Make sure you are fully prepared to start baking with this sourdough bread making equipment list. These simple tools will get you started on the right foot for making your own starter and sourdough bread.
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Sourdough Bread Making Equipment Overview
In preparation for making a sourdough starter from scratch, I want to address all of the tools you will need to have on hand. There are really only a few tools that are absolutely necessary to make sourdough bread at home, but there are also a few that are optional but can make the process much simpler.
I have listed all of my beginner sourdough baking tools that I use and love in my Amazon store, but I want to review each one in this article so you can decide which ones you need.
Sourdough Starter Equipment
Before we even start thinking about baking sourdough bread, we will have to get our sourdough starters going. There are just three tools that you truly need to have to get your sourdough starter going.
While I typically say that using a scale is optional for most baking, measuring by weight is absolutely necessary for sourdough baking. As you get your sourdough starter going you will need to weigh your flour and water. You will also continue using your scale as you move onto baking bread with it.
You will find that measuring by weight will eventually make bread baking a simpler process. This is the digital scale that I use, but any scale will do.
A digital thermometer is also necessary for taking the temperature of the water when you build your starter. We will also use it later when making the bread dough. I think this oxo digital thermometer is a great price point and works perfectly.
Glass Containers (at least 20 oz in size)
A glass container is the perfect vessel to keep your sourdough starter in because you will be able to clearly see the activity and growth inside the jar. You technically could use a ceramic container as well, but I prefer glass for the aforementioned reason. You want to avoid plastic because sourdough starters are acidic in nature and can start eating away at the plastic.
My favorite jars for sourdough starter are the wide mouth tulip glass from Ikea on the left in the above picture. I also love these Le Parfait jars because they are also very wide mouth. The wider the mouth the easier it is going to be to get in and out of your jar as you go to feed your starter.
You will want to have three containers on hand for your starter. One to keep your starter in, a second to keep your sourdough discard in, and a third clean jar that is ready for you to transfer your starter into when you are ready for a clean jar.
Small Rubber Spatula (optional)
This small rubber spatula from OXO has become the spatula that pretty much all sourdough bakers use to mix up their starter. It is a really handy size to have to get into your jar and make sure all of the flour and water are mixed up well. This is absolutely an optional tool!
Sourdough Bread Baking Equipment
Once your sourdough starter is active and you are ready to start baking bread, there are a few additional pieces of equipment that can be very helpful to have on hand! None of these pieces of equipment are 100% necessary to make your first loaf of bread, but I will point out the most useful tools first.
A bowl scraper is a flexible piece of plastic that is extremely helpful in bread baking. I use it get the dough out of the bowl, to help me mix dough, and to help clean the dough off of my hands. Here are the bowl scrapers I use and they are very inexpensive.
Bench Scraper (Bench Knife)
A bench scraper, also known as a bench knife, is extremely helpful for dividing dough, helping you shape your dough, and transferring the dough. A bench knife is also very inexpensive and I highly recommend you invest in one for your bread making!
Dutch Oven (or Oven Safe Pot)
A dutch oven is technically an optional piece of equipment for sourdough baking, but I highly recommend investing in one. Professional bakery ovens have steam injectors in them which creates a steamy environment as the bread first starts to bake. This allows the bread to get a good oven spring and helps get a nice crispy crust.
When you bake bread in a pot with a lid on it, it helps trap the steam in and can help mimic the steam that a professional oven has. I have several of these Lodge Dutch Ovens which are a very reasonable price point. However, you can also use any oven safe pot with a lid that can withstand temperatures up to 450 F (230 C).
If you have a baking stone or baking steel, you can also use that instead and add water into a preheated pan in your oven to create a steamy environment. However, this method doesn’t work quite as well as a dutch oven.
A banneton basket is absolutely an optional piece of equipment, but perhaps my favorite bread baking tool. It is a wicker basket that bread bakers use to proof their bread in. This helps the bread hold its structure as it proofs. If you use the basket without a liner, it also gives the bread the beautiful spiral design, which I love so much. A round basket is a great one to start with.
If you are not yet ready to invest in a banneton basket, you can use a bowl to proof your bread in and that will work just fine. However, Amazon does sell these bread baking starter kits that comes with a banneton basket along with many of the other baking tools mentioned above. It is actually a great deal!
A bread lame is essentially a razor blade attached to the end of a stick that is used to score bread. Because a razor blade is incredibly sharp, it helps you get a really nice and precise cut when you are scoring.
A sharp knife can absolutely be used in place of a bread lame. However, if you are interested in getting one for yourself this one is the best quality lame I have ever used.
Ingredients for Sourdough Starter and Bread Baking
One of the beauties of making sourdough bread is that it requires very few ingredients. A loaf of traditional sourdough bread is made from literally three ingredients: water, flour, and salt. That’s it! It feels magical!
Here are the ingredients you will want to have on hand before you get started making your sourdough starter:
- Whole Wheat Flour: Whole grain flour has more natural yeast and bacteria in it, as well as more nutrients, to help get your sourdough starter going. You can use traditional whole wheat flour, or white whole wheat flour. If you prefer, you can even use rye flour. I personally don’t use rye flour in my starters because I want to be able to easily purchase flour at the store and you typically have to order rye flour.
- Unbleached White Flour: You will want to have an unbleached white flour on hand. It can be bread flour or unbleached white flour, but it does need to be unbleached. Bleached flour will not work in your starter and it will not create a strong gluten structure in your bread.
- Filtered Water: When you create your starter, it is going to have a much stronger chance to get going quickly if you use filtered water. While some tap water may work okay in a starter, it is less reliable because it often contains chlorine and other things that can prohibit yeast growth.
- Uniodized Salt: You will want to have sea salt or kosher salt on hand for your bread dough. Iodized salt will affect the way the natural starter works to ferment your bread. My salt of choice for sourdough is fine sea salt.
- Rice Flour: If you are going to purchase a banneton basket, you will want to have rice flour on hand to dust it with. This is the best flour to use to prevent your bread from sticking.
Favorite Sourdough Resources
As I have learned sourdough for myself, I have used so many amazing resources. If you are interested in diving deeper into sourdough, here are a few resources I use and love!