What does a pastry chef do? Baking pastries is a separate and distinct skill with techniques somewhat different than those of a cook. A baker must know how to measure, sift, and mix ingredients in an exact order to obtain the best results. Not only must they know how to follow the recipe for measurements, but they must understand instructions that tell them whether to stir, cut, or knead dough.
They must know when it’s appropriate to separate egg yolks from the whites, how to beat egg whites and fold them into the batter, and how to use yeast. How each ingredient is treated makes a major difference in the quality of the product produced.
What Does a Pastry Chef Do in a Day’s Time?
A pastry chef may work in cafes, shops, chain outlets, or restaurants. In restaurants, the pastry chef works closely with the head chef, planning desserts that will complement the menu. Responsibilities include ordering the food and supplies for the pastry items, preparing and submitting a budget, and researching and developing new recipes. The pastry chef is also responsible for training and supervising other pastry workers in the kitchen. Learning skills also involves the sanitation and safety of the work place.
A pastry chef’s work usually begins very early in the morning, preparing the culinary treats. The labor that goes into breads, pies, and cakes is exacting and time consuming, and the employer wants them fresh and appetizing for the day. A great deal of care is involved in creating perfect crusts and light, airy culinary delights fashioned from dough.
The pastry chef might also be responsible for the selection of wines and other beverages that complement the meals and desserts. Along with dinner desserts, the chef may offer breakfast pastries and candies.
What Does a Pastry Chef Do When Self Employed?
Pastry chefs may also work for a bakery chain or run their own businesses. They may specialize in wedding cakes or banquets, or they may own a small shop with a variety of pastry items. Along with the ability to bake delicate sweets, they need to have a decorative flair. A pastry chef specializing in cakes must be able to develop eye-appealing themes and have a good sense of color coordination.
They must learn a variety of techniques to make swirling patterns, lettering, frosted flowers, and other decorations. If they own their own shop, they may work on a contractual basis. They may be hired several months in advance to fill a particular order with exact details on the product choice and decorative aspects.
The work hours of a pastry chef are long. Rising as early as three or four in the morning, the chef begins his or her workday by setting out the morning’s preparations. If the preparation involves a bread product, the early hours will be spent in cultivating the yeast, mixing the dough, and allowing it to rise.
As customers come in for their morning coffee, they are greeted by freshly baked donuts, éclairs, cinnamon rolls, and bear claws. Pies and cakes are also started early, with the freshly baked items usually on display for the sweet tooth by noon.
Why a Degree Matters
A degree program is not necessary for the field of baking, but it helps in preparation. A pastry chef’s desirability to an employer depends on both skill and experience. Perfect confections take practice. A culinary arts program will teach prospective pastry chefs the fundamental techniques involved with handling dough so that it turns into a perfect cake without caving, candies that blend without being too grainy or that do not harden, and pastries that rise instead of looking like flat bread.
It will teach you the meaning of separating eggs, beating egg whites until stiff, and folding ingredients into the batter. You will be introduced to a variety of recipes and how to read them. A program gives you the credentials of a certain amount of experience. Pastry chefs work with the public. A pleasant personality and a willingness to be cooperative and produce orders upon request to the specifications of customers is necessary to become a successful pastry chef as well as an ability to produce delicious baked goods.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a pastry chef is $33,000 per year, though Salary.com latest figures suggests regional chefs can make over $100,000 annually.
If this sounds like fun to you, this will be a dream job!