Opening a bakery can be a tremendous undertaking. In the culinary world there is a common saying that goes along the lines of: “Cooking is an art, baking is a science,” (something most pastry chefs would likely refute). Just as any “science lab”, a bakery needs proper equipment to conduct all of their baking experiments. Let’s take a look at some of the essentials of putting together a functional baking laboratory.
Back-Of-The-House Operations: The BOH is the heart and soul of every bakery. Bakery kitchens are traditionally whirring with activity before they are open for business, and the wealth of products offered at bakeries require a fully stocked kitchen. Aside from standard items including sinks, dishwashers, etc., there are number of items that are important to have in the bakery kitchen.
- Planetary Mixers – A quality mixer is the foundation of a bakery. A large dough mixer is a must in every bakery, but often times it is necessary to have an emulsion blender, and even additional mixers or a smaller countertop mixer to mix different sized batches of dough or other items. After all, it wouldn’t be prudent to whip a small batch of meringue in a 500+ lb. dough mixer.
- Dough Proofers – A proofer is an essential piece of equipment for any bakery that is planning on producing bread. In some instances, bakeries will opt to buy combination proofer / oven units that are capable of proofing large quantities of dough.
- Ovens – Depending on what you will be baking, there will be an oven suited for your needs. Stone deck ovens are ideal for baking hearth breads, and convection ovens are good for things like cakes and cookies. That is not to say bread cannot be cooked in a convection oven or cakes in a deck oven, however each variety of oven has features that differ from the others that affect how the final product turns out. It is important to examine what your bakery’s primary focus is (breads, pastries, cakes, etc.) and purchase cooking equipment to meet those needs.
- Dough Sheeters – Pastry shops that use excessive amounts of pie or pastry dough would do well to look at investing in a dough sheeter. Rolling out dough can be a time consuming process, especially in commercial quantities, so bakeries that will be doing lots of dough rolling would do wise to invest in a sheeter.
- Wood Top Work Tables – Work tables are a must in every kitchen, but bakeries tend to have one particular variety come standard. Most bakers prefer wooden top work tables, as they provide an ideal surface for flouring, kneading, and rolling.
- Bread Slicers – Bakeries that offer bread should invest in a bread slicer. Bread slicers offer consistently cut bread, and makes bagging sliced bread for sale far less time consuming.
- Bakeware – For obvious reasons, bakeware is 100% necessary in a bakery. Bread pans, muffin tins, cake pans, sheet pans and a large number of other specialty baking pans must be gathered before opening. Even some cookware will be necessary like double boilers for things melting chocolate or butter, or saucepans for pie fillings.
- Ranges – A range is necessary some bakeries, especially in pastry kitchens or bakeries that make bagels. Melting chocolate or boiling bagels need to be done on a range, so it is once again important to examine what you will be baking before looking at ranges.
- Pastry Tools & Smallwares – Bakeries require a plethora of specialty smallwares (aside from standard smallwares like spatulas, cutlery, mixing bowls or cutting boards) to produce their wealth of baked goods. Rolling pins, pastry knives, bagel scoops and dough cutters should have a place in your bakery. Pastry shops will require even more of these specialty smallwares. Items such as pastry bags with designer icing tips, pastry brushes, and flour sifters, among a number of other specialty utensils, should be a part of the pastry chef’s tool box.
- Storage – Aside from shelving for dry storage, ingredient bins are an absolute must for bakeries. Bakeries go through tremendous amounts of flour and sugar, and ingredient bins are the most sanitary and accessible way to store them. Also, speed / bakery racks will be necessary
- Refrigeration – Though bakeries may not have an extensive need for refrigeration, most still have some need for refrigeration. Products including eggs, milk, cream, and even chocolate will most likely need to be refrigerated at some point. A freezer may be necessary for the same reason; however, in many instances a large dual temp reach-in or small walk-in will suffice.
- Ice Machine – It may sounds strange, but depending on the needs of your business, a small ice machine may be a good idea. Bakeries may at some point have a need for ice baths, but depending on the necessity, an ice machine may be overkill. Take stock of how often ice will be needed before making any purchases.
Front-Of-The-House: Though most bakeries have a humble (or in the instance of delivery or call ahead bakeries non-existent) front-of-the-house, there are still a few necessary pieces that should definitely be in your storefront should your business have one.
- Display Case – The centerpiece of a bakery’s storefront is the bakery display case. These cases are intended to house things like designer cakes, pies, cheesecakes, and most of your business’s wares. There are a variety of bakery cases on the market, so it is best to examine your specific setup and lay out your FOH in an eye-catching way that also maximizes storage space and customer flow. Also, it is important to note whether or not you can maximize the shelf life of your baked goods at room temperature when shopping for a display case, as there are a number of refrigerated bakery cases on the market should one be necessary.
- Display Shelving – Breads, rolls, bagels and other baked goods (usually hearth baked) can stay fresh at room temperature, and are usually displayed on slanted shelving. This shelving is often prefabricated, though in some instances business owners opt to have contractors custom build display shelving.
- Point-Of-Sale Equipment – Bakeries need a register, stocks of bags / boxes, and things to expedite the checkout process. Not only this, but storage areas for these items are very necessary in the FOH.