Having the proper tools makes the sourdough process easier and more reliable. You will definitely notice the difference in your final loaf.
You will need a glass jar with a lid for your starter. Any Mason Jar style will do. The lid part is very important. I have tried using a paper towel with a rubber band but your starter gets a dry film over the top that is not ideal.
A danish whisk isn’t required but it makes mixing the dough and starter much much easier. I put off purchasing this for a year thinking it was a waste, but it is worth it. You can also use a spoon/fork or silicone spatula. An alternative to this is a bread stirrer that is a little narrower and fits into most starter jars.
A scale that measures grams. You will use this for your starter and dough.
Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, or Pyrex bowl. I like to use a glass bowl with a lid. Mainly stay away from any reactive metals like aluminum or copper.
Instant Read Thermometer
An instant read thermometer is useful for making consistent bread each time. You can take the temp of your dough during bulk fermentation to estimate how long it needs to rise. If it is warmer cut it short, if it is colder go a little longer.
Plastic Scraper and Bench Knife
A plastic scraper is not required, but it helps get the fermented dough out of your bowl in one go instead of scraping it with your hands. The bench knife is more essential. You will use this for shaping and cutting.
Banneton baskets will greatly improve your bread. They help support and keep the shape of your dough while proofing. Most bannetons are made of rattan which is good at wicking away and absorbing moisture. This material allows air to evenly reach your dough and will lead to a crispier crust.
I use shower caps to cover the dough while proofing. You can also use a plastic bag or damp tea towel but shower caps are cheaper and easier. I also find that the tea towels get dry very easily while proofing in the fridge and the final loaf isn’t as good.
Bread lames are the perfect scoring tool. They have a slight curve and easily slide through the dough. You can also use a knife but they get stuck when scoring, especially with wetter dough.
Water Spray Bottle
A spray bottle is used to mist the dough with water before baking in the oven. You will get better steam and a nice blistery crust. I often mix this with ice cubes in the Challenger Bread Pan.
You can technically bake sourdough without a dutch oven but it will NEVER turn out as well. You just can’t get the level of steam you need for a good rise, crispy crust, and soft crumb.
I recommend and use the Lodge Dutch Oven. It is a cheaper option, retains steam, and has even heat application.
If you want to take your bread to the next level, then hands down get the Challenger Bread Pan. The pan was invented by a baker and it the optimal vessel for sourdough baking. It has great space, excellent steam, and you can get that gorgeous dark crispy crust that I just can’t get with the dutch oven. It is on the pricy side and is really heavy, but if you bake a lot it is worth the investment.
More delicious sourdough recipes
This is one of the many fantastic sourdough recipes available on this blog