Store bought bread is fine, but there is nothing like the experience of pulling delicious, warm bread that you baked yourself out of the oven. This might seem like a daunting task, but it really isn’t that hard. The most important thing is to have the proper tools and equipment for baking.
Whether you plan on baking bread by hand or with machinery, the process is still basically the same. You will need some of the same equipment for both hand baking and machine baking. The only real difference is in the mixing and kneading processes. First, let’s get acquainted with the tools needed for hand baking, and then the machinery afterward.
The first thing you’ll need for hand baking is, of course, a Mixing Bowl. While this might seem like a no-brainer, there are certain things you need to look for when choosing a mixing bowl.
baking mixing bowl setThe bowl has to be large enough, not just for the mixing process, but for the rising process as well. The dough will need plenty of space to rise and expand.
Instead of a plastic tub or bucket, use one that you can see through. This will allow you to watch the rising action of the dough and make the necessary improvements over time to get it to rise to perfection.
It’s important to have an accurate scale in order to follow recipes exactly for the perfect loaf of bread. One small mistake in measuring ingredients can lead to total disaster. A manual scale is fine, but an electronic scale is more efficient and accurate.
Dough scrapers are used to cut through the dough and shape bread with. They are just sharp enough to cut through dough and blunt enough not to cut you. Sometimes they are referred to as bench scrapers or bench knives. They are also perfect for scraping excess, loose dough for discarding or adding to already divided portions of dough.
The most familiar type of pan used for baking bread is a standard loaf pan. However, you can buy any shape of pan you prefer to have your bread shaped in. If you do buy a standard loaf pan, it’s a good idea to get at least two of them. You’ll find that most bread recipes will be measured to produce two bread loaves.
Baking Stone &/Or Peel
Depending on what kind of oven you will be using, you might need a peel. A peel is a long, shovel-shaped tool that bakers use to place and pull bread, pizza, and other baked goods out of an oven.
The front end of the tool is usually made out of sheet metal, with the handle end made out of wood. It’s perfect for using in stone or brick ovens, or if you happen to have or purchase a baking stone to place in a moderately large oven.
Let’s face it, if you’re baking your bread in a home oven, it won’t come close to the hearth ovens real bakeries use for baking their bread in, However, purchasing a Baking Stone and placing in the oven comes pretty close.
Bread loaves and other baked goods can be baked right on top of it. Bread comes out evenly baked and with a crackling crust due to the direct transfer of heat from the baking stone to it.
Choosing a Standing Mixer
If you don’t want to knee your dough by hand, one of the most important tools and equipment in baking is a Standing Mixer. It’s important to have a mixer with a higher horsepower and torque than the kinds designed mostly for mixing cookie dough and cake batter.
The mixer should be well-grounded and stable enough to be able to handle the push-back from the moving of the heavy, stiff bread dough. It should also have the right attachments like a spiral and C-shaped dough hooks.
It’s good to have both shapes on hand because you might find that one shape might need particular kinds of bread dough better than others. You have to experiment to realize the difference.
Using a Bread Machine for baking bread is not something that comes highly recommended. However, it can be one of the tools and equipment in baking that can make the process convenient and fast.
A bread machine will mix, knee and bake the bread for you. Different bread machine capacities come into play, so it’s important that the bread dough is measured carefully and added at the right time.
Baking bread at home for you and your family’s enjoyment will become second nature when you have the right tools and equipment for baking. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try bread recipes that are out of the ordinary. You might be surprised what you might like and eventually grow to love. Happy baking!