What? Make Puff Pastry from Scratch? It's Easier Than You Think

Make your own puff pastry—then transform it into this stunning Brie en Croute.

Greetings, mes amis. Today, I’m really happy to host a guest post from Beeta Hashempour, a charming SoCal baker who has recently rolled out some French baking classes via video. In this compelling story, she talks about her “a-ha” moment when she first discovered la difference between American and French breads … and how she turned this newfound love into a career. Best of all, she’s offering everyone a free video tutorial on how to make beautiful puff pastry, from scratch. Check it out.

Beeta Hashempour, baking instructor extraordinaire

My French-Bread Epiphany
by Beeta Hashempour

When people ask me how I’ve found my way into the culinary arts and teaching French bread and pastry classes, I tell them about my first trip to Paris.

Growing up, I had never been a real Francophile. Sure, I enjoyed a good croissant, French fashion, and hoped to see the Eiffel Tower one day, but that was the extent of my knowledge and passion for France. If anything, as someone who grew up in Southern California, I was more acquainted with the Mexican culture than French. It wasn’t until college, when my best friend decided to study abroad in Paris, that I prioritized France on my bucket list and actually booked a ticket to the City of Lights.

On my first morning in the city, I had decided to take a stroll in search of some coffee and breakfast. I passed by a man carrying 3 or 4 baguettes in his arms, and thought to myself, “Jeeze, that’s a whole lot of baguettes!” Back home in the States, I was not accustomed to buying French bread that often. The bread back home was nothing special, so you wouldn’t have found me eagerly carrying home more than 1 loaf or baguette like this man in Paris had.

I decided to continue walking in the direction the man had just come from until I stumbled upon a bakery. As I stepped into the quaint and cozy boulangerie, I immediately felt my senses invaded by the delicious scent of yeast and butter. It was positively intoxicating. I had a pretty good feeling that I was about to have a life-changing experience. If nothing else, I would forever remember that bakery for the heavenly aroma that had enveloped my senses.

I decided to order a croissant for breakfast and a baguette to-go. The croissant was pure perfection. The perfectly golden flakes were already falling off the croissant as the cashier slipped one into a paper bag and handed it over to me. After one buttery taste, I quickly realized that this truly French croissant put all the coffee shop ones back home to shame.

Simply irresistible. And accessible, thanks to Beeta’s cooking classes.

Later that day, as I sat around my friend’s dining table for lunch, I cut into the baguette I had brought home for us. I literally found myself having an a-ha moment as I ate the bread. So this is what real bread tastes like!

The baguette wasn’t just good; it was excellent in every meaning of the word. My friend and I easily polished off that baguette with our meal, and I suddenly realized exactly why that passerby with the arm full of baguettes was so eager to take home more than one.

Coming back home to California, I felt like I’d been changed. My eyes had been opened and I could never look at bread and pastries the same way. The selection at my local markets and coffee shops just seemed so disappointing after having experienced the real deal.

So that’s when I decided that making my own bread and pastries was the next best thing after enjoying them in Paris. I started buying staple French cookbooks from Jacques Pepin, Le Cordon Bleu, and Julia Child, trying my hand at a variety of recipes. I practiced the recipes over and over until I was able to perfect them. Since then, I’ve been making my own crusty baguettes and flaky croissants at home, sharing my homemade creations with family and friends.

The positive feedback from my loved ones was not just great to hear, but inspiring as well. People were constantly asking me for my recipes. I’d hear, “How do you make your croissants so flaky?” or “How did you get this loaf of brioche so fluffy?”

I realized that I wasn’t the only one who loved a really good loaf of French bread or tantalizing pastry, so I decided I would host classes teaching others exactly how they can create French staples at home. I began enrolling in bread and pastry classes at home and abroad when I was visiting France, trying to learn what routines and formats worked best for instructing classes and what students enjoyed the most. One day, I finally felt enough confidence to host a French bread and pastry class in my own kitchen, and I’ve been happily instructing ever since!

I love working with students, but more than that, I love showing just how gratifying it can be to create your own homemade baked goods. There’s nothing like a freshly baked pastry to go alongside your morning cup of coffee or tea, and I love when my students not only realize that but feel capable enough to make it happen. That said, I suggest you don’t just take my word for it, but instead go ahead and try your own hand at homemade pastry.

Right now, I’m hosting a completely free puff pastry challenge where I will show you how to make your own homemade puff pastry in less than 10 minutes. The lesson provides exclusive content from my master French bread and pastry course, including step-by-step instructions and video so you can see exactly how easy it is to make your own pastry at home!

Learn more about the challenge here.

 

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