When I started my bakery I knew it was going to take considerable effort to get my idea off the ground.
If only I had been fortunate enough to read an article like the one I am writing for you now!
Luckily, I am willing to share the experience and knowledge I have gained over the past few years and hopefully, impart something valuable to you that will help make starting your own bakery a breeze.
Today, let's focus on essential, everyday equipment that you are going to need and get you ready to bake!
Equipment Needed For a Small Bakery
Not everything on this list will be big ticket items, but trust me when I say that sometimes the smaller utensils are worth twice their weight in gold.
Other pieces of equipment will undoubtedly make you say "duh" or "why are you telling me this" but there are specifics about every item on this list that you need to pay attention to in order to be successful.
Case in point, please refer to #1!
#1 An oven.
But not just any run-of-the-mill oven. As a baker, you need an even heating, flat cake making, airtight superstar of an oven, with optional convection and self cleaning.
Your oven needs to be true to temperature so that you are not having to constantly adjust your baking times or hover around checking how brown your pastries are when you should be constructing your creme patisserie over on the range.
Just as important is whether you will use a gas or electric oven. Sometimes that choice will be made for you, i.e., if you are baking from home and only have access to one or the other.
In that case, your choice of brand, make and model is going to be even more important, as you do not want to scrimp on a piece of equipment that will have a colossal impact on the quality of your confections.
Another question to consider- standard floor oven or wall piece? In my opinion, go with a wall mounted model- all of the bending over gets old and there are definite perks to having your oven at eye level.
#2 Floor Mixer/ Tabletop Mixer/ Hand Mixer.
Again, this seems pretty obvious, but the devil is in the details with this item.
Once you have your idea formed and you know what types of goods you want to offer through your bakery, you have to ask yourself which one of these will serve your needs best?
It could be you need all of them, if you are a commercial baker, as you will be mixing up large batches of dough at one time in a stand mixer and cake frosting on the counter in the tabletop.
Home bakers probably will not have the room for a bulky floor mixer, but tabletop mixers knead smaller amounts just as well as the larger models.
When it comes to hand mixers, every baker should have one or two lying around for whipping up meringues, sauces and creams to drizzle over or dip scrumptious pastries in.
Our Mixer Picks
#3 Shelving Racks.
Space is a must in a baker's kitchen and you are going to thank me when you have plenty of it because you invested in several multilevel shelving racks.
If you do not have them, all of your finished products will be left to cool on your counter or table, leaving you with absolutely no room to roll out another batch of croissants.
Racks are also lifesavers when it comes to storing ingredients out of the way. The point is to reduce clutter and give you the elbow room you are going to need.
Most of the time, you do not have to have every single ingredient on hand at one time anyway, so these can save you a lot of frustration.
#4 Sheet pans/ Bread pans/ All types of pans!
When you are planning your business and thinking about what you are going to sell and how many you think you can sell in a week, it is important to take in to consideration how many batches you can make in a given amount of time.
Take into account how many pans you think you will need and then double, or even triple that amount.
Because even though you are positive you can fit twelve puff pastry squares on one sheet pan, it turns out you are outstanding at making puff pastry and those babies puff like there's no tomorrow and fill the whole pan, with each one touching the next (something you don't want).
So you have to readjust and as it turns out, you can only fit six on one pan and now,your production time is off.
Have those extra pans ready and raring to go, for the one thing to remember about dough, it goes with the flow. And how its going to fit, sometimes you never know.
#5 Dough scrapers.
The small, but mighty hand tool of the baking trade.
I bought my first dough scraper after reading Julia Child's baking book and she specifically mentioned that every baker needs a few of these.
Let me tell you, she was right.
You will use this piece of equipment for everything. Have a ciabatta dough that's super loose? Take that dough scraper, gather it up and give it the turns it deserves!
I even use mine when I am working butter for laminating; it so much easier than using a rolling pin to pound cold butter into subdued malleability and not near as messy.
For everything from cleanup to dividing and cutting dough, you will want one within arms reach at all times.
#6 Plastic Bins.
There are few things I hate more than a fifty pound bag of flour.
It is heavy and I get enough exercise being on my feet all day.
Besides, who wants to lug something that big all over the kitchen when there is an easier way?
Plastic storage bins will be your very best friends. Not only will they make accessing and using your ingredients much simpler, they will keep them free from pests, something that a paper bag will not do.
Fifty pounds of weevil studded flour is maddening and a financial loss, which the small baker honestly cannot afford.
#7 Display case.
There is a saying on most cooking shows that people eat with their eyes first.
So it does not matter how good your pastries and confections are if you do not have the public salivating over them by setting them out for all the world to see.
And when you are ready to present the fruits of your baking prowess, you want it to catch the eye in an attractive and delicious way.
Display cases can without a doubt take your business to the next level by making people realize that they are craving one of your delightful cheese danishes .
Rows and stacks of yeasty, sugar sprinkled treats have a way of communicating all on their own. Your job is to simply the stage.
#8 Good Quality Packaging.
Since there are so many options for packaging available, you absolutely have to do your research to find out which type will be best for you and your bakery.
Cardboard, plastic, waxed paper, everything that will house a product of yours in any way, shape or form must be tailored to suit.
Think carefully about weight, composition, moisture content and additional opportunities to exhibit your wares by way of your customers when choosing your packaging.
You do not want anything too flimsy that could collapse, nor do you want ugly grease or fingerprint stains on the outside of your pastry boxes.
This is another one of those items that you cannot cut corners on; your packaging is a sign of your brand and the quality of it will speak volumes.
#9 Large mixing bowls/ Spatulas/ Spoons/ Decorating equipment.
Yes, some of these are no brainers, but the big take away with this is planning and quantity.
Just like with pans, you will probably need more bowls, spatulas and spoons than you think, especially when you are slammed with orders.
Spending valuable baking time at the sink washing, rinsing and sanitizing every time you need a new bowl is a waste- have plenty on hand.
Decorating equipment is another definite must have for a professional baker.
Remember how people eat with their eyes?
Well, if it is not pretty enough to go on that fancy display case, it will not do you a bit of good.
And I used to be one of those bakers who said I did not care about how it looked because I knew it tasted good!
Guess what- I have learned my lesson.
Invest in a good, sturdy decorating set with plenty of different tips, a fondant roller, a French rolling pin and masses of pastry bags.
#10 Aprons/ Hair nets/ Hats.
I once had the misfortune of finding a hair in a plate of food I was eating at a restaurant.
I have never gone back to that restaurant.
This is a situation you want to avoid at all costs!
In addition to keeping you and your clothes free of flour, dough and every other sticky substance that a bakery can churn out, these items will help protect your reputation and your customer base.
Not to mention that if you are running a commercial establishment, by law you have to have them.
Make sure they are of durable fabric so you will not be buying new ones every three months and have them embossed with your logo.
Take every chance you can to let people see your name! Aprons and the like are just as important as a home baker; no one wants to find an object in their scone that should not be there and just because you are a home baker does not mean it is allowed.
The same laws might not apply, but you will lose customers and money.
#11 Food Processor or chopper.
Necessity might be the mother of invention, but there is something to be said for machines that make our lives easier.
As a baker, you are going to have plenty to do besides just baking.
Having a food processor is going to make those extra tasks a breeze, as you can chop large quantities of nuts or chocolate quickly.
Making pie dough is a snap with a processor and my favorite recipe for Danish pastry cuts the butter into the dough with one- and it always turns out amazing.
Some shortcuts are meant to be taken advantage of!
#12 Accounting Software. And a filing system.
Running a business requires several pieces of equipment that will not be at home in your kitchen and unless you have an eidetic memory, you will need to keep records of every transaction.
Even if you can remember them all, there might be situations where you have to prove what happened.
Accounting software will also be helpful in tracking what you are spending in ingredients versus what you are bringing in as profit, allowing you to adjust your prices accordingly without giving yourself undue headaches.
What's the best software? Well it can depend but in general we recommend Quickbooks by Intuit.
Be sure to have an organized, straightforward filing system as well to keep receipts, licenses, invoices and everything else that you could ever be asked to provide.
Taking the time to do this is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your business, your finances and your good name.
There you have it- a baker's list of necessary items by a baker, for bakers.
I can only hope my insight helps prevent a 3 a.m. Walmart run for more supplies, something I shamefully admit to having done before.
Most importantly, what do you think of the list?
Did I miss anything, all you lovely, confectionery creators who reek of frosting and vanilla?
Be sure to comment and share with your own experiences and tips.