How to be a professional baker

I always had a dream that one day, I’d open up a world famous bakery located in pastry central of the world, Paris. I’ll name the bakery, “Kristie’s,” and it’ll be large with clear windows that sunlight can stream through. The walls will be painted pastel pink. Macarons, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, eclairs and other delectable pastries will be lined across the store counter.

But obviously, I still have many steps to take before I can reach this sugar heaven.

Though I’m no near a professional baker, I did some research. And with my 3 year experience of being a self-taught baker, I’m sure my tips will set you on the right path of sugary success.

10. Start by baking from scratch.

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If you’re going to become a professional baker, do not, by any means, do not, do not, do not use any mixes. You’re better than that. Use a recipe from a cookbook, your grandma’s sacred box, or even one from the internet. But don’t subject to pre-made powders that supposedly yield fluffy goodness. These “mixes” always give overly sweet, artificial, and rubbery cake consistences.

9. Learn to bake, everything

Learn to bake everything and anything and all the things in the world. Be versatile with breads, familiarize yourself with pastry. Every professional baker is a seasoned master in all areas of the baking spectrum. If you want to become a professional, you have to master the art.

8. Study the science behind your sweets

Ever wonder why some recipes call for baking powder while others call for baking soda? Do you even question why pastries rise? The answer is, science my friends. Baking powder and baking soda are both calcium bicarobnate. However, baking soda needs to be neutralized before it is added into a recipe. Hence, red velvet cupcakes often call for baking soda. And pastry? Pastry rises because the water in the butter steams in the oven, generated gas to make the pastries rise. Learning the science helps you to understand and analyze baking errors. It might even help you bake better because you know the reasons behind everything that happens in the oven.

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8. Develop your own “Secret” or “Best” Recipe

Every professional baker has their specialty. Whether it would be chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, or muffins, every baker has their own specialty recipe. Mine happens to be my beloved chocolate cupcakes. And those are a crowd-pleaser, every time. They’re guaranteed to be my #1 seller in my bakery in the future. You need to have your own “secret” recipe to give yourself a sense of identity as a baker.

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7. Test your recipes at parties, give them away, show them off.

You want to let people know that you’re a baker. You want them to try your goods and you want them to give you their opinion. This way, when you open up a bakery, you don’t fail because you created a terrible recipe. You would’ve had feedback from all your friends and family years prior to the grand opening. And plus, cupcakes are great treats for your friends.

6. Enter in some competitions

Create a name for yourself! Plaques and awards can adorn the walls of your bakery, and people will definitely want to come back to a bakery that’s owned by a Best of Show winner, right? Plus, there are always amazing prizes that come with these competitions, like money, which can help finance your bakery. And, who knows if you might run into a a world class baker, who happened to devour your cupcake and its deliciousness.

5. Travel the world

I say this because with any culinary job, you need to have a refined palate. Simply, American tastes are provincial and do not provide an adequate description of the foods that the world has to offer. So go to Asia, Europe (COUGH PARIS), and South America, and try their desserts. One of my favorite bakeries, Portos, is an Armenian Bakery.

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Assorted pastries from Portos

My other favorite Bakery is a French Bakery.

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St. Honore Cake from Bottega Louie

And a nice place to get sweets in my hometown is an Asian bakery.

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Pumpkin Pie from 85 Degrees Bakery

So don’t limit yourself to apple pie, expand and try some passion fruit and cheese strudels, St. Honor Cake, and taro sweet bread.

4. Work for a bakery

You need the experience of working in a bakery before opening one yourself, right? Find a bakery that’s willing to let you assimilate into its culture. You need to know how to deal with problems, like running out of ingredients mid-day, or waking up early, or trying to manage a 1000 pound cake commission.

3. Get a Culinary Arts Degree

Getting certified in the art of baking is truly your best verification that you are a professional. Schools like Le Courdon Bleu in Paris will teach you tips and tricks, and you’ll transform, seemingly in months, to a worldwide renowned chef.

2.  Follow your dreams

You want to build a bakery in the midwest? Do it. You want to establish the next Sprinkles? Adios Sprinkles, your bakery is coming through. Whatever it is that you want to do as a professional baker, do it. And even if you just want to lounge at home while eating your divine cakes, so be it. You are the most important person throughout this journey, and what matters most is that your goals are achieved.

1.  Be Yourself

This might be the most cliche statement,ever. But it’s true for every situation. Don’t try to imitate another style of baking, or a bakery. Be your own entity, and people will love it. Put your own spin on things, run things your way, change the baking world. All bakers and chefs are their own, idiosyncratic people. No one is alike the other.

These 10 tips will surely propel you into the master’s level of baking.

But in all seriousness, I hope my tips did help. I believe that becoming a professional in anything starts within, and that’s in changing your own skills and perspective.

Happy Baking!

-Kristie xx

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