There is a lot of equipment out there aimed at the at-home sourdough baker. In my experience, most of it is non-essential and will just fill up your cupboards. There are however, a few things that really will help you with your baking. In my opinion, these few items will make your baking life so much easier.
- Digital scales
Baking is part science. It doesn’t lend itself to guesswork. If you are used to guessing, or using cups to measure, you’ll find it more difficult to get consistent results. The remedy is to invest in a set of digital scales.
Digital scales that can go up to the larger measurements of 2kg+ very often have difficulty measuring small weights with accuracy. For this reason I have two sets of scales. One measures 1g-5kg and is accurate to the gram. The other is accurate to the 0.05g. I use the larger one to measure flour and the smaller one to measure salt and other less volumous ingredients.
- Digital thermometer
I initially hesitated when getting this, but it is now an absolutely essential piece of my baking equipment. I use it to check whether every loaf I’m baking is done and I often check the internal temperature of my starter and my proofing dough with it.
- Bowls, bowls, bowls
I very rarely make one loaf at a time. It is very frustrating to be ready to mix up a dough and find all your bowls already in use. Make sure you have enough. Pottery bowls are very beautiful, but I find light stainless steel bowls that don’t add to the weight of an already heavy dough better.
- Glass jars
Being able to see the activity in your starter through the side of a glass jar will help you greatly – especially if you are a newbie and still learning about the other cues that will let you know when your starter is ready to use.
- Loaf tins
If you plan on making high hydration loaves, it is useful to have loaf tins (or dutch ovens) to bake them in. These will give support and stop your loaves flattening. Even if your aim is to make perfect boules, any mishaps along the way can be saved by baking in a tin.
- Proofing set-up
Unless you keep your house heated/air-conditioned to the same temperature throughout the year, having a portable set-up that you can use to keep your starter/bread at the best temperature is extremely helpful. This set-up also helps when you want to be the one who is in charge of your baking schedule – making sure that you don’t need to get up at 3am!
DIY proofing boxes can range from a simple light-bulb inside a polystyrene box through to a circuit with a heating element and a thermostat. Here’s my article on how to make a thermostat-controlled DIY proofing box.