shops and their massive dough-mixing equipment.

Having said that, heavy-duty scouring pads are a necessity for a baker.

What Bottle Brush?

Silicon Bottle Brushes

I use a variety of bottle brushes. Some are large, the kind a mother may use for her child’s milk bottles. Some of my bottle brushes have hard bristles, and other soft bristles. I also use small brushes to clean out little nooks and crannies of my Artiste dough mixer. Some people even use toothbrushes to clean cooking and baking equipment.

The sooner the utensils are cleaned, the easier cleanup is. Caked-on dough is hard to remove, so don’t procrastinate with cleanup.

What Bread Knife?

Slicing guides are helpful.

As the baker, I assume you will also eat your own bread. You will need a bread knife. Good bread knives are serrated, thick, and long. Your average 8″ or 9″ chef knife is not cutting crusty, artisan whole wheat sourdough bread.

I use a 10-inch serrated bread knife, and these knives are darn sharp. I wield the bread knife carefully, like holding a short sword.

One day, I may splurge and add a simple slicing guide to my kitchen table. My spouse would probably appreciate it more than me as she inadvertently had cut herself once with the bread knife.

Do I save money by baking my own bread?

bake #4
Whole Wheat Sourdough Bake #4

Probably not. The equipment costs money, the flour costs money, the oven’s energy costs money, my time costs money, and so on. I will have to bake and eat my own bread for many years to break even. Now, if you have a large family to feed and/or live far out in the countryside, baking your own bread might be more of a necessity than a hobby.

But a hobby is not about breaking even or making a profit or not spending any money. This hobby is about quality time, satisfaction, nutrition, and all these fleeting things.

Some years ago, I rode my 700cc Honda motorcycle up and down the West Coast between San Francisco in the north and Santa Cruz to the south. It was about quality time and satisfaction and all these ephemeral things. It did not make any money, either.

Life is a hobby, and I make the best of it…

I might earn a tiny percentage from your purchase via referral links on this equipment page − at no additional cost to you.


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