If there’s a singular culinary wave that’s washed over America since the start of Covid-19, it’s a love for home-baked carbs. A warm, fluffy slice of sourdough might not be as scientifically studied as exercise or meditation for alleviating our countless anxieties, but anyone who has torn into some tangy crust after a long day at the virtual office knows how cathartic home-baked gluten can be.

As many of us have come to find out, the joy we get from bread (and breadlike substances) isn’t in just how good they taste. The simple act of baking can be a spiritual experience, taking your mind off the world around you to deal with one small living thing.

I’ve made a few decent loaves in my time, but I’ve also consulted our resident gear nerds, local bakers, yeast experts, and even my sourdough-worshipping mother. Here are their favorite tools, tips, and recipes, from their mouths to yours.

Updated February 2021: We’ve added art, checked links, and tweaked copy throughout.

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Step 1: Check Your Gear

I was surprised at how many awesome breadmaking tools recommended by experts, friends, and coworkers are actually affordable. Here are some favorites, alongside more basic kitchen tools you may already have around. In the name of simplicity, I mainly link to products on Amazon, but similar goods are almost certainly available at your favorite local shops or etailers.

Photograph: Amazon

A marble breadboard ($41): A standard cutting board or countertop will often suffice for rolling and kneading dough, but this marble one keeps dough colder longer (ideal for pastries and other temperature-sensitive doughs). Pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes before you use it, and you’ll have even less of an issue with dough sticking.