We're in the cabinet quote shopping phase of a kitchen reno and pushing the budget. At the end of the island I've planned a small baker's table. The island is granite,and planned on marble on the baker's table top. At 5' 3" this station is going to see use mostly when stirring and salad spinning when I need leverage. On occasion I'll be kneading dough or rolling pie crust. I don't make candy. Marble is lovely but pricey, I could continue with the same granite for continuity or buy a much less expensive butcher block. Should I hold my ground or cave for the budget? What would you do? I'm also thinking about re-sale down the road.
Granite, Marble or Maple for a pastry table?
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if you have time you can check out antique and thrift stores for old marble tops that no longer have dressers or nightstands for them. My grandmother (antique dealer for 20+ years) used to have a few lying about. Be surprised how cheap they can be...or how expensive.
Marble is lovely. It is also soft, scratches easy, and prone to chipping and cracking.
Maple is lovely. It is subject to scarring if people treat it like a cutting board instead of a countertop, prone to burns and staining, and does need some kind of oiling every now and then.
All kinds of "articifical" or man made stone substitues that are better than the two above materials.
What makes stone tops so good is the way they dissipate heat and keep dough cold (you can chill them with bags of ice by the way); and for the same reason they're also good for candy making.
Granite isn't quite as good as marble in that way but it's the next best thing. Otherwise it doesn't damage nearly as easily -- and having used all three, as well as stainless and some synthetics -- so granite would be my first choice.
My pastry chef once told me that he has a marble slab he purchased from tombstone making places (whatever they are called). He said that they have reasonable price for big slabs which he placed on top of his counter to do exclusively chocolate work.
Anyways.. Personally, I would do the same material. My OCD doesn't like to see too many different materials but then again, I probably won't be your next buyer.
In the end, it's gotta be fit your need because you're the one that lives there. If the buyer really wants the marble, then I guess you can throw that in the deal with a counter offer.
Modern sealants do a good job preventing marble from staining, to the point that it's nearly granite's equal -- as long as you refresh the sealant periodically. It's softer than granite though, and chips and scratches more easily. It's also subject to cracking -- usually from being subjected to thermal extremes like someone setting a hot pan on it. It's also less expensive than granite; but you can usually find good deals on stone as long as you don't have your heart set on any particular pattern.
FWIW, the last time I remodeled my own kitchen I put in a maple butcher block baking center and -- whether or not granite or marble would have been better in some way to some degree -- wood was more than fine for my purposes. Now I have granite, and while I like it a little better it didn't make me a better baker. Don't forget that although wood does scratch and you'll have to work hard to prevent people from using it as a cutting board, it can be cheaply and easily resurfaced by sanding. If you do go wood, go very thick.
A lot of commercial bakery and restaurant kitchens use stainless counters. Again, while other substances may be slightly better they're not enough better that you'll see much difference in your breads and crusts.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 12/17/10 at 4:42pm
There are stainless counters, and then there are stainless counters.
The question you have to ask yourself is: Why do the bakers prefer a 2-3" thick maple topped table?
Because it is a solid surface and won't buckle or twist or flex the way most modern s/s countertops do, when you dump out 25 lbs of bread dough on to it and start thumping and pounding your way through 25 1 lb loaves. That, and 50 years ago maple was cheaper than s/s, and 90 years ago s/s wasn't even available.
Look, Ikea has countertop slabs in solid beech, oak or birch, 1 1/12' thick. Beech is the best option for kitchens, and I have this in my commercial kitchen where I do flop large amounts of dough onto it and thump it around. It is also a cheap option, and a very good one if you intend to sell the place.
"Standard" home countertops are usually 3/4 or 5/8" particle board (a.k.a. "termite barf) topped with an aborrite skin. Even the cheaper ones are almost the same price as Ikea solid beech countertops.
Then again, my brother the architect has a custom cast concrete kitchen countertop, which he has to have sealed often. I learned the hard way not to set down a glass bottle too hard on cement countertops at his house.....................