Pastry is not just a “practice” aimed at creating foods with a high sugar content, as it cannot be defined solely by a purely sweet result, as it also includes the production of pizzas, focaccias, savory pastas, breadsticks and more. . In some ways, as can happen for the kitchen itself in general, it can be elevated to the level of art both in terms of the aesthetic result of a dessert and in terms of the taste of a given mix of ingredients.
In any case, to make a good pastry product it is not necessary to be good and creative like Iginio Massari, Cedric Grolet (one of the numerous names of excellence from France) or Ernst Knam: the knowledge and technical skills suitable to be successful in this sector are in a certain sense “modular” because they depend on the target clientele chosen, on the type of pastry (classic, refined, American, gluten free) and obviously on the entrepreneurial choices.
First of all, we must be aware that achieving success in any field of work (but even more so in the culinary one) requires considerable physical and mental effort, responsibility, a constant commitment to excellence and the patience to fulfill all bureaucratic issues, health and administrative in the opening phase. Requirements for which, very often, a strong “passionate” component of affection for the art of pastry is required: if the love for what you do does not exceed the effort required, then not only does it become impossible to be successful, but you reach directly to personal and entrepreneurial bankruptcy.
Among cakes, pastries, chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and savory products (an almost infinite repertoire among the many traditions) there are several factors that can mark the line that differentiates a successful business from one unable to break through people’s stomachs: positioning, location, technical ability, offer in the “menu”, aesthetics of the final product, service, quality of ingredients. Yet all these elements, especially as regards the preparation of confectionery products, largely depend on another factor, capable of improving the quality and quantity of the final product: pastry equipment.
- How a pastry chef operates and works
- What kind of pastry equipment is needed in a laboratory?
How a pastry chef operates and works
Starting a pastry shop means starting a business, with all that that implies at the management level. From another point of view there is the soul of the laboratory, that is the productive work of the pastry chef, the one capable of making the difference, since it is the quality of the sweets prepared and sold that decrees the success or otherwise of the activity. In countries like ours or the French one, where there is a great culinary and taste culture, it might seem easy to earn a living by making desserts, but it is an obviousness that comes from a wrong reasoning, because quality is not easily reachable by everyone. Not to mention the added value of factors such as passion and originality (and therefore the ability to innovate the confectionery product).
The work of a pastry chef is based almost entirely on technique, of which it is essential to be masters in order to manage the many preparations and recipes. Creams and doughs require top quality ingredients and impeccably executed processes, followed by the moment in which the dessert is decorated and finished to entice the customer to purchase. Here also the most creative aspect of this profession comes into play. The point is that being a pastry chef is not as simple as it might seem, even to make a simple cream puff (made up of pasta and cream, multiplied by several units): the recipes are generally complex and require numerous processes to be carried out, cooking and treatments.
The management part of a pastry shop instead includes different tasks (which are not necessarily followed by the same person, but depends on the size of the laboratory and the presence or absence of other staff), some of which must comply with the different hygiene and health regulations: choosing suppliers, ordering raw materials, taking care of procurement and stock storage, guiding activities in the laboratory to optimize production, selecting tools and equipment for pastry, as well as taking care of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.
To the figure of the classic laboratory pastry chef we add two other figures: the one engaged at an industrial level, dealing with automatic or semi-automatic machinery for the mass production of packaged specialties, and the more specialized one, called Pastry Chef, operating in the catering sector. The second in particular is generally part of a kitchen brigade and is responsible for creating the desserts for the restaurant menu (but can also take care of bread, focaccia, croissants and other typical baked goods). It is a highly sought-after figure at a high level, who in addition to technical ability must be able to work at a very tight pace and with extremely demanding customers.
What kind of pastry equipment is needed in a laboratory?
If the technique defines the quality (together with the raw materials) of the final confectionery product, professional equipment is the tool that allows you to exercise the skill of the pastry chef at the highest levels, improving processing, optimizing times and increasing the production volume. In some ways, the investment in machinery and tools is the most important, not only from a purely operational point of view, but also because it should be suitable for the type of pastry shop you intend to carry out. This is why it is not necessary to have all the machines available on the market to carry out every possible process, but only those strictly necessary for the confectionery offer that you want to offer to customers.
The basic equipment undoubtedly includes ovens and mixers, planetary machines, dough sheeters, but also blast chillers, coolers and other storage machinery. In terms of tools, however, the range of possibilities is extremely wide.
Pastry equipment used for preparation
It is part of the basic machinery, it has the function of working the different types of doughs useful for the preparation of desserts and baked goods (including pizzas, focaccia, etc.). At a professional level there are different types, each with its advantages and disadvantages: fork, spiral, with dipping arms. They are characterized by tanks of different sizes. For certain processes, including whipping, mixing and whipping (for example eggs), the planetary mixer may suffice.
Sheeter or rolling mill
His job is to roll and roll some types of dough thanks to the two adjustable rollers.
The refiner performs several operations: it can crush, grind and refine ingredients such as nuts and sugar, make chocolate flakes and other ingredients.
It performs more or less the same operations as the refiner and offers the possibility of kneading, but cannot manage the amount of work of the aforementioned professional pastry tools.
Ice cream machine
A specific electric machine for processing jelly, always keeping it in its ideal status thanks to the regulation of the temperature and for spraying or dispensing it on the product.
Making and processing ice cream
Despite what one might think, ice cream has a very ancient genesis and is very often present in pastry shops, especially in the summer. To make it, several machines are required:
- The batch freezer and the pasteurizer: the first has the function of creaming (i.e. mixing and cooling of the ingredients), the second of pasteurization (sterilization and cooling of the milk)
- Whipping cream: through a system of injecting gas or liquids into the liquid cream, it causes it to be whipped
- Pacojet: used to whip frozen compounds for sorbets and ice creams
They carry out their function by helping the leavening of brioches, panettone and other leavened doughs. Allows you to adjust temperature and humidity.
Temper the chocolate and keep it melted and then ready to be used. It is obviously temperature-adjustable.
Many pastry ingredients must be cooked on the stove, such as creams, jams, jellies, compotes, candied fruit, etc.
An alternative to the stove, it is a machine that can cook the ingredients, cream them and pasteurize them (it is also used for ice cream).
Gas or electric, perfect for donuts and other fried confectionery products (such as those of the carnival period).
The pastry oven
A fundamental element is then the oven. Gas or electric (more functional and clean), static or ventilated, it is essential for the homogeneous cooking of pastries and doughs, for sauces, fruit, soufflé and other ingredients or elaborate compounds.
Pastry equipment used for storage
Used to store food, they can be ventilated or static. Static models are generally preferable as they allow for better humidity control. The more advanced models allow you to adjust the temperature differently in the different compartments available, allowing optimal storage of multiple ingredients.
With the same “conservation” function as the refrigerator but at negative temperatures.
Useful for storing food close to processing.
Prefabricated or masonry, it manages temperature and humidity based on the type of perishable food stored inside.
Another fundamental element among pastry equipment as it allows hot preparations to be cooled quickly before transferring them to refrigerators, preserves the freshness of the ingredients and prevents the multiplication of bacteria. In various recipes it is a decisive machine to speed up preparation.