If you have a sweet tooth and a passion for baking you’re already aware of the sheer variety of pastries and other delicious desserts that can become a part of a baker’s repertoire. When dreaming of opening your own bakery it’s important to balance your unique vision with a read on what your customers will want to buy.
Becoming a hit is easy when you serve reliable dessert staples. Kendall Baking and Pastry Chef Instructor, Heidi Hedeker, provides her expert tips on how to master classic desserts every baker worth his or her dough should perfect:
Chocolate Chip Cookies: When tentative customers get nervous or indecisive the most popular fallback for American shoppers is the quintessential chocolate chip cookie. If you offer your version of the classic recipe, you’ll have a menu item for every shopper. Combining vanilla-flavored dough with mini chocolate morsels is a surefire crowd-pleaser. You’ll find innumerable variations of this recipe online, but the catch is making it your own.
Heidi’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Pro Tips:
- Tip 1 — By making the dough a day before, the glutens relax and the cookies are noticeably more tender and chewy. A recent taste test of the best chocolate chip cookies in New York City discovered that the highest-ranking cookies on their list all had been mixed the day before. By the way, the taste panel voted Jacques Torres’ cookies as the best in that city.
- Tip 2 — Using a mixture of brown sugar and white enhances the chewiness (this comes from the molasses present in the brown sugar) as well as the crispness (from the caramelization of white sugar in the oven as the cookies bake). If you want chewier cookies, use all brown sugar. For crisper cookies, use white sugar.
Pie: Pie is as important as a social tradition as it is a dessert. Pies are must-buys for families reuniting for Thanksgiving and, really, for any large gatherings. Popular variants include apple, cherry, pecan, pumpkin, key lime, and blueberry pie, but when choosing your recipes pick something that complements your overall bakery taste profile.
Heidi’s Pie Baking Pro Tips:
- Tip 1 — If you are making a cooked fruit filling for your pies, be sure to cool or chill the filling before placing it into the unbaked pie shell. The heat from a warm filling will melt and compress fats in the pie dough, ruining any flakiness.
- Tip 2 — Even for fruit pies, it is a great idea to prebake the shells slightly before filling the pies. Former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses was known for this trick, and President Obama called him the ‘crust master’ for his great pies.
Brownies: Yes, you read that right! While not every bakery keeps brownies on their regular menu, you should consider it: brownies have a strong history in America and have an enduring popularity in every region. Of course, combining ingredients and putting your own spin on a classic recipe is what gets your bakery’s name out in the public eye.
Heidi’s Brownie Baking Pro Tips:
- Tip 1 — Always chill brownies before cutting. The chocolate in the dough will firm up, so that you can get precise cuts. Also, this means that if you under bake them slightly, the chocolate will remain chewy — and delicious — when cold. Make sure to flip them out of the pan first, though — if you try to cut brownies in the pan, the butter usually has firmed up and sealed the brownies to the pan, making it almost impossible to remove them.
- Tip 2 — Any scraps from cutting and trimming brownies can be used as a mix-in or topping to make a very lovely ice cream dessert or –even better — can be baked into a cheesecake.
Doughnuts: Fresh and fluffy doughnuts are what many workers look forward to in the morning – attract the early-riser crowd with some strong coffee and delectable doughnuts. Many shoppers are fine with a basic glazed doughnut, but if you run your own establishment chances are you’ll want to offer something more dynamic.
Heidi’s Doughnut Baking Pro Tips:
- Tip 1 — Place shaped, unfried donuts on parchment into the freezer until semi-hard before dropping them into the hot oil or fat. They’ll keep their shape perfectly, and the parchment will separate away from the frying donuts, floating off as the donuts get crisp.
- Tip 2 — Test the heat of your frying oil by dropping a few sprinkles of water onto the hot fat. It should ‘spark’ and create small ‘explosions’ of fat, which indicates it is hot enough to fry in. Remember that the fat is a heat conductor just like air currents in a convection oven — this means that the temperatures you will be frying in are directly related to oven temperatures. For example, most cookies bake at 375F. Your fat temperature should be similar.
Cake: This goes without saying – every professional baker should know how to make a truly mouthwatering cake. Many bakeries build their brand around their specific offering of cakes. Really, choosing what kind of cake to make isn’t the issue. The true challenge is baking a cake that’s reliably moist, even after sitting out in a display for hours or even days.
Heidi’s Cake Baking Pro Tips:
- Tip 1 — Make sure your cake has been baked and is cold before frosting and decorating! This is crucially important. Don’t wait until the day of Mom’s birthday to bake her cake.
- Tip 2 — Cake flour is a very significant improvement for making cakes, rather than all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a protein content of 6-8%, whereas all-purpose is usually about 10%, which results in a cake that has no height and is very dense and chewy. Of course, knowing the best mixing methods for cakes is even more important!
An education in the Baking and Pastry Program at Kendall College will introduce newbies and veteran bakers to the techniques and mindsets necessary to succeed in the competitive field of baking. You won’t only master these recipes at Kendall – you’ll gain the intuition needed to craft complex and winning recipes throughout your career. Interested in pursuing a career in baking and pastry? Be sure to learn more about Kendall College’s Baking and Pastry Program