Bakers Journal

Equipment Refresher

December 4, 2007
By Bakers Journal

Tips from “How to Start and Operate a Bakery Profitably,” (by Sylvia Jenkins) for choosing the equipment that’s right for your business – whether you’re well established or just getting there.

Bakery equipment should cover all the essentials for the type of bakery you plan to operate. This includes the production equipment, mixers, ovens, small wares, storage facilities and such items as tables, shelving, etc.

In order to be able to list the equipment you require, it is advisable to start by listing the products you intend to make; then follow through the production process for each of the products, listing the equipment (of all types) that you will require. For this you will also need to decide what stages, if any, are to be completed by hand.

Assume, for example, that you want to produce hotdog rolls, hand-moulded to the final shape. The equipment required would then include: ingredient storage bins, ingredient weighing scales, weights, table, ingredient scoops, scoop for scales, mixer with dough hook, measures for liquids, divider/rounder for cutting and the basic shaping of rolls, proofer for final proof, pans, greasing equipment (possibly a brush), racks for the pans (this should fit into the proofer), oven, cooling racks. This list, apart from the pans, should be adequate for all rolls and buns except for Kaisers, which would require a small Kaiser machine. For every variety of rolls (as with bread products) it is important to ensure that you list the different types of pans you may need.


In general terms, the larger the bakery, the more sophisticated the equipment required.

A good equipment supplier can help you with this list and will advise you about the capacity of each type of mixer and oven. You might not wish to buy all new equipment, but to purchase some second-hand machinery. Again, there are many suppliers who sell second-hand equipment, and these companies will only be too pleased to assist you with your planning and requirements.

There are several types of mixers commonly used in the baking industry, most of which have limited uses, except for the vertical planetary machine. This type of mixer can be obtained in a variety of sizes and is suitable for both bread and
fermented products as well as for cake making. There are three basic attachments for the vertical planetary mixer: the dough hook, the beater (or paddle) and the whip.

The beater and whip are used for softer mixes, for example cake products, and the dough hook for the more solid mixes, mainly bread and roll doughs. The whip is usually limited to use with liquids, such as egg mixes, whipping creams, etc.

In a small bakery, is it possible to produce every product using a vertical machine, but most bakeries have more than one mixer and a vertical machine would be used mainly for pie doughs, pastry products, cakes, cookies and various creams.
Capacity of this type of machine should be related to anticipated production. A too-small machine will be easily overloaded, leading to frequent failures.

Open bowl dough mixers are extremely useful for the small bakery. These mixers have a fixed dough hook which passes through the dough. In some models the mixing action is enhanced by the use of a rotating bowl.

Horizontal mixers usually require fairly large production runs to be economical, because they produce relatively large quantities of dough. These mixers will produce a well-developed dough more rapidly than will the vertical or open bowl machines. However, in order to operate a horizontal mixer, additional equipment is required. A flour elevator is necessary, which can be fed directly from a storage silo or from a flour storage bin. A dough trough, into which the finished dough is dumped, is also necessary and this is usually accompanied by a hoist that lifts the trough over the divider where the dough is scaled.

Spiral mixers are very useful in the smaller bakeries, as these mixers work on two speeds and can mix a dough effectively in a much shorter period than the open bowl mixers.

There are a large variety of ovens available to the baker, and the choice of oven would largely depend on the expected production capacity of the bakery and the type of product to be baked. In a large bakery, tunnel ovens are usually used for bread and even rolls; these ovens require a large amount of floor space, but are extremely efficient as they allow for the baked products to be removed from the oven at the opposite end to where the unbaked product is introduced.

Many small bakeries use the “reel” oven, a type that is usually found to be very efficient. In this oven, the shelves are suspended between two “ferris” wheels, and rotate through the oven on a continuing cycle. The rotating action ensures that the temperature for the products is even throughout the oven, and baking is therefore also even.

The rack oven is a style of oven which allows the baker to wheel a whole rack of products into the oven at one time and, when baked, to remove the rack without having to remove single units. In order to use this oven efficiently, each rack of products must require the same baking time and temperature. The rack oven is truly a time saver.

As with other bakery equipment, it is possible to obtain most oven types second-hand, which is a cost saving; however, it is important to ensure the equipment has been completely overhauled before you have it installed.

Sales tax
When ordering bakery equipment, it is important to check your position with regard to sales taxes, both federal and provincial, as well as the GST.

From the point of view of the federal sales tax, a bakery is a producer or manufacturer, but should you operate a deli-bakery you are not in this category. To quote from the Excise Tax Act, “a ‘producer or manufacturer’ includes any printer, publisher, lithographer, engraver or commercial artist, but does NOT include, for the purposes of this Part and the Schedules, any restaurateur, centralized kitchen or similar establishment, food or drink, whether or not such food or drink is for consumption on the premises.”

Should you plan to start a bakery/deli unit, but are unsure about which to establish first, the deli or the bakery, you should check the current federal sales tax position to help you solve the problem. If you initially plan to open a bakery, and purchase all the required equipment, then later expand to include a deli or café, you could be exempt from sales tax on the purchase of equipment, until you add the deli or café unit, at which time federal sales tax would be applicable, as your business would now be categorized as a restaurant or similar establishment.

To establish your position with respect to the federal, provincial or state sales tax, you should check with your federal, provincial or state government sales tax office and ask them to give you a ruling in writing.

Ask your suppliers
There are many people out there who are willing and able to help you in any way they can – free of charge. Your suppliers are experts in their fields, and will happily share their knowledge. All you have to do is ask. If you have problems with production, scheduling, formulas, equipment, sanitation, packaging, ask your suppliers in these areas.

Look after your equipment
Equipment and machinery is vital to your success, so treat it with care. Follow manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations and contact your supplier if you have problems. Regularly read bakery trade magazines to see what new equipment is being offered, and visit trade shows to keep in touch with new developments.

Brian Hinton’s picks for smallware and equipment websites:
• Check out the cutting and slicing machines offered by FoodTools Inc.
• I like Edhard’s fillers and depositors for batter filling directly from the bowl.
• Look for Somerset’s sheeters for rolled fondant.
• Anything you might want for making picture cakes.
• I really like the different design sleeves that fit over rolling pins from Ateco for working with rolled fondant.
• For replacing conventional bakery pans with siliconized rubber moulds from Chicago Metallic. The website has a list of advantages for using these moulds.

Brian Hinton is the owner of Lakeview Bakery in Calgary. Contact him at

Excerpted from How to Start and Operate A Bakery Profitably, by Sylvia Jenkins and the editors of Bakers Journal, 1992,

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