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The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts

The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts

Chef Stephen L. Durfee
The Culinary Institute of America
In partnership with
Course No.  9253
In partnership with
Course No.  9253
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Course Overview

About This Course

6 lectures  |  38 minutes per lecture

A three-tiered chocolate cake crowned with pillows of whipped cream frosting. A warm-from-the-oven fruit pie complete with a golden-brown latticed crust. A rich, creamy custard whose silky texture reminds you of luxury and refinement.

For many of us, indulging in these and other delicious treats means visiting our local bakery or making unexciting substitutes from boxed mixes. But baking desserts from scratch, even desserts that you’d expect to find only in five-star restaurants, is a lot less difficult than you might think. In fact, anyone with the right mastery of the basic concepts, techniques, and strategies that classically trained pastry chefs use can bake and create desserts that taste spectacular—and look spectacular as well. When you master the secrets of baking, you can

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A three-tiered chocolate cake crowned with pillows of whipped cream frosting. A warm-from-the-oven fruit pie complete with a golden-brown latticed crust. A rich, creamy custard whose silky texture reminds you of luxury and refinement.

For many of us, indulging in these and other delicious treats means visiting our local bakery or making unexciting substitutes from boxed mixes. But baking desserts from scratch, even desserts that you’d expect to find only in five-star restaurants, is a lot less difficult than you might think. In fact, anyone with the right mastery of the basic concepts, techniques, and strategies that classically trained pastry chefs use can bake and create desserts that taste spectacular—and look spectacular as well. When you master the secrets of baking, you can

  • elevate everyday meals to restaurant-quality dining experiences,
  • impress your family and friends with your culinary skills,
  • rediscover the sheer joy of baking with everyday and uncommon ingredients,
  • experiment with creating your own unique treats, and
  • not have to resort to boxed mixes and store-bought goods.

Get a quick, easy, and comprehensive guide to the fundamentals of baking like a professional with The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts. These six lessons invite you to join Chef Stephen L. Durfee, an award-winning pastry chef and instructor from the famed Culinary Institute of America, as he demonstrates tried-and-true methods for baking everything from simple cookies and cakes to custards, cream puffs, and chocolate mousse. Filmed on site at the CIA’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley and packed with dynamic studio demonstrations and opportunities to work hands-on in your own kitchen, these lessons give the novice and master baker alike practical tips and insights straight from one of the world’s most respected culinary schools.

Start Baking with More Confidence

Unlike cookbooks (where all you can do is read the recipe, see the beautiful picture, and hope for the best outcome) and popular cooking shows (where the emphasis is more on entertainment than accessibility), The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts is fun to watch while at the same time highly interactive, academically rigorous, and deeply informative. By inviting you to learn with one of the CIA’s great instructors, you know you’ll be getting lessons that are more concerned with your education than with just entertainment.

Central to Chef Durfee’s course is his ability to take the intimidation out of baking and replace it with confidence. You’ll learn how to approach common baking techniques such as

  • creaming eggs and sugar to the right consistency;
  • rolling out and blind-baking flaky and crumbly pastry dough;
  • whipping up your own frosting, whipped cream, and dessert sauces; and
  • plating, decorating, and serving your desserts like a pro.

Along the way, you’ll hone your ability to work with baking instruments from wire whisks, stand mixers, and pastry cream bags to ramekins, molds, and even a blowtorch—not to mention the most important tools any baker owns: his or her hands. You’ll also get tips on setting up your baking station, testing for doneness, measuring ingredients properly, and more.

Learn Insider Tips for Making Delicious Desserts

You’ll practice your skills on a range of baked goods that fit all sorts of meals, occasions, and cravings. Not only will you learn the step-by-step methods to recreating these delectable desserts, you’ll learn insider tips and tricks for elevating your baked goods above everyone else’s.

  • Pound cake: After you’ve poured your batter, wet your finger with water and run it down the center. This will create a weak spot in the center of the cake so that, as it rises, it’ll crack decoratively along that line and add a more homemade flair.
  • Sweet biscuits: Try to get as many biscuits out of one layer of biscuit dough as possible. Biscuits made from rerolled scrap dough will be tougher than those made in the first batch.
  • Chocolate mousse: Be careful to cool your melted chocolate before adding it to your whipped cream; if the melted chocolate is too hot, the cream will deflate and you’ll end up with a mousse that’s extremely dense.
  • Chocolate éclairs: Rather than cut the top of your hollow éclair, fill it with pastry cream from two holes in the bottom. You’ll know the éclair is filled all the way when you see pastry cream come back out of the first hole you’ve piped cream into.

In many instances Chef Durfee takes the time to show you what baked goods look like when they’ve been prepared the wrong way. By comparing successful and unsuccessful finished products, you’ll dodge some of the missteps even the professionals can make.

Regardless of what secrets or tricks he’s showing you, Chef Durfee always makes baking accessible. With more than 10 years of experience as a pastry chef instructor for the CIA, he is the consummate instructor whose expertise and delivery make baking exciting. And as for his artistry at creating eye-catching (and mouth-watering) pastries, his awards and honors speak volumes: the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and designation as one of America’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs by Pastry Art & Design and Chocolatier magazines, to name a few.

“So many people are interested in learning how to bake, but they’re too intimidated because they think it’s either too complicated or too scientific,” says Chef Durfee. “The truth is that baking can be a lot of fun.”

By the end of The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts, you’ll find yourself in hearty agreement.

View Less
6 Lectures
  • 1
    Handle with Care—Basic Doughs
    Understand several basic techniques and methods you can then expand on to make a wide range of unforgettable desserts. Here, focus on organizing your workspace, methods for proper measuring, and ways to cream butter, sugar, and eggs to the right consistency. Then, watch as Chef Durfee makes cookies and pound cake and shows you what can go right—and what can go wrong as well. x
  • 2
    Mixing It Up—Methods for Cakes
    Regardless of what cake you’re making, they all revolve around several basic mixing methods. What are they? And what are their secrets? Chef Durfee takes you step-by-step through baking a rich devil’s food cake and several egg foam cakes (a chiffon cake and an angel food cake), the latter of which helps demonstrate the right—and wrong—way to whip eggs and cool your cakes. x
  • 3
    Blue-Ribbon Winners—Pies and Biscuits
    Here, learn everything you need to know about flaky dough, which can often be intimidating even for an experienced baker. First, gain confidence in making a buttery pie crust by learning how to mold it with your hands or pastry tools, how to blind-bake it, and even how to make an attractive latticed top. Then, explore some of the secrets to making tender, flaky biscuits and beautifully golden-brown scones (which have their own unique rules for baking). x
  • 4
    Lighter Than Air—Cream Puffs
    Cream-puff pastry is unique in that it’s a twice-cooked pastry dough. And its applications go far beyond what you’d expect. In this lesson, master the art of baking and experimenting with puff pastry and use it to create some unbelievably decadent desserts. Among these: chocolate éclairs, cream puffs, and deep-fried Mexican churros. Along the way, you’ll also get tips on making pastry cream, chocolate ganache, and caramel topping. x
  • 5
    Simple to Elegant—Custards
    Vanilla-infused crème anglaise. Butterscotch pudding. Crème brulée (complete with a blowtorched sugar topping). Learn tips and tricks to wowing your dinner guests with these delectable egg-based custards, all the while strengthening your confidence in the sometimes tricky art of baking with eggs on the stovetop or in the oven. By the end of this lesson, you’ll discover just why custards make a great dessert choice: they’re surprisingly easy to bake and they always lead to an elegant, refined product. x
  • 6
    Final Touches—Mousse and Dessert Sauces
    Whip your more advanced baking skills and techniques into shape in this final lesson devoted to light and luscious mousses and creams. After learning how to make your own whipped cream, chocolate mousse, dessert sauces, and vanilla bean panna cotta, you’ll watch Chef Durfee as he demonstrates the best ways to unmold, plate, and present your desserts with flair and your own unique touch—just like a professional chef. x

Lecture Titles

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Stephen L. Durfee
Stephen L. Durfee
The Culinary Institute of America
Stephen L. Durfee is a Pastry Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, where he has been on staff for more than 10 years. He is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and a Certified Hospitality Educator. Before then, he was the Executive Pastry Chef at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. While there, he won the 1998 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and in 1999, he was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design and Chocolatier magazines. Chef Durfee's extensive career includes working as a pastry chef at Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco, California, and at the Wheatleigh in Lenox, Massachusetts; and as a pastry instructor at the New York Cooking School (where he earned his certificate in pastry/baking). He also apprenticed at restaurants in Paris and ChambÈry, France. Chef Durfee has also participated in and judged numerous cooking competitions and challenges. In 2007, he represented the CIA at the National Pastry Team Championships, where his team won a bronze medal. In 2010, he finished third in the World Chocolate Masters competition. In 2012, he won the position of chocolatier on the U.S. team that will compete in the Coupe du Monde de P‚tisserie in Lyon, France, in 2013.
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Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 by 12 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 A wonderful course on the baking I grew up in a family that didn't bake, but it always interested me. This course is a wonderful course for anyone who likes to bake, enjoys learning new tips for the kitchen and would like some ideas for new dessert recipes. I haven't tried any yet, but will be baking up a batch of chocolate chip cookies later today and am looking forward to watching the first video again to refresh the tips and tricks. I love being able to put the videos on my iPad and enjoy them on my daily commute. Excellent video series - if the "Rediscovering the Art of Cooking" is still being offered as a pair, I suggest picking them both up and expanding your repertoire in the kitchen! September 14, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Course: outstanding; book: not so much I'm an experienced cook who hasn't mastered pie crust, despite many attempts. Stephen Durfee's demonstration of how to prepare and roll crust was excellent. I made the butterscotch pie for Father's Day dinner and a fellow guest--about to graduate from Cordon Bleu, when I asked for an educated critique so that I could improve, said it was excellent. All of the lectures and demonstrations were great. The book needs work. The butterscotch pie filling is enough for three pies, but doesn't say so. Luckily, I figured that out before I made it and my one-third recipe was just right. Others of the recipes might also be restaurant scale. In the glossary, you'll find "shin wa" that's phonetic spelling of the correct term, "chinois". July 2, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Ridiculous Would it have killed the creator of this course to include COMPLETE recipes for each of the dishes? I bought this for my 15 year old who has aspirations of being a chef but the directions in the book are incomplete and vague. While trying to make the chiffon cake we had to search and search for the temperature to set the oven. The list of ingredients is there, but not the temperature? If this is for people who have never cooked before, they are going to be completely lost. April 9, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by WHY you have to do it this way I have several of the Everyday Gourmet courses, and so far this is my favorite. I enjoy baking, and I'm pretty good with following a recipe, but Chef Durfee goes beyond just the what and explains WHY you have to use certain techniques or ingredients, and what you did wrong when things don't turn out the way you wanted them to. Knowing the reason for things keeps me from being tempted to be lazy and take shortcuts with my technique. March 30, 2014
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