The Six-Month Part-Time Pastry Course

The Six-Month Part-Time Pastry Course is designed for people who love to bake and are considering a career change, but will continue to work in a daytime job while they attend culinary school. This course provides the most hands-on and affordable baking education available.

Under the direction of the Chef/Instructor, students will learn the principles and techniques of making French and American breads, pastries and desserts as they apply to contemporary standards. In your class of no more than 15 students, you will benefit from individual attention and feedback from the Chef/Instructor. The kitchens at Tante Marie’s Cooking School are warm and welcoming, designed for the accomplished home cook.

You will bake each day following recipes, in quantities suitable for the home. By learning the techniques and theories required for fine baking in manageable measurements you will be able to apply and adapt your knowledge to a large range of applications. In other words, we believe baking in larger quantities can be learned on the job.

Pastry is an in-demand expertise, and graduates of the Pastry Course have gone on to successful careers as pastry teachers, cookbook authors and pastry chefs, both in established award-winning bakeries and in their own enterprises.

The 22-week Pastry Course commences twice a year, in early Spring and then again in early Autumn. Classes meet Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Evening and mid-day meals are provided during your Course.

 

Curriculum

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The Pastry Course is a comprehensive study of classic and modern theory and techniques, designed to provide you with the knowledge, precision and work ethic required to be a successful baker. From cookies and confections, to rich yeast breads and wedding cakes, the wide-ranging scope of topics covered will give you the foundation on which to build your career.

You will begin by studying fundamental pastry methods, which will form the foundation of your education. These techniques include how to tell when egg whites and cream are whipped to the correct firmness for different applications, why creaming butter is an important step in many recipes, how natural (such as eggs, steam, and yeast) and chemical (such as baking soda and baking powder) leaveners work, how to handle different doughs and batters in order to get the desired outcome, and the stages of cooked sugar and how they are used. These methods will then be applied and perfected throughout the entirety of the Course, building your confidence and presentation skills. As you progress you will master such recipes as French Macaroons, Gateau St. Honoré and Gateau Marjolaine as well as croissants and brioche.

Working with precision and speed will become second nature to you as you learn the tools and equipment of a pastry kitchen. Trade skills, such as recipe interpretation and precise measurement, will be taught and practiced throughout the course.

During the second half of the course guest chefs from the industry give demonstrations on subjects such as Professional Chocolate Techniques, Advanced Cake Decorating, and Plating Desserts to solidify the knowledge already gained during class.

 

Course Structure

Each class begins with a short demonstration of the subject covered that evening. The following hours are spent preparing the assigned pastries, breads or desserts. At the end of the evening you will present, taste and critique your creations with your classmates. It is the small size of our classes and the emphasis on baking each evening or day that makes our program pleasurable, rewarding and successful.

The Chef/Instructor will demonstrate various methods and techniques, explaining the subtleties of each particular topic. Whether you are an accomplished baker or simply passionate about the subject, the consistent course structure and small class size allows for personal growth and accelerated learning in the kitchen.

Each class is used to build and solidify knowledge already gained during the Course. Your progress will be monitored and evaluated using both written and practical exams, with one-on-one feedback sessions between you and the Chef/Instructor.

 

Chef/Instructor


The Chef/Instructor for the Part-Time Pastry Course is Sasha Crehan. Since graduating from Tante Marie’s Pastry Course herself, Sasha has worked as a pastry chef at local restaurants, including Bay Wolf, Garibaldi’s, CafĂ© Rouge, and helped open Sweet Adeline Bakery in Berkeley. During her established career she has also worked as a freelance baker of specialty cakes and desserts for weddings, birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations. Sasha’s roots are firmly planted in the fertile ground of Tante Marie’s Cooking School, where her passion for baking bloomed. Demystifying the art and science of baking is Sasha’s strength. She believes that once her students understand the chemistry behind the magic of perfectly whipped egg whites, the multifaceted personality of sugar, and the glory of butter, they can fully immerse themselves in the joy of successful baking.

 

Externships And Graduates

On successful completion of the Pastry Course requirements you will be awarded a certificate. If you are sincerely interested in going into the business you will be eligible for a three-week full-time externship at a Bay Area pastry shop, hotel, or restaurant. This is an opportunity to continue your education and apply your newly acquired skills in a real-world production environment. The goal of the externship is to receive a job offer. Previous graduates of the Pastry Course have gone on to complete their externships at top restaurants and bakeries such as Tartine, Jane on Fillmore St and Noe Valley Bakery.

Enrollment

Find out more about Six-Month Programs Enrollment.

If you are interested in learning culinary arts in addition to baking, take a look at our Full-Time Culinary Course.