The Pastry School Diaries: Whisky Business

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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! 

When I began pastry school, I knew I was going to collect an extensive amount of information about the art of baking. From the importance of precisely weighing out each ingredient, to the exact technique of rolling a French baguette, to tips and tricks to perfectly frosting a three-layer cake, my curiosity has peaked every step of the way. What I hadn't thought about, however, was taking all these skills and applying them practically, in a business.

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My class's petit fours. We concentrated very hard on making every cake the same exact size with the same exact design.


I wouldn't go as far to say that I'll walk out of the pastry program with an advanced understanding of how to run a bakery, but I'm definitely picking up some tidbits on what makes a bakery successful. For example, I never really paid attention to the way I cut a cake or tray of brownies, but when selling such a product, it is important to make sure every piece is exactly the same dimensions. Any piping work should look identical, all sides and surfaces should be completely flat, no crumbs in the frosting(!!!) and always use rubber gloves when handling a cooked product are just a few of the reminders that have become second nature to me.

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Grenoblois, walnut cake with walnut buttercream and walnut ganache, and Symphonie, hazelnut cake with praline buttercream and chocolate ganache. We measured out 2'' x 3'' rectangles before slicing into the full cakes. 

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Sour cherry chocolate crumb cake, attempted to cut into even shapes

I'll be the first to admit it, I have yet to master the art of identical perfection, but I know it will come over time. Practice makes perfect, right?

Check back next week for more pastry tips!