All About How I Learned to Make Perfect Croissants in Paris
Lenotre School Paris
just three little secrets
can you say 'beurre'
One word. Butter. And lots of it. But once you get past the thought of future heart attacks, being in Paris to learn how to make croissants was one of the happiest experiences of my life.
It all began one day in my kitchen in Dublin when I became frustrated over another futile attempt at making croissants. My family actually loved the results that I hated, but I wanted perfection. I wanted to recreate the ones I had indulged in while on honeymoon in France a few years before.
I made another desperate search for an alternative recipe that could show me the trick. But Instead I was lead to a course held in the Lenotre School in Paris. It cost one-hundred-and-twenty-five dollars and promise to teach me how to make croissants and pains au chocolate. It was expensive. But my desire begged me to act irresponsibly. I searched for flights and it just so happened that a small Irish airline was flying to Paris for eight bucks plus tax. I was a bit embarrassed with my husband about extravagant treat, but he was so supportive that the shame wore off and soon I was shopping for a cool, black outfit so I could blend in with the chic Parisian crowd.
It was early last December when I waved good-bye to my husband, our two toddlers boys and our baby girl to catch a plane for Paris. As I boarded the plane I thought about how well my high school French would serve me. I wondered if everyone else in class would have perfect baking results while I produced my usual mediocre croissants. It was a gorgeous sunny morning when I arrived to the grounds of the Lenotre School. I took the metro and walked along the Champs Elysee to get there. I remember walking past the Christian Dior shop and an Aston Martin dealer. I walked along the chic-est area in Paris. I thought I would explode with excitement before I arrived at the school.
Instead I almost melted with embarrassment at having arrived late. The instructor and seven other women looked at me as I interupted the lecture. I drank some Evian and took my place around the counter. When I managed to look up again, I saw in the faces of these seven other women the excitement that still pounded in my heart. One of the women was a parisian originally from Argentina who like a child admitted to me that she too felt restless about baking the perfect croissant.
The energy in the room felt much like a classroom full of pre-schoolers about to take on water-colors for the first time. We all poked our heads closely as the instructor demonstrated each step. A few of us excitedly took photos of his every move. We were total dorks and it didn't matter because we were all in Paris that day for the love of the croissant. Truthfully, I confess that the croissants that we produced that day were the best I had ever tasted. I proudly brought a box home and they disappeared within minutes.
Here are the three secrets to the perfect croissant:
These should be incorporated to any croissant recipe and the results should be fabulous.
- The first secret is that the temperature in the room should not be too cold or too hot. It should be perfectly at room temperature.
- The second secret is that warm milk should be used instead of cold milk or water when dissolving the yeast.
- The third secret is that only quality butter should be used. Certain countries like Ireland and France only know how to produce good butter. However, in the the States I have found that only Plugras butter works well.
When I left the Lenotre School that day, I felt that I was in love with life. Sure, where else would one be with such feelings.