What You'll Learn About Bread Baking in Culinary School

There’s nothing quite like combining the perfect amounts of simple, fresh ingredients, kneading them together, and baking the dough to the perfect temperature and consistency.

Perfecting the art of bread making is a creative, detailed process, and bread baking courses will teach you a lot about the theoretical background and practical applications of baking the perfect artisan breads, bagels, and pastries.

Usually through a combination of lecture, demonstration, and lots of practice in kitchen labs, here’s what you can expect to learn about bread baking in culinary school.

Baking Vocabulary

Like all professions, bakers have their own set of terms that they use in kitchens and bakeries. There are a variety of skills you need to be a successful baker, and one of the first things you’ll need to know is how to talk like a baker.

As you learn to bake bread in culinary school, you’ll also become familiar with the definitions and proper usage of baking terms like “enriched dough” (dough with enhancements like eggs or sugar), “boule” (a round loaf of bread), and “lame” (a tool used to cut the tops off bread loaves before putting them in the oven). In restaurants and bakeries, communication is key, and knowing these and other terms will help prepare you to work in a quick-paced, professional culinary environment.

Bread baker

Ingredients and Equipment

The main ingredients in bread are water, flour, yeast, and salt. You’ll learn how these ingredients mix together to make dough and how to incorporate other ingredients like sugar, fat, raisins, nuts, seeds, honey, garlic, herbs, eggs, and butter to create different tastes and textures.

In addition to yeast breads, you’ll also learn to make quick breads, which use leavening agents other than yeast -- usually baking powder and baking soda. Quick breads include banana bread, cornbread, muffins, scones, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, Irish soda bread, and more.

You’ll also be introduced to the bakers’ kitchen and bread-making equipment. You’ll learn to identify and use different types of mixers, proofers, ovens, slicers, scales, and more.

Developing an understanding of weights and measures as well as the science behind gluten, sugars, and starch is also essential to becoming a well-rounded baker.

Process and Baking Methods

All yeast breads follow the same basic process, which involves 4 key steps:

  • Scaling and mixing
  • Proofing/fermenting
  • Baking
  • Cooling

You’ll learn how this process is adapted for different types of bread and to achieve different textures and flavors. For example, there are three mixing methods, all of which produce different results. These are the straight dough method, the modified straight dough method, and the sponge method. A good baker understands and knows how to apply all three.

Another key element of bread making is composing different bread shapes such as sourdough, ciabatta, focaccia, baguettes, braided breads, brioche, and danish.

Artisan bread

Practical, Real-World Experience

Lecture, demonstration, and practice are all essential components of learning the ins and outs of bread making, but any good culinary school will also include practicums or externships to provide you with real-world, on-the-job experience that will prepare you for the job market and your future culinary career.

This valuable practical component will put your knowledge and training to the test and you’ll gain experience applying the professionalism, culinary techniques, safe and sanitary practices, and work ethic you’ve developed over the course of your studies in a real-world, industry setting.

At Oregon Culinary Institute, not only will you complete an externship prior to your graduation, but you will also have the opportunity to gain important practical experience by creating breads and pastries for our student-operated, open-to-the-public restaurant. Supervised and directed by chef instructors, students have the chance to participate in ingredient selection and menu creation and to create dishes and desserts for guests in a fine-dining environment.


Learn How to Bake Mouthwatering Artisan Breads and Pastries at Oregon Culinary Institute!

Through our two baking and pastry program options, you will learn the art and science behind baking and develop the skills you need to succeed in the wonderful world of food.

If working with food and preparing beautiful and delicious breads and pastries sounds like the perfect career for you, or if you dream of owning and operating your own restaurant, bakery, food cart, or catering business one day, Oregon Culinary Institute is the place to start.

Request an info packet or speak with one of our admissions officers to get started on your journey to a career in the culinary arts.