Icing On The Cake: Enhancing Your Career With An Online Minor In Bakery Science
By: Rosanna Vail, Kansas State University
Those who have or want a job within the food industry are likely to encounter baked products at some point in their careers. Knowing the basics about the science and technology associated with baking could be just what food industry employers are looking for in new hires.
David Krishock, flour quality and baking specialist at Kansas State University, provides insight into bakery science skills from an employer’s perspective. Krishock — formerly a production manager at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Michigan and director of technical services in the bakery/food service division of King Arthur Flour Company in Vermont — owned a bakery in North Carolina.
“When we were hiring, we had people who weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do, who were changing careers or who had a culinary or food science background,” Krishock said. “Those people had a passion for good food, but not a lot of experience specifically with doughs and batters, or the rheology, which is how doughs and batters form, shape and expand during the baking process.”
Krishock is also an instructor in Kansas State University’s online minor program in bakery science, bringing industry expertise into course instruction. As a stand-alone online minor, the program is open to all students who are currently completing or have already completed a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year institution. Working professionals can complete the minor program from anywhere.
“The online program is similar to our classroom offering in that it’s the only place in the country where you can get some baking training online either through lectures or labs,” Krishock said. “For online learning, students will come to understand the science and technology of baking. For example, if we’re working with Danish dough, puff pastry or croissants, maybe they’re not experts at shaping it, but they know they need to work quickly because of the butter that will melt and have a dramatic impact on the flakiness, color and flavor of the final product.”
Krishock says there aren’t enough entry-level or mid-level management employees with bakery science skills, so employees often get pulled in from other food science areas. Beyond the rheology of doughs and batters during the baking process, bakery science helps professionals at all levels to understand the various phases of baked good production.
“More and more baked products are frozen during some point of their production, from raw cookie dough to a lemon meringue pie that needs to thaw before being served,” Krishock said. “Bakery science teaches what’s involved in the processing of that pie so it’s just like grandma’s pie when the consumer thaws it and serves it at his or her table.”
On the product packaging end, Krishock says employees such as packaging engineers may have great engineering skills and talents but not the understanding of how the product fits in the bag, why there is certain water activity or filling temperature, or other details crucial to the product packaging and appearance on the convenience store or grocery store shelf.
From the perspective of an educator and former employer, Krishock enjoys bringing bakery science to professionals who share his passion or want to learn more to enhance their career in the field.
“I get to help people who are not all that familiar with baking and how involved it is,” he said. “They get to see there really is a lot of science and technology behind it. The minor program could also be considered professional development within the food industry.”
Learn more about Kansas State University’s online bakery science minor program.