So you have heard me talk about the CAP Pâtissier exam a couple times now, but other than it being a pastry certificate, I haven’t actually expanded on what it entails. But let’s start with a little background information.
The education system in France is a bit different from in the USA. Rather than receiving a general high school degree like we get back at home, students in France get to choose their specialty early on in their schooling careers, typically around 15 years old. That’s where the CAP programs come in. The CAP is generally prepared in 2 years, either in a professional high school or at a special training center. It is a professional certificate that is available for around 200 technical specialties. The adult programs are more intense and are spread over 6-9 months, ending with the nationalized exam.
As mentioned before, because of this and that, I decided to take the CAP Pâtissier exam as a candidat libre or individual candidate and to prepare for the exam at home. “So what are you signing up for?” you might ask.
The exam itself is split into two sessions- the practical exam and written exam. For the practical exam, you are allotted 7 hours to make 4 randomized desserts with a specific subject for the decorations. The desserts will be of the following types.
- A batch of desserts made with either raised dough or laminated raised dough, such as brioche, croissants, pains au chocolat etc.
- A batch of desserts made with either puff pastry or choux pastry; such as a mille-feuille, éclairs, etc
- 1 entremet or “cake”, such as a frasier, charlotte etc
- 1 tarte
The ingredients and their quantities, as well as a light order of the steps i.e. make dough, rest, cook etc. are provided, however it is expected that each candidate knows the rest of the “how-tos” by heart, as well as how to be organized in the kitchen, mastering technical gestures, that you are respecting hygiene rules etc. There will also be 2 oral exams of 15 minutes each on pastry technology and hygiene.
The written exam, which is scheduled for a second day, consists of 2 parts that cover the following subjects- environmental health prevention, procurement and inventory management, pastry technology, food science and company knowledge.
Now if you’re a lucky duck like me, who doesn’t have a french high school degree, you will also need to take general subject exams on French, Math, Science, History. You also have the option to sign up for the foreign language and sports exam to bring in some extra points which may give you more padding, points wise.
Easy peasy right?