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Baking bread is relatively simple: Mix flour, water, yeast, and salt together, proof it, pop it in the oven, and—voilà!—bread. But as with many culinary pursuits, having the right tools can make all the difference. Baking is as much a science as it is an art.

Sure, a lot of the craft is trial and error and getting a sense of how the dough should look, act, and feel throughout the bread-making process. But equally as important are precise measurements, proper ingredients, and practical tools. Here are our picks for everything a home baker can use to bake their best bread.

kitchenaid stand mixer
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Best Stand Mixer: KitchenAid

View at Williams Sonoma ($430)

If you don't have the leisure time (or spare hands) to do the kneading, take it out of the equation with a classic stand mixer—the dough hook is a staple for a reason. If you have the space, a professional-grade stand mixer will have metal gears (as opposed to nylon in other models) as well as a larger-capacity bowl so it can really stand up to big batches of dough.

It's a given that KitchenAid's 5-quart stand mixer is a joy to own in any household. It has ten speeds to meet every variation and a continual rotations that will knead dough quickly and evenly. The Pro-Line series has an even larger capacity at 7 quarts and can make even bigger loaves, cakes, and massive batches of cookies.

ozeri kitchen scale
Credit: Amazon

Best Kitchen Scale: Ozeri Pronto

View at Amazon ($15)

Here's where the science aspect of baking first comes into play. Measuring your flour, water, and starter in grams or ounces will greatly improve your accuracy and consistency. And speaking of consistency, when you're portioning dough into smaller loaves or rolls, a kitchen scale is essential for creating identical batches.

The Ozeri Pronto scale is lightweight and easy to store and can manage up to 11.24 pounds with graduations of .05 ounces. The unit button can convert between five types of measurements: grams, pounds, ounces, pounds and ounces, and milliliters. The tare function makes it easy to measure ingredients while accounting for the container or bowl. All it requires is two AAA batteries, and it'll power off automatically after two minutes to preserve battery life. It's a user-friendly tool that you'll use in the kitchen more often than you think.

dutch oven
Credit: Le Creuset

Best Dutch Oven: Le Creuset

View at Le Creuset ($440)

The key to perfectly crusty boules is heat and moisture management, for which most home ovens aren't ideal. Preheating a cast iron Dutch oven to enclose your loaf for baking is a simple and foolproof way to create the perfect baking environment. Alternatively, experienced bakers who make loaves more regularly and have the space may consider a bread cloche.

The F&W test kitchen loves Le Creuset as the premium Dutch oven option for baking bread. The enameled cast iron creates the perfect environment for steam to crisp the dough as it bakes, and heats evenly for a superior crusty result. It's one of the most versatile and essential kitchen tools, and a serious baker can only benefit from owning one.

ball mason jar
Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Starter Container: Ball Jar

View at Bed Bath and Beyond ($19)

Maintaining a starter is sort of like caring for a new pet, and yes, they'll even need their own little house to live in. Any sealed container or crock can work, but consider a wide-mouth jar for easy feeding, ventilating (just place the top on loosely), and washing. Some of our editors prefer using two: one primary container for the refrigerator and the second for making levain and to transfer the starter into while washing the first. 

A large mason jar with a screw-top lid is perfectly adequate for starter purposes. While flip-top mason jars may look prettier, they can be a pain to clean and pour from. Ball's classic 1-quart wide-mouth jars will do the trick, and a full set is serviceable for everything from drinking glasses to pickling.

oxo bench scraper
Credit: Oxo

Best Bench Scraper: Oxo

View at Oxo ($12)

Not only does a bench scraper keep your countertop clean, but it's also the ideal tool for lifting and folding sticky dough from the work surface as well as cutting dough down into portions. A flexible bench and bowl combination can do double duty by also helping get every scrap of dough out of the mixing bowl.

Oxo's Good Grips Multipurpose Scraper is lightweight stainless steel with a non-slip handle. The dishwasher-safe tool includes inch measurement markings along the edge and functions as both a bowl scraper and a chopper as needed. It's handy for all types of kitchen prep.

dough whisk
Credit: Sur La Table

Best Dough Whisk: Tovolo

View at Sur La Table ($15)

A dough whisk (often called a Danish dough whisk) is designed to incorporate the ingredients while avoiding the messy cleanup of a traditional whisk or over-beating the dough with electric tools. It's also handy for other baking projects where folding is required, as well as breakfast foods like crepes and pancakes.

The stainless steel Tovolo dough whisk is easy to toss in the dishwasher for cleanup (wooden tools can be a pain to keep clean). It stores easily in a crock or utensil drawer and won't warp or rust over time.

cambro
Credit: Amazon

Best Container: Cambro

View at Amazon ($12)

Standard mixing bowls can work for most bread recipes. But for dough that expands in size and can be finicky about when it's proofed long enough, a clear, graduated container can help you keep an eye on things. For larger projects you'll likely need more than a mixing bowl.

Ask any baker what large container they have for flour, and it's likely a Cambro. This 6-quart size is big enough for plenty of rising dough but can also work well as a sous vide bath. It's stain and odor-resistant and safe to use in the fridge, freezer, and dishwasher.

bowl covers
Credit: Food52

Best Bowl Covers: Dot & Army

View at Food52 ($70)

Keep dough cozy while proofing with decorative, washable, and reusable bowl covers. A bread cover prevents the dough from drying out and keeps any curious children or pets away from the treasured sourdough while it's rising.

Dot & Army's cloth covers are a sustainable option for bowl coverage. The set comes with six sizes to fix snugly on any dough or batter at hand, and wash easily in the machine (just remember to lay flat to dry).

proofing basket
Credit: Crate & Barrel

Best Proofing Basket: Frieling

View at Crate and Barrel ($30)

A proofing basket, also called a brotform or banneton, designed to help bread dough keep its shape during proofing. Dough relaxes as it proofs, but this tool provides support that prevents dough from flattening out.  

A Frieling brotform rattan basket is a great option for frequent bread bakers and will give the loaves a ribbed surface for texture.

oven thermometer
Credit: Misen

Best Oven Thermometer: Misen

View at Misen ($8)

The difference between the actual temperature inside an oven and what the display or knob says can vary widely. A reliable and accurate oven thermometer will tell you the exact temperature inside your oven, so you can adjust or trust the baking times in a recipe. 

Misen's oven thermometer has an easy-to-read face that will resist discoloration. Nothing flashy is required here, just a straightforward tool that works well.

loaf pan
Credit: Amazon

Best Loaf Pan: USA Pan

View at Amazon ($21)

If you're planning to make sandwich bread, a loaf pan is the vessel of choice for uniformly rectangular bread. If you're opting for a no-knead method, then you'll want to consider a cast iron loaf pan which can be properly heated up in the oven before placing the dough inside.

Our top pick: USA Pan's nonstick loaf pan is made from a blend of new and recycled steel and is PFOA and BPA-free. The corrugated surface helps with air circulation to get the most even bake on your loaves and cakes. The heavy-gauge steel won't warp or expand for consistently great recipe results.

baking stone
Credit: King Arthur Flour

Best Baking Stone: King Arthur Bread and Pizza Stone

View at King Arthur Baking ($60)

A baking stone turns your oven rack into a flat surface with even heat, basically as close to a professional bread baking oven as you can get at home.

Our top pick: From pizzas to French loaves, King Arthur Bread's baking stone will do the trick. The Cordierite stone absorbs heat easily and evenly and can even be used on the grill with temperatures up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to use parchment when baking pastries with higher fat content to protect the stone from odors, as it does season itself and develop a patina from use over time.

bread lame
Credit: Amazon

Best Bread Lame: Baker of Seville Lame

View at Amazon ($15, originally $30)

Proper scoring is key for the best bake possible. In a pinch, kitchen shears or a straight razor will do the trick, but the pros use a lame to accurately and quickly slice the top of their formed dough to release steam, add texture, and allow room for expansion as the bread bakes. It's the secret to the prettiest loaf designs, especially for bread around the holidays. 

The Baker of Seville bread lame has both straight and curved blade options for the most exact scoring. It's stainless steel, easy to clean, and comes with a storage case to protect your tools (and fingers) when sifting through the utensil drawer.

cooling rack
Credit: Food52

Best Cooling Rack: Nordic Ware

View at Food52 ($36)

Once your piping hot loaves come out of the oven, you'll need a place to put them with good circulation so they cool down as soon as possible. A cooling rack helps prevent over-baking because your bread cools faster through more points of contact with the air. It also keeps moisture from being trapped inside, making sure you don't lose the crust you've worked so hard to build.  

Nordic Ware's copper plated cooling racks are large enough to handle baguette and sturdy enough for heavy boulés and sourdough. The nonstick grates are easy to clean and are also refrigerator- and freezer-safe for all your baking projects.

bread knife
Credit: Made In

Best Serrated Bread Knife: Made In

View at Made In ($99)

You just put all that work into a crusty, fluffy loaf. Don't ruin it by squishing it with an improper slicing knife. Look for a specialty bread knife. It will yield even slices without compressing the bread.

Chef Nancy Silverton helped design Made In's 9-inch bread knife, which is fully forged with a full tang. The balanced weight is perfect for slicing all styles of bread.

Our Expertise

Adam Campbell-Schmitt is an avid bread baker who has worked as a news editor for Food & Wine for five years, covering the latest in food, dining, and home cooking. He also added recommendations from F&W Associate Food Editor Kelsey Youngman. This piece was updated by food writer Jonathan Bender and Senior Commerce Editor Megan Soll.