Do you love baking so much that you’ve considered attending pastry school, but couldn’t find the time, money or energy? I hear you! Making the leap to attend school isn’t an easy decision, whether you want to do it professionally someday or just want to be more knowledgeable for your own sake. Especially difficult given the events of the past year — leaving home is scary, budgets are tight, and yet, the urge to bake has become even more powerful as we struggle with the new normal. Luckily, online resources have been cropping up to address the need to learn, grow and yes, bake, and one of best is The Butter Book. Think of it as attending pastry school and learning from some of the best industry professionals, but set at your own pace, within your budget and without leaving home. Sound too good to be true? Read on!
The Butter Book is the brainchild of chefs Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F. and Jacquy Pfeiffer, who also happen to be co-founders of The French Pastry School in Chicago. This is what immediately sets the program apart from other resources. It was developed not only by knowledgeable pastry chefs, but ones that have been teaching others the skills for over 25 years. (If you’ve ever asked a pro for advice and gotten a terrible answer, you know teaching is a skill in itself!) The Butter Book format is set up much in the same way pastry school curricula are written. There are fundamental courses by category (think breads, cakes, pastries) broken down into individual lessons, so you learn the concepts, try the recipes and move onto more advanced ideas. Each lesson contains a video and detailed information from terminology to lists of ingredients and instructions and even troubleshooting questions and answers. Lesson objectives are clearly noted, and you can quiz yourself to make sure you understand all the concepts.
Learning at your own pace is key, and with less pressure to complete everything in a certain time frame, it’s more fun too. The courses list out not only how many lessons each one has, but how long each of them will take to complete on average. Only have a half hour today? Great, commit to learning that Italian Meringue Buttercream, pop in the freezer like the storing instructions say and make the cake another day. You have your own dashboard called “My Book” that allows you to track your own progress, “heart” your favorite lessons and recipes, and see what else might be of interest to you. And because it is set up so much like an actual pastry school, you literally get a taste of everything from laminated pastries like croissants to fancy sugar flowers for wedding cakes.
The Butter Book also takes into account that people come into learning at various levels. Everything is marked as beginner, intermediate or advanced. I went to pastry school and have been baking for years, but I confess there are a ton of things I’ve simply forgotten over the years or need to brush up on. You never stop learning, no matter your level, and they offer so much on the platform to enrich even the more advanced students. And honestly, the access to the recipes alone are a goldmine because they are expertly tested, not to mention the articles written by industry contributors constantly added and updated.
So now that I’ve hopefully whet your appetite to learn (sorry, had to say it), let’s talk budget. Yes, you will buy your own equipment and ingredients, but they’ve taken that into consideration with the price tags. You can either sign up for a monthly subscription at $24.99 or save 35 percent and book a year for $199.99. Considering pastry school is thousands of dollars for a six-month program, this is much friendlier to your wallet while you learn right in the comfort of your own kitchen. And seriously, if you’re still questioning it after reading this whole article, I’ll mention the best part. You can sign up for a ten-day free trial and decide for yourself. No tricks, no gimmicks, no commitment. Just sign up and see what it’s all about. Then maybe you, too, can finally take that leap!