Way back in 2011 when I was living in Paris, my mom came to visit. We decided to cap off our Mother-Daughter week with a Croissant-making workshop at Le Cordon Bleu. It was a day-long workshop where we made croissants, pain au chocolat, and brioche. We went back home and did our best to replicate what we learned in class, and it was the beginning of our croissant-making journey. We liked the class so much, we had our eyes set on an even more encompassing class—the four day “Traditional Bread Baking” Workshop. This fall, we finally had the opportunity to spend four days baking everything from mini baguettes, country loaves, spelt breads and pain au lait (my favorite), to of course, the best venoisserie of all— croissants and pain au chocolat.
We started the week with kneading my hand. Wow, quite the workout for this girl who is so used to the dough hook on my stand mixer! We basically went straight from the airport to our first day of class, but even though we were pretty jet-lagged, we were super energized by our instructor and just being in Paris, baking! We made little spelt breads shaped like wheat, and then we made buns, and lastly, a spinach sandwich bread. (We made about 3 different breads each day.) . Needless to say, everything came out scrumptious, but most importantly, I took away some really basic skills that could be applied to baking, universally.
Le Cordon Bleu has moved locations since 2011, but it’s still in the chic 15th arrondissement—now, in a super modern building with a gorgeous view of the Seine and the gorgeous 16th arrondissement. In fact, from our class, we could view the miniature version of Lady Liberty. We were on the top floor, but I got a chance to sneak up on the rooftop where there’s a gorgeous rooftop garden growing everything from herbs to tomatoes and eggplants—all used in the classes at school. It was also fun peeking into some of the other classrooms and watching the career students hard at work or in demos. (I didn’t exactly find the wine program students—apparently they were on a field trip to the Cognac region of France, drinking Cognac..)
And perhaps even more important than ingredients, recipes or techniques, we learned about the actual baking process—from deck ovens that costs tens of thousands of dollars and more tips and tricks to recreate those sophisticated machines at home. It was an incredibly jam packed, at times exhausting four days, but it was an incredible learning and cultural experience!