Come join Kate and I for five days of pastry fun in Gascony at Kate Hill’s cooking school, called Kitchen at Camont, April 23-27 or June 25-29, when the sun is shining and the French countryside is full of rolling green hills and sunflowers. We’ll get busy in the kitchen learning all the basics you need to know to create beautiful desserts and spend time traveling around in the region!
This workshop is for all levels of bakers from the very beginners to advanced. Classes will be hands-on and demonstration because I think it is so important to get all of those tips and tricks, but really get in there and feel the textures and temperatures.
The itinerary will include a visit to the market at Nerac, a very cute town that the book Chocolat was written after, a demonstration at a local bakery on how to make a regional dessert, the Croustade, and pastry instruction each day at Camont! We will use fresh eggs from the chickens, and flowers and herbs from the garden to decorate and infuse our creations.
The location is extraordinary in an 18th-century farmhouse completely renovated into a cooking school by Kate Hill. It has become an epicenter of Gascony cooking (the region between Toulouse and Bordeaux). Kate has been a professional cook for more than 30 years and her classes at Kitchen at Camont center around regional classics, including cassoulet and foie gras, and of course bringing in the local Armangac. You can read more about her story here.
We will be enjoying her cooking for lunch each day, where the meals will be light and summery, bringing in elements from the region. We’ll finish up about 4/5pm giving you time to explore Gascony or just relax and eat sweet treats!
On the Itinerary:
We’ll meet at Camont to start our baking adventure with a lesson championing the fruit of the season, namely the 7 different varieties of strawberries from the farm nearby! In the morning we’ll start out with a classic strawberry tart. Everyone will learn to make a tart crust by hand. Then we will whip up a stunning vanilla bean pastry cream to pipe inside, and layer fresh strawberries of several different varieties on top.
In the afternoon, we’ll take what we learned one step further, with a refresher on pastry cream so we really have it down. This time though, the flavor will be roasted strawberry, the perfect filling for our vanilla bean, roasted strawberry Mille Feuille. Each person will also master a puff pastry technique that is a complete game changer. Easy, quick, but with all the same layered buttery goodness of the classic version that takes hours, or even days to create.
In the morning we’re off to a local bakery in a nearby village to a demonstration on a typical regional dessert: the Apple Croustade, a flaky buttery classic with that perfect amount of Armangnac! On our way back to Camont we’ll stop by the apple orchard to pick up some different varieties to make a ubiquitous French apple tart. We will add in an easy surprise twist though which makes this classic just that much better. The day will end with an apple tart tasting comparing the Croustade and our own creations.
Let them eat cake! It’s tea time at Kate’s with little treats like Madeleines, Financiers (or friands), chocolate mousse, strawberry cakes and more! The perfect little treats that are impressive and beautiful, but also easy to do. We’ll learn fresh floral decoration techniques, and how you can take these treats to the next level!
Today we are diving into Choux both savory and sweet with chouquettes with big hunks of pearl sugar, gougeres using cheese from the market, and light, melt in your mouth cream puffs! A bit like what I would assume eating sugar clouds would be like. For the fillings, we’ll learn Chantilly Cream, and play around with fun flavors like blackberry thyme, lemon basil, and lavender, in infused creams, curds, and coulis.
We’ll meet at the market in Nerac for a relaxing morning to stroll through the stands together and visit the guy that makes amazing caneles! We’ll pick up things for the quintessential French farmer’s lunch- including fresh baguettes, cheese, olives, oh and so much more. Then in the afternoon, after a glass of chilled rosé (or two) we’ll make French Macarons together- going over the different techniques and two filling possibilities. Everyone will have a box of macarons to pop into their bag of goodies to take home as we bid everyone au revoir!
- We will be baking in Kate Hill’s restored 18th-century farmhouse, Kitchen at Camont, in both the original and the professional kitchens, and making use of the kitchen gardens, orchards, and edible flowers on the property.
- Instruction is in English (although Kate and I both speak French) and is suitable for all levels (just bring your love of baking!). Guests stay in nearby accommodation in charming Nérac that we can help arrange- from village hotel to chateau to country home.
- Each person will leave with a Oui Sucre! market basket, including your own tools you’ll need to make the recipes we learn over the weekend: your own a French rolling pin, piping tips and bags, a few surprises.
- Flour, sugar, fresh eggs, seasonal fruit, and an unlimited supply of butter are my secret ingredients. Dive deep into the basics as we make fanciful sweet creations with delicious flavors, delicate colors, meringue accents, and of course, all that comes with decoration (aka gold luster dust!).
Each person will leave with a Oui Sucre! Bag, including the tools you’ll need to make the recipes we learn over the weekend from a French rolling pin to piping tips and bags.
We will be covering the following techniques:
– Pate Sucrée
– Chantilly Whipped Cream
– Italian Meringue
– Genoise cake
– Lemon Curd
– Pastry Cream (several different flavors)
– Pâte à Choux
– Rough Puff Pastry
– and more!
All classes are hands on. So you won’t just be watching, but actually in the action so you can learn by feeling the textures and working with your hands. At the end of this workshop, you’ll be able to create all of these recipes at home and I’m always an email away with any questions you have.
The French Pastry Weekend Workshop Includes:
- Five days of pastry instruction (approximately 9:30am to about 4:30pm)
- Market Tour at Nérac and Bakery Visit
- Very Small Group (6 max)
- The Oui Sucre! Bag full of pastry equipment and supplies (including a French rolling pin, piping tips, and tart rings)
- All recipes
- Coffee, Lunches, and “Gouter” where we’ll try what we made
- Refreshments (including local wine, bien sur!)
- A Camont professional apron
- All ingredients and materials
Does not include: accommodation, airfare or other transportation, other meals, personal items, and personal expenses.
Dates: April 23-27, 2019 and June 25-29, 2019
Location: Kate Hill’s Camont, about 15-20 minutes drive from Agen (and smack dab in between Bordeaux and Toulouse)
To book in we ask for a 50% deposit, with the remainder due one month before. If you’d like to reserve your space, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with more information and an invoice for the deposit.
Hope to see you soon!
To see more photos, check out this post by Jamie Beck http://annstreetstudio.com/2018/10/02/french-pastry-workshop/