The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reference Sources, Critical Design Points For Efficient Small Bakery Layout?

rccooks's picture

Reference Sources, Critical Design Points For Efficient Small Bakery Layout?

I have baked classic artisan rye bread for local farmers markets and special events for over one year.  I'm a rye bread specialist and demand continues to increase (I have turned down all wholesale requests, preferring to keep it small and local and selling direct, with an assistant, to my customers).  In my upcoming season I expect to bake 2-3 days per week and attend markets 2-4 days per week.  My current capacity (working alone, 64 x 1.6 lb loaves per 12 hour day, including mixing, baking, cutting, packaging) will cope (sometimes) with the demand of the markets I have scheduled, and I'm not getting any younger (almost 65).  I would like to have the ability to either increase capacity (to 90 loaves/day) or reduce time (baking, from 7-8 hours to 3-5 hours), as my physical ability and demands fluctuate.  I also want to move the baking operation out of my kitchen entirely.

In order to increase efficiency and output I intend to move the entire operation to what I hope to install—a commercially-equipped bake shop downstairs in a ground floor space (roughly 14 x 30 feet) with both intake and output entrances.  I want to have room for a single deck oven, residential stove, proofer/retarder, 6 retarding (mini) fridges, 20 qt mixer table, single mix sink, ingredient scale table (ingredient bins under), triple wash sink, (2) workbenches, (3) speedracks, heat/dust exhaust/ventilation system, flour/ingredient dunnage/storage (with adequate space for FIFO system), cutting/packing/staging, lighting, etc. - all the items necessary to run an efficient one (or two) person bread baking operation.  I have calculated, based on current scaling, shaping and baking times that I will easily be able to cut my labor time by 30-35% (mostly based on acquiring a deck oven similar to one I have test baked in to replace my current 40-year-old Whirlpool residential electric stove, whose capacity is 8 x 1.6 lb loaves).  I suspect I may be able to cut another 5-10% time based on current (upstairs/downstairs) location of mixing, retarding, cutting/packaging locations and distances.

I have already studied and understand the basics of general design theory as it pertains to this subject, including work operations, equipment requirements, workflow, storage, sanitation and safety issues, etc..  I can certainly design a bakery layout which meets my needs but I'm concerned that I may be missing key points about which only much more experienced bakers may be able to guide me.

I've searched extensively online and cannot find any reference works that go into any detail about the design and layout of a small bakery.  I suspect some culinary schools may have proprietary published work on the subject but have not been able to confirm that.

I would perhaps attend something like King Arthur's class "Setting Up A Small Bakery" but I've been at this long enough (as a former home-based saddler, then sailmaker and now boulanger) to have pretty much covered all aspects of that class except the section on layout.

Any input into this subject would be greatly appreciated, including things you would change in your own layout based on empirical evidence, reference materials, currently operating bakeries whose layouts you know to be efficient and working well for intended purpose.  I'm *not* interested in residential kitchen layout discussion.

I'll be happy to answer questions in order to clarify my needs or current/future plans.  You can Google "rein's real rye" to see pretty much everything there is to know about me or what I do (but bear in mind the media often get the details wrong...).



thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

It's 600 pages of information, much of which you will find useful.

While not small bakery specific, I wager there'll be 100 things in the book that you haven't thought about.

A seriously good reference work. Grab a used copy for $4.44. Best $ you'll ever spend.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)
mcs's picture

I designed and built my house plus the bakery with the code book 'in hand'.  Plus having worked in a professional bakery for a couple of years, I was aware of the design features that were critical for me.  It needed to be uncluttered, easy to clean, and efficient in every way possible.  I hope the photo and floorplan answer most of your questions:



This is the view of the main baking area looking towards the window while standing in the doorway to the utility room.  Items that have been added/changed since the original floorplan was drawn below:
-makeup air is to the right of the oven hood at ceiling level
- full size proofer in the corner right of the window
-microwave on a 3' shelf with a chest freezer located below the window
-wall/folding doors behind 3 compartment sink separating washer/dryer from the rest of the utility room


In the floorplan below, the wall/door separating the Office Area and the Main Bakery Area is the division that legally distinguishes the area as a commercial kitchen/bakery as opposed to a home bakery.  There are many codes that need to be followed, some of which are:
-anything used for the bakery must be completely separated from anything used for home use
-oven hood must protrude at least 6" past front and sides of ovens
-hood must have fire suppression system if risk of grease fire is present
-handwashing sink must be present in main work area
-3 compartment sink is used for washing
-bathroom must not exit directly into main work area
-floor is smooth and easily cleanable
-walls are light colored, smooth and easily cleanable
-vinyl coving used where wall meets floor throughout bakery