The dough diaries

Episode 2 of 3 - Bread and pastry - all you knead to know

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.