As you may know, I’ve recently been taking French pastry classes.
I’m going through the whole pastry spectrum, starting with classic French desserts such as creme brûlée, crepe suzette, chocolate soufflé, and financiers. Then moving on to macarons stuffed with a variety of different flavours like dark chocolate ganache, something like a lemon curd, vanilla creme patisserie and a savoury filling of mascarpone and chive (which seems odd with the sweet macaron shell, but trust me, it’s delicious!). Lastly we made croissants and pain au chocolate!
I’ve been taking classes at “Le Foodist”, and if you’re interested in baking or if you’re just looking to experience French food in a fun and exciting way, I would definitely recommend it. The classes are all English spoken and all of the teachers are lovely and guide you step by step throughout the process. See their website here!
Classic French dessert class
In this class I got to make creme brûlée (which I’ve never actually tasted before!) crepe suzette – which involved Cointreau by the way! – chocolate soufflé, and financiers. I had never heard of financiers before so learning to make these was really interesting.
Apparently the cake became popular in the financial district in Paris. People wanted a biscuit that could easily be carried around and stored in the pocket for a long time without getting damaged or crumbling. So these dense little cakey-biscuits were born. (We put raspberries in ours!)
Each recipe was fairly simple to follow. For the creme brûlée we had to bring milk and cream to a simmer, meanwhile you would mix the egg yolks and sugar until pale. You then slowly pour the warmed milk into the egg mix (not too fast so that you cook the eggs) and then pour your mix into ramekins and bake. You then finish by caramelising sugar on top with a blowtorch!
These were delicious. And tasting them for the first time having been the one to also make them was such a great experience!
Next we made chocolate soufflé. We had to mix the chocolate, milk, egg yolks and milk and heat to thicken, you then had to fold the mix into whisked egg whites and bake! I couldn’t believe how quick and easy this recipe was, it’s the perfect thing for a quick dessert for a dinner party or for when you just get a sudden chocolate craving!
For the crepe suzette all you had to do was make a basic crepe recipe and then make an orange caramel by melting sugar, adding a few cubes of butter and melting, then adding orange juice and Cointreau and reducing.
Next up was macaron class!
We made one flavour of macaron and then filled them with fillings of ganache, lemon curd, creme patissiere and a savoury filling of mascarpone and chive.
To make these macarons we used the Italian meringue method. It involved heating up sugar syrup and slowly pouring into egg whites and whisking until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy and smooth. You then fold in your icing sugar and ground almonds and pipe into macarons. Once baked you pipe your filling in and you’re done!
Lastly was croissant class.
Making croissants is such a long process but the outcome is so worth it! Just look how pretty they are!
First you mix the yeast, room temperature water, milk, salt and sugar. Then top the wet mix with the flour and press down in the bottom on an electric mixer bowl with the bottom of a smaller bowl. Leave for about five or ten minutes and when you come back it should look like this.
If the cracks don’t form then that means the yeast is dead and you’ll have to start again with fresh yeast.
Then mix in a stand mixer until it forms a dough. You then roll the dough into a rectangle shape and pop in the fridge for about an hour to rest.
Once your dough has rested you need roll it into a larger rectangle and take some chilled butter and bash and roll into a rectangle and place in the centre of your dough and book fold it and pop it back into the fridge!
This recipe involves a lot of resting in the fridge unless you already haven’t guessed!
You then take your dough out again and repeat the rolling and folding. You will fold your dough three times in this process.
After one last chilling it’s time to roll your dough and cut into triangles and roll into croissants. Then egg wash, bake and you’re done!
I told you it was a long process! But again, they are so worth the work.
So I only touched on the surface of these recipes so if you want to find out more then there’s plenty of recipes online that you could try. With each recipe remember to take your time and don’t rush, the more effort and work you put in the better your baked goods will be. This is important especially when working with yeast!
Again I have to say that these classes were so much fun and the teachers were so lovely and helpful, I wish I could go back and do it all again! Maybe next year…
I hope after reading this it’s inspired you to go away and bake your own macarons, French desserts and croissants. If you do, feel free to post in the comments section your finished products, I’d love to see them!
Thanks for reading and bearing with me through the croissant steps. So much chilling! Until next time!