Development Credit: Faith
The production of sweet and / or savoury edible goods. It is important to distinguish between the two skills Baking and Cooking. Fundamentally, Cooking refers to the preparation and production of edible items ranging from meals to preserves, whereas Baking refers to the cooking in an oven of flour-based items (sweet or savoury) and also encompasses the creation of desserts including confection work.
Bakers throughout Idalos work to produce edible items, from pies and cakes to delicate confections and sweet treats. In restaurants, shops and inns, a baker is a necessary addition. They will also often be found selling their wares on market stalls and, of course, home bakers use the skill every trial. Baking requires heat and an enclosed space. This might be a stove or a campfire and might be small or large scale.
A list of ingredients followed by instructions on how to prepare, cook and present a dish. Whilst random success is always possible, at Novice and Competent, the baker needs to follow recipes to create a consistently successful dish. When they reach Expert, they begin to be able to adjust those recipes to fit their own taste / need and then, at Master, the character is able to create new recipes and, fundamentally, craft new dishes. A recipe can be verbal or written down.
Any goods which use flour as the base ingredient in their creation are covered by the skill Baking. These include:
Pies, for example, fall into this category. Pastry goods traditionally refer to food which is encased in pastry in some way - either entirely, or with a pastry base or topping. Also refers to sweet pastries.
There are a number of types of pastry. These include: puff pastry, shortcrust, rough puff and the usual thick, crumbly pastry referred to as plain pastry. Sweets and pastry desserts tend to use sweet pastry, whereas savoury dishes rarely add sugar or sweetening to the mixture.
Bread comes in a variety of forms, including: "traditional" loaves, individual buns, flavoured bread, flat bread, etc. Bread might be either savoury or sweet and also comes in plain or flavoured varieties. A variety of types of flour are used in breadmaking, including: barley flour, wheat flour and rice flour. There are also regional specialisms and individual baker's specialities.
There are a wide variety of cakes throughout Idalos. Many shops, restaurants or bakeries have their own specialisms or techniques, ranging from plain to incredibly complicated, from simple cupcakes to intricate many-tiered cakes, and everything in between.
Individual sweet snacks, usually made to fit easily in the hand. These are often sold in batches or packets with multiple snacks inside them and can range from buttery shortbreads to chocolate chip cookies.
A dessert is a sweet dish traditionally served at the end of a meal. There are as many different types of desserts as there are individuals on Idalos who make them, and the creation of a dessert might well use some of the techniques in pastry or chocolate. Desserts can be flour-based goods or confection work, such as cheesecake, fruit tarts or sugar baskets. In this context, desserts also include the crafting of mousses, set desserts such as jelly, pana cotta and so on, and ice creams.
Confection work is split into two main categories: chocolate and sugar work.
Chocolate is a sweet ingredient unlike any other which requires techniques to craft it into wonderful shapes and to mingle it with different flavours. Chocolate work is carried out with white, milk and dark chocolate, crafting it into individual bite-sized confections which might be boxed up and given as a gift, or made into bars of sweet chocolate which might be solid or have other ingredients as part of them. Also, there is the specific technique of tempering chocolate which requires the baker to heat it to a specific temperature then work it whilst it is cooling, but before it has cooled too much. This produces a glossy final product which has a very unique crunch and taste sensation. Chocolate work can be used to decorate cakes, desserts and pastries or it might be served in its own right with some incredibly complex and intricate chocolate creations around Idalos.
Chocolate as an ingredient is made from cocoa beans. These grow across Idalos and range in quality and taste. Scaltoth chocolate (harvested from the Scaltoth Jungle area of Scalvoris) is very different in taste from Desnind chocolate, for example and true connoisseurs are able to tell the difference in taste and texture
Sugar work is a technique where sugar is melted and then used to craft shapes and textures. With a small amount of very vigorous spinning, sugar can make beautiful "baskets", or it can be shaped into a thin almost glass-like substance which is sweet and delicious. The possibilities range from simply dipping a nut in melted sugar and creating a "tail" by leaving it to drip-dry, to a molded scene or beautiful stained-glass plate.
A novice baker is learning the beginning of their craft. At this level of skill they will be learning the basic techniques, ingredients and recipes for flour-based goods and will be focusing on learning recipes and basic techniques for desserts. As a novice, one is unlikely to be doing any sugar or chocolate work, focusing instead on learning the basics of their trade. Basic foods created by the novice baker will be of a reasonable quality, but the character is not yet able to produce anything other than the most simple and basic items.
A competent baker is able to produce goods of a reasonable quality and these make up the majority of bakers up and down Idalos. They are able to produce tasty flour-based products and desserts. At competent, they may begin to work with chocolate and sugar, although this is still at a basic level. They are able to create basic products with ease and, with the aid of a detailed recipe, they are able to produce more complex items. At this level, though, the baker is not able to craft their own specialties but must still rely on the recipes of others.
As an expert baker, a character is able to start truly experimenting in their craft. No longer relying on recipes for anything other than the most complex items, an expert baker has the ability to combine flavours and proportions / ratios in order to fine-tune pre-existing recipes. They might add new ingredients or experiment with a different method of preparation, use of temperature or so on and are able to work all except the most complex sugar and chocolate work. An expert baker is a sought-after employee as they are able to tailor what they create in a restaurant, for example, to accompany the items on the menu.
Mastery of the art of baking means that the character can produce edible wonders which are perfectly balanced and utterly delicious. This character has no need of recipes, they are able to draw on their wealth of knowledge to understand what is required of any particular dish. Creations by this character are sought after and they can craft beautiful chocolate and sugar work, light desserts and fantastic pastry or bread. They are at the peak of their craft and skill.