2 Day Breakfast Pastry class
Pastry Institute of St. Honore
As a fan of pastries, both eating and making, it’s always exciting to hear of new schools opening, especially when they are of French influence, since really, in my humble opinion, no one makes pastries and cakes better than the French. I am a firm believer and a convert, many years ago.
Pastry Institute of St Honore opened its doors late last year I think, and actually I was invited to the media launch of the place, but alas, could not make it, with much regret. Then to my delight, I got an invitation to join a 2 day Breakfast Pastry class. A hands on class, worth RM500, stretched over a Saturday and Sunday under the tutelage of the affable and friendly Chef Frederic Oger, who is a great instructor, and judging by the crowd of returnee students, obviously his classes were worthwhile attending.
Our syllabus for the weekend were Croissants, Brioche, Panettone, Banana Muffins and Chocolate Muffins. Initially I thought to myself, “two days sounds like a long time for those few items”, but I was to discover the tedious process of these pastries, requiring the burden of proof, over and over again, and sensitive handling etc etc.
A bit of trivia, as a friend of mine said, “why is it named St Honore? that street (in Paris) is not known for it’s pastries”. Anyway, according to Frederic, St Honore is the patron saint of pastry chefs. Yes, there’s such a thing!!! And he even has a cake named after him, the St Honore cake. So yeah, that’s where the name comes from.
The kitchen is well set up, in comfortable air cond surroundings, with ample work tops, and a battalion of kitchen aid mixers that look like storm troopers.
We waste no time, (although I was late), and immediately are set to task, weighing out various recipes in 6 batches. As it happened, Frederic’s parents were also joining the class, all the way from France.
We start with the Panettone dough, which seemed straightforward enough, but Frederic also insisted that we make our own candied fruit peel, (see, I told you the French have standards), which was actually rather easy to do, and did taste rather delicious.
Brioche and croissant doughs seemed almost similar, except the croissant dough required many more steps for folding and proofing, folding and proofing, and you had to work quickly, as the generous amounts of butter in croissant dough meant it would melt fast, especially for those of us afflicted with warm hands syndrome.
Within an hour of making the croissant dough, it was time for the next step, of rolling out the pastry and putting the rolled butter and making the first folds. Whilst he made it look like the easiest thing in the world, clearly it was not the case for the participants, and many interventions were necessary to salvage the croissant dough.
The next step after more proofing and refrigeration was the double fold. All very complicated, although I really can’t wait to try this at home, as I do love a good challenge.
Compare and contrast the thick fat crude pastry by the students, versus the one one below, which looks like a folded bedsheet, rolled out by Frederic.
And by the end of Day 1, not a finished product in sight, and not a smell wafting through any oven. Rather demoralising to return home empty handed, but well, as they say, the best was yet to come.
Day 2, the doughs that have been resting and proofing were all brought out, and divided into uniform portions. Panettone dough, brioche doughs were rolled out, in various shapes and sizes. We were taught how to roll a ball with a “key” at the bottom, which is crucial, for it prevents the final product from rupturing.
It’s harder than it looks, rolling out dough into little balls.
Some doughs were rolled into rolls, (mini loaves), some are braided, like Rapunzel’s hair, some are spiralled, and cut, like cinammon buns.
But the piece de resistance really were these croissants.
The thing about these pastry doughs are, they are very versatile, and really, there’s a great variety you can do with them, from Pain Au Chocolate, (which seemed to be the easiest to form out of croissant dough), to Spirals like cinnamon buns.
By the way, if you are one of those that just want to EAT, and not bake, the good news is, you can order from Pastry Institute of St Honore, based on the menu above. If you ask me, the prices look EXCEEDINGLY reasonable.
I’ll never again look at these brioche the same way. I always assumed it was just an indentation with a round ball of dough plonked on, but there’s a whole science involved, from rolling to making sure the neck and the heads are well connected.
Finally, after lunch time on Day 2, we return from lunch to the amazing scent of freshly baked panettone and brioche.
Slowly but surely, the goodies were coming out tray by tray. The last things to be made, because they were the easiest, were the chocolate muffins and banana muffins with a crumble topping.
The lovely pain au chocolate, with callebaut Belgian chocolate sticks.
And the moment we had all been waiting for, or at least, I had, the croissant.
Croissant perfection…concentric layers of gorgeous butter pastry, …ah, what can I say.
These danish brioche are filled with pastry cream and candied fruit with a dash of rum…Simply divine, though I don’t really care for the meringue topping.
Group photo…contented group of students.
The weekend casual classes are around RM500 for a two day, hands on class. You do get quite a lot of bounty to bring home, so do remember to bring your containers!!
There’s a french pastry class coming somewhere in mid August too.