During my bagel baking classes, I’m often asked about equipment that I use, and for recommendations of what to buy to outfit the home kitchen. So, I’ve assembled here a list of the things I use in my home kitchen to help me bake bagels and breads. It’s a mix of commercial and consumer equipment. In some instances, I shy away from the “name brands” in consumer home products because I don’t think they are better, and usually I find they are more expensive. In other instances, there are some brands that I think really do make a difference.
These are all Amazon affiliate links, so if you click and buy, Knead & Nosh may earn a small affiliate commission.
Mercer Culinary 10″ Bread Knife – In the world of knives, while you are often advised to buy expensive knives from well-known brands, and to learn to sharpen them and hone them, etc. bread knives are the opposite. Bread knives need serrated edges to bite into the crust of an artisan boule, and to help cleanly cut through a soft sandwich loaf. But, serrated blades are very hard to sharpen, and the more common advice is to avoid the very expensive, and instead, get a less expensive knife that does the job well, and expect to replace it far more frequently than one might for a chef’s blade that costs you 10 times as much. So, my recommendation is the Mercer bread knife. A little longer than many bread knives (10″ vs 8″), it’s length make it easier to cut a slice of bread in a single stroke as opposed to sawing back and forth multiple times! The blade is slightly offset from the handle, so it is easier to cut through the entire loaf without scraping your knuckles on the cutting board!
Vollrath 5303 half sheet pan – There are the workhorses in my kitchen. It’s a standard rimmed baking sheet made for the commercial kitchen. Made from 18 gauge, 3004 heavy-duty aluminum, they have a “beaded rim” which means they have a heavy gauge, galvanized non-rusting rods runs around the upper rim of the pan that helps prevent it from warping when it’s in the oven. It has a concave bottom that will flatten during heating, so don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly flat on your countertop when cool! If you have multiple sheets, they nest for easy storage too.
It’s called a half-sheet pan (18” x 13”), but that means it’s generally the largest pan you’ll fit in a home oven. Full sheet pans are made for commercial ovens, so you probably don’t want one that big!
Vollrath snap cover – I use these covers all the time when I’m baking bagels or buns. They sit high enough over the pan that you can rest shared bagels or buns on the half-sheet pans and cover them with this snap cover to keep them from drying out without worry that they will rise and touch the cover. They are rigid enough that you can easily stack multiple pans in the refrigerator for overnight cold proofing of bagels.
Cooling Rack – A good set of cooling racks are important for bagel baking and any other baking. I use these to allow excess water to drip from a freshly boiled bagel, and to cool freshly naked bagels. The tight grid pattern will ensure cookies and other smaller baked goods don’t slip in-between the wires. These are made from stainless steel, and it will fit perfectly inside of a rimmed half sheet pan too!
Silicone Baking Mat for Bread – My favorite sheet pans are plain aluminum. I don’t like non-stick pans as they are not durable. Instead, I use silicone mats to keep things from sticking. This mat is reusable and has perforations to allow heat and steam to move around better, and when you place a wet bagel on it, the water can escape to help it from sitting in a puddle! These are marked for eclairs, but they work just fine for any bread or pastry.
King Arthur Half Sheet parchment paper – Sometimes you need parchment instead of a silicone mat. I find it simpler to prepare pizza on parchment, then slide the pizza and parchment together from the peel to the stone. Or, I need to cut the parchment to fit into a dutch oven. For these times, I’ve always had great luck with King Arthur’s pre-cut parchment sheets. Since it isn’t coming from a roll, you don’t have to fight with the paper trying to get it to fit flat!
Metal bench scraper – A bench scraper is another workhorse in the kitchen. I use it for more than scraping dough off of the work surface. Great for cutting dough when portioning and for helping to shape boules and other breads too!
Plastic bowl scraper – These flexible plastic bowl scrapers are great for getting every last bit of dough or batter out of a bowl. The curved edge combined with its flexibility allows it to conform to the shape of just about any bowl. This is a set of six so you always have at least one clean one handy!
Escali primo scale – A simple and accurate kitchen scale. It can handle up to 11 pounds so you can weigh just about anything you’re going to cook! It registered changes quickly, so you can easily pour ingredients into a bowl, and monitor the weight change to get just the right amount.
Thermapen One – I love this thermometer! I’ve had one for many years, and I use it with breads and so many other things. It displays the temperature and changes in just 1 second, and it’s super accurate.
While I weight most everything when I’m baking, sometimes it is easier to simply measure by volume in small amounts. I have both round and rectangular measuring spoons. The rectangular ones fit inside of small spice jars. Having both shapes makes it easy to keep one set for dry and one for wet ingredients so you aren’t having to wash and dry spoons between measuring ingredients!
Lodge Combo-Cooker Cast iron Dutch oven – If you main goal is baking a beautiful boule, this combo-cooker is a great choice. Since the lid can be used as a ring pan, it mean it sits flat when flipped over. The challenge when baking a boule in a dutch oven is lowering your shaped loaf into the dutch oven after it’s been preheated in a scorching hot oven without burning your hands! With this arrangement, you can use the lid as the base. No tall sides to burn yourself on! Then, use the larger “pot” as the lid, and transfer it to the oven for baking!
Baking stones and steels are for more than just pizza. The steel is great for pizza because it conducts heat really well, and helps you get a crisp curst. Stones are great heat sinks, and help your oven regulate temperature. If your oven tends to scorch the bottoms of your bagels or breads, you can put either a stone or steel on the bottom shelf to deflect the direct heat from your bakes.
Vollrath stainless Steel Bowl (0.75qt)
Vollrath stainless Steel Bowl (1.5qt)
Vollrath stainless Steel Bowl (3qt)
I don’t know what I did before I found these bowls. They are lightweight, durable, and best of all, they nest and stack for easy storage. They are pretty inexpensive, and so I don’t worry about them. They’re great for mis-en-place, and I can never have too many prep bowls in my kitchen! Made in lots of different sizes, you’ll find endless uses for them!
Cambro 6qt dough bucket – When you’re making a lot of dough, sometimes you need a big covered bucket to ferment your dough! With straight sides, it’s easy to tell when your dough has doubled! This bucket includes a lid that snaps on tight to seal in moisture.
Cambro 4qt storage bin & Cambro Lid – Wondering what to do with that 5 pound bag of flour? Annoyed when the paper bag rips? Having trouble when bugs and other pests get into your flour? This high quality storage bin will keep out the pests while sealing in your flour. The lid is sold separately, so make sure to order both! This is large enough to hold a whole 5-pound bag of flour.
Storage canister for yeast – Are you still buying yeast in those little triple pack envelopes? If you bake more than once or twice a year, it’s worth it to buy yeast by the the pound, and store it in a sealed canister like this one in your freezer.
Silicone spatula – A good silicone spatula may not be enough for your kitchen. You may find you like it so much you need more than one! Scrape out every last bit from a bowl, stir hot things on the stove top without fear of melting it, etc.