The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice for Tiny Workspace

DrPr's picture

Advice for Tiny Workspace

Hello, everyone

I just discovered this site and, reminiscing about my love of bread baking, I want to start baking again. I stopped because I started grad school and was too busy, plus i now share a place with other adults, so we sharea a small kitchen.  Surely I am not the only person with a tiny kitchen, though. I am all right with baking at midnight just to have the space to myself, but having enough space is my problem. I'm hoping you can give me advice for how to deal with this. I'm thinking of special, portable worktables for kneading (anything out there?), or creative use of some other part of the house- whatever you can think of.  What have you done or used to make a tiny space work better for bread baking?  Thanks!!


PaddyL's picture

In 1998, after the ice storm in Montreal, we had to move out of the house and go live in a hotel for a week.  Our room had the tiniest of tiny kitchenettes with a teeny tiny stove, but it had been so long since I'd had my hands in bread dough that I was beginning to climb the walls, so I brought the necessaries from home, and kneaded the bread on the little dining room table.  I brought down a couple of pieces to the doorman and he nearly passed out cold.  "You mean you made this in your room?!"  Five years ago, we lived in a gorgeous big flat, but the kitchen was a sort of afterthought, 8 x 4 feet.  In that kitchen, my sister and I home-catered meals for an elderly shut-in, and all her bread was homemade.  I've got a bigger kitchen now, but I often find myself kneading the bread in about a twenty-four square inch space on the kitchen table.  We have very little storage space, and a lot of kitchen equipment, so things can get very cluttered very quickly.  You'll be surprised as what you can do in confined areas!

Windischgirl's picture

Kneading board.  It becomes a bread-only workspace that really takes up very little room when stored upright.  Heck, you could slip it into a trash bag and put it under your bed when not in use.  I place my on the kitchen counter, but you could put it on a folding tray table or whatever eating surface is available in the house. I know other posters have used thin plastic cutting boards, so why not a wooden cutting boardfor kneading, esp. if you are making small loaves.  but I would reserve it only for dough to prevent any bacteria from meats, veggies, etc.

I keep my flour in glass canisters, but if you could find large, square plastic containers to store ingredients, they could be placed in a compact area and stacked neatly as well.  Instead of a peel, try a rimless cookie sheet topped with parchment...again, it's flat and stores easily.  

Teeny places bring out the creative side of people...think double duty.  Dough can be risen in the same bowl in which it's mixed, which could be a fruit bowl or the bowl of a salad spinner, etc.


Philadelphia PA

josordoni's picture

Hi Allison,

 I have a very small galley kitchen, about 10ft long, but only 6ft wide, so work surface (including sink) on one side only.  I haven't been baking very long, and I am still working out my best way of working.

Because I fold rather than knead, I use a largish (I suppose about 15 x 12") roasting tin to rise and fold the dough.  I make about 1kg at a time (enough for two loaves) and that works absolutely fine.  Easy to see how much it has expanded in a confirmed space, and I can move it from pillar to post easily.  Shaping I do on a large wooden cutting board (easier to take to the sink and clean than straight on the worktop) I do proof in a couche, and that is a linen teatowel kept floured specially (never washed btw - I put it in the top oven when I am baking so that it dries out thoroughly, and then fold it flour side in and put straight into a drawer - I don't put it in a plastic bag as I don't want it to sweat, I need to make a fabric bag for it I think), so I do have to clear workspace for that. Bannetons or proofing baskets would take up less room, and you could stand them in your roasting tin to move them about if needed.

 Don't know how much of this you can adapt, but I am sure between all the suggestions you will find some good ideas.


edit:  another thought, if you are using things ON the worktop, put a damp cloth underneath to stop it sliding about, especially when folding and kneading.  Kneading on a sliding about board is NO FUN! 




dougal's picture

... what PaddyL is doing in "about a twenty-four square inch space on the kitchen table".

I don't think I could work in a space less than 5x5 inches! On the other hand 24 inches square, 24x24, should be plenty space for working a couple of loaves at a time.

I'd suggest that "stretch and fold" thinking (mix and wait 15 minutes, knead a minute or so and wait 15 minutes, repeat a few times) is the best way of using limited space and energy.

What really helps is having places to set things, acceessably but not in the way, without them impinging on your work space. This is particularly important when letting time do the work (as above) because you really want to dedicate the kneading-space for the whole of the work-time, so that you don't have to clean it of oil (or flour) until you've completely finished!

And I believe this thinking replicates a commercial bakery, where stuff would spend most of its time on racks, leaving the worktable clear - as that would often be 'small' in comparison to the size of the oven and tiny in comparison to the surface area afforded by racking.

PaddyL's picture

...a twelve-inch square space.  It was pretty late last night when I typed that answer.  When I think of it, twenty-four square inches is huge.

dougal's picture

PaddyL wrote:
I meant.... ...a twelve-inch square space. It was pretty late last night when I typed that answer. When I think of it, twenty-four square inches is huge.
??? ¿¿¿ ???

But 12 inches square is 144 square inches!

I checked the corner I used yesterday -- 11x14 inches = 154 square inches -- PaddyL still wins!

DrPr's picture

Thank you everyone for your wonderful suggestions- there are some ideas I had not considered. Overall, however, I am now convinced that I can return to baking in my tiny new space, and this makes me very happy!  I am amazed at what you all accomplish in your limited confines. I'll have to look for any photos you may have taken of your creations for additional inspiration.

As for the mathematics, I am soooooo bad at numbers that the inches squared/square inches thing means little to me. When I first started bread baking I was very concerned about all the measuring- especially when it came to breads that included yeast, and dealing with metric system conversions. Math gives me fits.  I have the mathematical version of dyslexia, I quite sure. I believe it's called dyscalculia or something similar.




Nature delights in diversity. Why don't humans?

Jimeats's picture

A friend of mine uses an ironing board for many kitchen uses. She has a special cover for it and it's adjustible in height. The first time I seen her useing it she was making spaggetti from scratch, clamped the machine to one end and rolled out the length of the board. Jim

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a drawer and park a bread board on top of the edges for more space. I can manage with a large plastic bowl for most of my work but to roll out, one does need some space. Dough can also be divided in half... uses less space...working with half the dough at a time. Bowls that stack inside one another save lots of space, but in the fridge I have square plastic boxes, about 4 to 6 litre are about right for me. Better two different sizes that stack inside each other than two of the same that take up twice as much space when not being used.


The tools I use most, I hang on hooks just inside the cupboard, on the door if possible. I also tape my favorite recipes right on the inside of the door at eye level, then there is no lap top or cookbook competing for space. When the door is open, everything is handy. I have now attatched a clip to hang in a small assortment of index cards. I also stick up pictures that inspire me. There is also a small block and a pencil for notes. (It is no small wonder that my kitchen elves like it in my cupboards, they want me to put in a tiny expresso machine.)

Mini O