The Top 15 Reasons Why I Enjoy Being A Professional Baker
Whilst at a dinner party last night, I was asked what I do and as always I gave my answer with pride, but then it dawned on me, what are the top 15 reasons I enjoy about being a professional baker? After a quick brainstorm session, I decided to fully answer the question.
Being a professional baker is considered fashionable in the current climate, it’s the ability to show off your creativity and ability to balance flavour to the public. But not only that, it’s working in a team and the challenge to forever improve your skills that make many fall in love with baking bread.
#1 -You become an expert in all things bread
If you like sharing your tips then this it’s great when friends approach you for your “Best white bread recipe.” You become the go-to person when they have a bread related problem, which will at least give you some purpose in life if you don’t have already.
#2 -Working as a team
Most often, working in a bakery is great fun. If you want to be a baker, you’ll find there are characters from all walks of life united together for a few hours a day to achieve the best quality products they can. True, there’s always strengths and weaknesses in a team, some are great at cutting and doing oven work, some make the perfect dough each time. Once you get to know each other, it’s a great feeling when you are gelling together and proud of your bread.
#3 -The dough is in your control...
One of the best things I enjoy as a professional baker is the feeling of control of the dough.
When you get your productions timing right, each perfectly proofed product will hit the oven right when it becomes empty.
Like a house proud Mother feels when they have found a place for everything in the kitchen, baking can give a great feeling of control, if you like that sort of thing.
#4 ...But there are a lot of variables
There is never a dull moment in baking, there is always a new challenge that you encounter, things like a change in the flour consistency, the temperature, challenging production targets, a new piece of equipment or perhaps a new recipe. Some of these arrive through no fault of the baker, the pressure is on him to create outstanding products each time so making quick decisions and problem-solving are important traits of a baker.
#5 -The working hours of a baker
It’s not all night work, depending on where you go, it can mean you are working evenings, early mornings and even daytime shifts. Every bakery is different, so don’t rule it out if that’s what you're worried about. Often, you can reap the rewards of being working fast to achieve your production targets and get out early (and still get paid the same).
#6 -Formal education is unnecessary to become a baker
You don’t need a degree or even attend a professional bakery school to get a job as a baker. The Poilâne bakery which has a reputation as one of the best in the world (if not the best) only trains bakers with no experience.
Having some formal training is often advantageous as your understanding of what goes on scientifically skills and therefore your problem solving improve.
If you get a baker job which offers full training without any experience as many do, then great you're qualified. You could always take a course further down the line when you want to increase your knowledge.
#7 -Baking is a progressive career
You may have an image of a baker as a bald ugly guy who does the same thing, the same way every night and isn’t intelligent enough to hold a conversation. There are a few of them about still, but the industry has changed massively. An intelligent person will enjoy being a baker too. Baking is now seen as a bit of an art. It’s common for bread bakers and pizzerias to become recognised in the press and through a reputation for their art.
There’s also a clear route to roles in management, food development, consultancy and many food-related jobs that could open if you have the desire to improve.
#8 -Own your own bakery business
Relatively low-cost start-ups and running costs, all you need is an oven to get started, owning your own bakery can lead to selling direct to customers, or to hotels, restaurants, and even supermarkets. There are endless possibilities for the niche a bakery business could take. I hope to combine bread and wine, my two loves in a business in the future. Here's a blog about mine.
#9 -Never ending search of self development in bread baking
There’s always a way to improve, a new technique to use, a different way of adding the ingredients, new equipment to try….It’s endless! You will often find yourself critiquing the bread in restaurants or heading to local bakeries on holiday to sample and gain inspiration for new products. It’s never-ending!
#10 -See the world whilst baking
Bread bakers are needed across the world, so if it’s something you’d like to experience why not work in abroad and discover other cultures and climates. It would enhance your skills as a baker and I’m sure visiting places like Paris, San Francisco, and Sicily would be great experiences.
#11 -Great smells
Fresh bread smells nice. The almost nutty aroma that appears once the sourdough is baking away or the scent of spice when hot cross buns are cooling is far from unpleasant! The smell of a bakery is great.
#12 -Mental health
You’ll be keeping your mind active, keeping physical and working around others. What better way to support your mental health than to enjoy being a professional baker.
Changing the way you organise the layout of a bakery or the order in which you prepare your doughs to be more efficient and is one of the calls of the head baker. You will be unlikely to find yourself micromanaged, even as a trainee baker, there isn’t enough time. So you will gain some autonomy and be allowed to be creative if you can prove yourself to be good at forward planning.
#14 -Baking bread is great exercise
You’ll be on your feet for long periods, lifting and throwing heavy lumps around whilst also working fast. Baking may take a little while to adjust to if you have not done anything like that before, but it’s great exercise once your body gets used to it.
#15 -You can eat your work (and everyone loves cakes, and bread!)
It’s true, the moment you tell someone you are a baker, the usual response is, “Can you make ….., it’s my favourite!” It opens up a conversation that is easily accessible to anyone. Everyone has a different experience of bread. Perhaps we’ve tried to bake our own, can’t eat it due to dietary needs, have experienced a baguette from a top boulangerie in Paris or simply have a favourite loaf. Everyone has a story to tell about bread.
So there's no reason not to be a baker?
If these reasons sound like fun, then why not get some whites and become a baker? I love it and plenty others do too! Here's a guide on what to do if you want to become a bread baker.