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Dean's goal is to be the first professional in the world to
compete at the highest level in both pastry and bread
In the baking world, bread and pastry are like two different sides of
the same coin. They're both made from flour and they both end up as
scrumptious goodies. But the similarities effectively end there. These
two quite different types of dough contain different ingredients and
are made using different methods. And in the baking world, they're
virtually considered different disciplines.
"The skills of a baker are very different from those of a pastry
chef," says Dean Gibson, baking teacher at Hamilton TAFE in
Newcastle. "Having said that, a reciprocal understanding of each
is desirable as they traditionally work quite closely together. Some
cross over skills are required."
Bread dough is yeast-based and requires a lot of stretching, working
and kneading to develop gluten. Pastry dough, on the other hand, is
fat-based and requires as little kneading as possible to keep gluten
to a minimum. Bread dough should be kept warm when in storage. Pastry
dough needs to be chilled.
Fully aware of this dough duality, the baking school at Hamilton TAFE
works hard at the specialisation of skills, offering a dual
qualification in retail bread and pastry. Even so, to specialise in
both of these areas takes many years of experience, something that
Dean knows first-hand.
"Coming from a patisserie background, the knowledge and skills
I've learned in bread-making with the Australian Baking Team has
really made me a better teacher of pastry by learning a deeper
understanding of flour, gluten and fermentation," he says.
The Australian Baking Team, of which Dean is a member, currently has
its sights on winning the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie next year
in France. This is considered the World Cup of the baking world, and
for a professional baker or pastry chef, winning this tournament is
about as good as it gets.
Dean's goal is to be the first professional in the world to compete
at this highest level in both pastry and bread. Not only
would this be an immensely satisfying personal achievement, but it
will also pave the way for others to follow. "I think when other
pastry chefs see how skills and knowledge can be transferred into
other mediums, we'll start to see others crossing over," he says.