Marty Almquist

Baguette and Croissant making anyone? A bright memory to cherish before these strange times

A french baker named Didier explaining how to make baguettes.

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Like so many people, we had to cut our time in Paris short to return to the US because of the virus. I’m glad we are back with family and friends, but I miss Paris already, and I want this blog to be full of positive things to help me, and any of you reading it, to stay positive.

So I’m going to take you back to one of our final days there, to a small bakery in the 14th arrondisement, Le Petit Mitron, and our wonderful morning spent with Didier. Didier offers a two-hour course on breadmaking, which might sound too short a time to those who have spent hours with dough resting and rising periods, and it’s true that we did not take the process from start to finish in 2 hours. What Didier does instead is to give an introduction to the different kinds of dough, with some “hands on” tasks to help cement the concepts and techniques in your mind. We left feeling inspired, and excited to try the recipes at home (they were emailed to us afterward).

We found Didier’s breadmaking class here on Viator.

There were just 5 of us– Didier’s baking area is very small and holds a max of 8. He had already completed the first step of a ‘mille-feuille’ dough and plopped the dough, and a huge pat of butter, onto the counter. Two people had to then roll out the dough samples and fold the huge pat of butter into the middle, then roll out the dough again. He explained to us that the professional butter that he buys has a much smaller percentage of water in it, which helps to achieve the many fine layers. Throughout, Didier explained in French (which was also simultaneously translated into English by a very able young woman) the process he goes through for that dough, and how the many layers of buttery pastry are formed. We were then given an apple tart that was made with the mille-feuille dough, which was, of course, delicious!

Next up was the making of croissants, and pain au chocolat. The dough was made, but we had to roll the croissants, and then we had to put chocolate into the pains au chocolats. We learned that Didier, in his bakery, puts 3 pieces of chocolate in (versus the more standard 1 or 2) so keep that in mind, if you are wandering nearby!

We then moved downstairs to his basement where the baguettes get shaped and baked. We were each given a baguette to put the final slices and/or shaping to, and learned about the different sorts of cuts for the tops of the baguettes, and also saw baguettes made with different flours.

This was a really fun class that I would highly recommend to everyone.

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