Below you’ll find my recommended sourdough baking tools. Everything listed is stuff that I own and use. I ordered them in the way that I would buy them if I was starting over, not necessarily by how much I love them. If I was ordering them that way, my Roccbox oven would be first.
I want to note that a lot of the things on the list have alternative options. If you’re just starting out, I encourage you to use what you have in your kitchen already to save a little money. After you start baking more, you can decide what you need to get.
I also want to add that while this list may seem long, it pays itself off very quickly. For example, using high-quality Caputo pizza flour, premium San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, I can make pizzas, for close to $2 a pizza. The same pizza would go for between $14-$18, apiece. If you make three pies, instead of going out, you’ve already saved close to $40, which would cover a food scale and baking sheets. Make pizza another time and you’ve already covered the bench scraper, starter jar, and food container.
So, don’t think you need the things I recommend, try to find replacements you already own, and know that, even if you do buy stuff, it will all pay itself back super quick.
Why It’s Awesome: Every recipe on the site is going to be in weight, grams to be exact. It’s the only way to ensure the hydration percentages are accurate. Any food scale will work, but you will need one for all of the recipes I have.
Alternative Equipment: None. This is the only sourdough baking tool without an alternative.
Why It’s Awesome: I use parchment paper for everything. From baking pizzas and bagels to proofing baguettes. The pre-cut paper is great and a good price, but you can’t go wrong with Reynolds rolls either.
Alternative Equipment: For wet doughs, I don’t think there is a replacement. Parchment paper is your pal. It has so many uses and is cheap enough that you just gotta get it.
Glass Jar for Starter
Why It’s Awesome: It’s not that it’s necessarily awesome, but it is definitely necessary to have one. Since your starter culture is the key to all of your baking, you need to take care of it. I really like the glass jars with build-in lids. Just make sure that you don’t use the rubber seal because the CO2 created needs to be able to escape, otherwise, your jar will break.
Alternative Equipment: Any kind of container that is at least .75 L and has a loose-fitting lid. Ideally, you want something that isn’t too wide, so it is easier to judge how much your starter is rising.
Why It’s Awesome: It can easily divide dough and also clean it off your countertop. It’s just a great all-purpose tool.
Alternative Equipment: You can use a knife to divide your dough; however, the wetter the dough, the more it will stick to the blade.
Baking Sheet + Lid
Why It’s Awesome: You’ll get a lot of use out of these baking sheets. I use them to bake baguettes, Sicilian pizza, and so much more. Also, they are great for proofing bagels and pizza dough, until you get a dough tray, and you can use the back of the sheet like a peel if you don’t want to buy one.
Alternative Equipment: There really isn’t one thing that can be used for some many tasks. You can proof on a plate, and you can bake baguettes directly on a baking steel. But, realistically, you already have a pan like this anyway, so you should be good to go. I recommend the lid for proofing because it’s easier than wrapping the tray with plastic wrap.
Why It’s Awesome: These containers are great for getting your starter going. I also use them every time I build my initial dough, as you’ll see in my recipes. On top of that, I use them for all food storage. They’re great for leftovers. And since they work in the freezer, I used them for storing stocks, soups, and sauces that I make.
Alternative Equipment: Any container with a lid that you have should work. You just want to make sure that the base isn’t too wide and it is about .75 to 1 L, to allow your starter to expand.
6-Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Why It’s Awesome: A Dutch oven is the best way to bake boules because it helps trap the moisture to simulate steam injection oven. It’s also just a great to use for cooking in general, especially braising meat.
Alternative Equipment: I’m not sure there is a good one. I guess any kind of pot with a lid, that can go in the oven up to 500 degrees, and retains heat well will work. Of course, a Dutch oven is the only thing I can think of. I will say that you only need one if you are making boules.
Why It’s Awesome: Not only is it heavy-duty and won’t crack on you, but it is also amazing at retaining heat. Sometimes, it might even be too awesome. It’s a must for Neapolitan pizza and bagels. I also like it for regulating the temp of my oven.
Alternative Equipment: If you have a baking stone, that should work fine. It won’t work as well as a steel, but it’s okay. And once your stone cracks, since it’s only a matter of time, you can upgrade to a steel.
6-Qt Cambro Tub and 12-Qt Cambro Tub + Lids
Why It’s Awesome: These foodservice tubs are perfect for mixing and proofing dough. Most of my recipes call for mixing by hand, so you need a big tub to work with. I also love that they are clear and indicated the volume on the side. That’s important because most of my proofing instructions are by eye instead of time since your environment is different than mine. For most recipes, the 6-Qt is going to be fine. You will need the 12-Qt if you make 12 bagels, two boules, or more than 4 pizzas.
Alternative Equipment: You could use Pyrex bowls or any kind of tub. It’s important they have straight sides instead of slanted, so you can accurately judge how much the dough has risen when proofing.
Why It’s Awesome: Makes putting bagels, pizzas, etc. in the over a lot easier. Also helpful for taking them out of the oven.
Alternative Equipment: As mentioned above, you can use the backside of the half baking sheet.
Why It’s Awesome: Almost everything you make, except for pizza, will need to cool for at least 20 minutes. This allows airflow on all sides and improves that process. It also fits nicely in the baking sheet and can be used for other baking or warming. I used it to keep cooked chicken cutlets warm.
Alternative Equipment: You could just cool your breads on a countertop or wood cutting board. Your crust might get a little soft, but it’s not the end of the world.
Baking Nice to Haves
Why It’s Awesome: I really like it for grilling and checking the temperature of my meats. It is also helpful to measure that water temp when making your starter, but that’s not completely necessary. I used to use it to measure the water temp of every dough I made, but I’ve since bailed on doing that.
Alternative Equipment: Your hand. It’s not as precise, but you can tell when something is cool, warm, or hot, right?
Why It’s Awesome: Makes proofing your boules super easy. You can just spread flour in the basket and drop the dough in. You don’t need any liner or anything. Also, the basket I linked to comes with a hand plastic bench scraper that is great for getting dough out of the proofing tubs and just moving it around.
Alternative Equipment: Pyrex bowls or any other kind of large bowl. If using something other than a proofing basket, you’ll want to line it with a heavily floured dish towel to make sure the dough doesn’t stick while proofing.
Why It’s Awesome: These have a great depth, which allows the dough to rise. They are also stackable, which makes them great to work with. And they fit in my fridge easily, which is necessary for proofing bagels. With the two trays, I can proof up to 12 pizzas or bagels at a time.
Alternative Equipment: The baking trays listed in the Must Have section.
Why It’s Awesome: A lot of pizzaiolos use these. They’re great for dividing dough and removing it from the baking sheet or proofing tray. Since maintaining the shape of the proofed pizza dough is important, these are pretty important.
Alternative Equipment: You can use a bench scraper most of the time. However, because of the size of the bench scraper, you might be limited when getting stuff our of the dough trays.
Roccbox Pizza Oven
Why It’s Awesome: This is my favorite thing that I own. It gets up to over 950 F and can cook a restaurant-style Neapolitan pizza in about 60 seconds. It is also for grilling and roasting all kinds of foods. I make most dinners during the summer with this oven.
Alternative Equipment: A regular oven. You won’t get the high temps or quite the same results, but for the most part, your regular oven is fine.