From ancient planetary mixers to the humble dough scraper, beloved bread ovens and more, every baker and pastry chef has a tool they favour above all others when it comes to crafting their wares.
Here, we speak to the flour-dusted workers to find out what their favourite bit of equipment is and why…
Aidan Monks, owner/baker, Lovingly Artisan
My favourite bit of kit is: the Merand Diva Divider (pictured top).
What is it used for? It’s brilliant at dividing the dough when we create our ciabatta soup rolls. It’s also used to divide all the dough for the loaves. It also saves us a lot of time. It’s easier to clean, means better hygiene and also greater reliability. It exerts less pressure on the fragile dough and it also helps us maintain regular dough weights.
It’s my favourite because: of its versatility – it is used all day, every day!
Lara Thompson, head of product development, Doughnut Time
My favourite bit of kit: It might seem a bit basic but my favourite piece of equipment in the bakery business is in fact the humble dough scraper.
What is it used for? It’s mainly used in the dough section but I always personally carry one around with me to make sure I get every last drop from the bowl when baking, for smoothing and spreading and generally making anything look instantly neater and prettier.
It’s my favourite because: it’s so versatile! It’s sometimes the simple low-tech pieces of kit when you’re baking that make all the difference.
Claire Bradford, co-owner, Bradford Bakers
My favourite bit of kit is: our pastry roller – our tabletop pastry brake.
What is it used for? We use it to roll out our Empire biscuit dough, shortcrust pastry, marzipan, and our sugar paste.
It’s my favourite because: it does what a pastry brake would do, but it’s smaller. It’s very compact, which is the first thing that makes it so convenient. The second thing is that it’s a time saver as it rolls out our sugar paste to a consistent thickness, which speeds up the process of decorating our cupcakes while maintaining their unique looks. We think it’s a versatile machine that’s user friendly, and easy to clean.
Kimberley Lin, founder, Floozie Cookie
My favourite bit of kit is: my 4” offset palette knife and my 10” offset palette knife – they are two of my most valued pieces of equipment.
What is it used for? It’s used for a number of things – smoothing, stirring, even cutting to an extent. As a pastry chef I would be lost without this. Sometimes, when I’m in a rush, lunch or dinner is consumed with it instead of going to find cutlery.
It’s my favourite because: while the 4” is nothing super special, just a regular small offset, the 10” I’ve had for many years and I value this single tool above all others. It has a rosewood handle and even after all the years it is still level and straight.
Jeni Hardie, owner, Bad Girl Bakery
My favourite bit of kit: We don’t use a lot of kit in our bakery, but we’d be lost without our Buffalo 20lt planetary mixers.
What is it used for? We use them for our brioche and ciabatta doughs as well as big batches of shortbreads and the crumble toppings for our crumble bars.
It’s my favourite because: it’s a real work horse, never goes wrong and it’s a dream to clean.
Lisa Smith, owner, Ginger Bakers
My favourite bit of kit is: our Rationale Oven.
What is it used for? We bake everything in it including fruit cakes, tray bakes, pastry and granola. We are able to add steam in a very controlled way which means we can make products with a wide variety of textures. It has a precision-controlled cooking cabinet climate and accurate setting of temperature, air humidity, air flow and time.
It’s my favourite because: our ovens have to be 100% reliable and adaptable, and we can be creative knowing that we have an oven that is up to the job – which means we can bake with total confidence.
Florence Hellier, co-founder, Hoxton Bakehouse
My favourite bit of kit is: our Sottoriva Twin Arm Mixer.
What is it used for? We use it to mix our sourdough bread.
It’s my favourite because: it treats the dough the same way your hands do. The problem you have with spiral mixers is the spiral can create heat from the motor and this heat is then added to the dough and can damage the protein structure when mixing, also causing the dough to prove too fast during bulk fermenting.
Claire Clark, pastry chef, Claire Clark Academy
My favourite bit of kit is: our three pieces of Gram equipment – a KPS42 SH Blast Chiller, the F72 RAG Superior Plus Freezer and the Baker GA 950 Freezer/Prover.
What is it used for? We use the blast chiller for most pastry products and turn it to blast freeze for moulded desserts and entremets. The freezer/prover is valuable for bread, enriched yeast doughs and laminated dough segments.
It’s my favourite because: they are reliable, durable and robust – everything you want from specialised patisserie/bakery equipment. The students use them every day and really do put them all through the ‘tough test’.
James Slater, R&D director, Puratos UK
My favourite bit of kit is: the Fermentolevain.
What is it used for? Testing new sourdoughs at pilot-scale.
It’s my favourite because: with the Fermentolevain we can get close to factory conditions but have enough flexibility to play and explore new sourdough flavours and textures.
Rashida Spyriades, pastry chef, PCR Patisserie
My favourite bit of kit is: my Thermapen food thermometer.
What is it used for? I use it for tempering chocolate, making Swiss meringue buttercream and for macarons.
It’s my favourite because: it helps to ensure your creations are consistent every time and it takes away a lot of the guess work.