the words certified master baker study hall series over an image of a person brushing butter on croissants

‘CMB Study Hall’ features video tutorials for master baker certification

the words certified master baker study hall series over an image of a person brushing butter on croissants

CHICAGO — Craft to Crumb has partnered with the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) to launch the CMB Study Hall Series, exclusive video tutorials sponsored by Puratos, Hobart, MIWE and Rondo. The tutorials will focus on key elements of RBA’s Certified Master Baker practical exam.

Filmed at the Puratos Innovation Center in Chicago, the video series features demonstrations from certified master bakers Lee Ann Adams, R&D manager for baked goods and ready-to-eat foods at Altoona, PA-based Sheetz, a convenience store chain serving the mid-Atlantic region; and Chris Teixeira, pastry chef and culinary director for Fifty/50 Restaurant Group in Chicago.

The videos are designed to provide bakers with effective preparation tools as they study for the practical exam, which is offered to qualified candidates through RBA three to four times a year in various regions of the US.

The standard of excellence in retail baking

RBA’s certification program is recognized throughout the industry as a standard for excellence in skills and knowledge. Bakers achieve certification based on education, experience and successful completion of written and practical exams.

Once bakers have passed the CMB written exam, they are eligible for the in-person practical exam, which covers nearly every facet of the baking process. The timed test takes place over two days and is judged by a team of experts.

As certified master bakers who have been through this experience that’s often described as a “pressure cooker,” Adams and Teixeira focus on specific technical aspects that they know firsthand can be the most challenging.

“For me, the exam was comparable to living through the worst day at work,” Adams reflected. “Imagine that none of your staff showed up for work, and you have to make everything from scratch in one day while judges are watching you. It’s easy to think, ‘How bad could it be?’ But it’s very deceptive because nobody ever has to work like this. It’s something that you really have to practice.”

See CMB technical skills and best practices

The CMB Study Hall Series demonstrates specific technical skills and also offers time-saving tricks, tips around quality aspects that judges will want to see, and best practices for how to keep things moving should the worst happen.

In fact, Teixeira cautioned that Murphy’s Law can — and most likely will — come into play.

“It’s like being a first-year intern at a bake shop and having to do everything yourself,” Teixeira said, recalling challenges like having to remake muffins on the spot.

“The hardest part is that this is at a master level, and you’re being judged by people who know what flaws exist,” he added. “The judges are all CMBs who have gone through this, so they know exactly what to look for.”

Adams and Teixeira are not only CMBs; they’re also judges. In fact, Adams served as Teixeira’s judge when he took the practical exam.

While baking is formulaic, the learning process can be quite subjective. That often makes it hard for bakers to know exactly what — or how — to study for the exam. By having a library of tutorials presented by certified master bakers who are also judges themselves, bakers can practice the right techniques to use for the exam.

“This provides a benchmark,” Teixeira said. “If you ask 100 bakers the best way to make a baguette, you’ll probably get 100 different answers. If you’re going for the master level, you’ll be able to understand the premise of things like mixing or lamination. We’ll show you how we recommend you do it, and you can use that as a jumping off point. We’ll show you what the judges are looking for and what to avoid or think about as you’re practicing.”

Understand CMB exam expectations

In the videos, Adams and Teixeira point out areas where they have seen students stumble — or where they have stumbled themselves — during the exam. It’s another way to understand the expectations going into the test.

“There are certain areas where we see people stumble over and over, so pointing those out will be a big help,” Adams said. “We can share little things that can save time. Because wasted seconds and minutes add up; when you lose thirty seconds or three minutes here and there, it adds up, and you could run out of time.”

Achieving master baker certifications is one of baking’s highest honors. It’s also one of the hardest titles to attain, but it can change the course of a baker’s career. With the help of RBA — and sponsors Puratos, Hobart, MIWE and Rondo — bakers can use the CMB Study Hall Series to get one step closer to reaching the summit.

Videos will roll out regularly and will be available on the Craft to Crumb website and the Retail Bakers of America website.

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