Like the last post, this one will be mostly photos shared from a Mother's Day spent in Paris without my mom. So by now most of you know that I love to bake like it's going out of style, so it won't come as a surprise to you when I tell you that J. and I wanted to take some sort of pastry class while in France. We took the French Breakfast class taught in English at L’Atelier des Sens, where we learned how to make croissants, pain au chocolat (not "chocolate croissants") and pistachio rolls, and the class was phenomenal!
Meet our wonderful teacher and pastry chef-extraordinaire Olivier Maindroult:
All aproned up for class:
Preparing croissants is really a two day venture. On the first day, you prepare the croissant dough and it must to sit overnight in the refrigerator. On the second day, you can either go ahead and prepare the croissants and bake them, or you can form them into the crescents and freeze those (for when you want to host that brunch and impress all your friends).
Olivier showing us how to get started:
We prepared some dough for later that we could've taken home, but since Han didn't have an oven at her place, we gave it to the class assistant Hortense, who was awesome. You will hear more about her later. So that we could eat croissants at the end of our class, Olivier had done the day 1 preparations the day before. Taking pictures during our class got to be pretty comical because our hands would be all doughy or greasy from all the butter, we'd wash our hands, take some pictures, wash our hands again after handling our cameras, roll some croissant dough and do it all over again.
Get ready for the butter, y'all:
I'd say it was just shy of a pound (I don't have the recipe handy) that we used in making the Day 1 croissant dough. Folding in the butter:
J. rolling out the croissant dough. It is imperative to work quickly with croissant dough because you want the butter and the dough to stay cold. We had to take breaks intermittently so the dough could chill in the fridge for a little while. If the butter melts into the dough, the entire endeavor is all for naught.
Olivier showing us how to slice the croissant pieces and rectangles for pain au chocolat:
Rolling chocolate into the croissant dough for the pain au chocolat. You brush the bottom with egg wash so it will stick/seal:
We also brushed the croissants and pain au chocolat with egg wash so they would get nice and golden in the oven:
Olivier scraping a vanilla bean for our pistachio custard:
We made pistachio custard for our pistachio rolls and once it has cooled, you pour it onto the croissant dough rectangle:
Then you spread it over the rectangle and roll it up as if making cinnamon rolls:
Waiting on our croissants and pain au chocolat to bake (the croissants you see on the tray below were waiting on us when we arrived to class, so that was my first croissant of the day):
Annnnndd here they are!
Perhaps you think I'm just saying this because we made the pain au chocolat, but they were the best I ate in all of France. Seriously. I ate three croissants, one pain au chocolat and one pistachio roll, all washed down with a glass of champagne during this class. The alarming part of this story is that I could have eaten all of that once more...I said that if I could get back to America without clogged arteries from all the butter that I would consider it a success.
J. putting the egg wash on top of the pistachio rolls while Han finished some puff pastry for the class next door (they had asked us to prepare some puff pastry dough for a pie they were making):
I guess a lot of friends know about this, but I have a food allergy phobia after a weird experience at a restaurant; therefore, I haven't eaten shellfish (or any fish, for that matter) or peanuts (and most nuts in general) in three years. I've been tested and I'm not allergic to these things, but it's all mental; therefore, I am overcoming said food allergy phobia slowly but surely. It was during this class that I decided to dive back into pistachio-consumption. I had already tested the waters with almonds before my trip; I even took a container of them on the transcontinental flight with me! What on earth. Before, I couldn't mentally handle the thought of eating a piece of chocolate with an almond in it while in the comfort of my office
five minutes from the hospital, but then I thought it would be a great idea to take almonds with me on an 8 hour journey across the Atlantic in an aluminum tube. Go figure. Also, you may find it quite interesting that in addition to my nut allergy phobia, my roommate started a business called Nutty Butter, LLC. I find it hilarious that Miss Smart makes nut butter practically every day, and I've never tried any (Miss Smart, please don't be offended!). I can confirm that they all smell delicious and are getting great reviews! Okay, off my nut allergy phobia train and back to Paris.
Ta-da! Check out these pistachio rolls! They were beautiful and amazing.
While planning this trip, J. and I wanted to hit up a wonderful flea/open-air market while we were in Paris, but we didn't really know which would be the best to go to. Fortunately, as soon as we walked out of our croissant baking extravaganza, we stumbled upon the most wonderful market. This place was better than anything we could have hoped for (don't you love it when stuff like that happens?)! I wanted to zap everything from said market to my refrigerator back home...