There are some common ingredients that all the best bakers share…and they’re simple to adopt. If you want to know how to become a baker you can enroll in one of our pastry classes. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the baking skills necessary to become a great baker. While a good education is the first, vital ingredient, there are eight tools that will help you take your baking skills from good to great.
The most successful bakers in the industry know that the process of baking requires careful timing, so having your baking station prepared with everything you’ll need – including all the tools and pre-measured ingredients close at hand – is vital. In the industry, this is called “mise en place.”
If you have to pause in the baking process while you shave some chocolate or wait for butter to come up to room temperature, you’re probably changing the recipe slightly because the order and timing are so important.
There’s a great deal of science involved in baking – generally, it’s more precise than cooking in that regard. The order of the ingredients matters, so attention to detail and organization will make a big difference.
Like other cooks in the kitchen, bakers most often work in a fast-paced environment with other culinary professionals alongside them. Having a clear manner of communication so you can keep pace with your task is extremely important. This can mean quickly getting another cup of flour while you stick to your task, or asking a colleague to give you some space to roll out your dough so you can keep the process going smoothly.
3. Attention to detail.
As we mentioned, baking is a science that relies on precise measurements and temperature conditions. All ingredients must be weighed and measured accurately. A few extra grams or an oven that’s 25 degrees hotter than the recipe dictates and your baking will suffer. The best bakers in the world have a keen eye for detail while creating consistent pastry art.
4. Composure under pressure.
Things can heat up in a busy commercial kitchen, and not just because the oven is firing at 500 degrees! Bakers, like all chefs and line cooks, need to stay calm and collected under pressure. If you allow yourself to get distracted or flustered by the overall atmosphere in a busy kitchen, you run the risk of making a mistake with your measurements. That will have negative consequences for you and, potentially, the whole line depending on what you’re preparing.
Keeping a clear head helps you prepare for the coming week, as well. Planning is an important aspect of good kitchen management, no matter what role you’re playing.
5. Curiosity and creativity.
Baking is an interesting combination of science and art. The best bakers in the world consistently create new crowd-pleasing pastries, as well as time-honored favorites.
You probably won’t come up with the next big pastry sensation on a whim…as you hone your baking skills it will take planning, trial and error, and detailed notes to perfect a new creation. Good bakers stick with the classics. Great bakers are curious and will experiment with different combinations – and accept the failed experiments as a learning experience.
6. Patience and dedication.
We can’t stress this enough: baking is a well-planned process and every step is important. Some of the most important steps – the ones that ‘make’ the pastry or dessert – are also the most time-consuming.
Sourdough takes half a day to rise properly, so if you get impatient and cut the time in half you’ll end up with a sourdough brick. And a dreamy, cloud-like meringue on top of a cake or cookie adds a beautiful, airy touch, but whisking those egg whites will take patience…and muscle…if you’re not using electric beaters.
Some days in a bakery will be uplifting and rewarding. Other days will feel long and frustrating – whether you’re trying to master the classics or develop new, innovative recipes. Long term patience and dedication will pay off as you perfect your craft, and all the best bakers in the world know this to be true.
Some people are born with natural baking skills and flair for a certain craft, but even someone with intuition isn’t born “the perfect baker”…and it’s a skill that can be learned in the classroom and in the kitchen. If it’s something you’d like to achieve, it will take practice, experience, and a good education.
Like truly great bread, great bakers are made with time, but it’s time well spent. If you’d like to learn about baking as a career, please contact us, we’d love to hear from you.
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This article was originally published on July 31, 2018, and has since been updated.