My Baking Implements

Previously I posted about my “Most Important Baking Implement“. I had someone ask me the other day “What’s a Dutch Oven?”. That made me think that maybe it would be helpful for me to write a post about what my other baking implements happen to be.

This post will list my baking implements. I won’t expect it to be an exhaustive list nor will it be in any particular order other than my stream of thought at the moment.

Here goes….

Dutch Ovens – Dutch ovens are what I bake most of my sourdough breads in. I preheat them in my oven and bake my breads in them with “Lids On” for a period of time and with “Lids Off” (or out of the oven entirely to finish the bake. The utility of the dutch oven is that it provides more closed environment which can trap moisture escaping from the bread. This mimics the steam-injection in high-end / commercial ovens and helps keep the crust moist to allow a full “bloom” on the bread before the crust “locks”.

I’ve both ceramic and cast-iron Lodge Dutch Ovens. The cast iron one can be flipped either way. Recently I splurged and bought myself a #ChallengerBreadPan from www.challengerbreadware.com

Scales – I measure by weight rather than volume. In other words, my recipes use the gram weight of the ingredients rather than the volume. I rarely use measuring cups or spoons anymore. “Baker’s Percentages” are much easier when you’re using the metric system rather Cups, Tablespoons or Ounces. I have now started to write the gram weight on the underside of bowls I use frequently. The things I consider important on the scale are a) whether it will handle the weight I’m trying to measure and b) can I see the display when I’ve a bowl on it!

Bannetons – These are the cane baskets (with or without linen inserts) that I use to prove the bread after I’ve shaped the bread and will bake it the next day. I shape the bread and put them into the fridge overnight before I bake them the next day. Bannetons come in all shapes and sizes. Round ones for “Boules” and oblong ones for “Batards”. Dusting the linen with flour helps the dough to not stick to the banneton. They will get “seasoned” with this flour. They will pull some of the moisture out of the surface of the dough and make a skin as the dough rises in the basket. It is this skin that gets slashed to create room for the bread to bloom.

Lame – The Lame is what I use to slash the bread. It is what creates the expansion joint where the bread can bloom or expand in the first 10-12 minutes. How deep and at what angle the slash is can have a lot to do with how well the “ear” forms on a loaf.

Bread / Serrated Knives – These are what I used to cut my bread. Sawing through the crust or a croissant is much easier with a serrated knife than a straight blade.

Graduated Cylinder / Measuring Cup – OK. I misspoke. I do use a measuring cup at times. One milliliter (1ml) of water equals 1 gram (1gm) if you remember your high school science. I do use this…. but mostly I use my scale(s).

Small Glass Bowls – I use these to hold various ingredients that I measure out before I begin mixing etc. I will “tare out” (zero) the scale before adding the ingredients to the bowls. In this picture you see a bowl that I’ve added the 18g of Sea Salt to and a bit of water for bread dough that I’m mixing.

“Shower Caps” (Disposable Picnic Covers) – OK. They’re NOT shower caps…just what I call them. I put them over bowls and bannetons at times to keep a skin from forming on dough as I leave it to prove or bulk-ferment in the fridge. You can see one sitting in one of the bannetons above. These are cheap and come in various sizes. I find them very useful.

Proving Box – I’ve found that my proving box is VERY handy. I can set it at a defined temperature and prove all sorts of dough, my levain. Mine folds down and stores really great. It is from Brod and Taylor. The picture below is of me using it to prove some Sourdough Pullman Loaves. I prove them in the drawer for 5 hours at 80oF.

Proving Bags – These are big bags that I can prove items on my baking trays. For instance, I will put croissants in these bags and prove them for 3 hours before I bake the croissants. My bags are clear so I can see how things are progressing.

Pullman Pans and Parchment Paper – Pullman pans are what I used to bake sandwich bread. They come without lids (what you see) or with slide on lids. The ones with lids make the square sandwich bread. Parchment paper I used to line my pans to help ease the bread out after it has baked. I also use parchment paper to lower loaves into my Dutch ovens. The pic below shows both the Pullman pans and parchment paper.

Mixer with Spiral Bread Hook – I make extensive use of my KitchenAid Mixer and its spiral bread hook. I like to mix and knead bread by hand; however, I’ve found that I get great results using my mixer and this type of hook. Hard to believe I’ve had this mixer for 35+ years and its still going as strong as ever!

Bench / Dough Scrapers – I’ve various scrapers that I use when making dough, pasta etc. They’re handy for getting dough out of bowls, shaping and cutting dough, scraping counters etc.

Rolling Pins – It goes without saying that you knead (pardon the pun) rolling pins. My current favorite is my white marble rolling pin. Croissant dough doesn’t stick to it as easily. I also like its “heft”. There are all sizes and styles of rolling pins. Some have thickness guides. Others have handles. It’s really your preference as to what you use.

There are LOTS of other implements I use. For now THIS will have to do. My wife was looking at me funny as I was writing this and running down to the kitchen to take yet another photo. She asked if I was trying to document everything in the kitchen….. I responded “No” (I’m not sure if she believes me).

Regardless, I hope that this gives you a sense of what implements I use to bake. They are simply the tools I have at my disposal. I’m trying as best I can to use them and be consistent in my bakes.

If you have any special implements you use please feel free to comment and share them with me. I like to learn!

Published by Jim Hayden

Enterprise Transformation Consultant by day; Baker by night! Learning all the time! Iterative and incremental improvement always!

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