Professional Pastry Arts: California
From pâte à choux to spun sugar, tarts to three-tiered wedding cakes, International Culinary Center’s highly respected pastry program—under the guidance of Dean Emily Luchetti—prepares students for a prolific and lasting career. Recognized by IACP as the Best Vocational Cooking School since 2010, the school has trained some of the most creative leaders in the field, such as 2012 James Beard Award winner Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. Pastry classes are offered during day and evening at our Campbell, California location.
Why Choose ICC?
Often imitated but never duplicated, our signature Total ImmersionSM teaching method offers intensive, hands-on instruction and puts you in the kitchen from the very first day. Each student gets 600 hours of class time, generous kitchen space at our premium facility, and individual support not found at other schools. Our low 16:1 student-to-teacher ratio assures you get the attention needed to flourish.
High Caliber, Fast-Track Learning
Our curriculum, while steeped in French tradition, also includes an emphasis on seasonality, nutrition and sanitation as well as training in cutting-edge techniques such as sous-vide and using hydrocolloids. Under the watchful eyes of our accomplished chef-instructors, you’ll learn the techniques for a wide span of pastries and desserts in just six months of full-time study, or nine months part-time in the evening. An extensive “Chef Demo” program featuring luminaries like ICC Dean Jacques Torres and Guest Master Chef Ron Ben-Israel provides both instruction and volunteer opportunities.
A Pastry Preview: What You’ll Learn
A well-rounded pastry chef must have command over the basic principles of baking science and pastry design. From understanding the precision of chocolate tempering, to achieving the perfect rise and crumb in a warm foam cake, known as a génoise sponge, and to stretching and pulling hot sugar into delicate flowers and ribbons, chef-instructors will help you cultivate the necessary skills of blending discipline, knowledge and artistry to reach your culinary goals.
Organized into units (specifics below), you layer skill atop skill as you build your confidence and competency throughout the program.
Graduate at Carnegie Hall
After you finish all 16 units, you receive your Grand Diplôme, a credential that is respected and recognized around the globe! The annual commencement takes place at NYC’s iconic Carnegie Hall, where parents, friends and teachers mark your achievement as they cheer the next generation of talents.
- Application fee, uniform, tool kit, books and supplies
- "Family meal” (weekdays)
- Student skills workshops in key areas such knife work
- Chef demo series with volunteer opportunities
- Carnegie Hall commencement with two guest tickets
- Financial Aid and Career Service advising
Applicable fees are not included.
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Learn the three primary French tart doughs, along with a variety of sweet and savory fillings, revisited later in the program as components in more complex desserts. You’ll begin to develop valuable knife skills as you prep for an assortment of tarts. And, you’ll also bake each of the basic types of cookies learning the fundamentals for rolling out an even and round circle of dough and working with a piping bag.
BUILDING BLOCKS YOU'LL LEARN
- Pâte Brisée
- Pâte Sucrée
- Pâte Sable
- Drop, Piped and Rolled Cookies
- Fruit Compotes
- Pastry Creams
- Almond Cream
THE ITEMS YOU MAKE INCLUDE:
- Tarte aux Pommes
- Caramel-nut Tart
- Tarte au Ganache Chocolat
- Viennese Canilla Crescents
- Bourbon-Pecan Cookies
LEARN THE BASICS
- Measuring and Precision: Vital components for the successful execution of any pastry recipe. You’ll learn the difference between liquid and dry measures.
- Tools of the Trade: Learn how to properly scale ingredients and how to handle the tools commonly used by pastry chefs. Learn knife skills while developing speed and efficiency as you cut fruit, cut cold butter into flour and whisk cream.
- The Art of the Tender Crust: You will learn how to make tender crusts for all types of tarts with three classic French pastry doughs: pâte brisée, pâte sucrée and pâte sable, observing how flour, fat, sugar and liquid impact the quality of your final product.
- Fillings to Create More Complex Desserts: Various fillings—almond cream, pastry cream, ganache, meringue, fruit compotes—are essential components in making not just tarts, but a full range of desserts, such as éclairs, Danishes, almond croissants, cakes and plated desserts.
Pâte à choux, or choux paste, is a unique dough used to make such pastries as éclairs, cream puffs and gougères. Practicing the techniques of mixing, piping and baking this dough will further sharpen your skills and give you yet another component for making more complex dramatic desserts.
Essentials You Will Learn
- Crème Pâstisserie
- Wet Caramel
- Pâte à glacer
- Shapped Desserts
The Items You Will Make Include:
- Coffee, Chocolate and Vanilla Éclairs
- Gâteau Saint-Honoré
Dough basics: Experiment with the chemistry behind the method for preparing this cooked dough, as well as the correct timing and technique for consistent results.
- Crème Pâstisserie: Learn additional variations of classic pastry cream as well as how to flavor and combine with other components, such as meringue and praline paste.
- Piping: Learn the basics of piping as you make Paris-Brest, profiteroles and other shaped pastries. This is groundwork for the more delicate and intricate piping necessary that comes later in the program.
- Glazes and sauces: how to make and use a wet-caramel i as a base for sauces and glazes. Work with pàte à glacer to finish cakes, cookies and pastries and create basic sauces that can be used for plating your desserts.
This flaky, multilayered pastry has been inspiring French bakers for centuries. At once crunchy, tender and light, its buttery goodness is hard to resist. Learn the techniques to making it consistently. The preparation method for rolling out and baking this dough will further expand your knowledge of working with the basic ingredients of any dough to achieve a specific final result.
The Items You Will Make Include:
- Cheese Straws
- Tarte Tatin
Principles of Cooking
Three Classic Methods: Explore the classic, inverse and quick methods of creating puff pastry and determine which to use for each application.
- Shaping and Finishing: Twisting cheese straws into shape, rolling and cutting palmiers, glazing and decorating a napoleon with a two-toned marbleized glaze are just some examples of the techniques you’ll learn.
Over two units, you’ll learn about bread products that are relevant to the pastry kitchen, including quick breads, such as lemon poppy seed muffins and scones; Viennoiserie, such as laminated doughs for croissants and Danish; and pre-ferment doughs, such as baguettes and focaccia.
- Laminated Doughs
- Pre-Ferment Doughs
- Incorporating Fats
- Leavened Baked Goods
The items you'll make include:
- Pecan Sticky Buns
- Irish Soda Bread
Leavening methods: Explore the three ways to leaven baked goods—organic, mechanical, and chemical—and gain a wider understanding of the production complexities that come with each method.
- Yeast and pre-ferment formulas: Whether using a straight-dough method or using one of the pre-ferment methods (sponge, polish, sourdough or autolyse) you will exercise your hand at mixing, forming and baking breads from around the globe.
- Quick bread mixing methods: While mixing up a batch of quick breads, such as banana bread, you’ll learn the methods for incorporating fat into quick batters and doughs (creamed
Buttery golden pound cake, moist three-layer lemon chiffon enveloped in buttercream and crunchy, rich dacquoise au café are just some of the confections you will take on during your study of cake. In two units, one basic and one advanced, you’ll learn the process of cake making and how to stack, fill, crumb coat and finish a tiered cake, in addition to piping and decorating techniques that keep improving.
Things You'll Learn
- French meringue
- Swiss meringue
- Italian meringue
- Sugar Paste Flowers
The Items You'll Make Include:
- Carrot Cake
- Fruit Mousse Miroir
- Charlotte Royale
- Dacquoise au Café
- Angel Food Cake
- Cake-making methods: Learn the basic génoise which is basis for many classic preparations. Make cakes using liquid fat and creamed butter methods and batters lightened with meringue, discovering how each method generates unique qualities of density, crumb, moistness, and taste.
- Egg whites: Beaten egg whites are essential to create a wide variety of cakes, fillings, frostings and desserts. Learn and practice with different meringues in several applications.
- Frostings and finishes: Produce several types of finishes and even more variations on the fillings. You will work a variety of confections, from marzipan to fondant—both as a finishing encasement for a layered cake and as a decorating tool.
- Decorating techniques: Stenciling, piping, sugar paste flowers, chocolate curls and marzipan fruits and flowers are just a few of the decorations you’ll execute.
Mainly used to refer to the small bites served at cocktail parties, buffets, luncheons, teatime and often as a finish to the dessert course at fine dining restaurants, petits fours are a must-know for any soon-to-be pastry chef or bakery owner. Almost anything can be made into a petit four, and mastering these small treats will fine-tune your skills by tasking you to adapt what you’ve learned to produce small cakes, tartlets, cookies and meringues.
- Sec (dry) Petits Fours
- Frais (fresh) Petits Fours
The items you'll make include:
- Opéra Cakes
What You'll Learn
- Types of petits fours: You will make a range and determine the storage and use of each to suit the occasion.
- Hand skills: Because petits fours are small in scale and served in groups, consistent execution is very exacting. Crafting diminutive versions of familiar pastries will give you practice in hand skills and refine your ability to turn out identical-looking product in large quantities.
- Visual skills: An essential part of a pastry chef’s talent lies in design--knowing how to plate a dessert in a visually appealing manner. This unit will be your first exposure to plating, with several opportunities to practice arranging an assortment of the petits fours, taking into account shape, size and color.
- Taste: As you practice composing service platters for your petits fours, you will also be encouraged to think about flavor. You’ll evaluate how the flavors of individual petits fours pair with one another and build upon these findings when you eventually create your own.
This unit of study will graduate in complexity and expose you to the challenges of working with chocolate and how to handle them like a pro. Chef-instructors will start you off with a general lesson on chocolate production and selection. You will move on to learning about the structure of chocolate and the tricky science of tempering melted chocolate for dipping candies and bonbons, as well as constructing your own creative chocolate sculptures. And finally, you will practice using chocolate to make cakes and plated desserts.
Items You'll Make Include:
- Peanut butter nougat
- Chocolate-Dipped Butter Caramels
- Marquise au Chocolat
What You'll Learn
Sensory evaluation and critical thinking: You will begin the process of assessing the flavor, texture and “mouthfeel” of different chocolates and determining how to use and pair each with other ingredients. You’ll evaluate the varieties of chocolate and decide what chocolate profiles will result in a desired effect.
- Tempering: You will practice each of the five ways to temper chocolate, beginning with the traditional three methods of tabling, seeding and ice bath and later incorporating the Mycryo® and partial-melting methods.
- Decorations: Learn how to make templates to cut shapes out of poured chocolate, mold chocolate, apply patterns to the surface using transfer sheets, as well as techniques (such as wood grain, piping and marbling), adding color with cocoa butter, air brush and luster dust. You will be able to marry these techniques to design and craft a chocolate box, a candy dish and a themed display piece.
- Dipping and piping: Ganache-filled bonbons, soft caramels, cherry cordials…just a few of the confections you will dip and decorate with chocolate. You’ll gain experience with evenly and thinly coating your candies and learn tactics for creating smooth, unblemished surfaces and neatly piped lines.
Preparing plated desserts will give you a taste of what it’s like to work in a restaurant kitchen. Your creativity will shine as you invent your own sauces, ice creams, and garnishes to pair with the desserts you make. Your ability to work efficiently as a member of a team will be tested as you work with classmates to complete plates within time restrictions. A special menu project gives you a spin at planning and executing your own menu and dessert compositions.
Items You'll Make Include:
- chocolate fontaine with white chocolate chip ice cream
- apple strudel
- white chocolate citrus parfait
- fruit gratin with Champagne sabayon and white peach sorbet
- tropical fruit beignets with tamarind ice cream and coconut emulsion sauce
What You'll Learn
- Desserts à la minute: Many restaurant desserts are made to order. You will learn to think fast and work efficiently so you can turn out beautiful plates in a very short time. You will also learn the importance of constructing the elements on a plate so the item will appear at the table as perfect as when it left the kitchen.
- Frozen desserts: You will make an assortment of frozen treats such as granitas, sorbets, sherbets, ice creams, parfaits, and semifreddos.
Conceptualization and creativity: In these lessons, you will have the opportunity to choose sauces, accompaniments or garnishes to make for each plated dessert. This is where you can really let your creativity run free: flavor a caramel sauce with liquors, fruit purees, or mounted with butter or create a new ice cream flavor. You’ll learn to assess dessert menus and see how menu items and language are tailored to speak to a restaurant’s audience. Your ability to think about how a dessert’s various components look and taste together will be tested and tried, preparing you to create your own menu. You will also be required to sketch every dessert you plate. This exercise gives you the opportunity to study how each dessert is organized and to think about how to communicate your own plated visions to others for implementation (an important skill for anyone in charge of a kitchen).
Seasonality: Your chef-instructors will adapt given recipes to fit the flavors of the season, giving you the chance to see how a professional chef constructs a menu around the ingredients that are available, taking into consideration product cost and quality. You will begin to see how many of the ingredients of any given season naturally suit each other to create pleasing flavor profiles and gain a deeper understanding of how seasonality affects both a kitchen’s bottom line and its menu.
Working as a team: Because individual desserts are complex in scope, plated desserts are well-suited to fine-tuning your kitchen command and communication. Just as in a real-world pastry kitchen, timing is key. It’s vital that you follow instructions from your chef-instructors and coordinate with classmates to get each garnish and accompaniment ready for plating at the same time. Crucial to your success will be your ability to work quickly and to observe what’s going on around you. To work effectively as a member of a team, you’ll need to know when to ask for help and when to give it; how to make a plan and how to alter it as necessary, so the kitchen runs smoothly and comes together to achieve the common goal.
Working with sugar requires patience, a fastidious attention to details and a stylish flair. Sugar—in all its mediums—is perhaps the most essentially artistic skill you will learn in pastry school. Because of its hygroscopic (attracts water) nature, sugar can be temperamental and tricky to maintain, but this simple ingredient is used for making many of the embellishments and adornments crafted by pastry chefs. In two units, one basic and one advanced, you will learn how to mold fruit and other shapes out of marzipan, make and work with pastillage and nougatine, form your own sugar paste flowers and pour, pull and blow hot sugar to make exquisite decorations.
Skills You Will Master
- Sugar paste flowers
- Marzipan fruit
- Pastillage cake stand and favor boxes
- Poured, pulled, and blown sugar
What You'll Learn
- Color application: In each of the sugar sections, you will practice the various methods for applying color to product, using methods as simple as kneading color into sugar paste or pastillage to create base colors, or as complicated as painting intricate patterns on flowers. You’ll evaluate the different effects produced by these techniques and how you want to employ them in your own creations.
- Hand-skills and artistry: Cutting, pouring, molding and shaping are just some of the opportunities you will have to prove your hand skills and sharpen your eye for design. With your classmates, you will construct projects, such as an individual showpiece entirely from sugar, or the cake stand and favor boxes you will cut out and shape from pastillage.
You’ll ambitiously execute a wedding cake of your own design. Just as you would do for a client, you‘ll be required to submit a drawing for a cake following the theme and wedding details supplied to you. You will then be responsible for completing your design, from the baking of the cake to the finishing decorations.
Final Exam: The final unit of comprises both a written and practical final exam and is the culmination of everything you’ve learned in the 600-hour program. All of your pastry skills will be utilized as you mix, bake, proof and dip the items from categories assigned to you for evaluation, plus design and execute the display stand from sugar, chocolate, nougatine and/or pastillage. Your chef-instructors will evaluate you work habits and executions. Guest pastry chefs will critique the quality of your final products based on taste, texture and design, and give you feedback that will serve you well beyond graduation as you embark upon your rising career.