In preparation for my upcoming sourdough bread tutorial (yes, it’s really happening and it’s going to be one epic post), I wanted to write a separate post about what you need to have on hand to successfully bake sourdough. This way, when I post the tutorial and you think, “I have got to make that NOW!,” you’ll have everything you need on hand to do it! 🙂
I have been extremely lucky to be under the guidance of my dad when it comes to all things sourdough and he’s shared so much knowledge on everything from the starter to the baking process to the best bowls/accessories/scales/etc. I am going to share both “must have” and “nice to have” tools and I’ll try to offer a “splurge” and “steal” option when it makes sense.
Must-Have Sourdough Bread Tools
First up is your starter. There is no sourdough without sourdough starter. You have a few options here.
- Make your own.
- Find a friend that has starter that is willing to share. (If you’re in Charlotte, I will…but you have to come pick it up!)
- Order some from King Arthur. It’s only $8.95 and they send you live starter. This is where my dad originally got his starter from.
You cannot bake sourdough bread without a kitchen scale. When I post my tutorial/recipe, I’ll only be working in ounces and grams. There will be no cup equivalents offered. I’m all about eyeballing and approximating when it comes to cooking but baking is another story entirely. It’s truly a science.
Kitchen scales are relatively cheap and have tons of uses in the kitchen outside of bread baking.
SPLURGE: OXO Good Grips 11 lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display, $49.95
This is the scale that I have (as you can see above). It’s the #1 ranked food scale by Cook’s Illustrated and features of it include an easy to read display that pulls out from the frame and includes a backlight, clearly labeled buttons, intuitive design, a removable platform for easy cleaning.
STEAL: Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale, $11.50
A POT WITH A LID AND HIGH SIDES
You are going to bake your bread in a pot with a lid and high sides.
SPLURGE: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 7 1/4 Quart Dutch Oven, $369.95 (Cook’s Illustrated Top Pick)
I use this pot for everything and it’s the perfect size to hold a round sourdough loaf. It’s definitely worth the spluge.
STEAL: Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steal 8 Quart Dutch Oven, $75.15 or Cuisinart CI670CR Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Covered Casserole, $93.55 (Cook’s Illustrated Best Buy)
HIGH-QUALITY, UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
Your sourdough only has four ingredients starter, flour, water and salt, so it’s imperative to make sure that you use the highest quality ingredients. I always use an unbleached, all-purpose flour. King Arthur is my go-to. Note, I do not use bread flour.
I keep a gallon of spring water on hand for feeding my starter and baking bread. Water quality can vary so much from place-to-place and this is just an easy way to ensure consistency and integrity.
A REALLY SHARP BREAD KNIFE
Sourdough is very crusty bread and I swear to you that I break a sweat every time I slice my loaves for storage. You definitely want to have a good-quality serrated bread knife on hand unless you just kind of plan on tearing and eating.
I just ordered the Mercer Culinary Millennia 10″ Wide Bread Knife on Amazon because I could use an upgrade. It’s only $15.95 and Cook’s Illustrated’s top pick!
Nice To Have Sourdough Bread Tools
Once I shape my loaves, I place them in these baskets for their final overnight rise in the fridge. When I first started baking, I used mixing bowls lined with a dish towel instead of a proofing basket so you can make it work without. The benefit of the proofing baskets are that they provide a consistent shape for your bread as well as support the bread through it’s final rise.
The bonus is that they leave you with a really pretty circular pattern on top of your bread and make for pretty loaves.
ROUND: Round Proofing Basket Banneton Brotform, $13.95
RECTANGULAR: Masterproofing Rectangle Banneton Proofing Basket, $13.99
The baking stone isn’t for baking your sourdough bread on but rather for helping to stabilize the temperature of your oven. I got this tip from my dad and now keep my baking stone on the bottom shelf of my oven at all times. When I bake bread, I place the pot on top of the stone on the bottom shelf.
Dough whisks feature a long, sturdy handle and a wire design that prevents dough from getting clumped up in it as you stir. You would use the dough whisk when you stir together your starter, water and flour at the very beginning of the baking process. You can also get by with other tools you have in your kitchen.
If you’re up for kneading by hand, more power to you! My dad did it for the first few years he made sourdough but gave up that badge of honor and takes the easy route with a Kitchen Aid he gifted himself now. He said there’s no difference in the loaves between hand or machine kneading. If you plan on kneading by hand it takes 15+ minutes and is a good workout! The mixer and dough hook do this all for you. I have only kneaded with my Kitchen Aid.
SPLURGE: KitchenAid Professional 600 Stand Mixer, $449.95
STEAL: KitchenAid Artisan Mixer, $349.99
BONUS STEAL: Certified Refurbished KitchenAid Artisan Mixer, $229
King Arthur makes these handy starter crocks where you can house your starter in the fridge or on the counter. My dad gave me one for Christmas so I use one but prior I just kept my starter in Tupperware.
And that wraps it up! I hope you find this helpful. Remember, you can get buy mostly with what you have in your kitchen if you get creative (minus the kitchen scale, you’ve got to buy the scale!) but I’ve found this collection of items to really helpful and nice to have.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Note: this post does include some affiliate links.