What might be easier and less overwhelming is dividing up the material into smaller thematic chunks. So this is the first step to baking: assembling the necessary equipment.
Just a note before I get started. Some cleverer bloggers have written posts like these and imbedded "affiliate links." There are no affiliate links in this post, or on this blog for that matter. I haven't received anything free in exchange for reviewing or pushing it on the blog. The products here are actually what I use and love, and I won't receive any sort of monetary reward if you buy the equipment I have written about here.
1. Kitchen scale
2. Bench scraper
I like this scraper because it easily and cleanly divides the dough into smaller pieces, and I use it after I have kneaded on the counter top to scrape up all the little dough bits that are stuck to the counter. This is similar to the bench scraper I have. It's all metal instead of a handle that is wood or plastic so it's easy to clean.
3. Glass bowls of different sizes. I have pyrex which works well. You don't want them to be too heavy.
4. A tablespoon and a teaspoon
I feel like these two are all you really need. Everything else, such as 1/4 tsp or 1/2 tbs you can probably eyeball. The reason I use a teaspoon and tablespoon is that some dry ingredients just don't weigh enough to be measured accurately by weight. Examples are baking soda and baking powder, or a teaspoon of yeast. Most scales don't measure in smaller fractions than a gram, and so volume measures are the way to go. My tablespoon and teaspoon have the labels worn off, but I still know what they are because the reason the labels are worn off is because I use them so often.
Edited to add: Here's the proof!
5. Glass measuring cups
6. Small, sharp knife
At this point, your needs will dictate whether you want to purchase any of the following tools. Think about the type of bread you will be making. Do you want to make crusty, round loaves or sandwich bread? If you want crusty, check out #7 and 8. If sandwiches are your thing, check out #9 and #10.
7. Cast-iron dutch oven that can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees F.
8. Parchment paper
9. Heavy aluminum bread pans
I like the dark non-stick pans. That's all I have to say about that. Even though it says non-stick, I would still coat it in butter before baking bread in it. I would get two or even four in the same size so you can bake multiple loaves at once.
These bowl covers are one of my new favorite things and they've quickly become an essential. See, while the dough is rising, I cover the bowl (and then the loaf) with plastic wrap, which I then throw away. I knew it was wasteful, but I didn't know that there was a better way. These elastic bowl covers are reusable, so they fit over a bowl and then again over the tops of bread pans for the second rise. For this reason, they work best with sandwich loaves. I love that I can use them again and again instead of throwing away tons of plastic.
There you have it. My baking essentials. There are lots of other things that I use daily, such as my stand mixer, that are nice to have, but aren't necessarily essential. Your mileage may vary. I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about trying to bake and wants tasty, consistent results.