Paris Bakeries

A couple of days ago it was le 14 juillet, Bastille Day.  I was reminded that this time last year I was playing visitor and traveller around Paris.  I spent a week in this captivating city with a mission.  Visit as many delightful Boulangeries et Pâtisseries as possible.

My experience of a bakery as a child went something like this.  Walk into shop.  Ask for desired item (for example, Lamington).  Wait for sales assistant to extract item with a set of tongs from the display area, then pop the item inside a plain white paper bag, and thrust across the counter for payment.

In stark contrast, the Boulangerie et Pâtisserie in Paris is an experience. Pâtisserie boutiques present their creations like works of art.  Macarons, chocolates, pastries are all eagerly showcased to full advantage.  The care and attention taken is beyond words.  The bread you find in a Boulangerie is bold, crusty and chewy.  It is always fresh and smells heady.  The accompanying packaging to present your macarons, or pocket your baguette, is often striking in itself and serves to highlight the deliberate effort to deliver nothing but quality. 

So after much walking, admiring and tasting, I present my top visits during that week. They truly were some of the best bakeries and pastries in Paris.

:: Pierre Hermé :: is undisputedly one of the pastry masters in Paris.  Visiting a boutique is an experience, a true sensory overload.  The pastry is exquisite.  Faultless.  You cannot make a bad choice if you tried.  { Read more here … }
72, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Ladurée :: is French through and through … it has a certain je ne sais quoi.  You cannot visit Paris without a visit.  And if you are obsessed with the macaron (like me!), you probably will not be able to stop with dropping in just the once.  { Read more here … }
21, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Gérard Mulot :: is an institution in Paris.  Visit and take in the impressive macarons, les petits gateaux, and les chocolates on offer.  If you plan to visit Paris, book yourself in to a “behind the scenes” tour organised by the Paris Tourist Board.  It is priceless.  { Read more here and here … }
93 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris

:: Fauchon :: is modern and slick.   Expecting a simple éclair with chocolate glaze?  Think again.  The pastries are vibrant and bold.  Make sure you pick up some of their famous madeleines.  { Read more here … }
30, Place Madeleine, 75008 Paris

:: Gosselin :: is known for its baguettes.  It truly is one of the best bakeries in Paris.  They make great sandwiches which are perfect to pick up while sightseeing.  Popular with locals and tourists alike.  { Read more here … }
258 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris

:: Poilâne :: is a destination boulangerie.  There is an outstanding selection of sourdough, definitely not to be missed.  The petit store is just adorable, too.  { Read more here … }
8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris

:: Maison Kayser :: is deservedly known for its croissants.  Wickedly rich, but light.  They practically melt in your mouth.  They are a taste sensation and certainly one of the best pastries in Paris.  { Read more here … }
14 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: le Boulanger de Monge :: is a little gem.  Grab a baguette, then pick up a few items at the near by markets at Rue Mouffetard for your own Paris picnic.  { Read more here … }
123 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: Chez Angelina :: serves hot chocolate that is out of this world.  A (not so healthy!) dose of hot chocolate plus coffee – served with deliciously warm milk – kick-started my Boulangeries et Pâtisseries challenge.
226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

fauchon

Next stop on my Paris Pâtisserie et Boulangerie expedition was Fauchon.  My Francophile friend, C., strongly urged me to include a little wander about Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement.  She is a true gourmand with impeccable taste, so I knew it was a ‘must visit’.

My partner is not so mad about patisserie as myself, but the mention of cheese, cured meats, and wine and you have his attention.  So we wandered to that gastronomically enriched area to take in the delightful stores.  We perused Hediard, la Maison de la Truffle and Maille for the most fabulous savoury delights.  Then my sugar radar forced me to wander over to Fauchon.  I would have had a serious conflict with Ladurée also in plain view had I not already dropped by the 6th arrondissement boutique.

At Fauchon, you are immediately impressed by the slick, modern presentation of the store.  There are no simple éclairs here!  The most vibrant decorations adorned these Pâte à choux treats.

Fauchon is also known for their madeleines.  I adore these little buttery cakes, so purchased a ‘souvenir’ tin full to take home with me.  With our taste and visual sensors surely heightened at this stage, we purchased a little snack to satisfy our developing hunger.  We then took a wander along the river to wrap up our day.  Paris, je t’aime.

Fauchon
24-30 place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris

croissants21

When I think of word association, I am pretty confident if someone flashed the word croissant to me, I would associate it immediately with the word France.  Pretty obvious perhaps, but when you think about it, that is a strong connection.

Well, it is for me because the croissant epitomises French pastries.  It is rich, it is light, it is multi layered, it is complex, yet so seemingly simple.

I have always wanted to tackle making croissants.  I have been deterred mostly due to the length of time they take to prepare.  It is not hard work necessarily (though it is more tricky than your average bread loaf!), but not so completely complicated that it is out of the realm of any enthusiastic amateur baker (e.g. me).

I do have a hidden agenda for perfecting the croissant, I must confess.  Recently, Christmases for me have included a new breakfast experience with my partner’s family … the bacon and egg croissant, cooked on the BBQ in true ‘Aussie’ style.  This year I would like to contribute homemade croissants for the breakfast.  There are a few months yet to practice, but no time like the present (with bread month!) to start.

I have also been inspired by Elra at Elra’s Baking, with her first and successful croissant this month.  She made it seem so easy that I knew I had to try, too!

I thumbed through a few croissant references I had on hand.  Sherry Yard, Roux Brothers, Martha Stewart, Julia Child.  I settled on Julia as I have not tried her yeasted recipes before.  Also, I know how tirelessly she worked to perfect her recipes that I assumed I must be in with a shot of success, too. 

So after practically double digit pages of instructions and two days later, I finally offer up homemade, freshly baked croissants.

Overall, I am happy they resulted in something resembling croissants, but they are less than perfect.  I fear I did not let the shaped croissants proof long enough prior to baking.  At that stage (end of day two), I was getting a little too impatient, I think.

I will definitely try these again with the same recipe.  Speaking of, details coming soon – right now I am short on time.

Profiteroles3

In honour of French patisserie treats, I have short-listed a few items to bake this month.  First up were madeleines.  Next challenge, profiteroles.

I am fascinated by choux pastry (pâte à choux).  This multipurpose pastry can be used to create cream puffs, profiteroles, and éclairs.  I recently attended a class at Black Pearl Epicure and the lovely Kristie Rickman, head pastry chef at E’cco, demonstrated a few pastry essentials.  Choux pastry was on her list and she created a number of mouth-watering cream puffs.  Inspired by Kristie, I decided to recreate the golden puffy delights at home.

As my deliciously light madeleines turned out perfectly, I thought I would continue with Sherry Yard as recipe guide for the choux pastry.  Kristie shared a sensational chocolate custard recipe, so there was no question what to use for filling.

There are a few steps to this recipe, but all are very simple.  The end result is worth the effort!  In fact, I was given some feedback on these little chocolately puffs of goodness.  They were apparently absolutely delicious … but just way too small!  So next time I make pâte à choux, I need to upgrade to éclairs!

{ Pâte à choux } adapted from Sherry Yard

Makes about 18 medium sized puffs

* Ingredients *

¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
45g butter, at room temperature, cubed
½ cup plain flour, sifted
2-3 eggs, at room temperature

* Directions *

Place water, milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil.
Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for at least 4 minutes or until the mixture forms a mashed potato like appearance.  Remove from the heat.
Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for a few minutes to cool the mixture down.  Then start to add the egg one by one.  Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.  Before you add your last egg, check for consistency.  (See notes.)  Once done, the dough should be shiny and smooth.  At this stage you can fill a piping bag with the choux paste and use straight away or freeze for later.  (See notes.)

puff-ballstopsbottomsPreheat oven to 220 C or 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat.  Pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. For medium sized puffs, pipe about 3-4 cm in size (1 ½ inches).  Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffs begin to rise.  Turn the temperature down to 180 C or 350 F.  Carefully prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and bake for another 15 minutes.

When the puffs cool, cut the top half off each one with a serrated knife.  Set the tops over a cooling rack.  Drizzle ganache over each puff top (you can use any recipe you like for the ganache).  Place the puff tops in the ridge to set, about 15-20 minutes.

Fill the puffs with a filling of your choice.  Use the Chocolate Custard recipe below or choose plain whipped cream or vanilla custard.

Then replace the tops to finish off your lovely puff!  If you are greedy like me, try to eat these cream filled sensations in one single bite.  All the flavours complement well.  If you can somehow resist not popping the whole thing in your mouth in one go, they still taste pretty good, too! 

{ Chocolate custard } adapted from Kristie Rickman

Sufficient to fill 18 medium sized puffs

* Ingredients *

3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
25g plain flour
250ml milk
50g good-quality chocolate
100ml cream, softly whipped

* Directions *

Lightly whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the flour and whisk to combine.
In a saucepan, slowly boil the milk.  Once the milk has reached a boil ladle about ¼ cup into the egg mixture and whisk well.  Then transfer the egg mixture into the rest of the milk and cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Add the chocolate, stirring until to melt through.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the top to prevent a skin forming. Cool to room temperature. Once ready to use, stir in the cream.  Transfer to a piping bag to pipe mixture into the prepared puffs.

{ A few tips … }

1.  You can freeze the pastry before you pipe into puffs.  Transfer the mixture once cooled to a piping bag, seal and then freeze for up to 2 weeks.  I made my pastry a week ago, popped it in the freezer, then let it defrost for about an hour before piping.
2.  The work of adding the eggs is made much easier using a stand mixer.  But you can complete this step by hand if necessary.
3.  The number of eggs given is a bit of a guide.  When you have added the second last egg, check the consistency.  The pastry should be more firm than runny.  If it is a little runny, add the last egg.  Sherry’s tip is to pinch off about 1 teaspoon of the dough with your thumb and index finger, then pull your fingers apart.  The dough should stretch rather than break.  If it breaks, add the last egg.
4.  Steam helps these little puffballs rise.  Sherry recommends putting a cup of hot water into a baking dish at the bottom of the oven when you put your puffs in to bake.
5.  When I cut the tops off my puffs, I set out the bottom half in the same order as the tops on a separate baking tray.  That way I could match the correct top and bottom together easily when it came to assembly time!
6.  Filled puffs only last a couple of hours in the fridge – but probably not a problem if your household has a sweet tooth like mine!

So for my short-list of French-style patisserie treats this month, I have one challenge to go.  Next week I will be tackling croissants.  Souhaitez-moi bonne chance!

chocolateMy visits to Pierre Hermé and Ladurée were rather extraordinary to say the least.   The sights, the smells, the tastes were truly amazing.  But that could not compare to my behind-the-scenes experience at Gérard Mulot.

After spending a little time taking in the delights on offer at the 13th arrondissement store (including the collection of macarons, les petits gateaux, and les chocolates!) we were ushered to the kitchen to share in some macaron and chocolate secrets.

I was captivated by the chance of witnessing macarons made by one of the masters in France first hand, Chef Patrick Leclercq.  A chance like that certainly does not come along every day!  Combined with my introduction to chocolate making by Chef Antoine Hesloin, and I was feeling very centred and complete indeed!

antoineChef Antoine explained the basics of chocolate making including tempering, flavouring and presentation.  The seemingly never-ending array of mouth watering samples confirmed sheer excellence in his profession; the flavours effortlessly outshone what my taste buds had sampled in the past. 

The memory of Gérard Mulot that stays with me is not only of the faultless chocolate and patisserie, but of an eagerness to share in the passion and knowledge of the craft.  Gérard Mulot is an institution in Paris and I am privileged to have such a rewarding experience there.  This boutique is firmly a “must-see” in Paris. 

Gérard Mulot
93 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris

laduree2The instant I clapped eyes on the celadon green coloured store in Saint Germain, there was no question I was in Paris.  It was undeniably stylish, tasteful and very French.  I am talking, of course, about Ladurée

Inside I was subjected to a feast for all my senses.  Visually the store was beautifully presented with a range of elegant treats ranging from macarons to cakes and pastries.  Handsome presentation boxes adorned the counter space and shelves on the walls.  There was a buzz of activity not only from my fellow customers but the staff as well.

I greedily ordered half a dozen macarons (chocolat, vanilla, framboise).  Each flavour was a delight to savour – albeit the savouring did not last for long!  During my time in Paris, I visited Ladurée multiple times.  It was quite a challenge for my waistline, but well worth the experience.

If you are obsessed with the macaron (like myself), you cannot go past a visit to Ladurée.  It truly is a special piece of France.  Trés Belle.

Ladurée
21 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

laduree

pierre-hermeWalking into a Pierre Hermé boutique is an experience.  In a recent visit to Paris, I took a trip to 72 rue Bonaparte in Saint-Germain.  The store was a delight for all the senses.

Patisserie in France is something to be savoured.  Whether an afternoon pleasure, a post dinner sweet, or a celebratory memento.  Patisserie is paid rightful tribute in France.  It is not cream donut slapped into bag then gobbled while driving (oh, and having some of the contents fall into your lap while you do!).

At Pierre Hermé, each patisserie is a piece of art – and it is treated as such.  When you make a selection, the item is carefully lifted from the display case onto a single board.  It is then taken away from the main counter to be individually packaged.  Your patisserie is placed in a beautiful cornflour blue box and gently sealed.  The sequence is finished with the item presented to you like a gift.

It is like you are walking into a high-end jewellery store about to purchase a special piece of jewellery.  You are overwhelmed by the beauty of all the pieces.  When you choose, your item is treated with the up-most care.  And when you leave, you leave knowing you have something very special lovingly tucked away within the box you hold in your hands. 

After the visual experience comes the tasting…  Pierre Hermé is undeniably one of the pastry masters in Paris.  I do not think I need to explain.

Pierre Hermé
72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris.  Also at 185 rue de Vaugirard 75015 Paris.  Plus a new boutique at 4 rue Cambon 75001 Paris (dedicated to macarons and chocolate).