The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Work Space

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TomH's picture
TomH

Baking Work Space

I'm wondering if anyone has any strong feelings on what is the best working surface for making and shaping bread. I'm going to be adding some additional counter space just for my bread making. I'm leaning towards a maple top, but am open to other suggestions.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

TomH

melody's picture
melody

I have had granite counter-tops for 12 years, and I love them.  However, I find that when I go to knead or shape breads, I turn to my maple-topped kitchen work-table. 

 I work on making bread about 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.  This is a priviledge, I know.  I send bread (especially a variety of croissants) to people who are house-bound, and/or people needing encouragement.  As we know, real bread is indeed encouraging!

Anyway--as I thought about your question, I realized that for me, the height of the work surface was very important.  I am 5'4" tall (short!) --my couter-tops are the standard 35 1/2' --but my maple-topped kitchen table is 31 1/2".  Boy, that 4" makes a big difference in leverage and comfort as one kneads, rolls, cuts, and shapes over a long period of time.

The granite stays cooler in the summer, and is a little easier to clean.  But the maple isn't much more work.  And I love it.

ps--my husband built my kitchen table using left-over butcher-block counter-tops from the local cooking school (bought at an auction).  So you may want to check all your options before paying big money to some retail home-improvement place.

 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Granite and maple are both excellent surfaces, but I have found that my Swanstone countertops work quite well for breadmaking. The Swanstone is fairly smooth but seems to have just enough "tooth" to grab the dough when I want to shape, roll, etc. It is also a food-grade commercial surface, can be cleaned with just about anything (including sandpaper - yikes!), and is temperature resistant to around 450 deg.F.

 

sPh

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

To increase my counter surface, I purchased a roll-away kitchen island with maple butcher block surface. Works great. But even better is the Roll 'n Pat plastic sheet that I use for dough work. Dough does not stick to it and it works fine for even the high hydration doughs. Clean-up is a breeze, Just wash the sheet under flowing water, dry and roll for storage of just leave on the table/counter top.

Willard Onellion

Willard Onellion's picture
Willard Onellion

To increase my counter surface, I purchased a roll-away kitchen island with maple butcher block surface. Works great. But even better is the Roll 'n Pat plastic sheet that I use for dough work. Dough does not stick to it and it works fine for even the high hydration doughs. Clean-up is a breeze, Just wash the sheet under flowing water, dry and roll for storage or just leave on the table/counter top.

Willard Onellion

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I think maple would be wonderful, and it would be fairly economical if you're just adding an addition to existing countertops. It's downside really is price. Oh and I second making it a little lower than your counters, especially if you hand knead.

 

My awesome guy built me an "baking island", and we ended up using oak, because we already had an oak table top (from a garage sale!). So far I like it a lot--it's not as soft as maple of course, but it has a nice feel for working. I guess I just like the feel of wood for kneading and benching. We thought we can always upgrade to maple in the future, but it seemed like good recycling to use something we already had--and it was a lot cheaper, of course :) If we every do see maple countertops at our local salvage place we'll for sure pick them up for the next kitchen project...