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Take the intimidation out of bread making with this affordable machine by Oster. This model features 12 settings, three crust settings, and can turn out loaves as big as 2 pounds (in under an hour if using the Expressbake feature). It also comes with recipes for a virtually fail-proof bake, so beginners don't need to worry at all. Best of all, it has a pretty compact footprint so it doesn't take up too much valuable counter space—especially important if your kitchen is small.
The iconic KitchenAid stand mixer can do many things, including kneading up to four entire loaves worth of bread in one go. This model has a 5-quart mixing bowl and comes with a standard paddle, whip attachment, and most importantly, a dough hook that will make it easy to work your dough, aiding gluten production for a better rise. The stainless steel bowl, whisk, and dough hook are all dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. It is available in over 30 colors, so you can color-coordinate your mixer to your kitchen decor.
Ever wonder how bakeries get those beautiful, raised-edge designs baked into their loaves? It's all in the scoring. While you can certainly use a sharp knife to slash your dough's surface—crucial for allowing proper expansion while baking—using a bread lame gives you greater control over the angle, depth, and design of your cuts. This lame by Breadtopia is simple to assemble and has an easy-grip resin handle (shaped like a baguette) for steady control and accurate scoring. It comes with five replacement blades and a storage box for when it's not in use.
A bench scraper is a must for shaping and moving slightly sticky pieces of dough around on your work surface. This inexpensive model from Norpro is designed to easily scrape or portion out dough, but it can also be used for crushing ingredients or measuring and cutting pasta or cinnamon rolls, thanks to the blade's measuring guide. Made from durable stainless steel, this scraper features a Santoprene handle that helps you grip the blade comfortably for better control. Cleanup is easy—just hand wash with a gentle scrubber and mild dishwashing detergent.
If you're trying to create the shiny, chewy crusts that are a favored characteristic of artisanal bread loves, this 9-inch rattan basket is a game-changer for home bakers. Traditional bakeries use this type of proofing basket, known as a banneton, that allows air to pass through and creates a skin on the surface of the dough as it rises and makes it easier to score. The ridges also leave a beautiful spiral pattern on the dough that shows up during the final bake. Also included are a bench scraper—a must-have for shaping—and cloth liner to use for high-moisture doughs.
Some breads, like soft dinner rolls or brioche, require a final coating before baking. For this, you'll need a pastry brush to paint loaves with butter, milk, or an egg wash before the loaf goes into the oven (useful for getting poppy or sesame seeds to stick and to encourage a golden finish). This silicone brush by OXO has heat-resistant, easy-to-clean bristles that won't shed and a comfortable grip handle. The tapered outer bristles allow for brushing more delicate doughs and pastries, and the angled brush head keeps the bristles off the countertop. When you're done, you can just place the entire brush into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Lemon poppyseed cake and cranberry orange bread are just two examples of quickbreads that require citrus zest to add a boost of flavor that holds up through the baking process. This classic handheld grater from Microplane makes it easy to finely zest oranges, limes, lemons (and any other citrus), and also works well on hard cheeses like Parmesan to use in homemade breadsticks and gougeres. The ultra-sharp blade is made from surgical-grade stainless steel which resists rust and maintains its sharpness well. You'll also be able to use this for grating nutmeg and cinnamon into your favorite recipes for ultimate freshness.
Wooden spoons are essential for hand mixing bread dough—they're more durable than plastic spatulas and aren't reactive like metal spools. This basic yet sturdy wooden spoon from OXO is made from a solid piece of beechwood with a natural oil finish and features a large handle that fits comfortably in the hand. Use it to gently mix dough, from this basic bread recipe to this vegan challah. To clean, hand wash the spoon and dry completely before storing.
A good set of mixing bowls is essential to bread baking. When making fancier bread or the simpler quickbreads, you will often need more than one bowl for mixing the ingredients. This set by FineDine includes six sizes (ranging from .75-quart to 8-quart bowls) made from lightweight stainless steel. The flat bottoms offer great stability when mixing and are easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. The bowls also nest for easy and convenient storage.
Whether you're making sticky buns or cinnamon swirls, you’ll need a good quality rolling pin to roll out the dough. This French dowel-style rolling pin from J.K. Adams is made with slightly tapered ends, making it lighter than traditional pins for easier maneuvering. It is made from a slightly textured, sustainably harvested North American hardwood that holds a dusting of flour to prevent dough from sticking. This solid wood rolling pin is incredibly sturdy and will likely last for decades, but it is also backed by a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Bread knives are designed to cut through a crisp, chewy crust without damaging the soft interior—without one, you might end up flattening your bread while slicing. This affordable knife from OXO has a serrated blade made from stainless steel that will help you slice through crusty sourdough loaves and soft sandwich bread with ease. The rubber handle makes it non-slip and is ergonomically shaped to fit in the hand. Hand wash and dry promptly to preserve the blade's sharpness.
Loaf pans are wonderful for making homemade sandwich loaves or baking decadent chocolate babka. This heavy-duty loaf pan is made from aluminized steel and features a reinforced rim that helps to prevent warping. This pan measures 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches and can comfortably fit a 1-pound loaf. For easier lift-off, line this pan with parchment paper before use. While the manufacturer says this is dishwasher safe, hand washing will help to extend the life of the pan and you'll be able to use it for years to come.
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This piece was written by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. After a two-year stint at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools and interviews field experts for their insight. As an avid baker, she personally owns several of the above products, including the KitchenAid mixer, Bread Bosses banneton proofing basket, and the Breadtopia bread lame.