Someone asked me last week “Why do you take cooking and baking classes in Paris anyway – I mean don’t you already know how to do a lot of that stuff?”. Well, that’s very flattering to think that someone believes I know how to cook and bake ALL things French but really, as with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect. And as someone who teaches (mostly pastry) classes in Toronto, I think it’s important that *I* am constantly learning as well. So you know, here I am in Paris. Learning.
When I saw that La Cuisine Paris was offering brioche-making classes, I knew that I wanted to check it out – I have only made brioche once before at home (and I think I must have had beginner’s luck!) but not completely by hand which I was really interested in learning. With things like doughs and pastry, while there is something to be said for the speed and ease of things like stand mixers (and don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my stand mixer!), it must be said that doing things, where possible, entirely by hand, really gives you an understanding of how all the ingredients work together and what things should feel like at different stages of a recipe. So, so important in baking.
Ah yes, this was definitely a “hands on” class. Hence, the lack of photos (I know, right?!). Making brioche is a messy messy business…
At this point in the class, I set my camera and phone down as we proceeded to start the messy process of incorporating the butter (all tucked inside the brioche like a nice buttery present) into the dough. It’s a weird process once you’ve squished the butter into the dough ball – involving whacking the dough hard on the benchtop, stretching it out then repeating that process
a gazillion times until the teacher says you have finished. Dan Lepard says this takes 4-5 minutes but for us, it was much longer than that! It really makes you appreciate the luxury of a stand mixer which completes this step in less than half the time but if you really want to understand how your ingredients work together, this method is the way to go.
Once we had our dough made and looking like dough again (there is a point in the middle of mixing when there will be butter flying all around the place – in your hair! – when you will wonder if the dough will ever come together!), we got creative with filling and topping them – pralines roses (which we learned how to make too!), chocolate and pearl sugar….
This was a fun class but most definitely “hands on”. I loved that it showed you really don’t need fancy equipment to make fancy French breads – and this has given me the confidence to try this at home sans stand mixer. I love a class where you come out thinking “well that was way easier than I thought it was going to be” and this was, indeed one of those. If you take this class, make sure you are meeting up with friends right afterwards because these brioches do not keep well. Such a hardship, right, having to eat all the brioches on the day you make them!
Check out all the French brioche making class dates at La Cuisine Paris here.
Worldwide giveaway: Win a copy of “Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World“ – closes Sunday July 27th 2014 6pm EST.
Disclosure: I was a guest of La Cuisine Paris at this class. I was not asked to write about it, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me is by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickr or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwrite (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.
I’m submitting this post to Paris in July over at Thyme for Tea.