The differences in the techniques for baking and cooking are so great that you’ll often hear kitchen experts say, “I love to cook, but I don’t like to bake.” You’ll hear the opposite sentiment coming from a baker.
Baking is actually an astonishing use of chemistry. It’s not just about mixing ingredients together in the right proportions, but using flour, baking soda, baking powder, or yeast to raise the flour-based product to its maximum potential. It’s about knowing what the consistency of the dough should be before it ever goes into the oven. Biscuits and pie crusts have to be flaky, while cakes are buoyant and breads are airy.
How to Become a Baker
If you’d like to learn how to become a baker, you should begin preparations early. Baking requires a lot of practice to make that perfect pie crust or that loaf of bread so light that it seems it has to be tied down to keep from floating away. Many bakers begin in high school, taking home economic classes, as well as business, math, English, and computer courses. They rummage through the family cookbooks, trying out new recipes and experimenting with frosted designs.
Develop a name for yourself as someone who can deliver delicious baked goods. Volunteer for work in the school cafeteria or baking for a nursing home or summer camp, or bring your special skills to attention with a fantastic pie or carrot cake at a community potluck. Your reputation for being a good baker is as important as your ability to bake.
Find a shop, industry, or restaurant that is willing to apprentice an assistant baker. Many companies will send their trainee through an apprenticeship program. These programs usually last between two to three years.
How to Become a Baker and Succeed
To advance your prospects as a baker, attend a culinary arts school. Not only will a school prepare you for an entry level position, but it will help you in gaining certification. A Certified Journey Baker requires one year of retail baking experience, while a Certified Master Baker requires a baker’s certification plus four years of retail experience. No license is required.
A culinary school will give you hands-on experience in baking techniques as well as important aspects in culinary basics, nutrition, and health regulations. It is possible to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts with a specialty option in pastry baking.
Attending a culinary school will not necessarily earn you the position of a baker in a shop or restaurant. Most businesses prefer at least three to five years of experience before elevating trainees to the baker position, but if you want to learn how to become a baker, it will give you a solid background for entering the field. Some of your specialty classes may cover cake decorating, gum paste, fondant, sugar work, and chocolate confections.
By continuing your education, you could advance to bakery chef. The bakery chef runs the baking station of food establishments, prepares the dessert menu, and authorizes the offers in specialty desserts.
Obtain the local or state licensing requirements for becoming a baker. This way, you are prepared to take a top baking position in a food establishment or even to open your own bakery. Bakers often begin their careers with a minimal wage while in training, but as they advance to a chef’s position and gain a reputation as an experienced baker, they can earn as much as $80,000 a year.
This is going to be a fun career if you love baking for friends and family because it’s just more of the same and the pay is great!