My assistant Gilberto wanted to learn how to bake bread. We all know I have zero patience so I wouldn’t be his best teacher. We needed to find someplace and someone who would be nice to him. Luckily we found Le Pain Quotidien.
Fun Fact: If you’re visiting New York City. Ask five different people on the street how to find a Le Pain Quotidien. All five people will correct the way you say it and all five will say it a different way.
I signed my assistant and I up for Baking 101 at Le Pain Quotidien down on Bleeker Street.
I’ve always been familiar with Le Pain Quotidien as a great place to grab a coffee and light lunch. Their pastries are fantastic and their lunch and brunch options are always fresh and not over seasoned and heavy. I had no idea they offered baking classes. I’m certainly glad they do.
First off, the class is in an open kitchen which always makes for some characters who stand and stare with curious and sometimes frightening faces. It is New York after all.
The class was small, which is always a good thing. The open kitchen was gorgeous. The facilities were exceptionally clean and well organized. The class started right on time and we were well on our way to getting our hands dirty.
The instructors name is Dawn, who is the most amazing woman I have met and she did an exceptional job. She is well spoken, super informative, knowledgeable about the whole baking process and active in the community helping children. This doesn’t really pertain to the class but will give you an idea as to what a great heart and what kind of person she is. You are definitely in good hands. She even gives you her email in case you have questions or need troubleshooting with your bread disasters.
More importantly she is patient and overly kind. Which I am not or so I’ve been told. Especially when it comes to dealing with people. God bless her!
During the three hour course there was never a dull moment.
Dawn was on point every step of the way. Letting us know exactly what was going on, what was happening with our bread in every step and why certain steps had to be made.
After all the bread comes out of the oven you break bread with your fellow classmates and taste your finished product. Dawn asks what you taste and what you notice about the fresh bread. It’s interesting to hear what others taste and notice in bread.
It was interesting to see all the different things we made with just the basic bread dough recipe. From baguettes, to whole wheat, to raisin and walnuts and even chocolate and cheese rolls. This is just scratching the surface. I’m sure the ideas are limitless or finding out would be a great adventure. Screwing up is sometimes a leap to a new idea.
At the end of the class you get to take home all the bread from the course. This is where you need to really pay attention. I quickly scanned the class and did what my friend Chris calls “Pizza Math”. This is where you know exactly who ate how much, who took more than they should have, how much is left and how it should be divided up accordingly so it’s fair. After I did my Pizza Calculations, I saw who was shoveling bread into their faces and who was taking more than their share. I saw trouble on the horizon. I grabbed my assistant and said “Get your ass a bag and get our baguettes. I’m too full to fight”.
If you’re visiting New York City and have the time I highly recommend the Baking 101 class at Le Pain Quotidien. It’s something different and more involved with the people of New York. If you live in New York City the bread class is about what you’d pay, perhaps even less, than what you’d pay for dinner and drinks for a night out. You’ll learn something new and possibly meet new people. At least you’d meet Dawn if no one else.
Find the schedule for bread baking classes here: Le Pain Quotidien Bakery Class Calendar
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