The taste and aroma of a perfectly prepared baguette or cake comes from fresh, high-quality ingredients and the experience of a skilled baker. Students taking online baking classes learn the advanced techniques they need to prepare delicious bread and a variety of indulgent desserts on a daily basis. If you’re interested in a career as a pastry chef or baker, you can expand on your abilities by studying with experts and preparing items yourself.
Getting started in the baking and pastry arts calls for building fundamental skills that will serve you well in almost any recipe, like measuring ingredients correctly and kneading dough. Once you have the basics down pat, you should explore these more advanced techniques to take your results to the next level:
1. Make pie dough by hand
“Step up your desserts by preparing pie crust yourself.”
When you first start making pies, you might rely on premade crusts to simplify the process. However, you can really step up your desserts by preparing the crust yourself.
You may use butter, shortening or lard in your crust, but you should begin by thoroughly chilling the fat. That way, it will leave behind air pockets when it melts in the oven, bringing you satisfying, ultra-flaky results.
First, though, you have to combine the fat with other ingredients. Bon Appetit recommended using your fingers to work 1-inch slices of butter into a combination of flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then, hydrate the dough by drizzling in a mixture of cold water and apple cider vinegar.
Knead the dough in the bowl until it’s barely holding together. Place on a work surface to knead a little more, but be careful not to overdo it. Form the dough into disks, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before making your pie.
2. Caramelize sugar
Caramelizing sugar isn’t hard, but it is an essential part of making a wide range of candies and sauces for desserts. That means anyone who wants to become an expert in pastry should get very used to following these steps.
The directions from The Kitchn called for combining 2 cups of sugar with half a cup of water in a cast-iron skillet. Stir into a slurry with a wooden spoon, and then place over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil.
Keep cooking for between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on how you plan to use the caramel. A lighter caramel is usually better for candies. You can prevent the sugar from recrystalizing by adding a little lemon juice or cream of tartar and brushing down the sides of the skillet.
3. Adapt recipes for restricted diets
A great pastry chef understands how to substitute ingredients so even a guest with a restricted diet can enjoy fantastic treats packed with flavor. For instance, vegan baking often involves finding replacements for eggs and dairy that don’t involve animal products. Ground flax seeds mixed with water will often serve as a binding agent, soy milk can be used in many applications and silken tofu does the trick in foods that would otherwise require sour cream or ricotta.
When it comes to serving people who don’t eat gluten, almond and coconut flours are lifesavers. In recipes where you would otherwise use flour as a thickener for sauces, you can use cornstarch instead.
Trained bakers and pastry chefs are ready to take on all kinds of challenges in the kitchen. With lessons from seasoned professionals, you can use an array of advanced techniques to produce baked goods that will amaze everyone who takes a bite.