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Habits of a Pastry Chef

Eggs in carton

Kitchens are chaotic. Efficiency and good habits are key when trying to get through your day in a commercial kitchen. Here is a chance for you to steal our secrets so your kitchen time can be fun and stress free.

Use Trusted Recipes

If your goal is to play and experiment for a day in the kitchen, then by all means grab whatever recipe inspires you off the web. But, if you have 20 people headed to your house in 3 hours fight the urge to try something new. Pastry Chefs test a new recipe multiple times before it ever sees the public eye. Want something new? Take a trusted recipe and present it in a new way. Have a favorite cupcake recipe? Turn it into a trifle instead.

Preparation is Key

Read your recipe all the way through and then do it again. This is a habit that will save you from surprises later. Preparation is the one step most people ignore and it is the step that will get you into the most trouble if skipped. Gathering all the equipment needed, measuring out all the ingredients, and doing any preparation work before you start the mixing process will make you more efficient in the kitchen.

Scales are a Must

Ingredients are fickle and when a pastry chef makes a product, they need it to taste the same every single time. Scales will give you the most accurate measurement for your recipes so you can achieve consistent results.

Use Quality Ingredients

Food is expensive and baking is time consuming so don't skimp on ingredients for ho hum results. To help stay within your budget, look at what you are making. Is it a mouthwatering chocolate torte? If so, then make sure you are using high quality chocolate even if you have to skimp on the other ingredients. Pick the top 1 or 2 ingredients that will have the most impact on your dessert and be sure those 1 or 2 items are quality products. example; if making a vanilla bean panna cotta don't use imitation vanilla. 

Make Use of the Scraps

Find ways to utilize your leftovers, scraps, and items that may not be picture perfect. 

  • Mushy fruit becomes a sauce for sundaes or morning pancakes
  • Dried out cake can be used as danish fillings
  • Old bread makes amazing croutons or bread pudding
  • Cookies can be crumbled for pie shells, rum balls or ice cream toppings

Don't Bake Above Your Level

Keep it simple and bake what you know. If the only thing you have ever made in the kitchen was box mix brownies don't jump to a St. Honore Cake to try and make something new for an upcoming party. Keep your kitchen stress free. Baking is emotional and if you are stressed, your end results can be disastrous. Don't knock the impact of simple desserts. In the restaurants I have worked at, we usually put out trim and scraps from the desserts we made throughout the day for the staff to munch on. But nothing brought people to the pastry kitchen faster than a plate of rice krispie treats.

We Love Parchment Paper

We use it for everything. Pans are lined, makeshift templates are drawn on parchment for piping decorations, they make great piping bags and I have even used them for muffin papers when I was in a pinch.

Make More and Use Later

A great way to reduce your time in the kitchen is to make larger batches when you are baking and freeze the extras for a later date. So many baked goods freeze really well. Not to mention, it will make your life easier when you can just pop some scones in the oven for a quick fresh baked breakfast whenever the need arises. 

A selection of items can be frozen for later use. Depending on the ingredients used, some can be frozen as both a baked item or as raw dough.

  • Cookies and Bars
  • Scones and Biscuits 
  • Pate a Choux 
  • Pie Crust 
  • Cakes
  • Mousse
  • Breads

 

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