It Was a Wonderful Time in Paris

Croissants being made at Wonderful Time Master Baker Experience

Croissants being made at Wonderful Time Master Baker Experience

My passions include travel (obviously), cooking, baking, and my kids. When I was younger, I attended culinary school. Not because I wanted to become a chef, but because I wanted to become a baker. I love baking and pastries. There is something calming about kneading the dough into a delicious loaf of bread or delicately folding pastry dough into hundreds of flakey layers of sweetness. It is something I learned from my mom and something I am teaching my girls.

When I was in France with my two friends Ashley and Lauren, we thought it would be a great opportunity to learn all about the French croissants and baguettes. I mean, where else should one learn about those things but the country they come from? I don’t think baking and pastries are Ashley and Lauren’s passions, but I know the two of them love a good croissant and cannot resist the temptation of a fresh baguette. These things made this the ideal tour for all three of us.

Lauren making a baguette with chef Frédéric

We headed out early by train on a very rainy morning to Paris where we met up with the folks from Wonderful Time. Wonderful Time is an experiential tour company that offers its guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of Paris. We picked the “In the Kitchen With the French Master Baker” tour with master baker Frédéric.

Frédéric explaining to the group about baguette dough and how to knead the bread

Frédéric is a passionate man who not only loves what he does but also teaches it with the patience of a saint. There were six of us total in his bakery. He introduced himself and talked us through what we were going to learn about, then dumped a large bin of baguette dough onto the marble counter and offered for us all to start shaping and forming our own baguettes. When the baguette dough was all shaped, placed on the baking sheets, and labeled with our names like we were school kids doing an art project, Frédéric pulled out the pastry dough we were learning about and showed us the technique to making the lovely butter-filled layers that make up a croissant. Folding is the technique he used, and he showed everyone how to place the butter and make delicate layers by folding the dough over and over and over.

Frédéric folding the butter into the pastry dough for croissants

When the folding was finished, he rolled out the dough and cut very skinny triangles that we all rolled into the shape of a croissant and placed onto the baking sheets to proof. It was like television magic: The moment we were done rolling and placing our croissants, Frédéric produced a sheet pan full of already proofed croissants that were ready to go into the oven. Voila! They were done and ready to be eaten.

Honestly, it was the best croissant I had ever put in my mouth. It had unbelievable flavor, texture, and flakiness. And the baguettes were just as special and delicious.

I am thrilled I had this opportunity and will for sure try to recreate those croissants at home.