Understanding the right tools to use: Breadmaking

With so many products out there in the marketplace, alongside my ReClaiming project for 2021, I thought I would also reevaluate the tools that are applicable to the recipes I post. Bright idea? I hope!

Most of us have SO much tucked away in the kitchen that, truthfully, we forget about most of it… (C’mon, how many packages of cheesecloth do YOU have tucked in the back of a drawer? I am ashamed to answer this question publicly.)

Hopefully, we can discover together how best to use what we have or find some relevant, simple tools to add to the arsenal. Ready? Alright. Let’s start at the beginning…

BOWLS. Non-negotiable #1 for all cooks. Mine? The LeCreuset Mixing bowl set. Man, I love it. These bowls are sturdy and can take a beating (unlike the clear class bowls that I thought were the best until I started to find shards of glass in them when pulling them out to use.) I currently use 3 sizes of these and they get me through just about all of my baking and cooking projects these days.

This, though, might be my FAVORITE bowl of the three to take out of the cabinet. A very worthy investment in whichever color you choose, but this color just makes me think of clear skies and possibilities.

I do caution you, however. If you are the “I use my hand mixer on the highest setting when making batter or blending cookie dough.. cuz- POWER!” kind of cook …… uh, this might not be for you. It has a gentle taper to the sides of the bowl, so dry ingredients not managed properly while being incorporated WILL fly everywhere. Not that I am speaking from experience or anything. (*ahem* FAST = quicker cookies, right?)

And while I am a huge proponent of LeCreuset (I love my dutch oven, soup bowls, etc… they are used weekly), when making bread dough, I learned a HUGE lesson from the book I reference in my recipe post Keeping it Simple: Make it Yourself.…. Sometimes a home cook should have some ‘restaurant’-ish tools on hand… especially if you are planning on storing something like dough… (side note: the recipe I posted is storable for up to two weeks in your fridge and will develop a tangy almost sourdough quality to it.) Non-chef folks – you don’t need a bowl to make bread dough! You can make it and store it in the same container.

BTW, here’s the book again. I can’t say enough about what a great reference tool it is for anyone looking to branch into bread baking and work on their own creations. We all need inspiration, right? Good fundamentals? YES. This one is a great place to start, folks:

But, putting bowls aside with this new knowledge, my new favorite tool in the kitchen for bread is this lil puppy…. the food grade storage container.

Most home cooks needs to revisit their tools on a regular basis to really determine if you are getting use from them. ME?

*laughs SO loud my husband thinks I have finally lost it*

Yeah, I don’t do that.

I SHOULD do that.

For sure. Totally.

Well, 2021 is full of new things and adventures. My commitment this year is to ReClaim my house and farm, and with that LOFTY (our house is huge, y’all) goal I am breaking things down into a plan of attack (aka the battle strategy) so I can see the impact of my work and feel accomplished. This week is the kitchen and pantry. And part of that is taking a HARD look at all of the kitchen equipment I have accumulated over the years of having a deep, DEEEEEEEEEP passion for all things food.

So this plan got me thinking – am I really set up to keep up with the new habits and hobbies in the kitchen I want? When it came to bread, the answer was no. So that is where the idea for this post came from. If I needed some re-grounding and inspiration, maybe others did too.

If you want to bake bread for your household regularly, there are some things that will be worth investing in. If you have them already- GREAT! Reorganizing tools based on their use is important. I definitely did not have all the tools right away, nor did I have them organized well. More than half of the project’s time commitment was collecting everything. Now, I have it all organized so when the mood strikes – my prep time is much MUCH less. Organizing our tools will help us all keep them in regular rotation and get the return on investment we all dream of when trying to be more sustainable, produce more, control more and buy less.

basic list of tools (outside measuring spoons & cups) for bread making:

Baking Stone. Great for breads and pizzas… I personally prefer the square/rectanguar stones like the one below to the round pizza stones as they allow me to make a bigger pizza if I chose. Also, I plan on baking ciabatta rolls and expect the square surface will allow for more rolls in the oven at once. This is what our household uses.

Food grade storage containers. The link below is for a 4 & 6qt set for doubling or tripling the recipe to store and have fresh, bake-able dough on hand whenever you’d like. I only bought a 4qt, thinking that was sufficient since we don’t eat a ton of bread, but as I am learning, with being able to store this dough and bake from it over the course of a few weeks… I will be buying the larger container as well… for the times I know we will want more bread like tomato sandwich season, soup season….

Kitchen scale. This is optional for bread making, but if you measure by weight, a must. We actually use our scale quite often for a ton of different reasons… weighing our processed chickens before freezing, even estimating weight on something we’re shipping LOL. We have the scale below in black and have had it for YEARS… I think going on 10? She’s sturdy.

Danish whisk. Great for incorporating flour into the wet ingredients for dough, it’s easier than a wooden spoon as less dough will get stuck to your whisk (which is my biggest frustration… that and control once the dough gets thicker/stickier.) This is the one that is currently in my cart… I am excited to use it next week!

Bread scorer. While you don’t NEED this, it is always better to understand why there are certain tools for certain tasks, right? In a future post I will explain more about straight vs curved blade scoring, but for $11, it’s a worthy addition if you plan on baking bread fairly regularly. This is the lame that I use.

Mesh sieve. For bread baking, this is used for dusting four onto your dough, either when cloaking it or once it’s formed and you are about to vent it. However, these are something all cooks should have. I use ours all the time, from rinsing rice or other grains, to draining beans, quick sifting dry ingredients into wet, or dusting cocoa or sugar onto sweets. These are what’s in my tool drawer.

Pizza peel. This tool I still have yet to master, but the knowledge of using parchment with the wet dough was a game-changer for me. I have ruined many a pizza trying to just use cornmeal. But bad looking pizza is still pizza, right? This is the peel I use. It is BIG but collapses and is easy enough to tuck away. I also opt for metal since we rip our oven to 600-700 degrees, is easier to clean and much thinner than most of the wooden ones out there.

By no means is this list complete or a finite MUST, but as a new baker of breads who is learning to rely on what gives me the best results, this list contains the tools outside measuring cups and spoons that got me over the hump of ‘this is SO HARD’.

If bread is one item you 1. hope to take OFF your shopping list, 2. take more control over ingredient wise and/or 3. decide to make on your own, these tools organized together will help you whip up a batch of dough in no time.

Happy bread baking!

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