As many of you know, I spent the past two Saturdays taking a Croissant making class at La Quiche Parisienne, a local bakery in downtown Albuquerque. I found out about the classes on the Friday before they began and was lucky enough to get a spot. Croissant making is infamously challenging and not something I would have attempted on my own. Not only did I get wonderful instruction from Bruno, the shop owner and “boulanger,” but I also took home a big box of delicious, oddly shaped, first attempt croissants and a big ball of dough for a second attempt on my own. An unexpected bonus for me was that the classes were taught in French. Maryse, who offers French lessons at La Quiche Parisienne, translated for us.
We started by making a well in our flour and adding in the other ingredients.
We formed a ball of dough and kneaded until it was smooth.
The dough is then refrigerated for a least 4 hours, so our dough balls went into the fridge and we switched to working with dough that Bruno had already prepared for us. This is where the butter comes in. Making croissants is basically just rolling out dough, adding butter, folding the dough over the butter, rolling again, folding again, rolling again, folding again. All the rolling and folding is what creates the flaky layers croissants are famous for. Between each folding series, the dough is refrigerated again for 15 minutes. It is important to work quickly and keep the dough chilled so that the butter doesn’t melt.
This is the boatload of butter for one ball of dough.
And the folding pattern: butter goes on the bottom of a large rectangle of dough. Fold in half- turn so the opening is on the right. Roll into a large rectangle again. Fold top third down, bottom third up- turn so opening is on the right.
While the dough chilled, Bruno gave us a passionate explanation of what makes bread, bread and what makes a croissant, a croissant.
After the final rolling of the dough, we learn to shape various croissants: traditional, pain au chocolate, raisin, and cinnamon. This final rolling is where things can get a little discouraging. You have to work fast with cold, tough dough. You don’t want the dough to warm up because the butter will melt and start oozing out of all those folds you made. Most of us in the class were simply not strong enough or skilled enough at this point to work fast enough. But you have to start somewhere!
Bruno shapes perfect croissants.
The croissants are proofed and ready to go into the oven. You can see the layers of dough on Bruno’s perfect croissants.
Aaaaaand here’s one of my sad little croissants. The dough got warm and was possibly overworked. Poor little thing.
And as you can see, I still have a lot to learn. But not bad for a beginner! Here is my croissant next to Bruno’s
I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this class. Bruno is very spirited and passionate about what he does. The class is basically all hands on in a very fun environment. In my opinion the class was quite affordable too- $45 per session. If you live in the Albuquerque area and are interested in taking classes you can email La Quiche Parisienne at: LaQuicheParis@aol.com. If you’re interested in taking French lessons, email Maryse at email@example.com. My understanding is that there may not be additional cooking classes until the Fall because La Quiche participates in various weekend Farmers Markets around town. But nonetheless, email if you are interested and maybe Bruno can find the time!