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Taking a Class at the French Pastry School

Day 1

Food Channel Producer Christen Nehmer, along with one of our Food Channel Chefs, Cathy Nehmer (who happen to be mother and daughter), had the opportunity to attend a class at the French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College in Chicago. The class was called "Fundamentals of Pound cakes, Coffee cakes, Scones and French Cookies." Take a look at how it went!

Day 1

Today was the first day of our three-day pastry boot camp at the French Pastry School in Chicago. My mom and I were lucky enough to take part in a baking class with world pastry champion, Chef Dimitri Fayard. We were supposed to arrive 30 minutes prior to the class beginning and because of public transportation and a leaving my apartment a little late, we arrived at the school with 10 minutes to spare. We put on our chef whites and prepared to enter a classroom to learn about the art of pastries, something we knew nothing about, except that we love to eat them.

We pulled up stools to a central demonstration table and Chef Fayard took center stage. Everyone took out their notebooks and pens; we were all eager to learn what this chef had to teach us. He told us the first thing we were going to learn how to make was streusel, which we would later add to our blueberry muffins. The trick with the streusel is that you have to mix it until it turns into a sand texture, but you have to be careful because right after it turns into the sand-texture, it turns into dough. After an hour lecture and demonstration of each pastry we’d be making, it was time to get our hands dirty.

Students from the school had already premeasured out all of the ingredients we would need for each recipe. I imagine that, without that step, it would be a disaster and take forever because everything has to be measured precisely and in grams and the class was only five hours long. That may seem like a lot, but when you’re making several pastries each night, every minute matters.

We pulled out our ingredients to make the streusel and everything seemed to be going smoothly . . . until we ended up making dough instead of the sand-texture mix. Right out of the gate and we made a mistake. I called the chef over and asked him if we should start over and he said, "Put it in the freezer and push it through a sieve when it gets hard enough." I laughed, but he was serious and then he said, "Get going, you have a lot to get through."

That was our only hiccup of the night. After that, it was smooth sailing. After five hours of lecture, demonstrations and baking, we finished our first day.  We made blueberry muffins with streusel, Scottish buttermilk and cream raisin scones, and then prepared the dough for the Madelines, Sablé Bretons and the financiers, which we will bake tomorrow. All in all it was quite the experience and I am pretty excited about going back.

 

See Day 2

See Day 3