Sunday 25 January 2009

A false start: in which we descend into the bowels of France and resurface with eclairs

I have come to France to study patisserie. A careless fantasy which has become a little too real.

I started my formation at the École Française de Boulangerie d'Aurillac. Planted deep in the middle of nowhere, the small town hosts one of the best boulangerie schools in France. I found dirt cheap lodgings in a filthy hostel for the unemployed and recently-released-from-prison, woke at 4am each morning to walk 20 minutes through the snow to school and suffered my neighbour's nightly attempts at sing-a-long James Blunt.

However, after my first week a place became free at the Institut National de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie in Rouen. This is quite an extraordinary school which, as its name suggests, is the leader in its field. So I uprooted with my box of utensils and whisked my way up to Rouen, just 8 and a half hours on the train.

This is a record of my time there.

Hitherto I have done no professional cooking, just concocted bits and bobs at home. Since these things sound considerably tastier in the French (and because I'm not really sure of the English terms) I'll use that tongue to stimulate your palates across the web.

In my first week in Aurillac I learnt a pâte sucrée, pâte à choux, pâte à foncer, crème d'amandes and crème pâtissière. And we concocted various things with them. Such as my first proper tart:

And my first éclairs:

And so it begins...

1 comment:

  1.'s Kitty's Mum. Where is Rouen in relation to Queyssac? I will look it up. I have learnt so much re Italian meringue etc already. Hope you are happy.