With the coronavirus pandemic forcing us to stay at home, many of us have taken that extra time to learn a new skill. And what’s quite apparent is that many, many people are all tackling the very same skill: learning how to bake bread.
Related Reading: An Easy Overnight Sourdough Bread You Can Actually Master
Once you’ve gotten a handful of essential supplies—bread flour, yeast or sourdough starter, and mixing bowls—you may be wondering if there are other tools you should be investing in to take your bread baking from fair to fire. To give you some ideas, we enlisted the help of Laurie Ellen Pellicano, a bread and pastry baker who earned her baking chops at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and now serves as a baking consultant at Haven’s Kitchen in New York. The New York City-based baker offers a slew of suggestions for bread-baking tools you probably never realized you could benefit from having. Here are her favorites.
You might have a bench scraper on hand, but a bowl scraper is going to be much more useful for bread. These flexible hand spatulas help pull the dough out of the bowl, Laurie Ellen explains. “I like the smallest ones the best because they really do feel like an extension of your hand, as if your hand turns into a spatula,” she says. The bowl scraper is small and malleable enough to dig into the corners of containers—to grab every last piece of dough—plus they’re usually only a dollar or two a piece. Buy Now
A really large bowl with a lid, or simply a plastic container, is useful when mixing dough by hand. You can plop sourdough bread in one, which provides a safe vessel for folding and turning over the course of the rising process. It’s also lightweight, allowing you to move it around to those warm spots in the kitchen.Buy Now
One item you may not think you’d ever need for bread is a ruler. “When I’m making any kind of dough that I’m rolling out and then cutting or portioning, you can get something squared off, and it’s a nice reference to have,” Laurie Ellen says. She also uses it to mark her dough, eschewing a knife for the blunt edge of a ruler.Buy Now
Since Laurie Ellen has a background in both pastry and bread, she often reaches into her pastry training for ways to amplify her bread baking. “Something that I really appreciate is an offset spatula, which is used typically for cake decorating,” she explains, “but in the instance of bread baking, it’s really nice to spread something evenly over the surface of bread.” Or, say you’re making a paste for your bread, it’s easier to smear it on evenly thanks to an offset spatula.Buy Now
A pastry brush is the best tool for gently applying egg wash or a gloss over a bread before baking. “I’ll use it for eggs, milk, butter, or simple syrups,” Laurie Ellen says. All you need is a one-inch pastry brush, which is large enough to cover ground but small and dexterous enough to get into tight spots.Buy Now
Related Video: Try Your Hand at No-Knead Bread
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