Viennoiserie at Madam Gautier…

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You know those people who are super bubbly first thing in the morning? They bounce right out of bed, woodland creatures bring their clothes and they spring, gazelle-like and beaming into the day?

Yeah, I couldn’t be further from that. Don’t get me wrong, when that alarm goes off, I’m up and I am functioning. Sort of. Overall however, I like my sleep. Legend has it when I was a little girl, I would sleep for 12 hours a night then enjoy a wee two hour nap in the morning and the afternoon. Personally, I don’t see much wrong with spending up to 16 hours a day in sweet slumber but unfortunately the ‘age of adult’ doesn’t really encourage this sort of behaviour. Pah…

Anyway my point is it takes something special to get me not only up but excited at 6.30am. Viennoiserie at Madam Gautier is now one of the few things that can claim to be that something special.

When I was booking all these classes late last year, this one immediately caught my eye. I didn’t actually know what Viennoiserie was but the words ‘baking’, ‘enriched’ and ‘ dough’ automatically qualified it for ticking with a big fat yes. Wikipedia defines it as ‘baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough in a manner similar to bread, or from puff pastry, but with added ingredients (particularly eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar) giving them a richer, sweeter character, approaching that of pastry.’

Fine. Sold. I’m on board. Let’s get this delicious show on the road…

From the outside, Madam Gautier doesn’t look particularly fancy. Set in an industrial park ten minutes from Willesden Junction, you want to double and then triple check that you’re in the right place but have no fear, you are. And inside, it’s as cute, stylish and inviting as anything you could hope for; light and airy with bare-bones-chic light bulb lamps hanging from the ceiling, beautifully painted brick walls and the obligatory swoon inducing Kitchen Aids.

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Yep. Even the aprons are super cute and make feel like I should have a bouncy ponytail and be perched behind the counter of some Parisian boulangerie…

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The class was the perfectly selfish size with just three of us ready to soak up everything that chef Adam said. Brioche, pain aux raisins and doughnuts were on the clearly low calorie menu and before too long, clouds of flour were puffing up in the air, bowls of primrose yellow butter were softening and sleeves were being rolled up as an epic, Popeye-muscle producing workout of kneading began.

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Dough was rested. Dough was proved. Dough was folded. Dough was brushed with butter and good lord, dough was kneaded and pummelled and knocked back. I’m not gonna lie, this was something of a workout for the arms as although some parts of the process were done in the shiny, primary paint coloured mixers, a lot of work was also done by hand but that’s kind of how I like it. I’m all for making things easier but I’m also a firm believer that you should know how to do things the traditional way, by hand.

Doughnuts and brioche resting pre-baking…

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Pain aux raisins pastry covered with creme patisserie, plump raisins and cinnamon sugar before being sliced…

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There was a lovely atmosphere in the class with the kind of relaxed feeling you get when fellow obsessives come together…restaurants and desert island foods and ultimate dining experiences were discussed and shared while the air grew warm with the scent of yeast and sugar.

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I was truly excited about getting the brioche right as the only time I’ve made this previously it turned out less ‘oh this is like a piece of light, soft, chewy heaven’ and more ‘dear god do not drop it on your foot or bones will be broken’, however the lure of making my own doughnuts pipped it to the post as highlight of the day in the end.

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Rolling them in cinnamon sugar was a nice job.

Piping creme patisserie into them and feeling them expand in your hand was a delightful job.

Eating them, hot, crispy and fluffy, and smearing sugar round your face…well that was horrible. You can imagine I’m sure. Oh no, you wouldn’t have liked that part at all…

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Last to come out of the ovens were trays of pain aux raisins, fat, golden and sticky with warm sugary, cinnamonny syrup oozing from between each layer of pastry…

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This was really such a great class and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Fantastic kitchen, friendly and genuinely chatty chef, questions answered and bags laden down at the end…I love tube-ing it home at the end of these days and filling the carriage with a smell guaranteed to make tummies rumble.

Only word of caution is to have a big breakfast because you really get your moneys worth and work, break free, from 10am all the way through to 4pm although drinks are supplied and you can always nibble on your left over pastry as I may have done and I don’t even care! Raw pastry is like raw cake batter…delicious and almost worth making the cake for in the first place!

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2 thoughts on “Viennoiserie at Madam Gautier…

  1. Thanks Pat! I’m more than a little bit jealous that you have the real thing right on your doorstep…oh I would be the size of a whale if I lived in France but I’d have a lot of fun getting that way 🙂 x

    Like

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