Baking and Pastry—It’s Really Art

CIA Students in the Principles of Design Class.

At the Culinary Institute of America, we all know that it takes passion, persistence, endurance, and endless practice to pull off the desserts we bakers make every day. However, what most people don’t know is that there is an artistic side to baking and pastry that is almost as important as getting the recipe right. As baking and pastry students, we are required to take an art class known as Principles of Design. Before taking this class, I didn’t see the connection between art and pastry. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that I had to make my desserts look as good as they taste and that presentation matters. But in the class itself, over the last 14 days, we have worked to connect art to baking in every way possible.

Art has a way of grabbing people’s attention. It makes them think about what the artist was thinking, what was used to sculpt, paint, or create it. One of your main goals as a baker is to get people talking about your food in a positive light, both in taste and appearance.

During the first few days of classes, everything is very basic. We were taught how to shade, combine colors, and simply draw an object. After the basic topics were covered, we have the opportunity to plan, sketch, and create so many amazing pieces of art. One of the first pieces I did was a cake design using a four-color scheme. It sounds simple but what you can create on a cake with only four colors is truly amazing. My absolute favorite project during the course was to create an airbrushed cake design. It’s been eye-opening to see the deep connection art has to baking and pastry. You don’t have to be super artistically inclined to make the connection. It is important as future leaders of our industry to make sure we learn about everything that goes into a dessert or finished product—and bring the artistic side to life.

By Emily Engel, Baking & Pastry Student