The United Sweets of America - Part 2
Baking Arts, San Francisco
When I made the decision to make San Francisco apart of my sweet little trip to the states, I began to research where I could catch a few great baking classes. I was hoping to find a studio that would be cozy and inspiring. One where I might be able to learn how to make an awesome American style apple pie, some pastry, and to basically get an introduction to a few things I've never attempted. So I emailed a few bakeries and other establishments that seemed to be offering classes, but no such luck. That is, until I found Baking Arts.
I emailed to find out about November and December classes, as the schedule had not yet been created. To my delight I was asked to suggest the classes I was most interested in, so that an effort would be made to hold those classes on the dates that suited me. So naturally I said pies and croissants. When I arrived to my first class at Baking arts, I was overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma of pastries browning in the oven. It was a great class to kick off my American baking adventure - Apple Pie. Richard Festen is the brilliant man behind this gorgeous boutique baking school. Blessed with a captivating teaching style, Richard delivered an exceptional lesson outlining the do's and donts of pie dough. He was calm, relaxed, and perfectly connected. The results of this class were fabulous, and I could not fault the crust or the filling. So I'm a pastry snob - there - I said it. I don't eat it every day, but If I'm going to indulge in 2 days worth of my calorie intake, well it had better be worth it. Congratulations Mr. Festen. This recipe has officially murdered any other pie recipe I have ever attempted to create.
|The 2 images of the striped cakes are the results of that class|
So the next class I took was the famous, impossibly perfect Baking Arts 'Stripe' cake. For anyone who has heard of Richard Festen of Baking Arts, you'd know that he is one of the few who is an expert with modeling chocolate, and of course, the incredibly perfect stripe design cake. I just had to get myself into one of these classes. To avoid disappointment, I booked a private class. Best decision I ever made! The lesson began mid morning and I must say, I wondered how in the world I'd manage to walk out of the studio with a cake that didn't look like a hot mess. If the pictures I'm posting are any indication of Richards teaching method, then I just don't know what is. Understandable, and achievable!
|My cake, and of course, the awesome Richard Festen|
This gorgeous loft style boutique is the perfect environment for a creative baker. The natural light pours in through the floor to ceiling windows, and adds something special to this hands on experience. For my last class, croissants, I brought along Zeina. We made the pastry dough, and experimented at home. Our best results were our scrumptious basil, pumpkin, and danish feta filled croissants. Americans generally don't eat pumpkin as a savoury food item, but I'd like to think I changed that... well, at least for Zeina. And how could I forget, trusty nutella filled croissants too!
Richard is such a great person to work with. Baking arts is most definitely a school I have every intention of going back to - I'd love to one day say that I've taken all the classes on offer, but that may take me a while, along with a lot of late nights writing and photo editing! One of the great results of this venture was getting the opportunity to assist Richard on his first ever teaching trip to Australia. I was so happy to be assisting his modeling chocolate class at the wonderful Faye Cahill Cake Design studio, in my very own neighborhood. I don't know what I'm more excited about - going back to Baking Arts in San Fran, or having Richard come back to teach here!
Have a good look at the Baking Arts schedule, even if you don't know when your next visit to San Francisco will be...(it just may be enough to inspire a visit) The classes are well priced, and theres so much to choose from, catering to all skill sets and tastes. I couldn't recommend it more!
|My gorgeous friend Cari from Atlanta Georgia and I, (another incredible baker) enjoying the first slice with me!|