How to Design a Kitchen for Bakers
Most of the kitchen inspiration we have shown at Renonation has largely been catered for home cooks. But there’s been a significant group we have neglected—bakers. Bakers use the kitchen very differently from a chef, and often need a different set of requirements for their workspace. Whether you are an aspiring pastry chef or just bake more than you cook at home, here is how you can think about designing your kitchen.
You need a large countertop space
From a stand mixer to large mixing bowls to a whole set of measuring cups, bakers need lots of countertop space to work efficiently. The best way to achieve this is to go with a kitchen island, which affords plenty of uninterrupted workspace and elbow room. Make room for drawers and open shelves underneath the island to maximise functionality.
Kitchen islands are often a permanent fix, but if you lack the space or prefer one that can move about in the kitchen with you as you whip up cakes and cookies, go with a mobile, off-the-shelves rolling cart that has a worktop.
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Consider your countertop material and height carefully
When it comes to choosing your countertop material, natural stones like marble are the best for bakers. Besides being non-stick, it can also help to keep pastry dough cool while you roll them out. But because natural stone is porous and can stain and scratch easily, it isn’t the best option for a hardworking space like the kitchen.
In this case, consider using two different countertop materials in your kitchen. Your main countertop can be made of a hardier material like quartz or stainless steel, while the countertop of your baking station can be made of marble.
Most bakers also prefer a counter height that is slightly shorter than the standard counter height, as it helps them to knead and roll dough out more easily. However, you might not want a short counter for your other tasks in the kitchen, so you could get an extended countertop that can be concealed underneath your main counter just for doing specific baking tasks.
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You will want plenty of storage space
You also need to make sure you have enough storage space. Bakers tend to accumulate a lot of wares and supplies over time, as baking is all about precision and often requires specific tools for a recipe to work. Different sized cookie trays, a whole assortment of specialty pans, measuring spoons and cups, decorator’s tools, cupcake liners, rolling pins, whisks…the list in a baker’s arsenal is endless.
Bulky appliances like your stand mixer and food processor should be left out on the countertop, because you don’t want to be constantly moving them in and out of your shelves or cabinets. But for everything else, designate an area in your kitchen for your baking supplies.
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If you have the space, do up a walk-in pantry. If you are stocking up dry ingredients in there, make sure you don’t locate it next to things that get hot e.g. oven, stove or the fridge.
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Open shelves are a good option if you don’t cook often since they will let you see where everything is at at a glance. But if you do cook, do note that the grease and grime can stick to anything that is left out on the open.
Stack trays vertically so you can reach for the one you want easily without toppling everything else. We like using shelf dividers or metal file organisers to organise our wares. Install shallow cabinets or pull-out drawers so you won’t forget anything at the back of the cupboards.
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For small baking accessories, get them in smaller see-through containers and organise them in terms of functionality e.g. baking moulds and rings, measuring equipment, decorating tools, etc. before placing them inside your cabinets.
For dry ingredients, you’ll want them stored in clear, wide-mouth containers so that they are easier to scoop out when you need them. Label them with expiry dates so you know when you need to go on a grocery run.
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Invest in a large fridge
As a frequent baker, you will need a big fridge. Because of Singapore’s humidity and hot weather, it’s best to store some of your dry ingredients like your flours and sugars in the refrigerator so that they don’t clump up or get infested by pests.
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Some recipes also call for things to be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer, so you will want to get a refrigerator that is wider than your largest tray or pan and preferably one with a bottom freezer. A bottom-freezer fridge usually has a roomier freezer than top-freezer fridges. If you decorate cakes often, you will also see the need to keep your cake layers chilled and after crumb coating. Have adjustable and removable shelves for your refrigerator so that you can accommodate cakes of different heights.
Think about where you’re going to position your oven
You will likely be getting a built-in oven rather than a countertop one. The former usually come in larger capacities, enough for most of your baking needs. But the crucial thing is where you should locate the oven. If you bake more than you cook, you don’t have to place the appliance beneath your hob. Instead, locate it at eye level, where you can easily monitor whether your puff pastries are becoming too brown. As every baker knows, it can go from baked to burnt in a blink of an eye.
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A built-in oven at eye-level is also easier to pull out trays and pans, since you won’t need to bend your back to do so. Make sure you keep it at just the right height and not too tall so you won’t burn any elbows. Have the bottom of the oven hovering near the height of your countertop or just below it if you have an additional appliance like a microwave above it.
Think about clean-up
Bakers accumulate a lot of used bowls, dirty measuring spoons and greasy pans really quickly. So investing in a dishwasher would be a good idea to get on top of your post-baking clean-up. However, do note that a lot of baking wares shouldn’t be thrown in the dishwasher. This includes wooden spoons, non-stick pans or trays, piping tips, certain types of plastics and some mixer attachments.
If you don’t plan to get a dishwasher, it’s essential to go with a deep and wide sink to make it easier to clean larger mixing bowls and cookie sheets. A deep sink is also a useful catchall for your dirty wares while you are baking, helping to free up your countertops.
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Make sure you locate power outlets at strategic locations
Having lots of power outlets is important to a baker since you might be running more than a single appliance at any one time. Plus, most cooking appliances have very short cables. You don’t want to be pulling wires and extension cords across countertops and floors just to plug in to your KitchenAid.
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Place the power outlets at strategic locations throughout the kitchen so you won’t have everything cluttered at a single spot. If your kitchen island is your main baking station, make sure you accommodate a couple of outlets by the side of it.
If you have the budget, consider installing air-conditioning
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Finally, this isn’t a must, but it’s a nice-to-have. Since it’s best to bake in cool conditions, having your kitchen equipped with an air-conditioning will ensure that frosting doesn’t get melted off the surface of your cake too fast and that butter doesn’t turn too soft if you leave it on the counter. For those with an open kitchen, consider going with an AC unit that has a higher BTU so that it can be shared with more than just one space in the home. A higher BTU will also allow the open space to cool down properly without making your unit work extra hard and therefore wasting energy.