How to buy a Bakers Rack

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There are basically two types of bakers’ racks.  One is industrial for use in commercial baking facilities and restaurants and the other is residential for storage and decorative purposes in a family home.  This article discusses the residential version.

There are no common sizes to bakers’ racks; they are available in hundreds of widths, depths, and lengths.  However, one of the only common denominators in residential bakers’ racks is the height of the serving counter area.  Typically they are 30” to 36” high so that the user can easily access the open serving area.  Frequently they are used for storing pots, pans and cooking utensils so they are easy to reach and to see because most bakers’ racks are open from top to bottom.  Some manufacturers make the racks with closed storage in the bottom and with open shelves in the upper portion of the unit.  There are some that have adjustable shelves in the top or bottom but the middle main serving shelf is usually a fixed position shelf which adds strength to the rack.  The option of wall mounted is available if someone has limited space and requires open floor space below the unit.

The original purpose for a bakers’ rack was to give you a place to put hot foods straight out of the oven or off the stove top without fear of damaging counter tops.  It also allowed you to free up space on the stove top once something has finished cooking however, now with more decorative units available and different finishes being used, some bakers’ racks cannot have hot items placed on them without ruining the counter’s surface.  In most industrial applications they are made of metal from top to bottom so they don’t get damaged by the hot pans placed on them.

Some bakers’ racks are available on castors, which makes it easy to move it around the room and bring the rack over to where you are doing your food prep work.  It also makes it a breeze for clean up because you can simply roll the unit to the side to clean underneath.

If you have decided to use a tall (over 60” high) unit, you do need to be mindful of how much weight you wish to stack on it.  If you reach into your kitchen cabinet and pull out three frying pans, one cast iron pan, a few pots and a few baking sheets you would probably have 50 to 100 lbs of items in your hands.  When you load all of these items onto your bakers’ rack the unit could become top heavy and then this becomes a tipping hazard.  Be sure to distribute your utensils evenly on your rack to try and avoid this dilemma.  The other option for a rack(without casters) is to secure the unit to the wall so it cannot tip over at any time.

The most commonly used material for building bakers’ racks is metal however, with the popularity of  bakers’ racks in residential kitchens, the materials have been modified to suit the public’s tastes, so many of these units are now available in wood, glass and stone.  Be sure that you know how you wish to use your rack and whether or not you require heat proof surfaces for hot pots and pans straight from the hot elements.  Most woods will not stand up to a cake pan that has just come out of the oven.  It will leave a mark on the surface that may not be repairable.

Unfortunately most showrooms will not have a large, if any, selection of bakers’ racks on the showroom floor because these are not a top selling item and they don’t want to use up valuable floor space for these kinds of items.  Start your shopping by going online and get a feel for what is available in the market.  If you find something you like, get a picture so you translate what you are after to a sales rep and see if they might have something or a supplier that they have access to.    It’s true, a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

Bakers’ racks are a very simplistic item, so testing the unit for strength and durability is easy.  Grab a hold of the unit and give a good shake.  If you push on it does it lean from side to side or from front to back?  It will be holding up pots, pans and potentially food so it cannot feel flimsy and wiggly.  Make sure that the unit is solid and rigid in all of its connections.  Ultimately, could you sit on it without feeling that disaster is around the corner?

There are countless looks and styles available so it may take some time to find your ideal piece but they are out there.  Of course, always follow the golden rule and know how much space you have or are willing to allocate for your bakers’ rack within your room.