One of my goals after our wedding and honeymoon was to take more cooking and baking classes because anybody who knows me, knows I am absolutely rubbish at both! I can cook and bake a few things really well, but I really want to learn how to do more! When I was invited along to the PAUL Éclair Baking Masterclass at their Covent Garden patisserie, I was ready for the challenge!
For those who don’t know, PAUL is a delightful French bakery and patisserie with locations all over the world, and all of their pastries and treats are absolutely beautiful and scrumptious. PAUL opened its first bakery in Lille France in 1889 and the company is still family owned, having been passed down through five generations of bakers! They still use traditional methods to produce the freshest bread and finest patisserie – you feel as though you are being transported to Paris every time you try a PAUL delicacy! PAUL has become a household name here in the UK and their French breads, cakes, tarts, macarons and the gorgeous éclairs are some of the best I’ve had and make wonderful little gifts for family and friends (ahem, Christmas is right around the corner!)Anyways, being masters of traditional French baking, PAUL has introduced a new series of classes where you can learn the art of making your very own éclairs and bread, just like the pros.
As I walked into PAUL located in Covent Garden, I was met by friendly faces and our éclair extraordinaire, who talked us through a bit about what we would be learning. We headed downstairs to the kitchen, threw our aprons on and got started!
Ciaran has always told me that baking is super easy if you stick to the exact measurements, and baking éclairs, I learned, takes quite a bit of discipline and it’s imperative to stick to the exact quantities to get it just right. If you can do that, you will end up with stunning éclairs to impress your friends.
The class is organised in to three parts: choux pastry basics, making pastry cream and making the fondant icing, followed by the fun part – icing your masterpieces.
Before each part, our instructor talked us through each and every step, demonstrating what to mix, how to fold, and what to add in when! After watching him once, we headed off to our stations, which conveniently have all ingredients laid out in the exact quantities, so you can’t really mess anything up! (Unless you are me, who accidentally added eggs and poached them on the heater and had to start over again….). Anyways… having all ingredients pre-measured helped us focus on the actual technique of creating our pretty éclairs instead of worrying about getting the measurements exact and fiddling around until they were right.
The class itself is about three hours long, which I found to be perfect as it gives you enough time to observe the instructor at work, and you don’t feel too rushed whilst you are creating each part on your own. The instructor is fabulous as well, coming around to everybody and ensuring nobody is lost! He also helps you out big time with the mixing, which is a bonus if you have no muscles as choux pastry is very thick and difficult to mix.
Once we finished creating our choux pastry, and learned how to pipe the pastry onto the partridge paper, off to the oven they went and within about 10 minutes, they came out beautifully golden brown, ready to be iced with pastry cream and lashes of fondant icing in all my favourite flavours – chocolate, coffee and vanilla – yum. We also had raspberries to include in the middle of our éclairs.
Seeing our pillowy perfect éclairs at the end of the class put a smile on my face and I was so proud after all that hard work, they turned out looking pretty lovely! They tasted fantastic too – I brought some home for Ciaran and they were devoured in a mere matter of moments.
At the end of the class, we treated ourselves with a glass of wine and charcuterie upstairs, which the perfect way to end the class!
I learned so much during the éclair masterclass, including how to make choux pastry, how to make my own fondant, and how to make my own icing as well as how to pipe the choux pastry properly to achieve the perfect shape, how to pipe the fondant and who to glaze each one with icing to make them look stunning. You learn quite a bit in a three hour span of time, which is awesome and it’s just a really fun class to do with a group of girlfriends!
The class costs £80 and you get éclair masterclass instruction, wine and charcuterie afterwards, a limited edition PAUL apron piping materials to take home with you and recipes/insturctions to make your very own delicacies at home! The class is perfect for a fun day out or even as a team building activity. It’s something so unique and fun to do and it gets you out of your comfort zone! If you want to learn something new or brush up on your baking skills, I highly recommend it! You can book the Éclair masterclass online from the 7th November onwards or email: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you so much PAUL for hosting us – I had a blast! 🙂 Now it’s on to conquering my very own éclairs at home… I’ll let you know how I get on! 😉
Have you ever made your own éclairs before?