So… you want to start baking bread at home?
Here are some pointers and tips I have thrown together to help you get started.
- You will need some pans. You’ll need at least 2 but preferably 4 half sheet pans. Make sure you get ones that will fit in your oven with the oven door fully closed. You will need at least two 9×5 loaf pans. I get mine at Ross or TJMaxx…you can get good quality brands at a fraction of the price. You might want to get other types of pans – baguette pans, pain de mie, etc.
- Get some parchment paper. This stuff is essential to bread baking!
- You will need a digital, instant read thermometer. I got mine at Publix for <$10.
- You will eventually need a digital scale which has a Tare feature and measures in multiple units and (at most) 1g increments. I got mine on Amazon. Shop around.
- You will need 2 dough rising buckets. A large bowl will work, but trust me on this…the dough rising bucket is much better. I like the large dough rising bucket from KAF.
- You’ll need plenty of flour. I like to use KAF flour, though I do occasionally use supermarket brand flour or Gold Medal. In general though, you will need at least 5# of AP and 5# of “bread” flour as well as 3# of wheat on hand.
- Make sure you have fine sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, honey, vanilla extract, unsalted butter, PAM spray (baking and original), and eggs on hand.
- You will need a stand mixer. I use the KitchenAid Artisan series which is 325 watts, but it is very underpowered. However, if you don’t overload it, it will do just fine. Note: For proper home bread making, you need something like the 7 qt. KitchenAid NSF Commercial mixer.
- Yeast! Get the 16 oz. bag of SAF Red Instant Yeast. And make sure you get a yeast measuring spoon and an acrylic yeast canister. This will last you a while…and performs far better than the supermarket Fleischmann’s Active Dry yeast packets.
- You need an oven stone. Again, TJMaxx and Ross have them for <$25.
- You need cooling racks – several different sizes.
- You need a bench scraper. Get a good one. I got mine at Crate and Barrel for <$5.
- You need a silicone brush (for egg wash, brushing butter, etc.)
- You need plenty of prep bowls in all sizes and shapes. And measuring cups in 1,2 and 3 cup capacities.
- Space! You need room to work. I got a large pastry board at Dillards and it really makes cleanup easy. A kitchen island? Even better!
- Time! For many breads, you need to learn time management. For example, some breads require you to start the process 18+ hours in advance. Once you actively begin making the bread, you need undivided time to work on it and to see it through to completion. Leaving when you are halfway through is not an option! Bread is more about timing than anything else.
- Money! All of the above items take considerable amounts of money. So prepare to invest some if you are truly serious about baking bread at home.
- Patience! Baking bread at home requires considerable patience. You also need to be prepared to fail. Not all attempts will be successful. Have fun in the journey, not just at the destination.
Did I forget something? Absolutely! The point is there is more to baking bread at home than you might think. However…the reward is well worth the labor of love.