Baking Center: Why, How, What, And Where?

johnliu_gwFebruary 12, 2011

''I don't bake.'' I believe I've said that before, and it was the truth, so I've been designing my kitchen with no special provision for baking.

Now things have changed, a little. Thanks to the inspiring folks over in the CF, I've started baking bread, and if I can ever get decent at it, want to move on to croissants, eclairs, madelines, tartes, and the like. I bought my first-ever stand mixer, and bags of different flours are starting to accumulate.

I think it is time for me to apologize to the bakers and learn about baking centers.

What is desirable in a baking center? What features and dimensions? For the space-limited, what is the ''minimum useful'' list? How about the ''dream works'' list?

Can the baking center comfortably multi-task with - co-exist and share space with - another zone?

Why have a purpose-designed baking center at all? What is the biggest aggravation of not having one?

I don't really know if I can make particular accommodation for baking in my kitchen, but feel as if I need to consider it instead of simply dismissing the black art of baking.

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I am not a baker either, but I did see comments on this list related to the creation of a a baking center that made sense to me. So when I organized my kitchen I created a "baking center". This simple organizational step has saved me so much time and has made it so easy to bake that I now bake quite a bit. Here is what I did: first of all my kitchen aide mixer is out, not put away in a cabinet. For me this was huge as I hated lifting it out of its spot in the pantry. I have all my dry baking goods in a large drawer in the island. Flour, sugar, yeast, baking soda and powder, etc all in one drawer. The drawer is big enough that I can see everything at a glance - I don't need to paw through the drawer to find items. Under this drawer is a drawer with baking pans - most everything except cookie sheets, muffin tins, and sheet pans. These are stored in vertical storage above the oven. I have a second set of measuring cups and spoons, and various baking utensils in the top drawer. From the end of the island to the kitchen aid mixer to the sink is a triangle of not more than 4 steps each. I can't tell you how having everything handy has made me want to bake. It is so simple, measure, mix, roll out, clean up - all in a small area. It even makes regular cooking easier because the baking items are not competing for space with other items. I duplicate the measuring devices in a a drawer next to the cooktop for ease in making meals. I'm sure others have very elaborate "centers" but I encourage you to, at the least, organize a baking center. You will love it.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 9:51AM
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John, I've never designated my kitchen into different zones, like "baking center" or "cooking center", but I think it's always useful to keep things grouped with like things and near to where you'll use them (dishes near dishwasher, spices & hot pads near stove, etc). Have your flours, baking soda, yeast & such all together in one section of your pantry. Keep your measuring utensils in an easy to grab place (not lost in a messy drawer). Think of height, too. If you're baking often, you don't want to be grabbing a stool or crawling every time you need a mixing bowl. It's all about making the space fit your needs.

And for those short on space, really reconsider how many specialty pans & utensils you need. I love to bake and really wanted to register for a stand mixer when we got married last summer...but I've been getting along fine all these years with my hand mixer and hands. I upgraded to a stronger hand mixer, but I couldn't justify giving up the cupboard or counter space for a stand mixer. I registered for a couple specialty pans that I now feel I could live without, too, and any extra items cluttering up your area reduce efficiency.

In my small kitchen, food storage, pans & measuring spoons are all in reach from one spot. More pantry space would be nice, but I appreciate not having to walk across the kitchen to grab an ingredient. What I wish for is a longer stretch of counter. Baking sometimes involves dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, and it can be nice to have a long space to lay out all these different steps. Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:33AM
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pinch_me posted a video of a 1949 kitchen designed by home economists...if you haven't checked it out already, it will very likely answer a lot of questions!

Here is a link that might be useful: 1949 kitchen

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:46AM
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I have to agree that less is more. Clutter reduces efficiency - absolutely! You don't realize how much time is wasted until you declutter.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:46AM
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Hey John, it is wonderful that you are baking breads and considering the prospect of adding a " baking area' to your kitchen plan.

I have baked bread since the early 70's and my style has evolved in that time. Jessica has very good points in her comments.It takes very little in the way of " stuff" to create wonderful breads etc in your kitchen. I do have a KA stand mixer and my Cuisinart from the 70's. All of my baking sheets and pans are from then also.

What this means is that it is best to buy really good and simple equipment the first time . Duplicate measuring items as lucy pointed out are also a very good idea. Anything that saves steps and time is a +. I love having double ovens on the opposite side of my kitchen from the rest of the cooking/cleaning area since it makes it much easier for multi tasking . I can use my 8 ft long baking counter and the ovens and someone else can be using the cook top area and never the two need to meet.

You mentioned wanting to get much more into pastry which does require more specialty pans. If you sit down with a couple good cookbooks they have lists of needed supplies in the front of most of them. Make a " must have" and a " dream about getting " list and then see what you can add to your kitchen. It will really clarify for you in this planning stage and save disappointment later.

Please do ask if you have questions. c

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Like lucypwd, our baking center is based mostly on organization. Our baking items are mostly kept in a tall cabinet and base cabinet. Our stand mixer sits on the counter next to the tall cabinet and over the base cabinet.

When planning our kitchen, I knew this would be our baking area. The 2 things I planned specially for it were a pull out shelf in the tall cabinet at counter height and vertical storage for shallow pans in the base cabinet. The pull out shelf holds flours, sugar, baking soda and powder, various extracts, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder. I pull this shelf out when I start baking and keep it in that position until done. I don't have to be constantly opening drawers to get at my most used ingredients.

The baking area overlaps with our clean up zone. Part of the 4 feet of counter I use runs over the dw. Our small sink (usually called a prep sink but I rarely prep there) is at the end of the 4 feet. I love that clean up is so convenient because I seem to be at my messiest when I'm baking. I throw egg shells in the sink as I mix up batter and then transfer them to the compost when done. Messy bowls go straight in the dw. It's quick and easy to wipe down the counter.

Like lucypwd, we keep several sets of measuring cups/spoons in the prep/cooking zone and baking zone. Unfortunately, the dw unloaders can't seem to grasp that the nicer meas. cups and rounded spoons go in the baking area and the flimsier meas cups and elongated spoons go in the prep area. Glass meas cups of various sizes and light weight mixing bowls get stored in cabinets that are convenient to both areas. I also need large mixing spoons in both areas.

Having separate areas means that dd can bake while I cook without bumping into each other.

I mostly use our baking area for mixing. I find I like to knead and roll dough and transfer batter from bowl to baking pan/muffin tin/cookie sheet/bread pan at our wider peninsula counter next to the range. Even though I don't use them there, I still keep the various baking pans in the baking area because it frees up storage in the prep/cooking zone for items I use on a daily basis.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Keep your baking things together.

Make sure you have room for canisters, mixing bowls, and cooling racks, which are bulky and need dedicated space.

Leave heavy appliances (in my case, KA mixer and bread machine) on the counter or you'll never get them out to use them.

Have a cupboard away from the action to store infrequently used baking pans, cake decorating supplies, etc to reduce clutter in your primary baking area.

Figure out a good working height for your baking counter for stirring and kneading. This will probably be different than the counter height where you do other food prep like chopping and cutting.

I have my appliances, canisters, mixing bowls, and measuring utensils on the short arm of my ''L,'' and use my island, which is two steps away, as my workspace. This gets all my equipment together and out of the way, and gives me a lot of room to work. You need room not only to make your baked goods, but a place to cool them also.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:19AM
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My baking area is like most above. The one thing I don't like is the extra few steps to the sink. Most recipes need water. My refrigerator and sink are opposite my baking area. At the time I didn't think 7 feet would be a big deal. It is. I stand and look at the cabinet arrangement and what goes where and there doesn't seem to be a better arrngement for contents. I've been in almost a year. Some things just don't work in real life!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:49AM
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My island is my baking center. I keep all untensils and appliance for baking in the island. I get out all the ingredients from the pantry and get to work. I keep soda, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. in a wooden box that I can carry all at once. I am a spread-out-all-over-the-place type of baker, so a smaller, designated baking area would not work for me.

I have a second sink in my island that is actually a large single bowl so I can wash things in if I need to.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:05PM
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melissastar two cents: I've always been a big baker...some breads, but LOTS of cakes, pies, tarts and other pastries over the years, plus muffins, cupcakes, brownies, etc. Until this kitchen, I never had a dedicated baking area and, although it's nice it isn't really necessary. Baking can easily coexist with other cooking/prep areas, it's just that baking tends to require frequent use of certain things (equipment and ingredients) and it's a big time and energy saver if they can be located very close to wherever it is that you WILL do your baking prep.

For me, this means within arm's reach: Baking powder and soda, salt, vanilla, almond and lemon extracts, glass measuring cup (for melting chocolate in microwave and measuring liquids), metal measuring cups for dry ingredients, measuring spoons, a hand whisk, rubber spatulas, a big wooden spoon or two, and a small cutting board (or other place to cut) for nuts, chocolate, etc. If I could do it, I'd want flours and sugars nearby as well, but I'm less bothered by hauling them from the pantry than I am by the small items that I need just a teaspoon or two of. I used to keep all of this stuff in an upper cabinet and a small drawer near the counter I prepped and baked on and that was fine. Now I'm lucky enough to have one counter dedicated to baking stuff.

Of course, you'll also need a big enough, open enough counter area of some sort to roll out pastries, knead dough, etc. and then to cool cookies, breads, etc. on racks. You'll need a place to store a variety of specialty pans...if you get into baking it that much. Otherwise, some cookie sheets (jelly roll type pans can serve double duty here, working for bar type cookies, jelly rolls and cookies though the lip on them makes them less convenient for cookies) , a cupcake/muffin tin or two, bread pans and, if you think you'll get into cakes, at least two standard 9" layer cake pans.

Down the road, you may want to accumulate other stuff. Among mine: Spring-form pans in 6", 8", 9" and 10" sizes. 8" and 9" cake layer pans...3 each. An old fashioned, heavy Bundt cake pan. A tube cake pan (aka angel food cake pan). Popover pans. Assorted pie pans. Square, round and rectangular tart with removable bottoms. Mini tart pans. Charlotte pans. Mini-muffin pans. Fluted, plain round and heart shaped cookie cutters (for scones, more than for cookies) and more than I can remember or easily store. Can you tell I love pastry?

Have fun...and don't be daunted. I baked elaborate stuff for years in a teeny, tiny apartment kitchen and just used the dining room table for stuff that needed to be spread out.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:12PM
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I agree with several of the people above. It isn't necessary to have a "dedicated" baking area but what is key is the organization of the baking "stuff".

My baking area is seperate from my prep "cooking"area.
It is closer and overlaps with the cleanup area and sink and is between the cleanup sink and oven. But my KA mixer is always out (and they are so cool looking that it is easy to leave it out and not view it as clutter), right above me is a cupboard with all of my nuts, raisins, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, extracts etc. They don't, if organized well take much space. Above that are my measuring spoons, cups, and in the drawer beside me are my lifters, spatulas etc.
Behind me in my pantry on a ROT are my flours, sugars, and also behind my is my fridge with eggs etc and above that is my tray storage. And I work beside my oven.

I can bake and clean within about four steps. My system just evolved with out any grand plan. The only suggestion that I would have is to try to plan it close to your clean up sink/area and not near your prep area. That way your dirty spatulas, spoons, measuring cups/spoons and trays, beaters etc can go straight into the clean up sink instead of having to be carried across the room.

As mentioned above it is just a matter of being organized. In my old kitchen I never baked because I couldn't store things properly, the mixer was in a lower cabinet with the trays etc etc.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Thanks for all these detailed responses!

Is it important to have a particular material to work on? I read about marble pastry counters, for example, and I gather there is a reason to keep dough cool, but does the material matter.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 3:02PM
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John, as you may know, I cater sweet tables out of my kitchen.

As others have said, it's all about organization but the key, which you are very wise to be doing, is to PLAN it all out before you start the remodel and not trying to figure out where everything goes when you are done.

Here are some pics of my baking center:

The pull out pantry is to the left of the double ovens. In it are all my baking ingredients, lots of flours, sugars, add ins, etc as well as my sifter. Above the ovens is vertical storage for all my pans, cooling racks, cookie sheets, muffin tins etc. Below the oven is a drawer where I keep all my paper catering pans like paper loaf pans, cake pans, muffin cups, etc.

The KA mixer stays out on the counter above the microwave which is great for softening butter, melting chocolate and heating water. In the cabinets above the mixer I have mixing bowls, chocolate (there is a whole storage box of different chocolate), measuring cups, recipe box, and more baking stuff.

I can knead dough on the counter which is std height but I am tall

To the right of that is our corner storage where I keep my DLX. It's light enough to haul out whenever I am making large amounts of dough.

The around the corner is the cooktop which doubles as a landing spot for hot stuff out the oven. The bottom drawer under the cooktop holds all my tins, pans and other stuff that wouldn't fit in the vertical storage.

The utensil drawer under the cooktop holds silpat mats, spatulas, whisks and wooden spoons as well as my trusty Thermopen.

My fridge is to the left of the pantry on the adjacent wall so isn't blocked by the open pantry but is easily accesible for butter, eggs, etc.

I do have a sink right there as well which is awesome for popping dirty things into as soon as you are done. It serves as our prep sink too but is close to the cleanup area so works for baking cleanup.

One feature I absolutely LOVE is that all the counters in that area of the kitchen are 30" deep. (the cabs were custom so they are deep too). This allows me to keep the mixer out without having 6" of counter left with in front of it to work.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 3:08PM
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I like using the big corner lazy susan for plastic canisters of various types of flour. They're relatively heavy, so it's handy to be able to swing the turntable to see which one(s) I want for a particular recipe. I mention this because lower cab lazy susans can be difficult to use efficiently, and I feel this is a good usage of a non-optimal cabinet. The floor of the big corner cabinet is also a handy place to store a stack of half sheet trays on one side of the cabinet, and a stack of cooling racks on the other.

In a previous kitchen I had a fabulous set of ROTS with all my baking gear, but it was--very foolishly!--located just below the perfect baking counter. What a dumb move that was! I constantly had to move aside to open a door or drawer and pull out what I needed. In this kitchen, little stuff all lives together in an upper cabinet near the work surface. This cab opens horizontally, and it's handy to leave it open to take out and replace all the little items--extracts, leavening agents, colors, etc.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:27PM
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My mother's kitchen is tiny but very cannily arranged. She has something like 22" of counter next to her cooktop with an upper and lower cabinet. This used to have a Nu-tone, in the day. Now the mixer and food processor sit on the counter there, under the cabinets, with accessories and attachments on pullouts in the cabinet beneath, along with potholders, measure scoops and a few other items. Next to it is a double sided spice pullout with cooking spices on the stove side, and baking spices and decorations on the mixer side. One of the ovens is on the other side of the cooktop, the other is directly across from where the mixer is.

In the cabinet above the mixer are mixing bowls, big jar spices, sauces, teas, and small staples like baking powder and salt. Over the cooktop side oven is a built in slot for the baking board, pyrex measuring cups, molds, and cake pans. Bread pans and pie plates are in the pot drawers (54" wide). Above the hood are cookie cutters, pastry bags and presses, and similar arcana, along with extra bottles of condiments and coffee. Above the other oven are flours and oils. Below it is horizontal storage including the baking trays. Next to that oven are some very shallow cabinets that hold medium sized staples like sugars, dried fruit and nuts, etc., as well as crackers, rice, pasta, and other pantry items. Measuring spoons, wooden spoons and scrapers are in the drawers below along with the other utensils.

Yep. That's pretty much the whole kitchen. There's a counter over the dishwasher where the baking board fits for rolling dough and shaping bread. Trays ready for the oven sit on the stove or go into the next room onto the dryer. Cooling racks are stored with the baking trays and get set up on the dryer.

With all of that dispersed and combined storage, there's a definite "baking center" in that one little counter and cabinet, which kind of stretches it's tentacles through the whole space (no more than two steps any direction). It's very efficient except for the lack of counter space. I don't know if I was able to convey in words just how well organized for baking it is. It's like a baking overlay to the whole kitchen.

My own baking center, for all that I have a dedicated space, doesn't seem any more efficient. I have two drawers for the staples, one big one for the utensils, two big ones for baking dishes, pans and mixing bowls, two upper cupboards for measuring cups and mixer accessories, the spice pullout right there, and space over the ovens for baking trays. The board lives on the other side of the island because there was a place for it. Everything else lives in the baking center. It's great to be able to open the drawer and dish up flour and sugar without hauling them out, but the disadvantage is there isn't a good angle to either sink for just pitching. It works very well, but isn't really any easier to bake in than my mother's compact but dispersed baking area.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:28PM
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I have four adult kids, we often all cook together at holidays and so I want a baking area, as well a sep beverage area, prep, clean up, and cooktop. We bumped into each other and spilled into the dining room. I planned the kitchen with sharing the kitchen in mind. In our old kitchen my husband making coffee and me making eggs and toast constantly crossed paths!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Don't forget the pull-out work surface. Whether you use it for rolling things out & kneading is beside the point--it gives you a wonderful plunk space when you need to extend the depth of your countertop. When you need a clean spot, there it is!

Also, be sure that there is a receiving surface for hot items at side of oven--baking sheets are wider and nastier than you think when they're hot. For us, the wide pull-out breadboard can do this duty if a surface for a hot thing is needed in a hurry.

Plan where you will chop nuts & dried fruit & herbs for baking. (We have baking center just off bottom of U layout on one side of range; chopping board is behind us at other side of U, sufficiently close yet out of baker's way if two are working together.)

Plan for splash of flour--don't assume that things won't get dusty from flour. In midcontinental climate, keeping drawers and utensils scrupulously clean is essential to prevent flour bugs inside drawers and cabs and cookbooks. Where will you keep main flour source? Will you offload to smaller flour container, and if so, where will each be kept?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Fori is not pleased

I have a big baking center. Thirty inches deep and 83" long. The counter is at table height. The reason?

I didn't want to move a low window. Baking center was my excuse for low cabinetry (I needed the storage and counter space).

My kitchen is small enough I don't need a "baking center". I don't have an anything else center. But my kids and I (short) like the low counter and the additional storage is nice. Keeping my window is also nice.

A low area is nice to roll stuff out, especially if you're not tall.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 8:22PM
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For me, a baking center means room for my favorite mixing bowls, lots of cannisters, easy access to measuring cups and spoons and great storage for spices, herbs and things like baking powder, baking soda and salt. It's so annoying if you have to take more than a step or two, to get to these items.

I also like to have my sugars handy and lots of cupcake/muffin liners, but that's just me. As others have said, it's also nice to have muffina, cake and bread pans nearby, along with pie plates...and don't forget leaving room for fun frostings, etc. Oh, and I still hope to incorporate a little marble into this area, for rolling out pie crust!

If you ever start doing any decorating (even for the holidays) it's fun to make your own frostings and tint them. It doesn't have to be fancy, even bowls of whie frosting, tinted different colors, are lots of fun to spread over homemade shortbread cookies...and they look great (and taste great) for any party. Not only Christmas, but pastels make great spring/summer desserts!

For me, the best part is having seating nearby, for the nieces and nephews to help! Best of luck with your baking center :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Lucypwd wrote: I have all my dry baking goods in a large drawer in the island. Flour, sugar, yeast, baking soda and powder, etc all in one drawer.

How do you protect them from moths? Are they in canisters or tupperware? Or is the drawer itself some special design?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:24PM
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I have a dedicated baking area. Shallow shelves hold glass jars (from the Dollar Tree, yup, big spender) full of baking powder, salt, soda, baking cocoa, etc. That way I don't have to bend over to reach into a drawer or get my door handles gunky in the midst of a baking project. I'm a messy baker! That's why I also need an apron, so that I don't smear my clothes with flour dust.

Oh, and the point about a spot to land your hot things from the oven cannot be overemphasized. Case in point: I attempted to move a hot pizza stone from the oven in our old apartment with hotpads that were too thin. In my burning fingered frenzy with no free counterspace in sight, the berber carpet on the kitchen floor looked just like a giant hot pad to me. I quickly set the round stone down on the carpet to relieve my poor fingers. When I attempted to remove the stone a few minutes later, there were two concentric rings melted into the middle of the kitchen carpet. I ashamedly called my husband in to show him what I had done. He took one look and said, "Beam me up, Scotty!" Needless to say, we replaced the carpet when we moved out. So, don't put carpet in your baking area! : )

Do visit a good kitchen supply or restaurant supply store. I had the joy of visiting the latter today, and had to restrain myself from picking up a French rolling pin, a giant storage container that looked perfect for "bread in 5 minutes a day", heavy duty measuring cups. . . and a few other tempting items.

Tupperware used to sell a flexible plastic pastry sheet. It really works well, and has rings marked on it for different sized pie plates and pizza pans so you know what size to roll the dough out to. I think a lg. plastic cutting sheet would work similarly, but wouldn't have the circles on it, obviously. The trick to using it is to lay it out on a damp counter so that it sticks to the countertop while you roll out the dough. When not in use, it can be curled up around the rolling pin and stored

If you don't have room for a baking center, how about a baking cart (small island with wheels), or even a baking box that you can store most of the goodies in? Happy baking!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Laughable- So many wonderful ideas! Now, I want to go to a restaurant supply store :)

Oh, and tell your DH he gave me a well needed laugh tonight...beam me up Scotty!!! LOL

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 10:49PM
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once i started baking, i couldn't stop. those stand mixers are heavy and i had a mixer lift installed in one of my base cabinets. from day one i hated that thing. it never felt sturdy enough and i would always find myself holding onto the unit in case of a mishap. i finally stopped using it altogether after a friend had hers come crashing to the ground one day on a bread-baking marathon.

i also didn't like how i could never see inside the bowl because the mixer rested atop a 36" counter. i never considered myself short but i started to wonder after standing on my tip toes to see if all the ingredients were incorporated.

i longed for a space that would enable me to prep and mix and keep all my tools in one place. while there is plenty of room to store flours and sugar, etc, i keep most of that in the freezer.

in my baking center will reside: my stand mixer (and a new one on the way), hand mixer, 3 food processors and i'm sure more appliances will find their way in. in the drawers will be measuring cups and bowls, rolling pins and anything else baking related. the counter height is much lower, at 29 or 30" i think. it's large; 5' wide and 9' tall so we also have room for a small TV. i have many antique cookie jars that will live at the very top cabs, behind glass. the inside is not built yet, otherwise i'd definitely show it off!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Just wanted to comment on your question about countertop materials, since so many other posts address organization and supplies. Granite or marble would be very nice. Here's why.

The stone stays cooler, which is good for candy and pastry, but also helpful for plain old baking/working with bread dough and richer doughs like pie crusts and cinnamon rolls. The smooth surface also is terrific for pizza. You just need a little flour under the dough and a metal peel will slide right under -- something that's almost impossible with formica or wood.

As others have said, having the baking area lower than countertop height is VERY useful. For me, at least, kneading, rolling, shaping are all easier at a lower height.

In terms of minimum space, we didn't have much room. I found a left over 36" wide base cabinet that we cut down. Then went to a stone yard and found a blue pearl granite remnant that the stone guy polished and put a simple edge on. It's 26" deep and 38" wide. I would have loved a 30" deep top, but just didn't have room. Because this space is "stand alone" (nothing on either side), that gives me plenty of room to work. Like others, I keep the KA mixer out and on this counter. When I'm rolling out cinnamon rolls, though, or making lots of pizzas, I only have to lift it over to the butcher block topped island (36" x 30") that backs up to the granite-topped cabinet.

BTW, I read up on different types of granite to learn which were less porous and did not require sealing. I'd have gone w/ white marble, but DH made the argument that the baking area was the most visible countertop in the kitchen. And while I didn't care if it looked "well used," he did. So after learning that Blue Pearl really was Syenite and very hard (dense), we went with that. I just use soap & water to clean it up. If I'm really OCD about the look, I follow that with a spray of 50/50 water and rubbing alcohol and wipe dry. Works like a charm.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 5:21PM
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I have NOT transitioned to keeping my flour and sugar in the kitchen. I keep flour and sugar in the walk-in pantry. I have decided that logistically, I like FOOD in the walk in pantry and utensils and bowls and such in the kitchen cabinets and drawer.

This is arbitrary distinction but it works for me. The way my brain is organized, I would have harder time trying to sort out what food items are kept in the kitchen drawers and what food items are kept in the walk in pantry.

I bake less than once per week, so I like "this" organization method. I keep a small container of sugar to use as spice. For baking, you need larger containers of flour and sugar. For something that I don't do that often, it seems like a large real estate to devote....

For those of you that have a baking center in the kitchen proper, how much flour and sugar do you keep "in" the kitchen/baking center. Do you have an overlow sugar and flour in the pantry? If I have to dedicate an "overflow" area for the extra flour and sugar, it seems space redundant to me. I buy 5 to 10 lbs of sugar and flour at once. What do you do? Please help me sort and reason this process out. I want to give the "baking center" concept a try.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 7:42PM
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I have my baking center in my pantry. Everything I need is there, baking supplies and all of my equipment. I love this space. I also have a sink to clean up the mess.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:01PM
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kalapointer, I like this space very much. Impressive set of books and a good space!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Thanks, florantha. I am really enjoying it. Today I made brioche there and a pound cake. My DH gets all the benifits.LOL

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:17PM
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I'm planning my kitchen and I want a baking centre after reading this. I'm thinking of dropping the countertop and it will have regular height countertop on either side. How much space should I allow? I sort of tried it out by rolling imaginary pastry and I thought 36 inches seemed fine but somebody wrote that theirs was 38 inches but since it was stand alone it was wide enough. Any help would be appreciated. Hope nobody minds a newbie butting in on this conversation.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 3:14PM
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If you are planning on only rolling out dough on the dropped counter, 36-38" might be enough. . . but, if this spot is also where your open cookbook, canister of flour, sugar, bowl of dough, and other goodies will also sit, you will want more space. If you watch the old video (highly recommended!) mentioned earlier in the thread, it seems that about 40" or 43" wide was ideal for most folks. I liked how they tested the counters in the old video, taping off measurements on the counter and then prepping on it, seeing how much space was truly used. You could easily do this experiment at home and see how the 36" space works for you. I might even try putting up some cardboard boxes for walls on either side to make sure my arms weren't bumping into the sides of the area, too, since you are talking about having a higher counter on either side.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 4:01PM
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I'm so glad to hear 43" should be enough, because that's all I had room for in our small kitchen. I was about to create a post about just this. Thanks Laughable!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 4:31PM
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Why & Where: We had an unexpected little addition between the house and the new garage I was originally going to use as a storage area and pantry. But I thought, what a waste of nice space. I could not find the right spot for the ovens in the kitchen so I made it into the bakery.

How & What: There is a place to mix and roll out dough as well as shelf and counter space for ingredients in my bakery. Sorry the pictures are fragmented, but I'll try to note where things are stored. The space is 8' wide and 18' long. Zones are the way to go, and that includes pantry items, IMHO because cooking/baking is more efficient. I don't have much of a pantry because all my baking supplies are where I mix and bake.

The room is adjacent to the kitchen. I like the ovens accessible to the kitchen but not IN the kitchen.

The drawer below the ovens stores the peels, roasting trays and baguette pans. Above are the glass and aluminum baking dishes in the lower layer and plastics, tupperware, and cookie cutters above.

The counter is next to the ovens. Two KA mixers and the Zo breadmaker are behind the doors. The top drawer has utensils, middle drawer parchment papers, foil and oven mits. The bottom drawer has all the baking trays. It is much easier to bend down than to reach above the ovens to get trays.

DH's grandmother's Napanee Kitchenet is beside the marble counter. It has most frequently used ingredients as well as storage for extra flours and other baking ingredients.

The other side of the room has a sink and more storage. Just bookcases from Staples repurposed from my office. Behind the curtains are small electrics: food processor, microwave, paper/plastic/foil storage on the right. Left has large mixing bowls, most cooling racks and rising pitchers. The middle are various flours and cookboks.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:03PM
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I love seeing how other people arrange their kitchens!

I bake a lot and years ago I made myself a baking basket that I store my baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and other extracts, salt, cinnamon, ginger, food coloring, muffin liners and measuring spoons. All I needed to do was pull the basket out of the cabinet and I was good to go.

Currently I have a baking/prep center that is in the middle of a cabinet run. The ref is on one end of the run, while double ovens are on the other. My island with cooktop is across a 40"aisle. 40" is on the narrow side, but it works well for me, just a pivot step to the oven or the prep sink to drain pasta. Next to the ovens I have a prep sink and then 2-30" drawer bases. In one top drawer, I keep spices, in the other, my utensils, mixing cups, micro planes etc. The center drawer is my baking drawer; it holds my baking basket as well as flour, sugar, corn meal, etc. I love having these items in a drawer; I just open the drawer and scoop out the flour, sugar and nothing needs to go up on the counter. The other middle drawer holds my mixing bowls and casserole dishes, I love not having to pull these out of an upper cabinet. In the bottom drawers I keep specialty pans, and more serving/entertaing pieces. I've kept my KA mixer out on the counter for years but just decided to put it away. I have an open cabinet under my cooktop that is easy to access so that's where I put my mixer. No problems putting it away or taking it out. This space is available because we hang our pans. Next to my baking drawers I have an 18" base cabinet w/ pull outs. I keep my 12c KA food processor with accessory box on the top shelf so its easy to lift onto the counter and put away. We have another cabinet run that holds the cleanup sink, dishwasher and recycling center.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:55PM
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I love all these photos! I wish I had a baking pantry, but we don't have that kind of space. It is what it is.

I have always loved baking, but before our remodel, it was such a colossal headache that I rarely did it. There was no room to prep, and definitely no room to let baked goods cool--especially cookies. And there was absolutely NO ROOM for large baking dishes in our double bowl sink. It was important to me that our new kitchen have room for baking.

I designated an area next to our fridge, across from the main sink and wall oven as our baking area. My hubby, who gets a big kick out of all the stuff I pick up on GardenWeb, refers to everything as "stations". He will ask, "Where is the potholder station?" or "Where is the ice cream scoop station?" when he is trying to find something. LOL. He does know the area in the kitchen that is the "baking station." It's a section of countertop that is lower than our other counter tops by a couple of inches, and is 27" deep and 51" wide. I keep my KitchenAid stand mixer out [and on] this counter, and also have two very large glass canisters of flour and sugar. The sugar holds a 10 lb bag, the flour is even larger.

There is a bank of drawers at this "station", two that hold my baking supplies--scrapers, measuring spoons, scoops, spatulas, mixer attachements, etc. Another drawer holds rolls of foil, wax paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, and bags. I also have one of those 6" Rev-a-shelf pullouts behind a door that holds misc baking/cooking supplies: chocolate chips, salt, corn starch, baking powder and soda, vanilla, colored sugars, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc. A pullout with other spices and oils, next to the cooktop, is a pivot left. Additional flours are in a base cabinet next to the sink. All the baking sheets, cooling racks, cake pans, etc. are above the oven stored vertically, and all the mixing bowls and cups, rolling pin, plus the food processor, blenders, and even the Magic Bullet we received this Christmas, are in deep drawers under the oven and warming drawer. Everything is extremely accessible, so I am baking more than I ever did.

When I am making batches of cookies, I set up cooling racks next to the cooktop. This may not be the baking pantry that I will only dream about, but man it is sooo much better than what I previously had, and I am so happy I designed it this way!

Now back to oogling all these amazing kitchens! *drool*

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 10:46PM
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Here's a sequence of photos of drawers below my pull-out breadboard (not shown) The corner is used for storage of mixer, blender, processor (no longer need toaster oven). Spice jars are at hand on wall and flavoring bottles in cupboard above; overflow storage of flour, mixes, etc also in cupboard above. These photos were taken at an unfortunate moment in the evolution of my unpacking; they're more organized now. I'm baking more often since it's so effortless to assemble the ingredients and pans. Also, I've put a Betty Crocker cookbook in the lower drawer, which allows me to look up a simple recipe fast. No more dallying or excuses.
Vertical storage is to the right of this--cookie sheets &c.

Bottom drawer

Second drawer

Top drawer

Above this is a large pull-out breadboard. I can use the pasta machine here also, connected by the vise attacher.

A new range not shown here has a large and a small oven. Can do two cookie sheets using the small one; lower oven accepts up to 4 sheets.
Opposite the baking center on the U of the kitchen is peninsula with a smaller pull-out chopping board. This area accepts hot racks from oven and the cookies, etc. can be put in tins here.

We've now countersunk (pun intended) our three utensil canisters into countertop. Each one has a definite purpose--no mixing the contents. Easy to find things, don't need an extra hand to pull out the drawer, and it's easier to empty dishwasher because you can use both hands to tote utensils.

A few misc. items: It is illegal to cut garlic, onions, or meat on the breadboard--go to the other pull-out cutting boards. This area was recently used by DH to make jelly--he moved the ingredients from this corner to the rangetop to the jars on cutting board area opposite (I would have gone the opposite direction.) Marks on butcherblock above were made by feet of induction hotplate (have put stick-on bumpers on them subsequently). Breadboard is almost 2 inches lower than countertop. There is a pendant light overhead and an undercab light by the spice rack. I have purchased two flour holding plastic cubes from Container Store to hold two kinds of 5# flour bags. Will be using bay leaves in the three drawers to fight bugs. Hope it works.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 12:15AM
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Wow, these are impressive baking centers!

We are putting in a new kitchen where the old den was (now flowing into a new family room), and we were going to convert the old galley kitchen into a butler's pantry / laundry room. I have always wanted to leave the laundry in the basement, and seeing / reading these awesome baking center details really gives me a good argument to do so! We have an antique Chambers range, so we need an extra oven. The problem is that it must be an undercounter oven, and fitting it into the new kitchen loses a lot of storage space (an oven cabinet would mean no useable counter space except the island). This inspires me to convert the old kitchen into a pantry / baking center (the whole point of getting an extra oven is to bake). It is only 8 ft long on one side, 7 ft. on the other, but I think I can make it work if we get a smaller sink. The other thing is that a single wall oven costs almost as much as a double wall oven, so cost-wise it actually makes sense. Plus, the breakfast room is right next to the old kitchen, on the opposite side of the house from the new kitchen, and will not get as much use one the remodel is done, and even now the table there is where we do all of our rolling / cooling (but all the crap has to get moved out of the way first).

I agree - the most important thing is organization - that is why I never bake or cook - my current kitchen is so disorganized (and the original layout is beyond fixing). Other than what I can cook in the cast iron frying pan that I keep in the oven and a small saucepan, I just don't even bother - everything else is so difficult to reach and topples out that I can't stand it. Never would I ever put base cabinets in a kitchen - EVER - DRAWERS ONLY! As for spices, definitely go for the rev-a-shelf pull-outs or if you have space on your counter or at eye-level on the wall. Ours are in the cabinet above the range hood and a real pain to access.

I could easily re-use one of the original base cabinets that actually seems like it was originally a baking cabinet to begin with - it has a bread drawer, 2 utensil drawers, and annoyingly low cabinets with half-shelves at the back (this is currently where we keep our pots, pans and storage containers - a real disaster), and it even has a cutting board pull-out slot that someone had filled in with a piece of wood. The problem is that it is normal counter height and I really don't want to shorten it because it is solid wood (literally solid like a rock). I can actually use it in the new island as a recycling / compost center, so I'm not sure. We are tall though, so maybe it's not worth dropping to 30". But our breakfast room table is 30" high, and that is a comfortable height for rolling.

Has anyone used a dresser as the 30" base? That's what I was thinking about using - lots of drawers, and if only storing pans and light stuff (not glass canisters of flour), it should work really well. Top it with a slab of marble and wha-la!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:54AM
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