[KQAS 2012-research] Modern definitions

04 Jan

I’ve decided on doing the” how sugar art evolved from medicine” topic. If I’m really good, I can throw in the formulas as part of the conclusion. I am going to use this space to help me organize my writing.


From humble beginnings as medicine to the grandiose sculptures of molded sugar, confections have a long held an important role in our society.   However confectionery and pastry arts as we know them today are relatively new inventions.

In the late 19th century, Augustus Escofier formalized the modern definitions for pastry staff. Workers were no longer segregated by specialized skill set, but combined into teams, unified under a single head chef.   It is from him, we get the terms pâtissier (pastry chef- head of the pastry/desert team), boulanger (baker) , confiseur (confections) and décorateur (show pieces).1    These terms are still in use in kitchens and bakeries all across Europe.    And while each discipline is an art with a specific set of skills, there is much more cross-pollenization among workers.

Of Escofier’s classifications, the confiseur and the décorateur are probably the most visually well known. The confiseur works the chocolate and poured sugar sculptures.  The décorateur makes specialty cakes. Television programs like “Ace of Cakes”, “Food Network: Extreme Challenges” and “Cake Boss”, have exposed many of the confectionery tricks of the trade.  A wide range of the population now knows what goes on under the pretty covers of modern pastry.  Words such as gum paste, fondant and support structures have become part of our everyday vocabulary.

(I need a transition here.  I will write one eventually.).

Confection 2
1.    any sweet preparation of fruit, nuts, etc, such as a preserve or a sweet
2.    the act or process of compounding or mixing
3.    anything regarded as over elaborate or frivolous

Confectioner 3
1.    a person who makes or sells sweets or confections.
2.    synonymous with the term, pastry chef.

In looking at modern definitions, we see little acknowledgment of the role of confections and confectioners have played in our society.  It is easy to see why people to equate confections with desert. But this was not always the case.

(Moving on to medieval definitions.)

Root-[Latin: confectiō a preparing;  conficere to produce]

End notes:
1. Gisslen, Wayne. Professional Cooking. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
2. “confection.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers.
3. “confectioner.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Projects, Sugar


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