**This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!
Austinites are discovering a little slice of Paris tucked away just off of South First. If the selection of pastries at La Patisserie — from dainty macarons to decadent cream puffs to buttery croissants — doesn’t already have you drooling, the kid-friendliness of the shop (owned by a mom of two) is sure to win you over.
La Patisserie is a labor of love brought to life by Soriaya Nagree, a former chemical engineer who always knew her true calling was in pastries.
“I tell people I went from mixing poisonous chemicals to mixing edible chemicals,” she laughs.
Owning a pastry shop was Nagree’s childhood dream. After her first trip to Paris when she was 10, she fell in love with the French pâtisseries on every corner, and told her parents she wanted to have a pastry shop one day.
“One day” came a little sooner than planned. Nagree stumbled across a quaint little house on a quiet side street off South First three years ago, and it was perfect for the pastry shop she imagined.
“We knew it had to be here,” she says.
The timing, however, wasn’t perfect — Nagree had a 6-month-old baby at the time. But, she had a great team to back her up, she says, and they were up and running in only four months. La Patisserie celebrates its third anniversary this November, so the rest is history.
Nagree, now mother to a 3 1/2-year-old and a 2 1/2-month-old, is no stranger to the challenges of harried parents trying to catch a quiet moment to themselves — hence the kid-friendly features not found in your run-of-the-mill coffee shop. For starters, La Patisserie offers a gated nook for kids to play in while their caregivers enjoy a cup of coffee and some grown-up time nearby.
“I’ve seen it plenty of times,” says Nagree. “The kids are happily playing, and the women are enjoying their coffee and actually having a conversation.” Now that’s something parents of small children can get behind!
What’s more, La Patisserie offers monthly cooking classes for kids ages 4 through 7. The program, called Les Petites, aims to give kids a fun lesson in baking while their parents stay nearby and enjoy some quiet time (and one of those delicious pastries).
“The point of the class is to give parents just a little time to themselves while their kids have fun,” says Nagree.
La Patisserie has generously offered a free spot in one of their September or October classes to one of our readers, so be sure to read on to the end of this post for your chance to win!
The next Les Petites class is coming up this Sunday, July 28, at 10:30 am. Classes tend to fill up quickly, especially during the summer, since there are only 8 to 10 spots available, but you can register online ahead of time to make sure your little pastry chef snags a spot. The cost is $12 for the first child, and $5 for siblings to attend. If you miss it this time around, the following class will be on August 18.
Nagree loves cooking with her own son, and she is a big believer in using cooking and baking to teach kids other skills.
“Right from the beginning, you learn lots of important things,” she says. Key lessons about cleanliness — washing hands and keeping your hands away from your hair and face while cooking — top the list, but there are plenty of others, too, like scooping, mixing, measuring ingredients and even hand-eye coordination.
“They learn so many concepts, and they learn without realizing you’re teaching them,” says Nagree. “Even though you’re having fun, it’s a good way to get a few lessons in.”
When we asked Nagree to share a kid-friendly recipe with our readers, she immediately thought of French Yogurt Cake. French mothers often make a habit of cooking with their small children, she says, and this is one of the first things they learn to make.
“It’s very, very simple,” she says. “That’s why we like it, and that’s why it was one of the first recipes we did for Les Petites.”
What’s more, it’s versatile.
“You can have fun with it,” says Nagree. “There’s the basic recipe, and then you can add chocolate chips, or lemon, or other fruit. It’s basically foolproof — it’s hard to mess up as long as you get the right ingredients in.”
The version she’s shared with us is for French Lemon Yogurt Cake, and it’s enough to make you want to herd your kids into the kitchen ASAP for a little quality time. Enjoy!
French Lemon Yogurt Cake
Recipe courtesy of La Patisserie; Makes one 8 1/2 inch loaf
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat pan with vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess.
2. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
3. Using your fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist.
4. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
6. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes.
7. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/lauren.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Lauren Walz is a freelance writer and editor and mama to a two-year-old girl. While she’s quick to brag about being a fifth-generation Texan, Lauren moved to Northern California in 2004 after graduating from UT Law and lived in the Silicon Valley area until last spring, when she and her family were drawn back to Austin. Lauren is busy getting re-acquainted with her old stomping grounds and is astonished by how the food and wine scene has changed in Austin in the past 8 years. Lauren also blogs about cooking and parenthood on gourmetveggiemama.com.[/author_info] [/author]
Would you like to win a free spot in Les Petities for September or October for your child? La Patisserie is giving away free admission to one lucky LiveMom reader!
What do you have to do to win? Leave a comment below or complete the form by 9:00am CST on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. The winner will be chosen and notified via email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to claim the prize. The giveaway holds no cash value and is non-transferable. You must be 18 years or older to enter. By leaving a comment or filling out the form, you agree to the above terms and conditions.