Specialty Equipment


Making sourdough generally requires very basic staples. However, if you look at my recipes (or most other sourdough recipes), you will notice there are some specialty equipment that they ask for.

Although most of the equipment I am going to talk about are helpful to sourdough bread making, many are not necessary. I made sourdough bread for a long time without many of these things and slow started to build my collection once I was able to.

Banneton Basket

Banneton baskets are like a wicker basket that the dough sits in and rises. They are usually used during the cold overnight fermentation. The idea behind these baskets is that they are allow air to circulate around the dough and dries out the outside layer of dough. This helps the dough keep its shape, makes it easier to score and helps with a thin and crisp crust.

There are many affordable banneton baskets available (I got mine from Amazon). However, if you don’t want to purchase on just yet, a substitute that I used is just a loaf pan lined with two layers of cheesecloth or a kitchen towel. Although you won’t get the same type of air circulation, since the loaf pan is solid, the cheesecloth or kitchen towel will absorb some of that moisture from the surface of the dough and give a similar effect.

Bread Lame

A bread lame is basically a razor blade on some sort of holder. It’s used to score the dough before baking so the bread will rise in a predictable way. If the dough it not scored, it will burst open unpredictably when it springs up in the oven.

Again, there are many affordable bread lame options. The one I use came with the banneton baskets I ordered and it is defiantly not on the fancy side. However, you can easily substitute with a razor blade or a sharp knife.

NOTE – it is easier to score if the surface of the dough is dry.

Dutch Oven

Most at home sourdough bakers bake their loaves in a Dutch oven. It is heavy duty and retains a lot of heat. When baking the dough with the Dutch oven lid closed, it traps all that steam in, which helps the dough spring up. This is to replicate a steam oven, which most of us probably don’t have.

In my opinion, the best alternative to a Dutch oven is a turkey roasting pan. It works in basically the exact same way and the results I get are usually identical. I have also seen people using a foil roasting pan as a lid over a loaf pan to help trap in some of that heat. You can also just bake uncovered in the oven. I have tried this before and although the outside did not spring open as much, the inside was still risen and soft.

Don’t let the equipment (or lack thereof) stop you from attempting sourdough bread making. You do not really need most of these things and can often find an alternative that you already have. I made sourdough bread for months without most of these things and made some pretty successful and tasty loaves. As long as you have a starter, water, flour and salt, you can make a sourdough loaf!

Comment below if you have any alternative to these pieces of equipment.

Happy baking!

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