It has been my long-time dream to have a kitchen designed exclusively for baking. Having spent several decades working in my New York City living room turned kitchen, the moment arrived when we made the move full time to our weekend house in the Kittattiny Mountains of Hope, in northwestern NJ. And finally the time had come to start the rennovation of our unfinished basement into a kitchen that would house all my massive amount of baking equipment.
THE WAY IT WAS
We made the move a year ago June, and stored all the equipment in the garage during the three-month construction. Unfortunately the summer of 2013 was exceptionally humid which meant that by the time I could unpack all the boxes there was much de-rusting to do. Woody took one part of his summer vacation in June to help with the massive move, and the rest in September when he did wonders to unpack and organize all the equipment. Our goal was to have the kitchen in working order in time for the photo shoot for The Baking Bible in November. Woody made the move from Minnesota in October and in November we were able to complete 99% of the cookies, some of the cakes, and also some of the breads to bring to upstate NY where we were to spend three solid weeks with an amazingly wonderful production team taking the photographs. As many of my friends have expressed an interest in seeing the results of the baking kitchen, we've put together some photos and a brief description of the choices that were made. Much of the equipment is treasured items I've collected and used for years but the cabinets, countertops, flooring, and most of the major appliances are new. I'm glad I had to wait all these years to have my dream kitchen as it gave me experience and time to evaluate how I work and what I need to do my best work. And now that I have been living and working in it for an entire year I have to say I haven't a single regret. It works! Many kudos to our contractor Chris Smigel and his terrific team.
THE ENTRANCE FROM THE GARAGE (WINE CELLAR UNDER THE STAIRS)
This is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen. I love the huge soapstone sink with Dornbrach Tara Ultra Profi high rising flexible hose faucet, the KitchenAId dishwasher that has numerous useful settings and silent operation, the Cuisinart icecream maker, the Vitamix, other juicers, and food processors. The soapstone sink and countertops were masterfully installed by The Phillipsburg Marble Company.
Having a wire shelf at a level above my head, frees up counter space and speeds drying.
MOVABLE BAKER'S CART
MAIN BAKING AREA
I love my new Kitchen Aid refrigerator/freezer. To the right is the 7 foot by 3 foot marble-topped baking center on wheels that my cabinet maker father made for me many years ago. I'm so happy to have a heater/air conditioner. I rarely need to turn on the heater but I've always wanted an air conditioner for the area where I bake because I often feel that baking is more about chilling than heating but it ceratinly is about temperature control! The Herbert Miller clock is the one designed by my great Uncle Nat of Movado museum watch fame. I searched far and wide for really strong magnetic knife holders. These are 32 inch long knife bars by Global.
THE INDUCTION BURNER AND FOOD PROCESSING AREA
The beautiful oak cabinets from Fieldstone were purchased from a great local cabinet company, Custom Colonial in Blairstown. The Burton portable commercial induction burner is sensational. I love the speed with which it heats mixtures without heating the sides of the pans or the handles.
These shelves are sturdy enough for me to climb on to reach the liqueurs and eau de vies used only for baking. The drawers hold parchment rounds, glass bowls for use in the microwave, and one drawer is devoted to sifters making it unnecessary every to wash them. The Breville "Oven with a Brain" is perfect even. I use it for toasting nuts, baking small batches of cookies, single layer cakes, and even pies. I use the big commercial box of Stretch-Tite, my favorite plastic wrap, all day long. The shelves also hold the stereo and speakers.
THE ROAD TO THE BREAD BAKING AND WRAPPING STATION
In the distance is the dental assistant's stool which gives great lumbar support. This is where I sit to write notes if I'm not sitting on the stairs leading to the upstairs savory kitchen and living room. The flooring tiles are Mannington adura luxury vinyl tile--obsidian granite from the Carpet Gallery in Newton, NJ. I choose them for their durability and ability to camouflage marks. They are also relatively easier on the feet than a harder surface such as marble or granite and easier to maintain than wood.
THE BREAD BAKING STATION
It's great to have a separate area for bread baking. When I bake in the Wolf oven, which I brought from my New York apartment, the aroma permeates all three stories of the house. On the bread baking counter I have my Akarsrum bread mixer and my Escali Rose Scale. As I rarely use the burners on the Wolf range, I leave only two exposed and covered the remaining four with a piece of marble adding more counter space. Above the Wolf is a massive and powerful KitchenAid hood which serves magnificently to draw the heat of the oven out of the kitchen. Magnetized to it is my favorite Thermoworks Big Loud Timer that I can hear even from upstairs. (My Thermapen thermometers are in both areas of the kitchen and are in constant use.) To the right of the Wolf is a second smaller stainless steel sink with Dornbrach Eno faucet, which pulls forward for easy cleaning of the sink. I set a plastic chopping board on top of half of it for extra counter space as I don't generally use the sink except to wash my hands or draw water. Above the sink is one of my favorite indulgences: the Innovia electric paper towel dispenser. To the right of the sink is my folding Brød and Taylor bread proofer which I use so often I never store it!
This 10 foot long storage closet with Metro shelving and long fluorescent light at the top is a dream for storing all manner of baking pans and equipment. Above it is part of my collection of springerle molds.
On the left is my 20 quart Hobart that I use for making wedding cakes. On the long Danish teak table is the Oak pie safe, which Woody made for storing not only pies but larger baked goods. (This is very much needed in a country kitchen!) Above the table is a strong shelf to hold my often used Freeze-Tite and extra wide plastic wrap. I treasure the glass case made by my father in 1945 to serve as my mother's dental model cabinet.
THE LE SANCTUAIRE 4MULAR VACUUM SEALER
On of the most important parts of the wrapping station is this commercial sealer that I use to store nuts and other ingredients airtight. It was always my dream to have one but in New York it would have had to sit in the middle of the living room!
THE STAIRWAY TO THE MAIN FLOOR
This is the stairway that divides my two culinary worlds--baking and cooking. And I love them both. In the savory kitchen I am inspired by the views of the countryside and changing light. In the baking kitchen there are no windows. Instead there is near total environmental control which gives me total focus. And for extra inspiration I have my music.