Head bakers wear many hats. In addition to possessing exceptional baking skills, head bakers must be highly organized, detail-oriented and level-headed. They need to work well under pressure and be able to multitask. These skills come in handy when you have rolls in the oven; dough in the proofing cabinet; pastry in a dough mixer; cakes awaiting decorating; and employee schedules that need adjusting.
Baking and More Baking
Head bakers in a commercial or retail bakery must be experts in weighing and measuring ingredients, often in bulk; mixing, kneading and molding dough; pastry-making; and specialized decorating. They must know how to bake in a variety of ovens, including commercial, convection, rack, stone deck and revolution types. They also must be adept at using all commercial-bakery equipment, such as dough mixers, dough rollers and proofing cabinets, which are used to make dough rise. Head bakers must lead by example in all areas of baking and preparation, and exercise quality control so products are consistent and of high quality.
Oversee Employees and Menus
As leader of a baking operation, head bakers must train and supervise workers. In the kitchen, they make sure the staff uses proper baking techniques. Outside of the kitchen, head bakers maintain employee work schedules; assign daily baking tasks; and make referrals for advancement, discipline, termination and retention. They also create menus and consult with their own supervisors about menu suggestions.
Maintain Supplies and Safety
Head bakers order or recommend the ordering of baking equipment. They train other bakers to operate equipment according to proper sanitation and safety standards. Head bakers extend these models of sanitation and safety to all areas of the kitchen by making sure staff members wear protective clothing and that utensils and surfaces are properly cleaned. Ultimately, they are responsible for making sure that their kitchens meet federal, state and local safety and health regulations.
Salaries for head bakers vary widely by company, location, industry and experience. As of September 2014, head bakers earned an average $47,000 a year, according to Simply Hired. For all bakers working in the United States, including head bakers and assistant bakers, the 2012 median average wage was $23,140 a year, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,200 a year and the highest 10 percent earned more than $36,980 a year. However, the BLS pointed out that nearly one-third of all bakers worked part-time in 2012.