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.
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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!
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.
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.
SAF Instant Yeast – SAF Instant yeast is consistent and reliable. If you usually buy yeast at the grocery store, you really ought to consider buying it in bulk. When you the price for a 1 pound vacuum sealed bag, consider the little jars in the store are only one-fourth of the 1 pound bag, and that it would take 64 envelopes to make one bag!
Brabantia Fall Front Bread Box – Once your bread is baked, then what? Store it in a bread box to keep it from drying out too quickly. The refrigerator only speeds up the degradation of your bakes! Of course, if you know you won’t be able to eat your bakes in the first 48 hours, the freezer is your friend!
Microplane Premium Classic Zester Grater – The best way to incorporate citrus flavors into your bakes is by adding grated zest, not juice. You get more flavor from lemon zest than you will from the juice. A Microplane Zester does the job quickly and easily.
Cuisinart Mesh Strainers, 3 Pack Set – perfect for sifting and straining wet or dry ingredients. Great for separating out those tiny berry seeds that get stuck between your teeth or simply dusting a work surface with a little flout.
KitchenAid 9-Speed Digital Hand Mixer – Sometimes it’s just easier to use a hand mixer. When you don’t want to use your stand mixer, and save yourself the clean up, a hand mixer is just what you need. I picked up one of these this year, and I’m amazed how often it gets used.