**2007: For a current calendar of my upcoming classes, click here.**
On Sunday June 11 I taught my first baking class of 2006, Understanding Pate a Choux. A dough with immense versatility, pate a choux is a basic French dough that can be boiled, fried, baked and piped into various shapes.
My baking classes tend to focus in on doughs, methods and instructions that, although specific, can be applied to many other baking and cooking ideas, variables and applications. Want to understand the egg? Start with custards. Want to understand butter and flour, begin at the cookie starting line. Need to go back to basics? What better way than with pie.
I love teaching. I love inspiring others to bake. I love passing on the whys, not merely the hows.
Hear from the students themselves how the class went:
"Wonderful class! Many Thanks! I had a Great Time and learned a lot
(don't cool down the dough - offset spatula in my hip pocket - clothespin trick - add MORE eggs - cook dough longer - cardamon and tea + sugar...turn that tail in...and much more!)" Cynthia
"You did an amazing job of explaining each technique used throughout the whole process of preparing the recipe. I appreciate that you encouraged us to jump in for some hands-on participation with your individual guidance, and also generously shared many extra tips and stories for ways to expand on the original recipe. This was an excellent class that was totally worth it!
"Shuna's lecture time, class time and hands on training spoke to everyone there. While I was squeezing out puffs that looked like, well we don't need to go in to that, she was talking butter molecules with the pros. I enjoyed the fact it wasn't just a lecture, a recipe, cook the recipe and leave. She went in to great detail about what happens if things go wrong. And if they do, how to repair them or don't even bother trying. She knows that the batter once the liquid and dry ingredients are mixed, you don't need to stir the dough briskly, unless you don't like the person. Then by all means, let them briskly stir that dough for a good 15 minutes. She points out handy tools and ways pinching off a pasty bag so it doesn't leak all over your clean work tables or the floor.
I think the only thing I could complain about the afternoon was the fact the class wasn't long enough. Sure she made us donuts to eat and the pate choux had come out of the oven. But I think next time I'd like to stuff the little puffy dears with something custardy or with some fancy jams.
All in all both my wife and I had a great time, learned how to make Pate Choux correctly and will most certainly be taking her next class, hopefully a baking class."
Liked: Incorporation of technique, food science and who knew you actually had to listen to dough. I liked the relaxed nature of the class with a nice balance of instruction, stories and humor.
Disliked: Downside of having the class actually in a kitchen, there were times when there wasn't room to see what was happening but for 90% of the class it was fine.
Best thing I learned is that instructions are sometimes wrong which meant that my 'puff' issue could be blamed on someone else and not my lack of skill." -Leslie
"The pate a choux class was so much fun! I didn't realize how versatile pate a choux was- donuts, gnocchi, sweet and savory. Your style of teaching was the perfect mix of hands-on, lecture, and observation. I am anxiously awaiting the next class. You have a wealth of information to share with everyone, and it is a great way to learn." Melinda
There are some things which I believe can only be learned "hands-on." Some things do not make sense even after reading and looking at pictures, whether moving or not, because being inside of a craft means smelling, watching, listening, touching, poking, pinching, and, in my field, tasting.
**Photographs in this post were taken by Guy "Mr. Biggles" Prince of the amazing Meathenge. Please do not re-print without permission.**