As a part of my new year’s resolution to be more cultural and productive, I decided to take a cooking class last week with my friend, Mackenzie. After browsing the endless list of tempting courses offered at La Cuisine Paris, we decided on the French Baguettes and Boulangerie class to learn the basics of French bread baking.
The three-hour class teaches you how to make two of France’s most beloved boulangerie treats: la baguette and la fougasse, a specialty bread made in the South of France.
You’re probably familiar with the famous, crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside baguette de tradition of France. Our teacher, Chef Justin, kept us elbow-deep in flour learning the proper kneading, forming and shaping techniques for perfect baguettes. After an arm workout and big flour-y mess, we let our dough rise and put them into the oven to cook. Each of us made four mini-baguettes, some sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds and flour. I could barely keep it together waiting for the bread to get out of the oven, but when they were finally ready, Chef Justin let us snack on his creations with butter and raspberry jam. This meant that we could take home our baguettes for later – a perfect treat for the girls that afternoon!
A fougasse is an Italian-inspired bread made in the South of France (and in most boulangeries in France). It features the same ingredients as a baguette but with olive oil and topped with an array of garnishes such as olives, garlic, herbs, spices and cheese. In groups of two, we prepared four fougasses to take home. I loaded mine up with bacon, rosemary, red onion, parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes. Chef Justin used his professional touch to make four beautiful fougasses for the class to share topped with a variety of the same ingredients. Yum!
For a girl that never did well in science class, I was fascinated to learn about the chemistry that goes into baking. From the effects of yeast on the texture and taste of the bread to forming a proper gluten structure, the science behind bread making turned out to be truly interesting (and complex). We also got a history lesson about France’s most prized delicacy and how important it is to French culture. Who knew the French have laws determining a boulangerie’s authenticity?
I highly recommend taking a cooking class at La Cuisine Paris while in the city. Whether you choose a boulangerie, macaron or market class, you will get hands-on experience with the cornerstone of French culture. La Cuisine Paris uses everyday tools and ingredients to ensure that whatever you learn in class can be applied at home in your own kitchen. Not to mention the classes are in English – c’est incroyable!
La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, Paris (4th)