I told you I was accidentally doing a breakfast theme week and it continues today with the flounciest items on any breakfast table. The French dominate when it comes to breakfast. I want to thank the genius who introduced chocolate to the already rich butter-laden pastry to create the pain au chocolat. Thank you, Sir, thank you, Madame. I applaud you for your contributions to breakfast time.
There is something so evocative about the smell of warm croissants and pain au chocolat for me, which transports me straight back to the first time I visited Paris and stumbled into a patisserie by following my nose and stomach. I have always wanted to master the skills to make these beauties at home but been intimated to try them at home. Thanks to my parents generous Christmas present, last Saturday I and my cousin were able to give it a whirl.
We are racking up quite the list of cookery courses we’ve done together in the past year, drum roll – Brownie Making, Cupcake Decorating, Easter Egg Decorating and Chocolate Making. I honestly think my cousin is just preparing me to open a bakery together.
Just off Oxford Street on Little Portland Street nestled in the hustle and bustle is Cookery School London. We were downstairs in the basement spacious kitchen as there was an all-day Italian cooking course taking place in the kitchen of us.
We grabbed our named aprons, rolled up our sleeves, hands washed and got down to business. We had the great teachers of Ghalid and Caroline showing us the way of the pastry also with a joke or a great baking tip. The course was a mixture of watching the pros in action and us getting our hands messy.
Gathering around the main kitchen island (with a camera set in the ceiling sending a live feed to a TV nearby for the times there were too many cooks heads in the way) to watch how to make crème patisserie at home. Which with the richness from the egg yolks and fragrant vanilla, I could of quite happily of eaten it without baking any in the buttery croissants dough to make pain au raisin. Seeing the crème pat made in a matter of minutes, I can’t wait to actually make it at home to try out on some chocolate twists sans fear.
I made brioche back last summer, I was a coward when I made it. I didn’t have faith in the dough and when greeted with a gooey sticky mess I did the unthinkable and added more flour. D’oh! I learnt that if you do that, you’ll making your loaf so much heavier and drier. Stay tuned for an amended recipe of brioche without the worry flour. The dough was kneaded in a beautiful Kitchenaid mixer, which you already know I adore mine. Even more, so that I won’t have to knead my dough for 25 minutes by hand to get the elastic smooth dough.
Below is a bowl of light croissant dough that had been made the day before left to prove in the fridge overnight and ready to be knocked down and laminated with a sexy block of unsalted organic butter. Lamination is the process of incorporating layers of butter between layers of dough, which when baked the dough levels are separated from the steam produced from the water in the butter. This process gives you the flaky layers you have come to know and love in croissants and puff pastry. By folding the dough into three on top of the layers you build up define layers that bake beautifully. Also, don’t be afraid of the amount of butter used. You know what they taste amazing and you aren’t going to eat them every day (sadly) so go for it.
Once we had watched the process to make the croissant dough, we set about to make our very own. So simple and easy. Friends expect fresh croissants every time you visit for brunch.
We shaped some the dough that had already been laminated to test out our rolling skills. And look how pretty they are!
Time to add the magic ingredient to our doughs, plenty of BUTTER!!! Once we had tucked, rolled, tucked again. We proudly labelled up our bags, with our dough ready to be taken home to be freshly baked for everyone.
Sugar crusted buttery brioche from the oven. Smelled insanely good. I really wanted to polish off the whole tray….
I don’t normally go for a pain au raisin as think why to take up valuable chocolate space with fruit. But the creamy crème pat with the plump raisins was a thing of beauty. Delicate and flaky.
We had a wonderful morning and would like to thank the teachers and staff for such an enjoyable time. I can’t wait to try out some of their other delicious-sounding courses in the future. We scampered off to lunch clutching our freshly made croissant dough and dreaming of the many possibilities and creations we can bring to life with it. Stay tuned for what I come up with for my croissant dough. Any suggestions for me to try out?
Cookery School London
15b Little Portland Street, London, W1W 8BW
Tel: 020 7631 4590
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