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Baking Tips for French Boulangerie Favourites like Croissants

Parisians are particular about baked goods – baguettes, tarts, cakes and all viennoiseries, including croissants and pains au chocolat, must be perfect. Even when they are on holiday relaxing in Provence, there is often discussion about where to find the best example in each category. Frankly, it does come down to personal taste, whether you like your baguette bien cuit (really crispy) or not.

If you want to try baking these at home, Dancing Tomatoes has a dedicated pastry course.

Baguette Bread in Provence

We asked author, chef, and journalist Susan Herrmann Loomis with 20 years of culinary teaching experience, for her thoughts on the French boulangerie favourites.

Everyone who comes to Paris heads to at least one bakery for a croissant or maybe a pain au chocolat. These are a siren call to anyone who loves pastries, symbolic of the French lifestyle.

They are part of a category called “Viennoiseries,” a story which relates to a story about bakers and war. As legend has it, the Ottomans were ready to attack Vienna in 1683. They began digging tunnels under the city’s fortified walls, and the bakers, up early to knead their bread, heard them and gave the alert. This allowed the Viennese to repel the attack. To celebrate the victory, those same bakers created a crescent-shaped pastry as a snub to the Ottomans, for the crescent was their symbol. Fast forward nearly one hundred years, and a young woman named Marie Antoinette travelled to France to marry Louis XVI. In her retenue were bakers from the Austrian court who made croissants for the French court. In those heady times, one can imagine that those same bakers rolled their dough around chocolate, inserted cream and raisins into it, and fashioned it into all sorts of shapes.

Today we find those same viennoiseries in every French boulangerie. They aren’t exactly the same, though. But, then, the viennoiseries were made with enriched bread dough; the flaky croissant dough we know wasn’t invented until 1905. The rest is history! Please read the original article on Dancing Tomatoes – “It’s All About Bakers and War.”

Whether or not a trip to France is on the horizon, you can learn to bake the French way with the Dancing Tomatoes Pastry Course. You will become an expert at the four basic pastries (Pâte Brisée, Pâte Sucrée, Pâte Feuilletée and Pâte à Choux) in the French repertoire.

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Susan Herrmann Loomis has published 14 best-selling cookbooks and founded the Dancing Tomatoes website. Living in Paris, she offers live cooking classes via video link and a collection of six (6) pre-recorded instructional videos with four-course menus under the Plat du Jour link. So, if you are entertaining friends this winter, this dinner party menu includes three (3) French recipes. For the menu, Susan Herrmann Loomis selected (starter, main course, and dessert) from her cookbooks: French Grill: 125 Refined & Rustic Recipes and Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy.

Try her menu with recipes that represent an authentic Provençale meal. So whether or not you grill the lamb shoulder (it’s also deliciously savoury from the oven), you’ll be transported to Provence with this lovely menu. Remember, if you’re in Provence and enjoying this menu in late fall or winter to wrap up, days are sunny and warm, evenings deliciously chilly, ideal for a menu that warms from the inside.

Aioli a Garlic Mayonnaise
You can make aioli in a food processor or blender from start to finish. It will taste delicious, but its texture won’t be as fine as when made by hand with a mortar and pestle. Aioli crosses the boundaries of the seasons, served with warm, steamed vegetables in the winter or raw produce in the summer.
Check out this recipe
Traditional Aioli Garlic Mayonnaise
Lemon, Garlicky, Rosemary Lamb Shoulder
Cooked over hot coals (or a gas BBQ), the lamb shoulder is infused with a lemon, garlic, and rosemary mixture before cooking. Enjoy this epaule d'agneau au citron, ail et romarin from the French Grill cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis.
Check out this recipe
Grilled Lamb Shoulder French Menu
Classic and Amazing Lemon Tart
A tasteful tart made with fresh lemon that is perfect for sharing!
Check out this recipe
Lemon Tart French Classic

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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