If making choux pralinés under the watchful eye of the winner of the last series of TV’s Le Meilleur Pâtissier sounds stressful, think again. Rachel Levesque – who was crowned the series’ gagnante in December – is perhaps the most down-to-earth reality star you could ever meet.
In case you don’t know the show, it is the French version of The Great British Bake Off. Apart from being staged in a tent, there is little similarity between the two programmes, however.
Le Meilleur Pâtissier is like Bake Off on steroids. There’s no lemon drizzle cake like in the British original – instead, contestants create gravity-defying comestible towers.
Maybe it’s because she’s from Lille, but Rachel became our instant favourite. (We also had a soft spot for Jean-Emmanuel, a cheerleading coach – yes, that is a job, apparently – from Lyon.)
We were delighted when Rachel won the series just before Christmas.
And when we saw that she was running regular workshops here in Lille, at La Boutique à Pâtisser, just 500m from our door, we quickly added ourselves to their mailing list.
“Le Meilleur Pâtissier is like Bake Off on steroids. There’s no lemon drizzle cake like in the British original – instead, contestants create gravity-defying comestible towers”
Last Saturday, we joined her for 2 hours to make choux buns filled with praline cream. There were just 6 of us in the workshop, so we each got plenty of attention – and help, when needed.
I had never made choux pastry before. It proved quite tricky and you have to keep a close eye on the pastry in the oven, particularly in the last few minutes.
While the buns were cooking, we made our praline cream for the filling. I find that praline can be a bit cloying but the quantities in Rachel’s recipe gave us just a hint of its sweet, nutty favour.
Between us, Damon and I came away with 16 buns. Ahem, rather like an open bar of chocolate, choux pastry can go off overnight… Or at least that’s what we told each other as we tucked into the buns over the weekend.
Damon planned to take what was left into his office on Monday. However, he scrapped the idea when he realised the pastry had gone a bit soft by then.
Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to make more…