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Your 4-Step Recipe on How to Become a Pastry Chef

Jun 20, 2017 | Harrison College

Your 4-Step Recipe on How to Become a Pastry Chef

The perfectly rising layers of a flaky turnover, the glistening glaze of a sugary scone, the golden-brown sheen of an impeccably baked croissant … it’s no wonder you’re interested in becoming a pastry chef! For some, it’s hard to beat the step-by-step precision of preparing a recipe, the glorious scent of baked goods that fills the kitchen and the sense of accomplishment when your final product tastes even better than expected.

But becoming a pastry chef can be easier said than done. After all, there’s no recipe for this kind of thing — that is, there wasn’t until now! Follow this four-step recipe, and see if your job prospects turn out as promising as that batch of hot cross buns you just whipped up!

4 steps to becoming a pastry chef

First, you’ll need to gather some ingredients. The path to becoming a pastry chef will require a healthy serving of experience, a generous helping of hard work and dedication, a dollop of creativity and — for a leg up on the competition — a sprinkling of professional training.

Ready? Now just follow these four steps to propel yourself toward your professional pastry dreams.

1. Measure your skills

Becoming a pastry pro requires its own ingredient list of required skills and abilities. The best pastry chefs are undoubtedly detail-oriented and precise. A missed teaspoon of one ingredient or an extra tablespoon of another can completely make or break a baked good. Not only will you need to follow recipes, but until you’ve gained the ability to open and run your very own bakery, you’ll also need to be able to follow the direction of others with the same level of precision.

Dedication is another can’t-miss attribute of all great pastry chefs. In an effort to meet the needs of busy customers headed to work in the early mornings, most bakeries open early, and the bakers themselves need to get there even earlier! This can mean going to bed at eight in the evening so that you can be in the professional kitchen by three o’clock.

Top notch problem-solving skills are also a must. There will be times when a dish simply isn’t turning out the way you planned. Pastry chefs must be able to assess the problem and determine its solution. This means having the ability to identify even the slightest tweaks that can make all the difference in getting a recipe just right.

And finally, interpersonal skills carry great importance in a bakery, as you’ll often be expected to work well with other bakers and pastry chefs. In some settings, this can also include interacting with the customers themselves. Word can travel fast in local cooking and baking communities, so maintaining a reputation as an employee who is personable and pleasant to work with can take you a long way!

2. Mix in some formal training

The culinary arts is an interesting career field in that there is often no required degree or certificate necessary to land a particular job. Rather, your personal experience and abilities will be the deciding factor in whether or not you’re offered a job in the pastry arts.

So why pursue any formal training at all? There are a number of things you will simply be expected to have mastered by the time you apply for pastry chef positions. Enrolling in an associate degree or certificate program can help you with the all-too-crucial fundamentals. Formal training offers you the opportunity to learn and perfect proper pastry-making techniques.

Plus, students who study pastry arts learn more than just the basics of preparing and following recipes. Postsecondary programs in this field teach about food science and baking chemistry. This comprehensive understanding will help you as you progress throughout your career.

3. Allow extra time to bake

This one’s important: Don’t rush it! In the same way that turning up the heat in the oven will cause your cake to burn rather than cook faster, you can’t cut corners when it comes to a formal education. If you skip steps or simply slide by as quickly as possible, the quality of your skills as a pastry chef can slip, and those holes will show as you interview for positions — or, worst of all, when you’re working in a position you’re simply underqualified for.

Once you obtain an associate degree or certificate in pastry arts, you may still be feeling a slight lack of confidence in your abilities and qualifications. If you find yourself in that position, the best remedy is to seek ways to gain more valuable experience. Look for apprentice programs or internships. See if you can work as a trainee under a master pastry artist. Many established bakers are happy to lend their expertise to the up-and-coming generation of culinary artists!

4. Let cool and look ahead

Once you’ve completed all the necessary preparation, it’s time to truly examine your career prospects. Most bakers and pastry chefs work in commercial bakeries, grocery stores or restaurants. Some find open positions in family-owned shops.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected outlook for jobs in this field is on par with the national average, set to grow 7 percent by 2024. And as of May 2015, the median annual salary was approximately $27,110.*

But no matter where you end up working as a pastry chef, know that a healthy amount of on-the-job training is to be expected. Every bakery and kitchen is run slightly differently, and the beauty of the culinary arts is that it’s constantly evolving! In the same way scientists are constantly running intricate experiments in hopes of learning more about their field, so too are pastry chefs. So buckle up, get ready to work hard and prepare to unleash your creative side!

Let the baking begin!

If you follow the four steps in our recipe to becoming a pastry chef, you’ll be that much closer to realizing your career dreams! When you’re ready to receive some practical, hands-on instruction in a variety of techniques for making bread, pastries and confectionery, consider an associate degree in pastry arts. You can learn more about your options by visiting The Chef’s Academy’s pastry arts information page.

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