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Many pastries may have originated, or gained fame in France, but they’re enjoyed around the world. There are many reasons to take a pastry class; to enjoy your favourite treats at home, to entertain friends or simply hone your baking skills. Check out these five classes that will teach you how to make your favourite patisseries.
You may think that you wouldn’t need to attend a class to make macarons, but they are notoriously difficult to get right. At a macaron class, you will learn the ‘macaronage’ technique. This involves folding the mixture that will make your macaron biscuits. Most bakers agree that getting the correct consistency at this stage will determine whether your macarons turn out well. A good macaron class should put emphasis on this step. You will also learn the piping technique, which is used to produce the biscuit shape and administer the filling.
Some macaron classes stick to the French method and advertise as ‘French’ or ‘Parisian’ macarons. Other classes get a little more experimental and you may use different ingredients or make different shapes. In any case, you will get to take your creations home in the form of a box of delicious treats.
As with the macaron, it may not seem difficult to make croissants but you should take a class if you want to make the best croissants. Freshly made pastries beat packaged ones any day, so add them to your repertoire with this course. You’ll learn about the secret ingredient, about yeast and proofing. Once you’ve made the dough, you learn how to roll and fold it to keep the classic crescent moon shape. If the teacher is prepared to get experimental, they may teach you how to make an almond or chocolate-filled croissant.
Since proofing takes around 2 hours, you may not get to eat your croissants on the day, but you will be able to take your dough home to cook later. Plus, you're likely to get freshly-prepared croissants during the class, just to give you an idea of what you’re aiming for.
These classes are not as common as macaron courses and as such will set you back a little more.
3. Choux Pastries
Another classic French staple is the choux pastry. Choux pastry forms the base of many favourite desserts such as eclairs, profiteroles, chouquettes and gougères. The defining characteristic of choux pastry is that it looks like it’s going to be dense, but when you bite into it, it’s light and thin. It takes a special technique to get pastry this way, which involves using steam instead of a raising agent. You’ll learn how to do this at one of these classes.
Since choux pastry is easier to make than it seems, some classes will involve trying your hand at both sweet and savoury pastries. A choux pastry class costs similar to a macaron classes and they take less time to make than croissants.
4. Danish Pastries & Pain au Chocolat
You will find these desserts offered with croissants as well or as part of a general pastry-baking class. As these sweets are made from puff pastry, they are often covered together. While croissants are also puff pastry based, they use yeast and milk in the dough to create a different effect.
In a puff pastry class, you will learn how to make the pastry, how to proof and then cook it. Proofing can be a delicate process and the baker must ensure that the pastry is proofed at the correct temperature. This class will also arm you with the necessary cutting and folding techniques for the dough. Plus, for Danish pastries, you will learn about the different types of filling.
Since these classes usually encompass several different type of pastry, the cost is usually a little higher at $200. They’re less likely to be offered as experience classes, so you will be enrolling in a baking school; hence the higher cost.
5. Cinnamon Bun
Moving away from France to this North American favourite, you can take a class to learn how to bake the perfect cinnamon bun. You will learn how to make the dough base, the delicious frosting and the sumptuous filling. The class will teach you about the best ingredients and baking method to make cinnamon buns. Not to mention the extra skills you need to produce bakery-standard buns, in the perfect shape.