The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ideal kitchen for a baker?

pseudobaker's picture

Ideal kitchen for a baker?

We will be doing some extensive renovations to our kitchen, which is giving us the opportunity to plan it the way we'd like it.  My question is: what kind of design/plan would you put into your ideal kitchen in terms of baking?  Or, what do you have in your current kitchen that makes it convenient/conducive to baking?

We've already decided we'd like a dual fuel range and a heatproof countertop (not sure whether concrete, granite, marble, etc, though).

 All feedback welcome!  Thanks in advance.

breadnerd's picture

Ooh now here'a a fun question for a very snowy sunday (ie I'm trapped in the house).  What an exciting project for you!

I'm trying to find the name of a really good kitchen book we had from the library when doing some organizing projects--it featured a baker's kitchen and had lots of cool features such as a lower counter area for kneading and rolling out doughs, and very cool drawers with dividers for tools and ingredients (she had flour bins in lexan-lined drawers--very cool!). If I can figure out the title I'll post it.


But for more realistic non-magazine cover ideas, here's two things I love about my kitchen:


My baking "island" made to fit my mixers and designed by my SO. I love that the mixers can be stored out of the way, and I've really come to love the elbow room I have for working that I didn't have on a regular counter. If I'm making pitas or rolling out pie crusts there's just plenty of room to roll at different angles without moving the dough each time. It's on wheels so I can roll it close to the oven for loading bread in a speedy fashion.


and, a simpler idea:



This is just a dowel rod hung under a stretch of cabinets where I hang useful items. I don't have a lot of drawer space, and I like this better than rooting through a drawer for something.


marleesmom's picture

One thing I definitely plan to include in my new kitchen will be deep drawers in the baking area for flours, sugar,etc.  I already keep all my baking supplies in a cabinet, but flour  and sugar are heavy, so they will be much more accessible in a drawer than an overhead cabinet. And- a divided section for sheet pans, muffin tins etc. Have fun planning your new kitchen!

pelosofamily's picture

Fun project!  We have build three homes and the single thing that is necessary is an unrestricted work area.  What works for me is a counter height, 4x8 foot island(or as big as you can fit, with no raised bar. (Keeps a large open area)  Either your sink or stovetop on it and dishwasher.  Put some stools opposite you for people to sit .  Put a electrical outlet on the side of the counter.  The rest is "how much do I want to spend."  Hope this helps!  

Sylviambt's picture

Wow, what a great project!

Ditto on that suggestion for putting flour and grains in a pull-out or swing-out drawer/shelf.  It really saves on the back.  My sis recently gutted and redesigned the kitchen on a new house.  Her center island is such a great addition.  As suggested by others on this site, she put lots of outlets on the island, built in great pull-out drawers and extended one edge of the counter to allow seating.

Please let us know how your dual fuel oven works for you.  My husband and I were looking at several models this past week and still did learn just how well these ovens would withstand that initial blast of steam at the start of the baking cycle.  (I've blown out the sensors on my fairly new gas oven twice already. I've started looking for a used restaurant oven thinking that it would withstand the very high heat and steam lots better.  Another plus, is that you can get them for a fraction of a Wolf, Viking or Aga.  They do, however, weigh a ton.)  

Would love to see "before" and "after" pictures.  Have fun!



sphealey's picture

> Ditto on that suggestion for putting flour and grains

> in a pull-out or swing-out drawer/shelf.


If you are actually going to put flour in the drawer you might want to have it lined with tin, copper, or something so the corners are rounded and you can clean them out. Getting flour out of the corner of a wood drawer is a real pain.

Besides the obvious - two full-sized ovens with steam injections - if I had an infinite amount of money and space I would put in a super-insulated refrigerator with a fairly large cavity (in terms of width and depth, not necessarily total volume) and industrial-quality control of temperature and humidity. I would love to be able to put 3 bowls of dough in the fridge and set it for 59.3 deg.F, then have some loaves proofing at 68.2. Perhaps multiple chambers with individual temperature control would be best, although it would be an optimization problem between how many chambers and having at least one big enough to handle any peel.

But you would probably have to go to an industrial custom refrigeration company to get such a beast, and it might cost as much as the rest of your house.



mountaindog's picture


Lucky you! Here is a link to one of my favorite magazines, Finehomebuilding, and especially the annual Kitchens and Baths issue and the Kitchen & Bath Planning Guide, both of which have lots of great design ideas in them, I highly recommend them.

I've subscribed to this publication for about 8 years, ever since we designed and built our home back in 2000, and have learned a lot form it.

I agree with Breadnerd about the island, I have a butcherblock island also, very similar to his, and it is lower in height than my other counters which makes it easier for me to knead, as I am rather short. Probably my favorite thing about my kitchen is my pantry - lots of storage for big bins of flour, grains, and other bulk ingredients. By building a large pantry in the manner of a walk-in closet (relatively inexpensive to build), we didn't need as many cabinets, which are expensive. Fewer overhead cabinets meant I could have more windows over the outside wall counters to let in more natural light too.

Good luck and have fun...

sphealey's picture

I was just thinking to suggest logging on to Fine Homebuilding's forum and asking this question there. Can't remember if you have to be a subscriber to create a userid though.



pseudobaker's picture

It just so happens that my husband has a subscription to Fine Woodworking, so we already have an account!  Love, love, LOVE Taunton Press and their publications.

Thanks for the tip!

Sylviambt's picture

You've prompted me to recall a couple of other kitchen's I've ooohed and ahhhhd over in the past.  One of them featured a counter in the prep area where there where holes in the counter that allowed you to sweep vegetable peelings into the rubber trash bin below.  When filled, you would just pull out the bin and take it over to the compost heap.  As I recall, this same kitchen had a wonderful skylight.

Another feature - from a couple of other houses - was a walk-in pantry.  I think that's the way I'll go when I can.  A couple I've seen combine two types of shelving - permanent shelves affixed to the walls, and rolling shelves that allow you to shift things by season and roll larger items straight into the kitchen (anything to save the back!).




Susan's picture

Our walk-in pantry includes a working stainless steel countertop, 44" wide x 24" deep.  My Kitchenaid mixer resides there, pushed back against the wall when not in use.  The counter is low enough to knead on, and there's room under the counter for a nice big flour bin in which I keep a variety of flours.  
SD Susan

pseudobaker's picture

I think I will go to the Fine Homebuilding site and see if they have a forum.

 Unfortunately, our kitchen isn't wide enough for an island (we're gutting the insides, but the dimensions of the room won't be changing), so my "baking centre" is going to be to the right of the range.  I like the idea about the slightly lower counter. 

Now, is butcher block the ideal surface for bread doughs?  I was watching a Julia Child video online (thanks for whoever posted that link!), and she had a marble countertop with a removable butcherblock that fit over top.  That looked cool...

I had planned to have my flour and sugar below in a drawer, and my mixer and food processor will "live" on the countertop. 

SPh - I like your ideas, but I think they're a little out of our price range.  (:

Keep the ideas coming!

mountaindog's picture


Although I have both butcherblock and granite countertops in different areas of my kitchen, I actually prefer the stone for kneading and doing the stretch/fold because the dough doesn't stick to it, even if I have no flour on it for the stretch/fold. it also works better for pie crusts and pastry where you need to keep the butter or shortening cold. That said, I do prefer to use the butcherblock most of the time, esp. for kneading and shaping, because of the more comfortable height. I think the ideal for a baker would be a section of counter with a lower height stone surface for kneading and most other baking tasks while the rest of the counters can be whatever you or your budget prefer - I've seen this done in a lot of the Fine Homebuilding kitchen designs over the years. The reason I have the large butcherblock top island is because it moved with us into our current house from a previous house, and I wanted to make good use of it as an island. The Julia Child idea sounds great!

I've also made great use of the Taunton/Finehomebuilding forum over the years for getting advice on building materials and techniques, so if you do searches on some keywords you'll find lots of interesting suggestions or opinions by experienced builders as well as homeowners.

Squid's picture

Pseudobaker, we just redesigned our kitchen and had granite coutertops put in. Since an island isn't an option, you could always have the granite shop cut you a large piece of granite and place it on the kitchen table when you need it for kneading or something.

I really wanted an island, but the contractor talked me out of it b/c my kitchen is also rectangular. I'm really happy he did b/c I have a lot of room to walk around without having to worry about bumping into things. Room is very important. You don't want to design a new kitchen and feel cramped trying to open your oven.

Another note about the pantry. Don't go with the fancy schmancy pantries that have the inserts that pull out, like multilayered shelves. They're really expensive and annoying. They're a pain b/c you have to pull the inserts forward in order to get to the back. I'm ordering another pantry and this time I'll have one pantry with adjustable shelves and another one with sliding shelves.

Good luck with your design.

pmccool's picture


When we did some remodeling a couple of years back, we looked at a lot of different countertop materials, including laminates, stone, concrete and synthetic stone (Silestone, et al). Although we ultimate, and reluctantly, went with resurfacing the existing countertops for budgetary reasons, our preferred choice was soapstone.

It's pretty amazing stuff. Scratches can be buffed out with fine sandpaper. The only "finishing" is an occasional coat of mineral oil, and that is entirely optional. It is absolutely impervious to heat, so setting a hot pot down on it won't cause any damage (don't try doing that with laminate or synthetics). Cost was about the same as the lower cost granites. Color selections are limited, mostly in a range from greenish-gray to gray to black.

We saw soapstone counters and sinks in a Shaker community in New Hampshire that were maybe 150 years old and still perfectly serviceable, so durability isn't an issue.

If we build a new house in the next couple of years, we will probably specify soapstone for the countertops.


qahtan's picture


 I went through all this, what kind of counter top when we redid my kitchen a while back, seemed that there was for and against with all the "ones" I really liked, so I ended up with good old formica,  easy to clean, does not scratch, not too cold for bread dough, cool enough for pastry, stains are easiely bleached off, to me an all round winner, plus if you want to change colour etc it's easy and cheap.  my colour is Aspen Fog, and it looks great.  



clazar123's picture

I have grantite and do like it for working with any kind of dough but I often think it would be nice if it were heated. I know they make tile and floor warmers. It would be great to work with dough on a gently heated surface.

LindyD's picture

I would think that a heated surface would have an effect on the desired dough temperature, but have no idea how that would be factored into the calculation.  I guess if one was kneading/folding on a heated countertop, the friction factor would have to be increased.  But by how many degrees?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I like the idea but don't know if it warrents building it into or under the counter surface.  I've noticed my laptop battery warms up granit and flormica quickly to just the right temp.  Then I move it elsewhere and put my cold retarted dough on the warm spot.  I suppose a hot water bottle or heating pad would do the same.   I don't like it to stay warm too long.


bassopotamus's picture

The big thing I'd want is two full size ovens. I notice when I am doing meals for company, it is kind of a drag to do bread around other baked things. The other would be some sort of big workspace. My kitchen really lacks this. Maybe an island that is just countertop.

Stefania's picture

We too in the next 6 months plan to gut and redo our 500 sq. ft. kitchen.  We have talked about this for years and still have only a few ideas about what to do.  We have been adding new appliances gradually so we don't get stung when the real time comes.

Slyvia, stop looking for a used commercial oven.  A few years ago we aquired a DCS gas oven /professional model, but for home use.  They will not deliver a commercial oven to a home address and if your homeowners insurance finds out you have one, they will cancel your insurance.  Reason being, they are not insulated and meant for giant commercial kitchens with tile and drains in the floor.  We too had the problem of competing for the use of the oven and needed a second.  Long story short, we bought a Cadco steam injected oven from Atlanta Fixtures this summer for about $1300.  It holds 4 ,1/2 sheet pans and has really elevated the quality of my bread baking.

We also have a wonderful prep table that we picked up from restaurant supply place that deals with used equipment.  It's a stainless steele frame that we got new cutting board inserts and we have put a bamboo cutting surface in one of them.  It's really a meat cutting table like they use in Sam's that is 4by6ft and has become an important part of our kitchen.  It replaced a dining table in a bay window area and now it's for prep work, is electrified and we surf the internet and have coffee every morning.  Our kids have left so we eat our meals here too.

Refrigeration is a joy since we have 3 full size and 3 wine fridges for food, beer brewing, dispensing and cheese making.  We cellar a few wines but have a wine fridge for cellaring Belgian beers and one for dispensing Real Ale...that warm flat beer from the UK.

We are still in the dark choosing design and materials and will probably make it up as we go.

Good Luck all and cheers!

davidg618's picture

I agree with the dual fuel. I've got one, been cooking and baking on or in it for six years, and have only one complaint. The oven is narrow, the longest baguette I can bake is around 18 inches. The other thing is assure what you purchase has an acceptable high temperature limit. Mine can go to 550°F, and I think that's adequate, just. I use that temperature for pizza, and 480*F or 500°f for initial baking temperatures for some formula.

I second the wish for two ovens. I've been considering a countertop oven, just to have something. We entertain a lot, I'm the household cook, and juggling the use of one oven is a pain. I often have to modify the menu I'd like to serve because of this limitation. On the other hand, I don't think its a limitation for home baking, unless you're into making lots of loaves.

A subtlety: In your flloor layout make certain you have adequate open floor space in front of your oven to wield a peel, and sheet pans. That may sound silly, but it was the principal controlling factor on the size and placement of an island workspace in our kitchen.

I also agree with most, if not all of the ideas others have put forward, but for baking I think oven choice has to be the prime concern. It's your primary baking tool, and you normally only get to have one.

Good luck!

David G.

ClimbHi's picture

Since it's about 2-1/2 years since this thread was started, I'm assuming pseudobaker now has the perfect dream kitchen. Still, this thread keeps generating new posts. So, for anyone who finds this while looking for kitchen ideas, here's my 2¢ on things I'm glad I included in my own kitchen:

A 36" Wolf 6-burner commercial stove. Oven's plenty big and I've never wanted for an extra burner. And the burners are serious units -- they are hi-BTU burners that get the job done, and done fast.

A Vent-a-Hood vent, with dual fans, warming racks and infrared warming lights. (My wife think's this is the absolute best appliance in the kitchen. No more issues if one item is done a bit earlier than another.)

Large stainless steel shelves with pot hangers mounted on the wall next to the stove. Kind of like in a commercial kitchen -- the proper pot or pan is always within reach with no digging through a packed cabinet.

Granite counter tops around the sink & stove that are heat/water proof and nice for pastry work & general kitchen duties. Wooden (oiled cherry) countertop on the other side of the room for kneading, eating, etc.

PLENTY of outlets. Everywhere.

Excellent lighting.

A small ceiling fan.

Translucent glass panels on the cab doors so guests don't have to go on a scavenger hunt when looking for a glass.

A place for a nice stereo/radio and good speakers, and a small TV. (The Splendid Table and Alton Brown for company while building dinner!)

A place for a laptop, with an Internet hookup (so you can search for recipes or post your progress to TFL!)

Finally, the wood-fired oven just outside the door, under cover on the porch so it's easily accessible and usable at any time.

Pittsburgh, PA