Bake often, use often, love often:

Bench Knife

Great for portioning. My preference is to one with a wooden handle. They make flexible metal ones too.

Bread Knife

Years ago, I bought this bread knife that I’m still enjoying, but suggested this Material kitchen serrated 6″ knife to a friend. Comes in different colors and its shorter length makes it easier to store or carry.

Banneton

This bread form comes in many shapes including round for boules and oval for bâtards. It can be made from materials including cane, wicker, and wood pulp. I prefer the coiled baskets to the wicker. Some come with linen liners as a set which help keep your dough from sticking. Go naked for a different exterior look. Diameter and shape of banneton is dependent on loaf size you would like to make or enjoy which is sometimes dependent on your cast iron situation. Preference to dusting with a 50/50 mix of rice flour and wheat flour for non-sticking to mold experience!

Cast Iron Pan

While we love our shiny white enamel cast irons, high heat and baking bread often can wear away at the strength of the enamel (not great for temperatures above 400F), leading to stains and micro fissures that lead to chipped enamel and things that take away from the shiny white. Amazon reminds me that I’ve purchased this Lodge’s Double Dutch Cast Iron, 5 quart twice now when needing a new one for yet another move. Upgrade to Challenger Breadware’s cast iron bread pan when shit gets real or when you’ve stopped moving across the country every year.

Ceramic Stone

I couldn’t tell you where I got the ceramic stone that I’ve had for a decade now, but I have a preference to square/rectangular shape than round and without handles. Handles can prevent you from having a tray stick over the edge or a slightly too long something to just be. Preference also to the same smooth surface on both sides so you can flip sides if you’d like to bake something sweet and have it not taste like pizza cheese. I recently purchased a cast iron baking pan from Lodge as life away from my ceramic stone gave me the opportunity to learn the nuances of cast iron baking. While a $30-50 stone will do the trick, I’ve come across this ultra upgrade. I never take the stone out of the oven—bake pies in the glass Pyrex pie pan directly on the stone for extra heat for the crust— the stone is a great way to insulate the oven from fluctuating temperatures.

Grain Mill

With a 12 year warranty and gluten-free grinding liner, I enjoy the Komo Grain Mill for a coarse grind for soakers or a fine ground for flours. To keep from overheating the mill for fine flours, I grind to a coarse grind first and then a fine grind. Choose the voltage and wood finish. Alternate option: The Grainmaker Model No. 116 can be hand cranked, motorized or hooked up to a geared bicycle. My biker is my sister.

Lame

While I use a pretty basic lame from SFBI, upgrade to wire monkey lames if you’re really into designs on your loaf. Or, you can take a razor blade without a handle and just not cut yourself. Do not get this green handled plastic one they sell at all the kitchen supply stores.

Plastic Bowl Scrapper

Great for scooping dough from a bowl, hand-mixing adventures, making sure all the cake and cookie batter is in the oven; and, the flat side is great for cleaning off small chopped things on your cutting board. I pack this easily transportable tool with me while traveling. Don’t spend more than $5. I prefer the less stiff ones so they curve more easily to the bowl. More flexible. Less flexible.

 

 

Be free. Be Well. Upgrade U:

Cannele molds

These are one of my prized baking tools and pastry enjoyments. Do not be lured by the cost of silicone molds. If your mind just  can’t wrap itself around the idea of worth it, eat rice and a fried egg for a month to secure the extra funds, or barter your way into the cost of the molds with pre-orders. Preference to Copper Cannele molds, 1.7 inch diameter (middle sizing) to 2.1 or 1.4 inch height because there is a perfect ratio of exterior crust and caramelization to creamy spongy interior. Enjoy the sacred world. Don’t let a mold hold you back.

Peel for pizza

Because using a cutting board just isn’t practical in getting the pizza into and out of the oven. Either we have plastic or thick wooden cutting boards and both have their limitations to heat and hot oven walls. Use this Serious Eats guide for deciding which metal or wooden peel is best for you.

Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Bakeware Set

For someone who bakes with a standard sheet tray and parchment and whatever else a commercial kitchen would have, this Williams Sonoma set allows the home baker to never have to get parchment again. I haven’t been lured to buy this set as I already have 6 or more half-sheet trays at home (not including the smaller sizes), but I deeply enjoy baking at a friend’s house who has them. I feel like I’ve saved the landfill a small amount of parchment space every time I bake there and they transfer heat to the bottom of a cookie better than baking on silicone.

 

A few cherished baking books in no particular order:

Stanley Ginsberg’s The Rye Baker for those with palates for rye and Amy Halloran’s The New Bread Basket for how the grain growers, millers, maltsters, bakers, brewers, and local food activists redefining the daily loaf. Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes is a great addition to a baking library. If you spy a copy of Tartine Bread in someone’s home, there’s probably a dutch oven somewhere. Tartine Book no. 3 is my favorite of the Tartine books and I prefer bread with porridge when I miss congee. Michael and Pippa James’ The Tivoli Road Baker is great for new bakers while inspiring even a seasoned baker. For those who want to dive deeper into the unseen details of bread, Modernist Bread is truly amazing if you can spend time with it, your copy or a friend’s. Michel Suas’ Advanced Baking and Pastry textbook bread section is great overall and has lots of deeper diving into enzymatic activity and troubleshooting. Francisco Migoya’s The Modern Cafe is worth a cover to cover read if you can get your hands on a copy. Flour Lab: An At-Home Guide to Baking with Freshly Milled Grains could be helpful if you have a mill or using fresh grains as they require similar attention you may give coffee beans as the flour ages and oxidizes and adjusts to the conditions of your home.