Do you have the right sourdough bread making tools to easily bake sourdough at home? You shouldn’t have to invest too much money on equipment when you’re starting out. Some creative substitutions can probably be found in your kitchen already.
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Having the right sourdough bread making supplies makes all the difference when you’re handling dough.
Obviously, you can dive quite deep into sourdough baking (as with any hobby) and end up spending a lot, but you really don’t need much to get started.
Let’s go over some essential sourdough bread making tools, and then some that are nice to have if you’ll be baking frequently and continuing to improve your skills as a baker.
I also recommend you visit the post, Sourdough Baking Terms for Beginners if you’re new to sourdough baking.
Necessary Sourdough Bread Making Tools
Supplies for Sourdough Starter
Container for Sourdough Starter – You can really use any lidded glass or plastic container with straight walls to store your starter–even a plastic food storage container.
Your container just needs to be big enough that your starter has room to expand to more than double after a feeding. It should also have a large enough opening to add flour and water and take out starter. It should be easy to clean.
I currently love using a glass Weck jar. It looks lovely and functions well. I can also leave the gasket off after feeding my starter to give it some breathing room while it’s still covered with the glass lid.
A 26-ounce (or 3/4 liter) weck jar is an ideal size if you want to go this route. Sometimes it’s nice to also have a second smaller jar to prepare the levain (an offshoot of the mother starter) for a recipe that calls for one.
Equipment for Mixing and Fermenting Dough
Digital Kitchen Scale – Many sourdough recipes (including recipes on my blog) list ingredients in gram weights instead of volume. This is for accuracy since every person measures differently. A bread recipe can be thrown off quickly by small discrepancies in the amounts of flour and water.
If weighing ingredients feels intimidating at first, I promise you’ll get used to it quickly. Simply tare the scale to zero after each addition. You’ll get to keep your measuring cups clean!
Large Bowl with a Cover – You’ll need a bowl for mixing and fermenting dough. It needs to be big enough for your dough to more than double in size.
I usually grab my large lidded glass bowl from this set because the lid is convenient to prop on to keep the dough from drying out.
You can really use any large mixing bowl you have as long as you keep your dough covered with plastic wrap, a reusable bowl cover (or clear plastic shower cap), or a damp flour sack towel.
Supplies for Handling Dough
Bench Scraper – Bench scrapers (or dough scrapers) function as an extension of your hand when handling sticky dough. They can also be used to clean your work surface, divide dough, and gently coax dough from a bowl.
Bread Lame – A lame (pronounced “lahm”) is a tool used for scoring dough. It’s superior to a kitchen knife because it will slice through dough without deflating it.
Dampen the lame with water to help it slide through easily, hold at a 45° angle, and slash with confidence.
The handle and curve of the razor on a lame are nice, but you can get away with a plain razor blade in a pinch.
Proofing basket – a banneton is a cane basket used to hold a loaf while it proofs, helping the loaf to keep its shape. Bannetons usually come with muslin liners, but can also be used without a liner or with a tea towel instead.
For a proofing basket substitute, use a similar-size bowl or colander. Simply line it with a clean flour sack towel, dust the towel with rice flour, and you’re ready to place your shaped loaf inside.
Rice Flour – Grab a small bag of rice flour (your grocery store probably has this in stock) to use to dust your proofing baskets. It works wonderfully to prevent any sticking after a long proof, unlike wheat flour which becomes stodgy and sticky. You’ll thank me later!
An equal mix of rice flour and white flour should work fine for dusting as well.
Since it takes me a while to go through a bag, I store it in the freezer to extend its shelf life.
Small Fine-Mesh Strainer – A little strainer will allow you to dust your counter, proofing basket, and loaf with a light, even layer of flour. You could also use a dredge shaker for the same purpose.
Pastry Brush – You’ll want to have a pastry brush on hand to apply an egg wash to dough or melted butter to the outer crust of a baked loaf. I prefer a wooden brush with boar bristles for a nice even coating.
Bread Baking Tools
Parchment Paper – Parchment paper comes in very handy to transfer a loaf into a Dutch oven or to line a baking pan to prevent sticking. It won’t ignite even in high temperatures.
This brand in the 12″x16″ size is my favorite. It’s precut to fit a half-sheet pan, which is so convenient.
Lidded Cooker – An oven-safe covered pot like a 6-quart Dutch oven can be used for baking loaves at high temperatures. It transfers heat to dough quickly and traps steam to help the dough to rise to its full potential before the crust sets.
There are ways create steam in the oven without using a lidded cooker, but this is the easiest way for a beginner. Plus, it’s such a versatile pot to keep in the kitchen for cooking.
Baking Steel – If you’re wanting to bake sourdough pizza or flatbread often, you’ll want to have a baking steel. It transfers heat to the bottom of a pizza quickly to promote oven spring and a crisp bottom crust.
Baking Pans – The baking pans I use the most are my two half-sheet pans (for sourdough soft pretzels, buns, croissants, etc.), 8×8 and 13×9-inch baking pans (for rolls), and 1-pound loaf pans (for sandwich loaves and cinnamon raisin bread).
I generally choose Nordic Ware or USA brand pans. They have a light-colored coating which keeps my crusts from over-browning. I usually line my pans with parchment paper prior to baking.
Serrated Bread Knife – Use a bread knife and a gentle sawing motion to slice bread for serving once it has cooled. The serrated blade won’t smash the bread in the process.
Cooling Rack – Every baker should have a cooling rack in their kitchen to allow baked goods to cool without getting stodgy on the bottom from trapped steam.
I like buying commercial quality cooling racks so they last a long time.
Nice-to-Have Sourdough Bread Making Tools
Danish Dough Whisk – This is a flat whisk with layered coils and a thick handle designed to easily mix dough without too much resistance. If you don’t have one of these, you can mix dough ingredients with a clean hand.
A mixer is especially nice for large batches of bread to freeze or dough that requires a lot of kneading time such as brioche.
You might go with a smaller mixer if you aren’t going to be making large batches at once. But if you can’t afford a mixer right now, you can truly knead any dough by hand.
Instant-Read Thermometer – Some bread bakers would consider an instant-read thermometer a must-have. Use one to check dough temperature during bulk fermentation for consistency, or to determine if a loaf is baked through.
Ambient thermometer – This can be used to check the temperature in the room where you will be fermenting your dough or leaving your starter to ripen. This is another tool for reaching greater consistency in bread baking.
Folding Proofer – A proofer box like this is the way to achieve the most control over the temperature of your dough. If you’re serious about sourdough baking at a higher level, this might be for you.
There are other creative ways to keep your dough warm if your house is chilly, though. My favorite way is to put my dough in a turned-off oven with the oven light on.
I hope you now have a greater understanding about which sourdough bread baking tools you will want to have in your kitchen.