Laduree Masterclass at Harrods

On Sunday I attended a Laduree masterclass in the kitchen at Harrods. Laduree is one of my favourite patisseries so I was really looking forward to attending! The masterclass was led by the Head Pastry Chef of Laduree UK, Frank Hiss. The masterclass was entitled 'Le Vie en Rose' as a celebration of French chanteuse Edith Piaf and also as a celebration of the joy of baking and a love of good food. 
We started by watching a demonstration of how the 'Ispahan' is made. The Ispahan is a rose flavoured soft macaron with rose petal cream, raspberries and lychees. It's also one of Laduree's signature creations. The Isaphan was also the inspiration for this Lychee, Rose and Raspberry Mousse Cake that I made previously. After the demonstration we got to sample! Incidentally, the Ispahan is named after a rose of the same name, it is also a town in Iran where the roses are grown.
Whilst watching the demonstrations we were able to enjoy Laduree's signature blend of tea which is a Chinese black tea with citrus fruit, flowers, light spices and vanilla. 
The next demonstration was of the 'Religieuse a la Rose' which is a cream puff pastry with rose petal custard cream and raspberries. Unless you speak French, you may be unaware that Religieuse actually translates as nun and is so named due to fact that a chocolate covered Religieuse resembled a nun's habit with a frilled collar! The demonstrations were really interesting and Frank Hiss was very knowledgable and more than happy to answer questions!
Following the demonstration it was then our turn to have a go at constructing a Religieuse. Covering the pastry wasn't too difficult...however, piping the cream is a lot harder than it looks!! Fortunately I don't have photographic evidence of my woeful attempt!
Whilst doing our best pastry chef impressions we enjoyed the petit four you can see here - a rose choux and a raspberry and rose delice. The name 'petit four' means small oven in French.
The final demonstration was the Laduree 'Marie-Antoinette' wedding cake. Inside the cake you can see the raspberries and lychees. The covering is made from almonds. The version you can see here is designed for only a few people but you can order a Marie-Antoinette which can serve hundreds of people! The flowers you can see are made of sugarpaste but it's made from scratch by Laduree. Random fact...Laduree provided the macarons for the film Marie Antoinette directed by Sofia Coppola!
I really enjoyed finding out a bit more about Laduree's creations and it's inspired me to have a go...although I'm not sure my offerings would look anything like the ones on display! If you'd like to master the art of French patisserie, youu can get the Laduree recipe book from any Laduree outlet or at Amazon.  
It was a good job I didn't have any lunch before I went to the event as we also enjoyed the petit four you can see above. The little lemon treats you can see were delicious and I particularly liked the vanilla petit four with an intense burst of orange jam in the centre.
As if we hadn't already had enough cake it was off to the Laduree tea room at Harrods to complete the Laduree experience. There were many delights to choose from but I went for a Saint Honore Rose & Raspberry which was washed down with a glass of Laduree champagne!
I think I may now be a bigger fan of Laduree than when I started...their creations are irresistable! I went home happy with goodie bag in hand...and I may have enjoyed a macaroon or two when I got home with a cup of Laduree tea!! Not so good for the diet! :-)

Finally, a little bit of the history of Laduree. Laduree is actually 150 years old this year and to celebrate there is a special anniversary pastry of the month every month this year. The first Laduree bakery was opened in 1862 in Paris by Louis Ernest Laduree. It was one of the first Parisian tearooms...and was one of the first establishments where women were welcome and free to come at any time.

You can find Laduree at Harrods, Covent Garden and Burlington Arcade as well as a new Laduree in the City at 14 Cornhill.