Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!
Want a surefire way to get on dessert duty for all of the winter holidays? Just tell your family you're enrolled in pastry school!
The pressure was on this holiday season, as I was juggling learning new techniques in class with showing off my best baking skills while at home. I got to show off my pie crust capabilities, puff pastry proficiency and cheesecake finesse over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and in between learned about chiffon and angel food cakes, tortes, layered ganache cakes, petit fours and more buttercream frosting than a childhood birthday party on steroids. I've discovered the differences between baking cakes with full eggs versus only whites, solid fats like butter versus liquid fats like oil, baking powder versus omitting it and even how the addition of cocoa powder yields a very different product than a cake without it. We've whipped, folded, poured, sliced, frosted and piped more cakes than I even thought was possible, and we're only halfway done!
Needless to say, the world of cakes is bigger than I ever imagined, but I'm very much enjoying learning about it. Here's just a taste of the confections I've created thus far.