We have a brand new Sur la Table that just opened near my house. I jumped for glee because they have a kitchen in their store dedicated to a cooking school. Every day of the week they offer classes on a variety of topics from mastering basic kitchen skills, to date night cooking, to baking. I love a good, buttery croissant and I thought learning how to make these pillows of heaven might be fun, so my friend Pam signed up with me. We were not disappointed.
Their pastry Chef David Wiley led the class. Mr. Bee and I took a pizza making class from David so I knew it would be fun. David is knowledgeable, engaging and really good at what he does — teach. These classes are hands-on meaning you get to practice what you learn, but don’t have to stick around to clean up the mess.
You work in teams and our partner was Suzanne. Getting to make new friends and bond over a mutual interest is what I enjoy most about taking classes. We started out by learning to make the croissant dough. The number one take away for me is that for a croissant to truly be divine, it must be made with 100% butter. No shortening or margarine will suffice. This key piece of information hit home after we sampled our fresh-baked pastries out of the oven.
David taught us how to make dough and butter blocks, then how to incorporate the butter block into the dough, which I had no idea was part of the process. We learned how to letter fold and book fold the dough, how to mark the dough so you know which step you are in when it’s time to do the whole thing over again. Let’s just say — this process took three hours to make about 36 croissants which means I have a real appreciation for the effort that goes into making croissants.
We learned how to measure out the dough, cut it into the crescent shaped pieces (you know the familiar can of dough), and roll the dough to make the beautiful tails on the ends.
David taught us the proper way to fling flour onto your work surface. Fling it like you mean it!
We prepared classic croissants, Parisian ham and Gruyere cheese croissants, and morning buns (dough rolled with cinnamon sugar).
While the dough was rising, David walked us around the store as our personal shopper to show us the kitchen gadgets and bake ware we used in the class. A 10% discount is offered to every student after the class making it easy to do a little shopping during breaks. And, they were offering $15 off future classes. Pam and I signed up for a few classes in November — including a make-and-take pie class the day before Thanksgiving so our desserts will be ready to bake when we leave the store! One new kitchen tool I added was this tapered rolling pin.
Mr. Bee likes to make pizza dough and this French tapered rolling pin allows you to control the amount of pressure you apply to your dough since the ends are tapered and don’t have handles. We used these rolling pins in class giving me a chance to try it out before I made my purchase.
The other fun thing is they offer you complimentary coffee during the class. I made a fresh cup of Nespresso and threw in a dash of pumpkin spice syrup. I also brought a chilled bottle of sparkling wine for us to sip while we baked. The only thing that was missing was Christmas music.
The kitchen smelled like cinnamon, butter and fresh-baked bread. Here is what we made right out of the oven…
David gave us bags and parchment paper to wrap up our fresh-baked, warm buns to take home. We each left with a dozen and half of croissants. My favorite, of course, were the morning buns. The ham and cheese were decadent, too.
This class made me a bun snob. I am afraid I will never be able to look at the regular croissant the same. I’m going to definitely try making these myself. If you want the recipe for the classic croissant it’s available here along with alot of other great recipes from their classes.