Making fresh bread at home is a satisfying and rewarding kitchen project. From mixing and proving to shaping and baking, making delicious homemade loaves is easier with the help of great tools and expert advice.
Here, BBC Good Food expert Barney Desmazery shares his top tips and picks the best essential bread-making equipment.
Follow our step-by-step guides and easy recipes for making bread from start to finish at home, visit our bread-making section.
Best bread-making tools
Precision is key and nothing will be more accurate than using digital scales. Choose a set with a ‘tare’ function that allows you go back to zero and add ingredients straight onto other ones. Ideally you want a set that goes up in increments of 1g not 5gs.
My Weigh baker’s percentage kitchen scales
These have a baking function that allows you to do percentages, which is extra useful for precision bakes.
Salter aquatronic electronic kitchen scales
Measure multiple ingredients at a time with these scales, which will also weigh liquids in ml or fl. oz.
Lock & Lock round storage container
Yes, jars look more rustic, but jar-shaped plastic containers are far more practical. These are airtight, leakproof, lightweight and can be thrown in the top rack of the dishwasher.
Dr Oetker bread scraper
A cheap, flexible plastic scraper will prove invaluable. It’s like an extension of the bakers’ hand.
OXO Good Grips preparation bowls with lids
Sturdy, wide plastic bowls are easy to clean at home. This set of four has non-slip bottoms, a soft grip handle and pouring spouts, plus strong seal lids.
Pyrex 2-litre mixing bowl
Stain-resistant, microwave and dishwasher safe, this heavy duty glass mixing bowl comes with a 10-year guarantee.
John Lewis 2-litre clear mixing bowl
We also love this alternative by John Lewis and Partners, made of borosilicate glass and 21cm in diameter.
This doesn’t need to be fancy. All liquid is weighed but a jug is still useful for neatly pouring out water.
Pyrex 1-litre glass measuring jug
Dishwasher and microwave safe, this is a wide and shallow glass jug with metric and imperial measurements up to 1l or 1.5 pints.
Baking basket – bannetons
Bannetons make your life a lot easier. They come as wicker baskets which leave a lovely pattern on the dough, or are cloth-lined, which are easier to work with and leave a blank space for creative scoring.
Surebuy 10inch/25cm oval bread proofing banneton basket
This banneton comes with an additional silicone brush, liner, plastic cutter, and free lame. After use, simply hand-wash with warm water.
Le Creuset narrow cooking spatula
You could use a wooden spoon or a whisk but I find sturdy, thin, jar spatulas do the job best.
You can use cling film for covering dough whilst it’s proving, but I’m trying to cut back on disposable plastic, so a reusable shower cap does a brilliant job. Or you can use a damp tea towel.
PHYLES 12pcs resuable stretchy food lids
These reusable silicone lids are a great eco alternative to cling film and can be used on bowls, pots and jars, as well as food itself.
A timer is essential when baking, I tend to use the one on my phone.
You’ll be dealing with very hot pans and ovens so it’s important to keep your hands protected – you can use a folded tea towel but a pair of oven gloves is best.
Waitrose and Partners blue butchers stripe double oven glove
These fabric oven gloves by Waitrose work really well and took the Good Food title for best double oven gloves 2020.
Casserole dish or baking stone
I would buy the cheapest casserole dish or second hand dish you can find and dedicate it to baking bread in. I won’t lie, the temperature ends up ruining the dish, but if it’s just for bread that won’t matter – any ovenproof pan with a tight fitting lid will do. Discover our favourite casserole dishes.
Vonshef cast iron casserole dish
This is a great option for individuals or couples wanting a cost-efficient casserole dish for hob and oven.
Wire cooling rack
Bread is best left to cool on a wire rack. An extra-long rack comes in handy for baking two loaves at a time.
Dexam rectangular cooling rack
This 40 x 25cm cooling rack is a great size for cooling warm loaves or cakes.
A good bread knife will help you achieve neat slices.
Robert Welch signature bread knife
This stainless steel signature knife is an award-winning British design, featuring fine serrations that cut through the crustiest loaves.
Additional equipment for baking bread
Thermapen classic thermometer
Thermapen is an unbeatable brand in the world of digital thermometers.
Pronounced ‘larm’, some might put this in the essentials list – it’s certainly needed for fancy scoring. It’s basically a very sharp razor with a handle, so be be careful handling and storing.
Wire Monkey UFO lame
A Japanese feather, hi-stainless, platinum-coated double-edge blade is contained within the wooden handle of this lame, featuring the ‘Real Bread’ campaign logo.
For even distribution of flour, a small sieve or mesh flour shaker comes in handy. Discover the best flour shakers, judged by Great British Bake Off stars Edd Kimber, John Whaite and Frances Quinn.
John Lewis set of three flour nesting sieves
These nesting sieves with stainless steel mesh are designed to sit across pans, pots and dishes and stack together for easy storage.
VonShef dough scraper
With a bit of force you can cut with a plastic scraper, but a stainless steel bench knife makes it easier. Try this one from VonShef for dividing your dough.
For my first year baking, I wrote down basic notes for every loaf. Sourdough is alive and the same quantities of ingredients will behave differently on different days. It’s good to have a reference, and it comes in useful once you start experimenting.
Paperchase Agnezio soft seafoam ruled notebook
Great to have in the kitchen for any recipe jottings.
La cloche or specialist bread pan
Once you’re committed, a dedicated pan is a great investment.
Netherton Foundry Shropshire spun iron baking cloche
This is the one I use – the large surface area means I can bake any shape of bread.
Barney’s top tips for basic bread-making
- Accuracy is key to success. Always weigh your ingredients precisely and use a timer.
- Warmth speeds things along, cold slows things down. This can apply to the temperature of the water you use and the temperature of the environment, you can use this to your advantage and plan your baking schedule.
- Time equals flavour. If you leave dough to prove in the fridge overnight it will have more flavour than a dough that’s proved at room temp for a few hours.
- Steam creates crust. You can trap steam in by baking bread in a casserole dish, or you can spray the oven with a water mister or add ice cubes to a hot tray sitting on the rack below the bread.
- As a general rule, plain flour is for cakes and biscuits and strong flour is for loaves of bread. Plain flour can be used for flatbreads and pizza bases.
- A basic bread dough is 500g strong white flour, 1 sachet fast action yeast, 1 tsp salt and 300ml water. Start with this and build from there.
- Once you’ve mastered a basic recipe, other ingredients like nuts, seeds, herbs and oils can easily be added.
- To get a good ‘spring’ to your bread, it’s best baked at a high temperature to start with and then, if it starts to brown too quickly, you can lower the temperature.
- The best way to tell if bread is cooked is to tap it on its base – it should sound hollow.
- However tantalising hot bread smells, it’s best left to cool on a wire rack until at least just warm before eating. Slicing into hot bread will make it go clumpy.
Best bread-making recipes to try at home
This review was last updated in April 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.