Rows of cakes, pastries and pies in elegant display cases, and a few charming café tables and chairs on atop a tiled floor are the results of careful planning and months of preparation. Before the doilies and bud vases and before the chalkboard and logo on the front window, aspiring bakery owners must come up with a solid business plan. If you are working on making your dream of owning your own bakery a reality, your plan should include a budget that covers this essential equipment you need for a bakery.
Your choice of oven follows your planned offerings of baked goods. A wide selection that includes breads, bagels, cakes, muffins, and pies may call for deck oven, with a stack of compartments allowing you to bake several items at different temperatures simultaneously. Convection ovens that provide even and fast baking are typical, but the fans that move hot air around the oven might be too much for your most delicate items. Other convection ovens rotate the racks within them to provide even baking.
If breads made of dough that must rise before baking are your specialty, proofing ovens allow proof and bake all in one box. Do your research and shop for your present and planned future needs, the capacity of your space, and requirements of the oven – fans, power, size, etc.
Refrigerators, Chillers, and Freezers
Many ingredients and finished items will require refrigeration. Chillers for milk, eggs, and butter come in versions with stainless steel tops that double as work surfaces. A large operation will require room-sized refrigeration with variable temperature controls for cakes, pies, and fruits. Freezers can store supplies of dough for future batches of cookies, pie crusts, and pizzas.
Dry Storage Bins
Dry ingredients like flours, sugars, nuts, and seeds require storage that keeps moisture and contaminants out. Food storage bins with secure covers can hold dry ingredients in bulk while keeping them fresh and free from infestation and dust.
Your style as a baker may dictate the size and type of worktable you will need. If you are devoted to manual methods for kneading, cutting, and forming dough, select a stainless steel or wood-topped table in a height that is comfortable for you. Many baker’s tables come with drawers or shelves for storing tools, bowls, and scrapers underneath.
Sinks, Dishwasher, and Cleaning Equipment
Bakeries, like all foodservice operations, are subject to health and sanitation laws and regulations. Your bakery will need at least three sinks: one strictly for mops that clean the floors, one for handwashing, and a sink divided into three separate compartments for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing items that won’t fit in the dishwasher, as you will need to clean pans, spoons, whisks, scrapers, measuring tools, and serving dishes along with everything else that must be washed and sanitized daily. Consult your local health department for a full list of health and safety requirements so you can plan to acquire the essential equipment your bakery will need to comply with.
Mixers and a Food Processors
Small bakeries may get away with countertop versions of mixers, but offering a greater quantity of breads, bagels, and pies means selecting a commercial dough mixer. These workhorses of the bakery stand up to near constant use, come in various sizes that handle medium and large capacities, and feature bowls and attachments that comply with sanitation standards for foodservice businesses.
Food processors make excellent pie crust and save time chopping nuts and dried fruits. Recipes that call for lemon zest or grated cheese come together faster with the help of a food processor.
Dough Sheeter and Proofer
Dough sheeters are another essential item for most bakeries. Beyond rolling pizza dough, sheeters can produce flat, wide ribbons of fondant for icing cakes, and dough of different thicknesses for breads. They can help with “laminating” dough in thin layers to produce light croissants and baklavas. Sheeters increase consistency in baked items.
However, dough sheeters compress air out of dough and develop gluten, essentially saving a round of kneading. After you run the dough through the sheeter and cut it to size for loaves or shape it for other items, some dough must be allowed to rise again. Proofing boxes provide temperature and humidity controls that enable rising before baking.
Smallwares – Pans, Racks, and Tools
Details matter in bakery operations. Again, look to your menu of offerings and your methods of production to develop your list of small items that will be essential to your bakery operation. These may include:
- Sheet and round cake pans
- Bread pans
- Muffin tins
- Cooling racks that accommodate the size pans you will be using
- Dough cutters and scrapers
- Pan liners in materials you intend to use (parchment paper, etc.)
- Rolling pins for manual prep
- Spoons, spatulas, measuring cups
- Icing bags or tubes for piping and cake decorating, with various tips
- Cake and pie stands
- Carts for moving large wedding cakes
Grandma made them by hand and fried them in lard. While you may choose a more healthful method, if donuts are part of your repertoire, you’ll need a donut fryer for the classic round treats or other fried items like funnel cakes or churros.
Once the kitchen and back of the house are properly equipped, it’s time to think about the front of the house. Customers love the fun of perusing items on offer in elegant display cases. Your chosen style for your bakery’s décor, and whether you will have seating, will help you select the size, design, shape, and height of your display cases. Cases come in refrigerated or non-refrigerated versions. Some open only from the back, enabling only counter staff to retrieve and pack items for customers. Others open on both sides, allowing customers to serve themselves and staff to replenish items from the back.
Cases featuring curved glass, glass sides, multiple levels, and lighting can be quite expensive. However, display cases are, for many customers, the essence of bakeries. Select a case or cases that contribute to the atmosphere you hope to maintain in your shop.
Your point of sale system (POS) determines how customers pay for their purchases. An old-fashioned cash register is a charming bit of décor, but it can’t provide the kind of speed and data that a modern POS system can offer. Newer systems can double as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, provide inventory alerts, and help keep track of best-selling items in addition to items that didn’t go over so well. Even if you go for the tin ceiling and countertop register look, you might consider what software you need to help you run a smart business, keeping track of customer preferences and things like how well seasonal items sell compared to standard offerings.
Opening a bakery is a major project. With a careful plan and a realistic budget, you can get started with essential items and upgrade as your business grows.