Choosing the Best Commercial Bakery Equipment
Outfitting a new commercial bakery with the right mix of bakery equipment might at first sound like a daunting task. Whether you're looking to open a new business, expand your existing one, or simply replace some obsolete or aging pieces, you want to purchase the right equipment and get the most for your money. It's important to think about not only what you wish to produce, but how much, as those details will influence the specific pieces of equipment you should purchase. Here is a list of tips and suggestions to help you get the best bakery equipment for your needs!
When making bread or any other baked good, it all starts with the dough. Having that dough mixed properly is crucial to the quality and texture of the finished product. While a very small or artisan-style operation may prefer to mix their bread dough by hand on a wood-topped baker's table, most commercial bakeries will want at least one, if not multiple dough mixers.
Dough Dividers and Sheeters
Dough dividers are specialized pieces of commercial bakery equipment that take a large batch of dough and portion it out into equally sized and weighted balls of dough for consistent results when making pies, breads, or even pizza crusts. Dough sheeters take a ball of dough and roll and stretch it out to the size and thickness that you specified. This improves consistency in your pie and pizza dough crusts.
Dough dividers and dough sheeters are great labor savers and help you improve the consistency of your output. However, you'll want to consider the return on investment, as they can be bulky and expensive to purchase initially. As a result, they're most often used by higher volume establishments.
When proofing bread dough, you're allowing it to rise before baking. Because dough rises best in warm, humid environments, you'll likely want to invest in some proofing cabinets. These specialized pieces of equipment achieve the perfect temperature and humidity levels to get consistent, repeatable results. Suffice it to say that the number of variations and styles of proofing cabinets available is huge. Purchasing considerations:
- Size: full height, 3/4 height, 1/2 height, or undercounter
- Door configuration: glass or solid doors, full door or split door
- Interior configurations: Fixed wire slides, lip load slides, shelves, universal slides
You can purchase cabinets that are strictly designed for proofing or models that also boast a hot holding function. These combination holding and proofing cabinets give you the versatility of two different pieces of equipment in a single footprint; you can proof dough and keep the finished product or other foods hot and ready to sell or serve in the same cabinet!
If you wish to slow down the rising of dough, you can refrigerate it. But, some types of dough turn out best when they're allowed to rest at higher temperatures than those of a commercial refrigerator. In this case, you may want to consider a retarder. The most versatile retarders are actually combination units that will switch over to proofing the dough when you're ready to do so. These retarder/proofer combos are great labor savers because you can put your dough in them overnight, program the machine to start proofing them at a certain time, and have them proofed and ready for baking exactly when you're ready. A few specialized models even combine the retarder/proofer and convection oven capabilities into one unit!
The heart of any bakery is its oven, and you'll have a lot of options available to you when deciding what type of oven to purchase. Like purchasing a commercial mixer, it's important to think about what types of product you are producing, and at what quantities, because those factors can influence which type of oven would be best for your needs. In planning, keep in mind that no matter what type of oven you end up installing, you'll almost always need it under a ventilation hood.
Convection ovens are one of the most common pieces of commercial bakery equipment. They do a great job of quickly and evenly baking a variety of products, from bread loaves to cookies to cakes, pies, and brownies. Their use of internal fans to circulate the air creates even browning and repeatable results. Of the types of ovens typically used in a bakery, a convection oven is the most common and least expensive.
Some high-end bakery convection ovens boast steam injection and other specialized features that can take your baked goods to the next level. For a more thorough breakdown of convection ovens, check out our convection oven guide.
Artisan-style bakers or those making specific types of breads often prefer a deck oven. Their stone cooking decks heat up, giving the crust a distinctive, crispy character, while maintaining a soft and moist inside. A deck oven takes up a considerably larger amount of space compared to a convection oven, so keep that in mind if space is limited. However, due to their relatively simple design and few moving parts, they last a long time and operate without a lot of hassle. Both single deck and multi-deck styles are available.
Roll-In Rack Ovens
A roll-in rack oven is similar in concept to a roll-in refrigerator or proofing cabinet in that you can wheel a pan rack full of goods right into the oven for baking. Some models will "grab" the pan rack and rotate them during the baking process for even results. The advantage of this style is time and labor savings due to less product handling.
You can save even more time if you have a roll-in proofing cabinet. In that case, you can simply load the pans full of product onto the rack, proof them, roll them into the oven for baking, and roll them out for cooling once you're done baking! If you're considering this style, make sure you have roll-in oven racks designed for this use; not all racks have high temperature casters.
A revolving oven has large revolving trays that you can load with product, similar in concept to a rotisserie style oven at a deli or market. These have a very high capacity and output capability, but are also quite expensive. Make sure your output needs and budget can justify the purchase of one of these units.
Display and Sales
Due to their speed and consistency of cut, bread slicers are a great option if your bakery plans to sell sliced bread. A few specialized models even accommodate unique baked goods such as French bread, buns, and bagels.
Bakery Display Cases
If you have plans for a large retail component in your bakery, you'll want to consider what types of bakery display cases you will need. Both refrigerated and non-refrigerated styles are available, depending on the type of products you plan on selling. Likely, you'll want a mix of both. You will also have to decide whether you want a self-serve display case or one designed for serving customers from behind the counter. As there are so many sizes and styles to consider, it's a good idea to consult our deli case and bakery display case buying guide for a more detailed overview of what's available.
Finding the best commercial bakery equipment is just one step in starting a successful bakery business. We have a wealth of articles and buying guides dedicated to bakery-specific topics!