rozedcj Posted 30 Sep 2011 , 1:16pm
post #1 of

Hi ladies!!
I was curious to know if anyone on here go to Baking and Pastry school? Or did everyone just buy cook books and supplies go it alone?

17 replies
diane Posted 30 Sep 2011 , 5:54pm
post #2 of

I wish I had the money to do so! Nope...Just self taught, never had a lesson, just books and trial and error! icon_rolleyes.gif

FACSlady Posted 30 Sep 2011 , 6:25pm
post #3 of

I took a baking course for credit, ( as well as some other culinary courses)in which I learned a lot of things I didn't know you should know, like what each ingredient does for a recipe and what effect each has on the others. You could probably learn that from reading a good book on the science of baking. I'm sure I would benefit from further study, but I don't really feel it's critical, especially if I have some good, reliable recipes. I'm a hobby baker, but I teach culinary arts to middle school kids.

chocolate_luvr Posted 1 Oct 2011 , 11:10pm
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Ive heard

http://www.wilton.com/classes/wiltonschool

is pretty good :0)

LoverOfSweets Posted 2 Oct 2011 , 3:11pm
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I read cookbooks and websites like crazy (well I guess I still do). Other than that, I come from a family that loves to cook (and is good at it) so we experiment a lot with each other. My poor family and friends just have to put up with my trial and error icon_wink.gif

blissfulbaker Posted 2 Oct 2011 , 3:31pm
post #6 of

I am fortunate to live very close to the Wilton School in Darien IL. I take 4 to 6 classes a year there and think they are well worth the money. While I love You-Tube and cookbooks, you can't ask them questions and they won't tell you what you are doing wrong. The instructors at The Wilton School are superiors in this field and they are all awesome teachers. If you don't live close to this school or can't afford the high cost of pastry schools try the Wilton Method Courses taught at most craft stores like Michaels, JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby. They are very affordable and lots of fun.

FromScratchSF Posted 2 Oct 2011 , 3:42pm
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Do you just want to learn to decorate birthday cakes? Or do you want to learn to be a pastry chef and make scratch cakes, cookies, pastry, bagels, breads etc? There are a lot of decorators on CC that post (hence all the replies suggesting Wilton), not so many pastry chefs that post.

So, it depends on what you want to do. You could easily attend a few Wilton classes and get a job at your standard bakery or grocery store. If you are lucky and your city has it, you can take specialized classes from cake artists and learn more complicated techniques with fondant, gumpaste etc. You could buy a few books, study and experiment and learn to make flawless cakes from scratch. But I DON'T think you'd be able to learn how to properly temper chocolate or pull sugar to make show pieces unless you go to culinary school.

LoverOfSweets Posted 3 Oct 2011 , 12:47am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

But I DON'T think you'd be able to learn how to properly temper chocolate or pull sugar to make show pieces unless you go to culinary school.




I am mostly self taught and I learned how to properly temper chocolate (all except white). It took an entire year of practicing until I became comfortable with it, A LOT of mess ups, and I don't even know how many different thermometers, but I did eventually learn how to do it. While it is not easy, it is possible. thumbs_up.gif

epicpastries Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 12:42am
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I personally took Wilton courses and went to culinary school. I just figured it would be best to learn all that I could. I think the advantage is that I don't limit myself to decorating cakes. I can ulimately do it all cakes, pies, cookies, quickbreads, candy, pastries, bread, and eventually I plan to even do a little catering. I honestly feel like you should try to learn as much as you can, so that you can find your niche. When cake orders are down...I can still make money from other items. This year also plan to offer gourmet gift baskets. With that said...I still plan to take future courses. I can always learn something new.

costumeczar Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 11:54am

I went to culinary school for pastry and it was well worth it. Trial and error are good, but having people who know what they're doing teach you is a lot faster.

pastryjen Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 12:29pm

Check out the local community colleges - I took a Wedding Cake Decorator (or something like that) certificate course. I believe it was 6 course total (all in the evening) and they run for about 10 weeks each for 3 hours an evening.

QTCakes1 Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 1:00pm

Anything can be self taught, but if you can, I would go to pastry school. My recipes are sound, my methods are sound, I'm good with the scinece of baking, I make same damn good brioche and puff pastry and all that jazz. I have been doing so for well over a decade. I STILL want and plan on cooking to culinary school for pastry arts. More education never hurts anyone and things are always evolving. I want to say I have done that. But that's just how I feel about it. icon_wink.gif

rozedcj Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 10:53pm

Thanks you guys this was really helpful!! i really do want to go to school but it is extremely costly unfortunatley. And also an hour away from my house! lol so i will feel my way through the best i can and hopefully stumble across some classes closer to me.

JaniceBest Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 11:26pm

I took Wilton classes so I can decorate cakes. But I work full time so I couldn't go to any culinary school. Then I took an adult ed class in a community college and a baking class in another adult ed program. Both were taught by Mimi Fix who wrote two books.

If you're just a hobby baker you don't need her business book, but her Home Baking for Profit taught me so much. She owned a bakery and cafe and explains how many things that professionals do we can do, too, even in our kitchens.

leah_s Posted 5 Oct 2011 , 11:55pm

I graduated from culinary school in Baking and Pastry Arts. Best time I ever had in school. I was fortunate enough not to have to take out loans and the school is in my town. I already had several other degrees, so I transferred in a lot of credits and got out early. I also tested out of every class I could just to concentrate on baking science and baking labs. Best. Education. Ever.

sberryp Posted 6 Oct 2011 , 11:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I graduated from culinary school in Baking and Pastry Arts. Best time I ever had in school. I was fortunate enough not to have to take out loans and the school is in my town. I already had several other degrees, so I transferred in a lot of credits and got out early. I also tested out of every class I could just to concentrate on baking science and baking labs. Best. Education. Ever.




I wonder if I can do this? I already have 2 degrees (BS). There's a culinary school in my area.

LoverOfSweets Posted 14 Oct 2011 , 3:56am
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I graduated from culinary school in Baking and Pastry Arts. Best time I ever had in school. I was fortunate enough not to have to take out loans and the school is in my town. I already had several other degrees, so I transferred in a lot of credits and got out early. I also tested out of every class I could just to concentrate on baking science and baking labs. Best. Education. Ever.




One day when the kids are all out of the house I would love to go to culinary school just for my own personal enjoyment and growth. If I had the ability to, I would do it without blinking an eye. Unfortunately, right now I live in a very rural area and it is a 3 hour drive (one way) to the nearest culinary school. Maybe I will get lucky and the kids will get full scholarships to college so there will be a lot of money left in their 529 plans. I could switch the the name on the account over to myself and go to culinary school! icon_lol.gif

In any event, if I had the opportunity to do it, I would do so in a heartbeat. Until then, I am stuck with the tedious trial and error, and an education based on $1.50 in late charges from my public library. icon_wink.gif

scp1127 Posted 14 Oct 2011 , 9:09am

I think pastry school would be an incredible experience. I didn't go that route, but this post is for those who can't go due to economics or distance, family, etc..

I think you can teach yourself anything if you make the effort. Even the most trying breads and pastries can be learned by studying the many books by the top chefs and PRACTICE. The culinary schools may eliminate some of the trial and error, but it can be learned. I learned bread on my own, starting with great grandmothers. My sticky buns and blueberry muffins are heads above any I have ever tasted. I have employed methods that I have never seen used. I just tried certain methods and the results surprised even me. Studying what makes flavor in bread is easy to do... many great books and just do it until it is the best you have ever had. That's what I do.

For scratch cakes, study the science and start baking. To be a master at scratch baking takes years of dedication. Piecrusts, pies, custards, puddings, quick breads, scones cookies... all can be learned at a high level. Again, there are many books that read like textbooks. They are expensive and have plenty of pictures. When you get stumped, google it. Tonight I taught myself how to calculate different grades of gelatin sheets for a new line of cakes. Google has it all. I didn't need school.

I think I must have 250 to 300 fine cookbooks. I decided years ago that I would rather put money into the books and ingredients instead of pastry school. I did go to college for accounting and economics. I am a firm believer in education.

Now what I can't teach myself is decorating. I can get by pretty well, study youtube, read the books, but this is art and it is best learned visually. But it just isn't my favorite part of the bakery world and honestly, there are already plenty of you who do know how to do it. I won't be missed. If someone wants one of my cakes for a wedding, I can cleanly cover it in buttercream or fondant, but my cakes are simple compared to most. I never wanted to do wedding cakes. Still don't.

In baking, unlike decorating, it is important to remember that the roots are all over the world and hundreds of years old. Our grandmothers did it by hand with no recipes in a wood-fired oven. We may have all of the science figured out, but in the end, fine baking is still in the touch and feel, timing, skill, and method of the individual baker. It's personal. That's why it is considered an artisan field.

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