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How to create a kitchen baking center

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Be sure that you choose the right countertop for your baking needs. (©iStockphoto.com/M. Eric Honeycutt) Be sure that you choose the right countertop for your baking needs. (©iStockphoto.com/M. Eric Honeycutt)


By LuAnn Brandsen for Home Sweet Solutions
 

Kitchen design rarely includes a defined baking center, but if you find yourself reaching for the cake pans or cookie sheets on a weekly basis, you'll thoroughly appreciate this specialized work station. Here's our five-step recipe for design success:

1. Designate a space

Begin by gathering all your bakeware, utensils and staples to see how much counter and storage space you'll need to build your baking center. Then start looking for places in your kitchen to carve out your baking center, giving preference to possibilities near the refrigerator-sink-oven work triangle. You'll want at least 3 feet of surface space to make the area functional, though that can be as simple as a marble- or quartz-topped table with a storage shelf underneath, the end of an island, a corner of countertop or space in an adjacent butler's pantry. You can also get creative and modify a hutch or a buffet table to create a baking center.

2. Include smart storage

Now that you've gathered all your baking supplies and selected a spot for the baking center, it's time to get organized. Tray dividers can make smart use of narrow cabinets by vertically storing baking pans and cooling racks; drawer dividers can neatly corral utensils; and backsplash spice racks or ledges can keep seasonings at your fingertips. If under-counter space is tight, consider installing deep drawers with full-extension slides that provide easy access to every inch of potential storage. Keep flour and sugar at the ready in airtight containers or in stacking canisters that can be attractively labeled and stored on a shelf above the surface to keep the countertop clear.

3. Choose the right countertop

Marble has traditionally been the baker's countertop of choice because its cool, smooth surface is ideal for working with dough. Granite is a newer option that works well if it's sealed and spills are cleaned up quickly. Engineered stone and quartz are the most durable, low-maintenance choices. Their nonporous nature makes them less likely to stain than marble or granite and also prevents penetration of food-borne bacteria (think eggs).

4. Use quality appliances

It's hard to enjoy baking if your chocolate-chip cookies come out burnt on the bottom and your banana-nut bread caves on the top. If it's time to update your oven or simply add to your existing appliances, consider a built-in single or double wall oven. Or check out a lift oven that is hung above the counter and is particularly appealing to anyone who has difficulty bending to insert or remove pans. Finally, invest in a quality stand mixer -- a fun purchase since there are many high-performing models that'll spice up your kitchen with fun colors and sleek designs.

5. Personalize your baking center

The success of your baking center depends on your ability to tailor it to your preferences. For instance, you may want to lower cabinetry to 30 or 32 inches to make it easier to roll dough. If you don't want to mess with containers, you may prefer installing bins for flour and sugar. If you work best with clear counters, you may appreciate a stand-mixer lift. As any baker knows, the secret to success is making the recipe your own.

LuAnn Brandsen LuAnn Brandsen is the former editor of Renovation Style, Country Home, Country Gardens, BHG Beautiful Kitchens and BHG Beautiful Baths magazines. She currently writes about homes, gardens and food while her brand-new energy-efficient dishwasher does all her dirty dishes.

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