I have a section in the introduction to The Global Pastry Table that talks about workflow. So what do I mean by that?
When I talk about making pastry, I often find that people are intimidated about baking because they feel it's either too scientific or too precise and that can feel like a limitation on their creativity. But I'm here to say that once you practice and master the basic rules and techniques of making pastry and you understand the principles of how each ingredient works and how it contributes to the overall outcome, you really do have a lot of freedom to exercise your own creative juices. But in order to arrive at that comfort zone, I think having a clear and comfortable process in the kitchen really helps. It starts with a thorough reading of the recipe until you understand what’s required from start to finish. Then it’s off to the kitchen to gather all the ingredients and tools you need to complete the job.
The easiest way to ensure your enjoyment and success with making pastry is to build a routine. One of the first things you learn in pastry school is the essential practice of mise en place, the putting in place all your ingredients and tools. This organizes your work and makes preparation of doughs, batters and creams super efficient. It also lets you know if you have everything you need for the recipe.
This is my own particular workflow, in order of execution:
1) If I’m baking and the components of my recipe don’t require chilling, I turn on the oven as soon as I walk into the kitchen
2) I pull ingredients that are supposed to be at room temperature
3) I prepare my pans or baking sheets
4) I gather my tools
5) I weigh or measure all the ingredients and place them in bowls in my work area
6) I chop or slice ingredients if the recipe calls for it
7) I begin the recipe and follow the instructions for combining the ingredients
8) I set the timer on my phone and take it with me if I leave the kitchen
9) I check the pastry in the oven before the recommended time to gauge progress
10) I place the pastry on a wire rack and let it cool according to instructions
I hope these steps help you feel more proficient and creative in your pastry kitchen!