Baking is an age-old profession, enticing passionate bakers with the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread or luring them with the zeal to attain gastronomic baking delights! The delectable creations range from simple and premium breads, biscuits, cookies, pizzas, rolls and scones to basic confectionery items like chocolates, candy and fudge to mouth-watering pastries, cakes, tarts and muffins to exotic truffles, soufflés and gateaux. They look sinfully tempting, are a mainstay of all celebrations and equally common in restaurants, hotels and resorts. What’s more, customised creations are the order of the day.
Baking as an occupation is much more than the simple-sounding baking of breads and cakes. It requires diligently following recipes, precise weighing and measuring, proper mixing, shaping and panning and finally appropriate cooling, packaging and decorating to achieve that perfect aroma, look and taste of lip-smacking proportions. Now, state-of-the-art machinery and modern techniques have entered the profession, but unique and attractive creations are still the bastion of accomplished chefs!
Baking does not necessitate advanced studies as such. Class 12 students can apply for various degree, certificate, diploma or vocational baking programmes. Else, a degree in hotel management or culinary arts is the best route for becoming a baking specialist. Apart from baking methodology, ingredients, presentation, equipment and machinery, baking courses also impart knowledge of nutrition, food safety, hygiene, sanitation and government regulations.
Experience is what matters most; apprenticeship under a good chef is mandatory. Some entirely skip the study programmes in favour of learning from cookery shows or on-the-job as trainees. But proactively updating oneself is absolutely essential.
On the personal front, baking demands an unbridled creative spirit fuelled by innovative imagination. A knack for baking should be coupled with the ability to conjure up off-beat variations, experiment with interesting recipes, and fashion spirited designs. Be prepared to work in hot and noisy conditions, unsociable hours like early mornings and late nights, standing for long durations, meeting tight deadlines and heavy pressures in festive seasons. An eye for detail, a good sense of taste and smell, strong time management and understanding of basic math to measure or alter baking quantities, times and temperatures will stand aspiring baking specialists in good stead.
Baking opens the doors for a variety of specialisations like bread chef, patisserie specialist, cake stylist, dessert specialist, artisan breads, confectionery baker, institutional and cafeteria baker, etc. People with a baking background can also move on to positions like specialist technical advisors, test bakery or laboratory technicians, plant supervisors, instructors, caterers, food researchers, writers and editors, television celebrity chefs, merchandisers, product managers and so on.
Employment opportunities flourish in bakeries, cake shops, specialty shops, grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and industrial bakeries. But the burgeoning coffee shops, supermarkets and large scale manufacturers are squeezing out traditional independent bakeries. Not to mention the threat posed by the growing penchant for low carbohydrate, healthy eating options!
Yet, there is a strong demand for qualified baking specialists with growing opportunities in various sectors. And the icing on the cake is that there is nothing more enjoyable and satisfying than seeing one’s creation light up the beholder’s eyes with mouth-watering temptation. So, follow your baking instincts, it may be an unconventional career choice but you are limited only by your imagination!
Where to study?
Institute of Baking & Cake Art, Bangalore - http://www.ibcablr.com
Artisans Institute of Baking, Chennai - http://www.artisansbaking.co.in
Asian Academy Of Culinary Art, New Delhi - http://www.aaca.co.in
Culinary & Cake Decorating School, New Delhi -http://www.nowletslearn.com
Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition, Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh - http://www.ihmpusa.net