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Sweet & savory recipes and tales from a pastry chef and her cooking school

Susan Holding

Cover design by Amy Lee Sullivan
Cover photo credit: Susan Holding

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Book Details
 402 p
 File Size 
 8,485 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 2014 by Susan M. Holding

Welcome to the Little French Bakery and Cooking School. In
each class at The Little French Bakery, students receive a
collection of recipes based on the topic of the day. In this
book, you’ll find many of the recipes I’ve been teaching since
my classes began. Some are sweet, some are savory. While
some are easier than others, I’ve written the directions so
new, aspiring cooks and bakers can be successful.

In 2010 I began blogging about pastry school experiences,
baking, cooking, and life here in rural Wisconsin. My
photography started out underexposed and out of focus. With
the help of some great tutors, books, and classes, my
photography is improving. My Canon 7D and I have become
good friends. I’m delighted I was able to shoot the photos for
this book. The photos of me, Gary, and our dogs were taken
by Mike and Heather Krakora of Krakora Studios. Lindsey
Carlyle Eastman of Lindsey Carlyle Photography took the
photo of me with my camera when we were in Ireland
studying food styling and photography with Beatrice Peltre,
of La Tartine Gourmande.

Tucked between the recipes and photographs of this book
you’ll find my stories. I hope you’ll be able to join me in
person some day as we bake, eat, and share time together.

How Did This All Begin?
As a little girl, I loved to bake. My parents made a great
choice when I was in kindergarten. Rather than going the
Easy Bake Oven route, they gave me a set of small
pans and bowls with tiny mixes for Christmas. With some
adult supervision, I could make a cake and bake it in the big
oven. I remember my grandma was a great cook. It was so fun
standing at her side with an apron tied around me. Sometimes
it was a dish towel, sometimes a pretty embroidered apron
from her kitchen drawer. As I grew up, I baked in Girl Scouts
for badges, baked for family events, and baked with my
college roommates trying recipes in the cooking magazines
and cookbooks.

Fast forward a few (ok, more than a few!) years. Like many
of my students and readers, I was an enthusiastic home cook.
I was working in the healthcare industry, and I was trying all
kinds of recipes and enjoyed taking evening demo-style
classes at local cooking stores on evenings and weekends.
New pieces of cooking equipment were my favorite gifts.
One day, I decided to expand my horizons and enroll in a
weekend baking class. Since my work required travel, I was
accumulating many frequent flyer miles. My plan was to use
some of the miles and learn more about baking. I wasn’t sure
where I wanted to go so I found the most recent edition of
Gourmet magazine and looked for the ads for cooking
schools. I pulled out the reader response card—you know, the
little cardboard postcards that used to be tucked in between
the pages. There were about one hundred numbers on the card
corresponding to ads in the magazine. I circled the numbers
for all the cooking schools I thought were a good match. The
schools were mostly on the East or West Coast of the United
States featuring weekend bread and pastry classes. My plan
was right on target.

I waited for the materials to arrive. Now remember, this was
pre-internet so information was gathered by phone or what is
kindly referred to now as snail mail. Over the span of a few
weeks, literature began to arrive: little pamphlets with
schedules and class descriptions. The next step was to decide
which class and when. Then came the big day. When I arrived
home from work one day, there was a large, thick white
envelope waiting for me. I opened the outer wrapper to find a
shiny, high-quality folder containing the registration materials
and information for Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. It was beautifully
organized and contained all I needed to apply for culinary
school. I had circled the number on the reply card by
accident. I had no intention of leaving my job and heading off
to school, so I set it aside and continued to review the other
classes’ info.

A few weeks went by. I couldn’t get the Cordon Bleu folder
out of my mind. What if I did go away to school? I loved
school and maybe this could work. As I read all the
requirements and schedules in Le Cordon Bleu’s folder, I
found a program they referred to as Intensive. Each part was
three weeks long and held in August or December. The first
class was called Pâtisserie de Base, Basic Pastry. By now the
wheels were really turning. What if I took a short leave of
absence from work and went to Paris to take this class? I
could learn enough French to get by. I had the miles, and
there must be places the school could recommend for lodging.
Gary and I had a long talk about my idea. He was excited, and
encouraged me take the next step.

One of the prerequisites was experience in a commercial
kitchen. I found a local European-style bakery who kindly
welcomed me to help with odds and ends after my real work
day was finished. I got to see firsthand how a commercial
kitchen works. I learned how to handle batches larger than
one or two dozen, and several pieces of really big equipment.
Experience, check. Now I was ready to apply.

I sent off the application and within the month was accepted
into Pâtisserie de Base. Even the acceptance letter was
beautiful. Each correspondence arrived Par Avion—Air Mail.
I was going to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu.
After sending in my uniform sizing information, my dream
was becoming a reality. I now needed to brush up on my
French. And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t brushing up, it was
essentially learning from scratch. Using tapes, CDs, books,
and flashcards, I taught myself enough French to get by.
Looking back, my French was terrible, but I was enthusiastic
and trying my hardest.

Now that I had been accepted I needed to find a place to stay.
Rather than an apartment, which seemed daunting, I looked
through the hotels listed in guide books and lists provided by
the school, and found a hotel in the 17th arrondissement. The
description sounded lovely, was near the school, and offered a
monthly rate. In my best French and with the help of notes
with phonetic spelling scribbles, I called the hotel, made the
reservation, and was set.


1. Let’s Get Started
2. Must-Have Recipes and Techniques
3. Appetizers and Starter Courses
4. Breads: Spin Three Times and Flip
5. Pastries
6. Cookies and Bars
7. Cakes
8. Favorite Meals
9. Soups
10. The Breakfast Class
11. Our Family Favorites
12. Tarts and Pies
13. Comfort Foods
14. Acknowledgments
15. Metric and Imperial Conversions
16. Oven Temperatures
17. Recipe Index


Photography copyright © 2014 by Susan Holding

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