CAP - The French pastry diploma


The cherry on the cake (sorry for the easy joke :p) of this sabbatical will be the official status of French pastry cook through the diploma, CAP (Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle). Oh yes, this is seriously baking :p

Old France, so traditional, requires this kinda certification for many artisanal food professions, including pastry cooks, bakers, chocolatiers (you guessed: chocolate makers), glaciers (ice cream makers). To be honest, I think this can help setting a minimum quality level for the products we buy as consumers.

In the past, before the contemporary pastry fever, this diploma targeted mostly teenagers coming out of high school, not always for a choice of passion. For them, the CAP training takes 2 years as oppose to 4 ½ months for us, passionate adults :p

The pastry CAP will include the following exams:

Practical exam (220 points out of 300) in 7h30:

30 minutes to prepare the schedule

30 minutes mandatory break
30 minutes oral examination
6 hours baking:
    • one pie
    • one entremets (decorated cake)
    • 2 viennoiseries (among croissants, pains au chocolat, brioche, pains au raisins, etc.)
    • one other product made out of puff pastry (eg.: millefeuille) or choux dough (éclairs, réligieuses, salambos, glands)
Arts évaluation based on a mandatory theme (this year, it will be either 'Flowers Festival', 'Classic Music' or 'The World Cup in Brazil'

Written exam (80 points out of 300) in 2 hours:
Sciences
Economic environment
Pastry technology

It means that we have arts, sciences, economic environment and pastry technology classes on the top of the 4 X/week 6 hours/day practical lessons.
And you know what? I’m actually learning a lot more than I expected (I’ll post specific texts for Arts, Technology, and Practical classes later on).

The Mock CAP (CAP blanc)

We just had a mock CAP exam yesterday (about half way of the training). It was a simplified version but still, very close to the real one. The only differences were that we knew the products and the decoration theme (Flowers Festival) beforehand and instead of having 2 viennoiseries (ex. 9 pains au chocolat and 9 croissants) we just had one (18 pains au chocolat).

Therefore we had to deliver in 6 hours:

  • 1 charlotte aux fruits rouges (berries charlotte)
  • 18 pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants)
  • 16 coffee éclairs
  • 1 amandine aux poires (almond and pears pie)

It was tiring but rewarding… I’m really proud of my production: my ‘pains au chocolat’ have never been so beautifuland tasty, my fondant glazing (for the coffee éclairs) was perfect, shiny and stable (In the past I’ve screwed it up making a too runny and instable fondant), my charlotte was beautiful and my chocolate writing was nice and not shaking (as it used to be when I’m stressed).  Success!!!
Only lowlight: I delivered exactly on time (like in these reality shows when they say “stop, it’s over”!). I was almost the last one, and didn’t have time to make all the decorations I wanted to.
Not to mention pictures. I’ve got to take some (that I’m posting here) but couldn’t take my time for nicer, more detailed ones. At least they are a good record of this moment :)

Here are the results:

 Berries charlotte ("Flowers Festival decoration):


18 pains au chocolat:



16 Coffee éclairs:



Almonds and pears pie:





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Meet the author

Hi there! I'm Lucia Tahara, welcome to my blog!

I'm a Brazilian living in France since 2002 and working as a Business Developer at Google.

This blog is about my 5 months sabbatical to become a pastry cook at the 'Institut National de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie', one of the best French pastry schools in the world.

Recipes, tips, techniques, video tutorials, but also posts related to the sabbatical experience will populate this space little by little.

My favorite pastries

Saint honoré
Macaron (coming soon)
Fraisier (coming soon)


Tutorial videos

Crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
Millefeuille (assembly)
Pâte feuilletée (puff pastry)
Choux dough (coming soon)
Sweet pie dough (coming soon)
More to come...