Whip up some delicious delights and earn a degree that satisfies your taste buds and your #careergoals with a major in Baking and Pastry Arts. As a Baking and Pastry Arts major you’ll be like Betty Crocker and learn the rise and fall of chocolate croissants and the most complicated of soufflés. With tons of programs located around the nation, the only problem is finding one that fits your flan fantasy. So how can you be your own Cake Boss?
What you’ll be doing
While you enjoy making those gooey, chocolate chip cookies you eat at grandma’s, earning your Bakery and Pastry Arts degree takes more than knowing when to add the chocolate chips. Bakery and Pastry Arts majors navigate their way in the kitchen with a rubber spatula, but also learn how to create and present divine desserts and how to manage the business and hospitality functions in the biz.
Schools like Kansas State University go above and beyond baked goods with its four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Bakery Science and Management. “I would highly recommend this major to others especially if they enjoy science and are interested in the mass production of baked goods. The baking industry is an exciting industry and there’s always something new to learn,” K-State senior Sophia Pitney said.
The Classes You’ll Take
Depending on your major choice (Bakery Science or Bakery and Pastry Arts) classes may vary–but don’t worry, both require the same ingredients. For a Bakery Science degree, student bakers explore the formulation of traditional bread loaves, learn the production of chemically leavened products and study the molecular composition of the eight cereal grains. If that sounds like too much “chemically leavened cake” to you, other degree options in Bakery and Pastry Arts may focus more on finance, decorative toppings and nutrition.
At the New England Culinary Institute, Bakery and Pastry Art majors practice skills in “real-time kitchens.” Students take classes such as Artisan Breads, Plated Desserts and Gumpaste and Advanced Floral Techniques. “In a short three years, I went from only knowing how to make buttercream and cake to knowing more about pastry than I ever knew existed, including bread, laminations, chocolates, candies and much more,” NECI alumna Molly Leno said.
Internships for this major
Bakery and Pastry Arts internships satisfy your sweet tooth and look good on the ol’ resume too. Fresh with skills in business management and research and development, you can land an internship with Chick-fil-A at their corporate office in Atlanta, GA, like Pitney did. She worked with Chick-fil-A’s menu and development team to reformulate three of their products. This summer, she’s spending her time with Tyson Foods at the north Discovery Center in Illinois.
A degree in Bakery Science also allows K-State students to network for other great opportunities in their kitchen–I mean, field. “We have companies come throughout the entire year that interview for internship and full-time positions because they know that our program offers students the skills to help advance in these positions,” K-State senior Caitlyn Aguirre said. At NECI, students are required to complete several internships before they graduate with their Baking and Pastry degree.
If you worry about your career opportunities being toast, don’t fret, plenty of career opportunities are offered in the baking and pastry industry that employ your love of éclairs.
1. Pastry Chef
As a pastry chef, whisk together the best ingredients whether for your own shop or a fancy four-star restaurant you’ve always dreamed of working for. Or follow in the footsteps of your favorite pastry chef François Payard.
2. Food Media
Thousands of people each week tune into watch some of the best chefs in America score more than just bread (think Cupcake Wars and Cake Boss). And now with your own show or even webpage, share your creations with others and let them learn the art of cultivating enriching desserts.
3. Research and Development
Explore in the research of the development side of the baking and pastry industry if you want time out of the kitch. Continue testing ingredients and pursue your chemically concocted sweet cravings. “There is always something new and exciting going on [in research and development] whether that be looking at development of a new product or coordinating a trial in the plant,” Pitney said.
4. Book Author
Write about your favorite baking and pastry masterpieces. You know you make a killer cinnamon apple pie and have way more where that came from. Share your recipes in a cookbook just like Betty with your best chocolate cake and cookie recipes.
5. Food Stylist
Appearances matter, especially food appearances. No one wants to eat a dessert that looks burnt, tossed or just plain gross. Design the ultimate top-tiered cake or minion muffins, and share them on your Instagram like everyone’s favorite New York Foodie, Alexa Mehraban on her account EatingNYC.
“I highly recommend the major to other youth for several reasons. It’s a small department and feels like a large family. The professors care about you and recognize you by your name. The major is intriguing, unique and is the only one of its kind in the U.S. It is science-based so it’s a nice challenge and the job placement is 100 percent.” — Kansas State alumna Marie Feldpausch
“It is a lot of work and it is long days, especially while you’re at school but if baking and pastry is something you are passionate about I would think this the right path for you. What people need to know is that it takes a lot out of you, but it is very rewarding work. There is nothing to quite explain the feeling of pride I get when I step back and look at the cooling rack of bread that I have just baked, or the wedding cake I have finished.” — NECI alumna Rebecca LaFay
“Make sure you are passionate and focused about Baking and Pastry. This major demands all your attention, use each challenge and test to fuel your passion to learn and create. Also, do not be afraid to learn the savory side of cooking as well. A pastry chef that can hop on the line or help the banquets department with help on the fly is extremely rare and impressive. Strive to be one of the few who can do it both and execute each task well.” — NECI alumna Molly Leno