Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Commercial Bakery

Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Commercial Bakery

Without the right equipment, even the most experienced pastry chef would have a hard time getting baked goods up to par. Choosing the best equipment for your bakery comes down to getting the appropriate machine for your baking processes, following all building codes and spending your money effectively. The following list of equipment includes suggestions for making the best purchase.

Commercial Oven
Baking requires a heat source, most often an oven, in which to heat baked goods. Different types of product require different baking situations. Some buildings will not allow large commercial ovens without a ventilation hood or other requirements. Be sure to check your local fire and health codes before buying and installing equipment.

Convection Oven. Bread loaves and individual cakes often have the best results when baked in convection ovens. These ovens are probably the most common and often the most affordable, and they use internal fans to circulate hot air for even baking. Electric ovens do not always require a ventilation hood, but gas ovens just about always do.

Rack Oven. Large-scale bread or cookie bakeries might require a tall rack oven, in which several racks of goods can be rolled inside and baked all at once. These are ideal for production bakeries in which volume is important and a convection oven cannot bake enough cakes, cookies or breads at once.

Stone Deck Oven. Artisan bakers want to perform their craft according to Old-World techniques and traditions. Stone deck ovens, also called hearth deck ovens, offer modern heat distribution with an artisan result. The stone slabs heat the dough, giving the thick and crispy crust but soft inside. They usually require very little maintenance due to the lack of moving parts, contrary to a convection oven. They use stone decks to One oven can have up to four independent oven chambers for baking different items at once.

Revolution Oven. A revolution oven, also called a revolving oven, is a large commercial bakery oven with a unique design. The trays inside revolve while baking, providing the capacity to bake a variety of products at the same time. Some of the ovens offer the option of stone shelving for the same effect as a stone deck oven. These ovens can hold anywhere from eight to 32 pans. The panoramic window allows operators to peek inside during the baking process.

Proofing Cabinet
For bakeries specializing in pastries, bread or anything else baked from rising dough, a proofing cabinet is an important addition. Proofing is the term for allowing bread to rise, and in the commercial bakery, this usually requires a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Dough rises in warm, humid environments, up to 100° F and 85% humidity for a fast rise. This helps keep the dough from drying out. Hence, proofing cabinets (also called proof boxes or proofers) are the best way to achieve the conditions needed for proofing large amounts of dough, ideal for commercial bakeries. Choose from full-size, half-size and under-counter proof boxes, depending on your available space. Each unit has pan racks for holding sheet pans full of pastries, bread dough and more.

Retarder / Proofer Unit
To retard dough means to slow the process of rising, or proofing. Refrigerating the dough is the best way to do this, but some types of dough require temperatures higher than what a typical commercial refrigerator holds, such as 50-60° F. Retarder / proofer units provide a cool environment where the dough can rest before rising. When the dough is ready for proofing, the unit alters the temperature and humidity level to allow the dough to rise.

Bakeries can function without this type of equipment if they have a properly air-conditioned room to store their dough. However, this can be a bit of a gamble, since an environment like that is probably difficult to maintain, due to opening and closing doors and an imperfect temperature control system. It is best to have a controlled space like a retarder box. Having both a proofer and retarder in one unit is beneficial as well; the machine can be set so that it retards the dough for a certain amount of time, then automatically begins proofing by allowing the temperature to rise slightly at the scheduled time, without human intervention.

Dough Mixer
Many bakers will attest that the mixing procedure is the most important part of baking bread. After all, different types of bread require different mixing procedures, and different bakers have their preferred methods. Large-scale production bakeries likely have industrial mixers to uniformly mix all doughs, while some artisan bakers will mix all their dough by hand for small batches. However, even artisan bakers will bring in an automated mixing machine when demand requires greater production.

Dough mixers can come in a few different varieties, but the biggest distinctions to be made are between size and mixing speeds. Most commercial bakeries use floor models, since these are more powerful and can handle greater dough loads, from 30 quarts to over 300 quarts. Some bakeries may be able to get by with a countertop mixer, but most likely it will simply be too small to accommodate the volume of dough required for a viable bakery business. As far as speeds go, consider the difference between variable-speed and fixed-speed mixers. Variable-speed mixers have more speed options, since the lever moves on a continuous scale from low to high. Fixed-speed mixers have only a few speed options, with the lever clicking at each different level, such as low, medium and high. There would be no options between low and medium, for example. This can be detrimental for a restaurant or bakery that requires different mixing speeds for different recipes. The variable-speed mixer offers those in-between speeds for fine-tuning the speed needed for each recipe. For bakeries mixing only one thing, a fixed-speed mixer is a perfectly acceptable machine.      

Bakery Display Case
Displaying your finished bakery items in an attractive manner is an essential step to getting them out the door and making the sale. If your baked goods do not look appealing, then you have little hope of enticing customers to purchase them. If you have a storefront and sell baked goods retail, you should invest in a bakery display case. Available for both dry and refrigerated bakery items, display cases provide a clean, safe merchandising opportunity to showcase your desserts, pastries, breads and cookies in a professional and memorable way. >> Learn More (Comparison Bakery display cases)

Dough Divider

Dough dividers are ideal for bakeries producing a high volume of uniform buns, small loaves of bread, buns or rolls. The dough divider pumps out high volumes of measured-weight dough balls with ease, removing a good deal of the labor involved in doing it by hand. Investing in a dough divider for making high volumes of consistent, identical dough balls is a good way to save on labor dollars, which can easily get out of hand in a busy bakery.

Dough Sheeter and Dough Roller
Dough sheeters and dough rollers are very similar, each essentially providing a simple and practically labor-free method of rolling out round flats of dough, or long flat sheets of dough. These machines are ideal for pizza shops, pie bakeries or restaurants with high-volume production requirements, wanting consistent dough crusts time and again. Dough sheeters and rollers partially or fully automate the dough rolling process, best for operations that are not concerned with hand-tossing methods or using a rolling-pin. A commercial bread slicer

Bread Slicer
For bakeries that sell sliced breads for their customers, commercial bread slicers provide the means to slice several loaves in no time. Countertop bread slicers can often completely slice a loaf of bread in under eight seconds, depending on the bread type and slice size. The key for successful bread slicing is to wait until the bread has completely cooled before attempting to put it on the slicer. The bread slicer will tear apart a loaf of bread that is still warm inside.

The art of baking involves accuracy, skill and dedication to the trade. Choosing the appropriate equipment gives the baker the opportunity for greater consistency in the product while reducing labor costs in most cases.