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Posted at: Jun 12, 2019, 7:45 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2019, 9:09 AM (IST)CAREER COMPASS: BAKERY AND PASTRY ARTS

Have your cake, and eat it too

Have your cake, and eat it too

Niklesh sharma

Every profession requires a specific bent of mind and traits besides a professional education. Likewise, in the baking industry too, everyone can’t be a baker. To be a baker, one needs to have those natural instincts, liking for the profession along with adequate learnings and training from the available degree, diploma courses along with internships to hone the requisite skills.

Getting in

Though it’s not necessary, yet a degree or a certificate course in bakery and confectionery serves well. Likewise, a degree in hotel management serves as the best route for entry in this profession. In India, generally, students choose to start as apprentices or acquire on-the-job training at commercial bakeries, patisseries or supermarkets under the leadership of an experienced baker. With years of experience under a good mentor, one can progress into a full-fledged baker as soon as they learn food handling and baking techniques.

Work profile

Generally, the work profile of a baker can be segregated into three parts. They are as follows:

Plant bakers: Plant bakers are those who make large quantities of baked goods with the help of mixers and ovens. Plant bakers produce baked products for large shops, supermarkets and cater to other large customers.

In-store bakers: In-store bakers are those who work in a retail store and make bread and other baked products using automatic equipment. They are also expected to be trained in baking craft skills.

Craft bakers: Craft bakers make a smaller number of baked eatables for consumers, mostly by hand. They usually work in a small-scale, independent bakery or a restaurant kitchen.

Irrespective of the fact that you get to work for a small bakery or an MNC, the task list for all the bakers remains the same. For example, every baker needs to supervise the whole production process of an item from scratch to finish then to serve/deliver. Bakers also need to select the baking equipment along with technology to be used in the baking process.

Training space

Basic training in baking, icing and decorating helps an individual to secure good employment in India. This training helps in understanding the right mix of ingredients as a minute mistake in using ingredients or quantity of it may spoil the dish. It is, therefore, recommended to get admission in a relevant bakery and confectionery course offered by various hotel management institutes across India. One can enroll for certificate, diploma and degree courses with specialisation in food and beverages. In this regard, certain institutes have tie-ups with foreign varsities, so students can leverage from that partnership as well.

However, enrolment in three-year hotel management degree course in any recognised Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) in the country is through a Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT). Plus II passouts in any stream is the minimum qualification required to appear in the JEE. Aspirant bakers after completion of this course can opt for some specialized certificate course in bakery and confectionary.

Short term courses

Short-term certificate or diploma course in bakery and confectionary is also another way of acquiring the required skills. 

Duration for these kinds of short-term courses may vary from four to six months. Individuals with good grades in their Class X/ XII are suitable. Apart from these, one can also opt for training programmes like Vocational Diploma (DEP) in bakery and pastry making, Vocational Specialization (AVS) in restaurant pastry making, etc. To avail these courses, one just needs to pass theClass X exam.

Course subjects

Baking and confectionery courses cover topics, including nutrition, food service safety and sanitation besides baking principles, operating and maintaining machinery, production processes, and establishment and management of bakery unit etc. 

While pursuing these courses, one will get extensive training in menu planning, purchasing, baking, advanced hospitality management and supervisory management.  

Pay and remuneration

Like every other industry, in baking too, compensation primarily gets decided depending on experience, qualification, business segment and location of employment. Entrepreneurship is also a big factor in this segment now and people starting their own pastry café's or restaurants can earn big.

 — The writer is Founder, Academy of Pastry Arts


Where to work

A baker can be employed in hotels, restaurants, caterers, supermarkets, and bakeries to grocery stores and baking manufacturing companies as well. The roles and responsibilities of a baker change depending on the type of bakery s/he is working. Mostly, bakers get employment in large establishments where the need is to produce large quantities of baked goods. That does not mean, small bakeries don't hire bakers, they do certainly!

Specialisations

Depending on the kind of exposure and experience one accumulates throughout the baking journey, she/he eventually specialises in the following segments of baking career. Such as:

  • Bread chef.
  • Cake stylists.
  • Patisserie / Dessert specialist.
  • Artisan bread specialist.
  • Confectionery baker.
  • Institutional and cafeteria baker, etc.

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