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Ina, my first chef and mentor My mother, whom we fondly call Ina, showed me the wonderful and fulfilling world of baking. I dedicate this bakebook to her memory.

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Editor ........................................................ Karla Maquiling Book designer/illustrator .................. Norman Nimer Photographer......................................... Dafna Ljubotina Online presence .................................... Noah Omamalin/Mudskipper

Published by CN Publishing Dipolog, Philippines Visit our website at www.chefnouel.com or follow us at facebook.com/chefnouel Š 2015 Nouel Omamalin All rights reserved. Printed and bound in USA. 00 00 00 43 First Edition No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher Nouel’s Nifty Chic Baking ISBN 0-00000-000-0


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contents

Features

8 acknowledgements 10 biography 11 what’s baking? 12 introduction 142 index

39 budbod and tablea 50 za’atar 51 what is tablea? 55 the no-secrets chef 128 gourmet cuisine at cruising altitude 136 knafeh bars

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General Formulas chapter one 19 almond dacquoise 20 pastry cream 21 streusel mixture 22 paté a choux 23 vanilla creme mousseline 24 vanilla sponge 25 victoria sponge cake

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Bakers Treats chapter two 30 cinnamon-sugar blitz cronuts 32 almond milk quick bread 34 fluffy buttermilk pancake crescents 36 kyoto black sesame & candied lemon brioche


82

Cre-ate chapter five

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Les DĂŠlices Quotidiens chapter three

84 gluten-free praline black forest cake 90 plum bouquet victorian cake 96 floral basket celebration cake 102 decadent chocolate cake with fresh strawberries

44 chocolate cronut wedges 46 tablea brigadieros 48 za’atar biscuits 52 cardamom mixed with tart 56 petit mint lemonade japanese cotton cheesecake

108

Artsy Finales chapter six

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Rustic & Chic chapter four 64 akawi cheese & rosemary gougeres 66 choc-nut cream puffs 70 bola de sylvanas 74 chocolate mediterranean profiteroles verrine 78 violet flan fingers

110 the pod 116 pas religeuse 122 pretzel & english mustard delice


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Ac k now l e d g e m e n t s

once a small undertaking,

this book has blossomed into a full-fledged project. I am generously appreciative of the different personalities appearing on the collaborators’ list, each bringing their expertise to the table. My editor, Karla Maquiling, who came to the surface when I first announced the launching of this bakebook project. She has paved the way for the formation of the team, and her competence has made this work the winsome piece of literature that it is. In one of my flights, I bumped into a very passionate colleague, both in food and photography. We found ourselves swaying together in the same direction. Dafna Ljubotina deserves much more than what my book can do to advance her amazing shots. Armand Frasco, almost like a household name to me, is the first person I always “pick on” when it comes to conceptualization. The

nifty title came to life with his help. In the course of time, Armand has validated my aspirations and introduced me to graphic designer Norman Nimer, who transformed my manuscript into the handsome book you have in your hands. He also crafted the ink sketches and the cross-sections to illustrate the making of the masterpieces. Consequently, my brother, Noah, and his Mudskipper web-design company provided structure and foundation, which allowed me to begin my pace in the first place. A very supportive kindred spirit, he has ensured the social media components are realized as per the book’s vision.

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B io g r a p h y

S

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ome are born with the proverbial silver spoon on their mouths. Nouel probably had a toque when he first opened his eyes.

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Born to a close family in Southern Philippines where food was not only a basic but a heritage, he began embracing the phrase “the world is my oyster” at age 21, right after college, sensing that there was a lot of cooking to be done out there. Nouel Omamalin set up his first website with the help of techie brother Noah in Dipolog City and made his first online sale selling brownies to customers in the US. It was also then that the first “Nouel’s Kitchen” concept came to life. Nouel was offered his first international stint at the Burj Al Arab in 2005, then the only seven-star hotel in the world. There he worked as an a la carte dessert chef in two of the hotel’s showcase restaurants. Between 2006 and 2008, he became a full-fledged executive pastry chef and received accreditation from Lenotre, Paris, and a certification from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority as a professional chef. The world had indeed become his oyster. Nouel considers 2008 the most important year of his career when he became part of the team that served the family of then US president George W. Bush during the Beijing Olympics. He also catered to sports icons like Brazilian

professional footballer Pelé and political figures like Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Chef Nouel honed his skills even more with specialized studies at the French Culinary Institute in New York City where he was introduced to pastry and culinary greats such as Ron Ben Israel, Jacques Torres, Alain Sailhac, Johnny Iuzzini, and Daniel Boloud. The year 2009 saw his career progress onward as Nouel continued serving a growing list of the world’s who’s-who: presidents, celebrities, and icons (a Turkish president, Nicole Kidman and family, etc.). He also embarked on other avenues such as consultancy and training, and assisted a number of businesses in the Middle East and Australia in developing menus and formulating recipes. This was followed by further training at the esteemed Ecole Valrhona in France and then the Notter School in the US. Chef Nouel joined a Middle Eastern airline in 2013 as in-flight chef. This new direction afforded him even more international exposure as he continued to pamper celebrities and influential people on voyages in the Middle East and around the world. Nouel’s excellent culinary adventure continues with Nouel’s Nifty Chic Baking as he shares recipes of his fanciful but surprisingly accessible creations. Read on and make your own!

Armand B. Frasco Chicago, August 2015


how to use this book The bakebook gradually progresses from simple, intermediate to challenging. I designed this book in a way that home bakers and professional chefs alike will find something of value in their own baking pursuit. It is my desire to reach as wide an audience as I can echoing my versatility in this craft having acquired the knowledge and skill, for the most part, through self-education. The ingredients are organized in a way that it tells you how to group them together as each set will be prepared separately. This system prevents you from committing mistakes by either missing out an item or mixing up one item with another resulting in a failed recipe.

where the recipes are a bit more complex. We have made the procedures as helpful to the novice as we could. L E G E N D 1 Ingredients at left Directions at right

Complexity

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2 Page callouts refer to related content elsewhere in the book.

Serving size Prep + Bake times

We have included chapters containing base recipes that appear repeatedly throughout this book and weight conversions of the ingredients used. The majority of the recipes are a mix of classically adapted and original ones. Illustrations are provided where needed, especially in chapters

3 A separator line ---------------------------tells you the ingredients below it are to be grouped and prepared separately (unless otherwise directed). 4 Serving suggestions and recipe variations

1 2 3

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I n t roduc t ion

there must be thousands

and thousands of bakebooks available today that you may ask, “Why have another book?” I asked the same thing myself. “Why do I have to write this book on baking, anyway?” When I started my career as a commis chef in 2005 as part of the pre-opening team of Hyatt Hotel & Casino Manila, I craved for two things: first, learning techniques and skills from the head pastry chef and my seasoned colleagues, and second, a collection of culinary books for reference. There will always be that moment when you have doubts about a method or there is no one else around to show you the steps to a particular technique. And this has happened a couple of times when I am faced with a strange, French-sounding recipe handed down by the head pastry chef. Having a book on hand saves you the trouble. Over time, and that’s about 10 years since I stepped into the culinary world (from the Philippines and across the seas to the United Arab Emirates, Fiji Islands, China, Maldives, and on to Jordan), I have forged my own style, techniques, and discipline and realized I had to rewrite many of my recipes. In my last hotel stint at the prestigious Fairmont Hotel in Dubai, I introduced several novel ideas to my team. These include influences from India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, USA, France, and bits and pieces of the Arabian land. When you start blazing your own trail, you develop a new set of ideas reflecting your own character and personality—no book can teach you that. Hence, I always find myself acquiring new baking literature as often as my whims demand. I also attend specialized training programs to keep myself ahead: I learned how to create rustic breads

and artisan chocolates in New York at the French Culinary Institute and mastered the nouveau art of plated desserts in Ecole Valrhona in France, to name a few. These experiences all lent me a fresh perspective, which comes helpful in the food industry, where chefs deal with the pressure of having to introduce novel ideas, new ingredients are developed, modern equipment is released in the market, and consumers demand more surprises on their plate. Past clients requiring my technical assistance in menu development and recipe formulation have found my approach fresh and unique in the sense that I let them define “the perfect desserts” for them and work my way from there instead of going through a glossary of well-known recipes. I firmly believe the essence of science and artistry in this craft (and any profession, for that matter) must be upheld to the highest integrity or we become a runof-the-mill industry. Therefore, I am creating this material not to replace what you already know but to introduce you to new concepts, to show you my world, and to share a different way of doing things. The main intent of this book is to excite your creative juices, which, I hope, will inspire you to set your own path and style. Enjoy my world of baking!

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General Formulas

Here you will find the basic recipes for many of my creations featured in this book. I will be referring to this page as needed. You can also use these formulas for your own experiments as they are standard recipes tested through time in various hotel kitchens.

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i use the metric system

in my kitchen. It provides a more accurate way in scaling ingredients. If you are currently using measuring cups and spoons (the imperial system), I encourage you to invest in a good weighing scale and start baking using the “grams perspective.”

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I ngredie nt

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Baking powder Baking soda Salt, fine Sugar, white, granulated Sugar, light soft brown Sugar, dark soft brown Flour, all-purpose, bleached Flour, bread Flour, corn Flour, cake/T45 Oatmeal, rolled/ quick cooking Raisins Red currants, dried Chia seeds Dates, dried Allspice Cinnamon powder Yeast, instant Cornmeal Cocoa powder, alkali/ Dutch-processed Cocoa powder, natural

US/English Metric 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup

4 grams 6 grams 8 grams 200 grams 200 grams 250 grams

1 cup 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup

125 grams 130 grams 150 grams 100 grams

1 cup 1 cup 1 cup ¼ cup 1 cup 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon 1 cup

90 grams 127 grams 190 grams 42 grams 160 grams 3 grams 2 grams 4 grams 170 grams

1 cup 1 cup

118 grams 82 grams

There are so many online measuring guides available today. And some websites even also offer the option of converting from imperial to metric system and vice versa in a cinch. I have provided here a conversion table for the most common ingredients used in this book. However, what I have discovered is that there is really no standard weight equivalents for most ingredients. If you are in doubt, you may be well spared from committing mistakes by drawing up your own measuring guide. For example, the density of flour varies. Flour has different densities from one brand to another, and is rated differently from one country to the next. The most sensitive ones, like leavening ingredients, need to be tested first for their strength. Adjustments are almost always required. It is interesting to note, however, that if you test out recipes or scale them down to a very small quantity, weighing minute amounts is almost impractical. I have found this really ingenious measuring spoon set built for such purpose. It saves me a great deal of guesswork. I am sure this is readily available online. Google is your friend.


Some information on ingredients used Not all ingredients are created equal and every chef has a favorite brand. This section will help you in making adjustments or decisions vis-a-vis the type of ingredients used in creating my recipes. Obviously, a stark departure from the quality and type of ingredients suggested herein will yield differing results. When converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, use this basic formula: Multiply the number by 9, divide the product by 5, and then add 32. I find the table presented by Stephanie Jaworski of www.joyofbaking.com, one of my most favorite online baking recipes sites to date, to be most dependable and helpful as it still shows the old oven terms. Fahrenheit

Celsius Gas Oven Number Terms

(degrees F or °F)

(degrees C or °C)

225 °F 250 °F 275 °F 300 °F 325 °F 350 °F 375 °F 400 °F 425 °F 450 °F 475 °F 500 °F 550 °F

110 °C ¼ Very cool 130 °C ½ Very slow 140 °C 1 Very slow 150 °C 2 Slow 165 °C 3 Slow 177 °C 4 Moderate 190 °C 5 Moderate 200 °C 6 Moderately hot 220 °C 7 Hot 230 °C 8 Hot 245 °C 9 Hot 260 °C 10 Extremely hot 290 °C 10 Broiling

FLOUR By default, I always have on hand bleached all-purpose flour by Gold Medal. The unbleached type is a lot harder and coarser and I often use it to make breads of denser quality like bagel and German breads. I refer to the bleached type in all my recipes. There are far more specific types of French flour that I also use from time to time from the company Francine: ✽ Farine de Blé Fluide is best for making crépes, sauces, and pastry cream. ✽ Farine de Blé Supreme (T45) is best for making cakes and pastries and a substitute for cake flour BUTTER A type of butter with a higher butter fat gives me more satisfaction as it yields a richer and creamier (more buttery) flavor. I stick to my French butter that has 82% milk fat. Most of the butter brands available in supermarkets, like Anchor, have at least 80%. Keep a stock of unsalted butter as that is what is called for in all my recipes. SUGAR As simple as it is, sugar contributes to the overall quality of the finished product. I keep two types of white sugar in my cupboard: ✽ Caster sugar ensures my meringue is fine and the butter creams more readily, producing a velvety crumb. ✽ Granulated sugar is coarser and makes you beat your butter longer and harder, causing more uneven aeration and the heat produced will eventually destabilize the mixture. Granulated sugar is best for recipes requiring initial cooking, melting, and caramelizing. For example, use

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granulated sugar when making sugar syrup, sauces, pastry cream, and caramel. For brown sugar, I use the fine quality from Tate & Lyle— light soft brown and dark soft brown. Anything else that is coarser and low in moisture always gives me less superior quality. MILK/CREAM Un-reconstituted milk or, better yet, fresh pasteurized milk (UHT) is my preferred way to go. You will notice how acid reacts to various types of milk available today. I test the acceptability of milk by squeezing one piece of lemon into a cup of milk and giving it a stir. If it readily curdles into a thick mass, then I use it because this guarantees purity—it contains high amounts of lactose proteins. Reconstituted milk gives me a very thin texture and often a denser cake as it is simply a mixture of dry whole milk solids and water. As to cream, I refer to whipping cream in all my recipes. There are double and single creams and other variations that it is best to stipulate what I use—whipping cream with 35.1% fat. My brand of choice is Elle & Vire for most of the dairy products.

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✽ Tcho from USA - This emerging brand caught my attention a few years ago and I tested its range of products with much success. Tcho chocolates form the base of my chocolate creations. If you have no access to any of these brands, substitute them with your own preferred brands, bearing in mind the percentages to achieve results consistent with my recipes. Don’t

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✽ Valrhona from France - Ranging from Caramelia 36% to Manjari 64%, this high-quality (and expensive) brand gives you finer subtleties in flavor. They are best for truffle, mousse, and ganache, in my opinion.

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CHOCOLATE This is the part where you have as much freedom as there are so many brands available today. It is simply a matter of preference. To simplify my own kitchen tests, I stick to two brands of couverture chocolate.

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be confused with using chocolates made from vegetable shortening as they are not intended for use in my recipes. Dutch-Processed vs. Natural Cocoa Powder Hershey’s is one of the more readily available natural cocoa powder brands in most supermarkets. You definitely can replace it with other brands available in your country for as long as it is natural. The difference is: ✽ Natural cocoa powder is acidic. It is best for making hot chocolate because it has a pleasing bouquet and the taste is fruitier with a distinctive character. Baking soda is present when natural cocoa powder is used because the reaction produced by the two releases carbon dioxide, contributing to the leavening effect (the cake rises). Hence, pay extra attention to the recipes. ✽ Dutch-processed or alkaline is, as the second name suggests, alkaline (PH 7.0). Both react differently to the ingredients in the recipes. By default, I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder because I like the smoother, darker, and woody flavor it provides. It will be indicated in the recipe if it calls for natural cocoa powder. Hintz* (German), Callebaut, and Valrhona are my top Dutch-processed cocoa powder choices.

* As it is readily available in the UAE supermarkets

EGGS Since the advent of liquid eggs, I have quantified my recipes by weight instead of by piece for consistency. However, for simplicity, I use largesized eggs with an average weight of 50 grams. When separated, the mean weight of the egg white is 30 grams and 20 grams for the egg yolk. Hence, if you are using whole eggs, weigh them up, referring to the values above for convenience. If you are scaling down a recipe and the resulting figure is not whole, for example 1.7, 1.5, or 1.3, round it up—in this case use two whole eggs.


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almond dacquoise intermediate

20 + 30 mins

Dacquoise is one of the most versatile French recipes I’ve enjoyed working with. It can be used on its own or as a textural element. You can add virtually any kind of powdered nuts and dried ingredients such as candied lemon pieces, cocoa nibs, or desiccated coconut. 1 Preheat oven to 160° C (fan on, lower heating on). 2 Line two quarter baking sheets (23 cm x 33 cm). 3 Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until soft-peak stage. 4 Gradually beat in the caster sugar and continue beating until glossy and firm. 5 While beating the eggs, place the almond powder and icing sugar in a food processor and blend until well mixed. Fold into the meringue. 200 grams egg whites, room temperature 4 grams cream of tartar 70 grams caster sugar 180 grams almond powder 180 grams icing sugar 120 grams almond nibs, lightly toasted

6 Divide mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. 7 Distribute the almond nibs equally on top of the dacquoise mixture. 8 Bake for around 30 minutes or until golden brown (the center should remain soft). Variations Candied lemon Replace the almond nibs with candied lemon and increase by 80 grams. Hazelnut Replace the almond powder with hazelnut powder and use lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts instead of almond nibs. You may use half almond and half hazelnut if desired.

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pastry cream intermediate

30 mins

This recipe uses gelatin, contributing to a stabler body. It is perfect for building up a filling or piping using a textured pastry tip, as it holds its shape well. The mixture will set like hard custard until you start mixing in some amount of softwhipped cream. You may omit the gelatin if it is only intended to fill a tart shell, a closed ĂŠclair or cream puff. 300 grams milk, full fat 10 grams pure vanilla extract 60 grams egg yolks 70 grams caster sugar 20 grams all-purpose flour 20 grams corn flour

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4 grams gelatin leaf (silver grade), bloomed

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--------------------200 grams cream, whipped to soft peak

1 Bring milk to a boil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. 2 While preparing the milk, combine the vanilla and egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl. 3 Stir in the caster sugar and continue mixing until well blended. 4 Combine the two flours. Gradually add the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture using a wire whisk until completely combined. 5 When the milk is ready, pour out about half of it into the egg-flour mixture, stirring continuously with a wire whisk to achieve a uniform, lumpfree mixture. If hard lumps form, you may strain the mixture at this point. 6 Return the mixture into the pot with the remaining boiled milk. Under medium heat, continue cooking with a whisk until it is very stiff (or until it can hold its own shape). 7 Remove from heat and immediately dissolve in the bloomed gelatin.


8 Place in a container and cover the entire surface of the custard with a plastic wrap. Chill until set, preferably overnight for maximum stability. 9 When the pastry cream is ready to use, soften it using an electric mixer with the flat beater on or with a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Do not whip air into the mixture. 10 Gently fold in soft-whipped cream in about two

additions until mixture is uniformly intermixed.

V a r i at i o n s Boiled orange Boil a piece of orange in a pot with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until the orange is cooked through and very soft. ✽ Allow the orange to cool down completely. ✽ Cut the orange into quarters and remove any seeds. ✽ Place in a food processor and process with 100 grams of caster sugar until finely chopped. ✽ Add this mixture into the remaining half amount of the boiling milk in the pot. ✽ Continue with the same remaining processes.

egg

yolks

vanilla extract

streusel mixture advanced

20 mins

Creates a layer of crust on your baked pâte à choux or can be used for other applications such as the brioche buns in Chapter 2. 180 grams butter, unsalted 220 grams dark soft brown sugar 2 grams salt 220 grams bread flour

1 Cut the butter into cubes and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. 2 With the flat beater of your mixer, mix all ingredients on medium speed until it resembles coarse sand. 3 Roll in between two pieces of parchment paper or silicon mats as thin as possible. 4 Place in the freezer until ready for cutting.

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paté a choux advanced

20 + 30 mins

Base recipe for making perfect éclairs, cream puffs, and a host of other delectable desserts. 1 Place the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter in a heavybottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. 2 Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon until it is completely hydrated. Return pan to heat and continue mixing until for about 2 minutes (experts suggest reaching a temperature of 75° C). 300 grams milk, full fat 300 grams water 12 grams salt 12 grams sugar, granulated

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240 grams butter, unsalted

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330 grams all-purpose flour 600 grams eggs

V a r i at i o n s Plain choux (without streusel topping) Dust top lightly with icing sugar—this contributes to the browning. ✽ Bake in a 200° C preheated oven with fan off (upper and lower heating on) for the first 10 minutes (depending on size). ✽ As it begins to rise, reduce heat to 160° C and bake for another 20 minutes or until completely golden brown and dry.

3 Place dough in a mixing bowl and stir on medium speed with the flat beater to bring down the temperature to around 60° C (it takes around 2 minutes). This is to prevent the eggs from getting cooked, affecting the quality. 4 Add the eggs one at a time on medium speed. 5 When there are two pieces of eggs remaining (or about 60 mL of the liquid eggs), check the consistency. The batter must slowly flow back when the beater is lifted. Otherwise, continue adding the rest of the eggs (and you may have to add a little bit more than required) until the proper consistency is achieved. Streusel-topped Preheat oven to 220° C with fan on to speed up the heating. ✽ Top each piped choux pastry dough with the streusel disc (diameter must be slightly smaller than the size of the dough). ✽ When the right temperature is reached, immediately place in the oven and switch the heating off. ✽ When the temperature has gone down to 180° C, switch the heating back on (fan off, upper and lower heating on) and set at 160° C and continue baking until crisp and golden brown. ✽ When the heat has been switched off, the choux dough should begin rising.


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vanilla creme mousseline intermediate

30 mins

Also more popularly known as Italian buttercream, this version has a slightly higher amount of butter resulting in a more creamy (almost mousse-like) mouth feel. I use this recipe for various applications such as a cupcake icing, a birthday cake frosting, or a congealing agent for my meringue-based pastries. Nothing beats pure vanilla, whether in liquid form or fresh from the pod. 210 grams sugar, granulated 80 grams water 150 grams egg whites, room temperature 380 grams butter, unsalted, softened 5 grams pure vanilla extract

1 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and water. 2 Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil until it reaches 118° C (soft-ball stage). 3 While preparing the sugar syrup, place the egg whites in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk. 4 When the sugar syrup is almost ready, beat the egg whites on high speed until it becomes very frothy (almost at soft-peak stage).

vanilla extract

T a k e N ot e

5 You may add about 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue. 6 Lower speed to medium and in a thin stream pour in the sugar syrup. 7 After adding the sugar syrup, increase the speed back to high and continue beating until stiff and the mixture is no longer warm to the touch. 8 Add in the butter in smaller portions.

If using within the day, it is best to keep it in ambient conditions. ✽ Cover the mixture and store mixture, covered, in the chiller. ✽ When ready to use, bring mixture to room temperature and beat again at medium speed using the whisk attachment until it is of creamy consistency.

9 Mix in the vanilla extract. 10 Continue beating until mixture is very smooth.

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vanilla sponge intermediate

30 mins

A very simple, neutral-tasting, and versatile recipe for many different applications. It is flexible so you can use it to line molds and sheets for mousse. 1 Preheat oven to 180° C (fan on, upper and lower heating on). 2 Line two baking trays (60 cm x 40 cm x 1 cm). 3 Beat the eggs with the lemon zest and sugar on high speed until thick and falling down into a ribbon when lifted with a wooden spoon. 350 grams eggs, room temperature

zest from 1 lemon 200 grams caster sugar

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200 grams cake flour (T45), sifted

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60 grams butter, unsalted, melted and cooled

4 Take a small amount of the batter and fold in the cooled melted butter. 5 For the remaining batter, fold in the well-sifted cake flour. 6 Fold in last the butter mixture. 7 Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown


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victoria sponge cake intermediate

30 + 20 mins

This is the classic English sponge cake. Dusted lightly with icing sugar on top, it can stand on its own as an afternoon teatime snack or filled with raspberry or strawberry jam and whipped cream for a true English tradition. 180 grams caster sugar 200 grams butter, unsalted, softened 200 grams eggs, lightly beaten 180 grams cake flour or T45, sifted 15 grams baking powder 8 grams salt 30 grams milk, full fat 10 grams pure vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 180° C (fan on, lower heating on) or 190° C on a regular oven. 2 Line two 20 cm x 4.5 cm round baking tins. 3 In a mixing bowl, place all the ingredients. Beat on medium speed using the flat beater until smooth and the texture is well developed and soft. This takes about 5 minutes. 4 Divide into the two tins and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

V a r i at i o n s Boiled orange variation Boil a piece of orange (seedless orange is always preferred) in a pot with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until the orange is cooked through and very soft. ✽ Allow the orange to cool down completely. Cut the orange into quarters and remove any seeds. Place in a food processor and process until finely chopped. ✽ Fold into the cake batter. Bake as directed.

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The Baker’s Treats

Fun and easy projects that will excite the creative baker in you. Most of the recipes here complement a breakfast fare. You will also find use for specific native ingredients like tablea (native Filipino chocolate tablets) and black sesame seeds. Start off your day doing something different!

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A pastry chef typically starts his day with a bustling breakfast and ends it with a slow and refined dessert service in the evenings. Pictured above is my bakery and pastry team in Jordan.


I always share this common plot in the hotel kitchen in which your baker calls you up at 2:00 am on your first day-off after two weeks straight of crazy toil in the kitchen because he has ran out of flour and a gazillion guests are expected for breakfast. ❡ The nightmare begins even before you have the chance to dream it. Because the nature of the job of a pastry chef requires a skillful balancing of tasks for the bakery team, I was always pushed to come up with alternatives to cushion the stress when an emergency comes up. ❡ Most of the recipes I have developed in this book reflect the goal of diversifying the products available so my team doesn’t have to rely solely on the basic breakfast fare of French pastries and croissants, bread rolls and loaves and muffins. I pre-prepare some dough, blast-freezing them so when there is a sudden increase in demand, my bakers have something to work with. ❡ For example, extra pre-laminated croissant dough, par-baked rolls, pre-baked quick breads, and various other pre-mixes are stowed away chilled or frozen. ❡ Moreover, I can’t stand a boring breakfast selection, so the necessity for creativity is the mother of my inventions. ❡ The recipes in this chapter are atypical yet a little familiar. I owe this to my first formal French patisserie training at the Ecole Lenotre in Sydney, Australia, in 2007.

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My educational trip in New York has led me to discover cronuts. Because the original process can be very timeconsuming, I have adapted a simpler approach that still preserves the unusual blend of croissant and doughnut.


B r e a k fa s t C om p l e m e n t s

cinnamon-sugar blitz cronuts advanced

serves

125 grams water, room temperature 6 grams yeast, instant 15 grams milk powder 250 grams flour, bread 4 grams salt 30 grams sugar, caster --------------------150 grams butter, unsalted, cold and cubed --------------------200 grams sugar, caster 10 grams cinnamon powder

oil, for frying

{preferably hydrogenated fat, e.g., Crisco) for a greaseless mouth feel}

12

people

45 + 10 mins

5 Alternatively, you may transfer the mixture into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast-water mixture and, with your hand, gently mix in a gentle folding motion until well moistened. Form into a ball and refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours. 6 When ready, do the letter-fold process, otherwise known as lamination. On a lightly floured surface, de-gas the dough and roll out to the size of an A4 paper (21 cm x 30 cm). 7 Make three single letter-folds (visually divide the dough into thirds crosswise and fold both ends to the middle that they overlap). 8 Return laminated dough to the refrigerator until firm. 9 Cut the dough with a doughnut cutter or let your creativity guide you. 10 Place cut dough into a lightly floured tray and

1 In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Set aside. 2 Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a food processor. Process briefly to blend all the ingredients uniformly. 3 Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is coarse like cornmeal. 4 Pour in the yeast-water mixture and continue pulsing until it forms into a ball. Refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours.

cover loosely with a cheesecloth. Allow to rise until almost double in size.

11 Meanwhile, prepare a heavy-bottom frying pan.

Bring the oil to a working temperature of 185° C (shallow-frying).

12 Fry the dough until golden brown, turning

it around after the first 2 minutes for even cooking.

13 Coat with the cinnamon-sugar mixture prepared

by combining the caster sugar and cinnamon powder.

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T

he use of cold-pressed coconut oil is a matter of preference and it may be replaced with your favorite butter or fat substitute. I stumbled upon this alternative fat in one of my flights to London. Being a staunch advocate of sticking to what nature has intended us to consume, I have started incorporating healthful ingredients in my recipes.


T h e

Ba k e r’s T r e at s

almond milk quick bread with chia seeds, dried blueberries & brazilian nuts intermediate

makes

188 grams flour, all-purpose 150 grams sugar, granulated

1

loaf

25 + 30 mins

1 Preheat oven to 200° C (works best in a fanassisted oven).

4 grams salt, fine

2 Grease and line a 23 cm x 9 cm x 6 cm loaf pan.

6 grams baking powder

3 Scale, sift, and combine the first set of dry ingredients in a large bowl. Reserve some of the chia seeds, nuts, and blueberries for garnish.

42 grams chia seeds 70 grams brazilian nuts, lightly toasted, sliced 80 grams blueberries, dried --------------------60 grams coconut oil, cold-pressed, melted 120 grams almond milk 100 grams eggs, beaten 10 grams vanilla essence, pure/natural Optional: pearl sugar

V a r i at i o n s This recipe may also be portioned out in individual muffin molds. Adjust the baking time accordingly. I find the taste maturing well when consumed a day after.

4 In another smaller bowl, combine all the remaining four ingredients. Ensure that the eggs and milk are at room temperature to keep your melted coconut oil from solidifying. 5 Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients mixture. Pour in the liquid mixture. With a rubber spatula, gently mix the ingredients in a folding motion, taking extra care not to overmix as this will result in a tough bread. (This will cause the gluten to develop further, which we are avoiding, allowing a better rise with a more open-crumb structure: this is the secret to a tender and moist quick bread.) 6 Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and distribute the reserved garnishes on top, including the pearl sugar if you are using it. The pearl sugar adds an exquisite touch aside from a crunchy texture. 7 Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. If the middle part is still raw, reduce heat to 180° C and continue baking for another 10 minutes or more until it is fully baked.

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T h e

Ba k e r’s T r e at s

fluffy buttermilk pancake crescents with fresh raspberries & grated pure dark chocolate (tablea) advanced

serves

200 grams flour, all-purpose 42 grams light brown sugar, fine 1 gram salt, fine 10 grams baking powder

Tablea | page 51

2 grams baking soda

20 grams tablea (pure dark chocolate), grated --------------------300 grams buttermilk 150 grams eggs, beaten { reserve two egg whites from the quantity }

35 grams butter, melted 5 grams orange zest --------------------1 cup fresh raspberries

8

people

30 + 10 mins

1 Preheat oven to 180° C (better results in a fanassisted oven). Have on hand a heavy-bottom iron-clad skillet. Ensure you are using an allmetal skillet or frying pan as the pancakes will be baked in the oven directly from the stove on the same pan. 2 Scale, sift, and combine the first set of dry ingredients in a large bowl. 3 In another smaller bowl, combine all the remaining four ingredients. Do not forget to reserve the two egg whites, setting them aside in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. 4 Pour in the liquid ingredients and combine in a folding motion similar to how our quick bread recipe is prepared. Mixture will be coarse and lumpy. Do not attempt to mix further! 5 Beat the reserved egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer until soft peaks are formed. Fold this into the above batter until well blended, taking care not to overmix the ingredients. 6 Heat the pan on medium-high heat. Coat pan with some oil. When the pan is ready, pour about a cup of the mixture onto the pan.

Best served warm and with a dusting of icing sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

7 Distribute fresh raspberries on top. 8 When the sides start to set and bubbles appear, carefully fold the pancake into half. 9 Immediately place in the preheated oven. 10 Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until fully cooked.

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T h e

Ba k e r’s T r e at s

kyoto black sesame & candied lemon brioche advanced

makes BRIOCHE

470 grams flour, bread 25 grams sugar, caster 8 grams salt, fine 10 grams yeast, instant 300 grams milk, full cream, room temperature 100 grams egg yolks, room temperature 100 grams lemon peel, candied; chopped 60 grams butter, unsalted, softened ---------------------

16

buns

45 + 20 mins

1 Straight-dough method: Place all dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix briefly with the paddle attachment of your mixer. 2 Add in the rest of the ingredients except the lemon peel and butter. 3 Using the dough hook attachment of your mixer, mix the dough on slow speed until gluten formation begins. The dough will start clinging onto the dough hook. 4 Gradually add in the butter in three additions and continue mixing until dough is fully developed.

BLACK SESAME STREUSEL CRUST

5 Add in the candied lemon peel.

90 grams butter, unsalted, softened

6 Allow to rise in a lightly floured or lightly greased bowl, covered, until double in bulk.

110 grams brown sugar, light, fine 1 gram salt, fine 90 grams flour, bread 40 grams black sesame seeds, toasted; finely ground 10 grams black sesame oil Optional: 6 drops black food color paste

7 While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the streusel crust. You can prepare this well in advance and keep it frozen until ready for use. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and with the paddle attachment, blend at low speed until a uniform paste is formed. 8 Spread onto a baking paper (at least 60 cm x 40 cm) or silicon mat. With a rolling pin, roll into a thickness of 0.25 cm. 9 Place in the freezer until fully set. 10 When the dough is ready, de-gas and allow to

rest for about 10 minutes before scaling.

11 Divide the whole dough into 16 equal pieces.

Shape into rolls and pan.

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12 Allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes and

gently brush the top with milk.

13 Cut the streusel crust into squares of 5 cm.

Place on top of the rolls without pressing. It will slowly soften and stick onto the roll’s surface.

14 When the rolls are double in size, bake in a 180°

C preheated oven.

15 While the rolls are baking, prepare the finishing

touch by mixing a few drops of red food color paste or powder with some milk.

16 As soon as the breads come out of the oven,

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immediately create decorative red lines around the rolls to complete the look.

38

The red decorative lines were inspired by the red colors of autumn in Kyoto, Japan. Hence, the name of the recipe. ✽ This recipe can also be used to make the very popular ensaymada in the Philippines, mallorca in Puerto Rico or the French brioche Menton. ✽ My love for brioche began in my mom’s own kitchen in my high-school days. I learned how to make bread dough just with my bare hands and it was painstaking. ✽ It was a true test if I was to become a baker or stick to cake decorating.


Tablea-made hot chocolate (tsokolate) and this Filipino delicacy called budbud (also goes by the name binubod) are a perfect marriage. Binubod is made of glutinous rice boiled-wrapped in banana leaves along with other native ingredients. Since tablea is produced crudely, it lends some distinctive nuances of earthiness and acidity. I grew up with Mom’s hot chocolate preparation, which is chiefly tablea, water, and sugar. As fresh milk was not readily available, we used evaporated milk to mellow the flavor. Looking back, I realized what we were enjoying back in the days were chiefly organic. [Tablea | p.51]

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Les Délices Quotidiens

An everyday treat. Innovative recipes for an anyday kitchen venture. This is my kind of therapy after a hard day’s work. What’s more, they make great conversation starters with the unique flavor combinations such as cardamom and nuts and za’atar on biscuits.

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Ba ki ng Ni f t y C h ic | Nou e l’s

42

Stunning as it was and still until today, the Burj Al Arab was, by far, the most enthralling and memorable experience in the whole of my career.

Photo by Michael Harvey


When I wrote this chapter, it brought back memories of the honoring and gallant roles in Beijing, the Dead Sea, and Dubai—three places that have tested my artistic abilities well enough. ❡ The colors of the chocolate cronut wedges reminded me of the welcome amenities I constructed for then US President George W. Bush and his family in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Having had the chance to take a glimpse of the First Family or to be personally thanked for their daily breakfast spread afforded me a great sense of pride (and paid off those sleepless nights). ❡ And this continued on to the Dead Sea in Jordan where I prepared treats for Australian actress Nicole Kidman and her kids, as well as fellow Aussie actor Hugh Jackman (you may remember him in his iconic role as Wolverine). Important personalities and officials in Jordan also joined the list of people I had to specially look after, ensuring their sweet cravings were well satisfied. ❡ Back in Dubai where anything monumental is always the way of the land, I resorted to creating smaller yet quaint treats: Za’atar biscuits and handrolled brigadeiros are examples of those. ❡ Dubai, in more ways than one, had been very instrumental in shaping what I have become today as a chef. It afforded me a level of confidence and experience unlike any other. My first stint overseas was at that time the world’s most luxurious hotel, Burj Al Arab. Edible gold leaves, oscietra caviar, white Alba truffles, and outrageously expensive magnum-sized wines were common themes, to name a few. Add to that the state-of-the-art equipment only a chef could dream of. We had at our disposal chefs’ every whim. ❡ When I graduated from the Burj Al Arab, offers were effortlessly flooding in.

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Cronuts are always best consumed the same day they are made. In this picture, the chocolate cronuts are finished in three different flavors. From top to bottom: bubble gum, chocolate, and caramel


L e s

D ĂŠ l ic e s

Q uo t i di a n

chocolate cronut wedges advanced

makes

60 grams water, room temperature 60 grams milk, full cream 6 grams yeast, instant 40 grams cocoa powder, Dutch-processed 210 grams flour, bread 4 grams salt 40 grams sugar, caster

--------------------150 grams butter, unsalted; cold and cubed

--------------------

pre-prepared fondant/fudge coating oil, for frying {preferably Crisco}

16

wedges

45 + 10 mins

5 Alternatively, you may transfer the mixture into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast-water mixture and, with your hand, gently mix in a gentle folding motion until well moistened. Form into a ball and refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours. 6 When ready, do the letter-fold process, otherwise known as lamination. On a lightly floured surface, de-gas the dough and roll out to the size of an A4 paper (21 cm x 30 cm). 7 Make 3 single letter-folds (visually divide the dough into thirds crosswise and fold both ends to the middle that they overlap). 8 Return laminated dough to the refrigerator until firm. 9 Divide into wedges of about 3 cm x 6 cm (or let your whims guide you). 10 Place cut dough into a lightly floured tray and

cover loosely with a cheesecloth. Allow to rise until almost double in size.

1 In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Set aside. 2 Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a food processor. Process briefly to blend all the ingredients uniformly. 3 Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is coarse like cornmeal. 4 Pour in the yeast-water mixture and continue pulsing until it forms into a ball. Refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours.

11 Meanwhile, prepare a heavy-bottom frying pan.

Bring the oil to a working temperature of 185° C (shallow-frying).

12 Fry the dough until golden brown, turning

it around after the first 2 minutes for even cooking.

13 Allow the wedges to cool down completely

before coating with fondant or glazing with a fudge coating.

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L e s

D ĂŠ l ic e s

Q uo t i di a n

tablea brigadeiros intermediate

makes

8 oz can condensed milk 30 grams tablea {pure organic dark chocolate} 30 grams butter, unsalted 5 grams vanilla essence, pure

V a r i at i o n s Toasted desiccated coconut, chocolate sprinkles, roasted chopped almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio

40

pieces

15 + 20 mins

1 Combine all the ingredients in the pan, set over medium heat. 2 Stirring continuously using a solid wooden spoon, cook the mixture until it is very thick that it leaves an empty trace at the bottom of the saucepan when you draw a line with the spoon. You can also test by lifting the mixture with the same spoon. It should steadily cling on instead of falling off in a stream. This takes around 15 minutes. 3 Transfer mixture onto a greased pan and allow to set completely in the refrigerator. 4 Using a greased melon baller of 1.0 inch in diameter, scoop out the mixture onto a wax or parchment paper. 5 Roll each piece into a ball with the palm of your hands (grease your palms with butter). Roll onto your preferred coating to finish. 6 Keep them chilled for up to a week and set on fancy foil or paper cups.

Use a heavy-bottom saucepan to prevent the mixture from getting scorched.

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L e s

D é l ic e s

Q uo t i di a n

za’atar biscuits with olive oil

intermediate

makes

250 grams all-purpose flour, unbleached {Unbleached flour holds the biscuit dough together much better than bleached flour}

16 grams baking powder 2 grams baking soda 6 grams salt 30 grams butter, unsalted 40 grams olive oil, extra-virgin 225 grams buttermilk --------------------Garnish: za’atar

12

pieces

20 + 20 mins

1 Using a food processor, place all the first four dry ingredients in the bowl. Pulse to blend. 2 Add in the butter and olive oil and blitz the mixture again until coarse like cornmeal. 3 Pour in the buttermilk all at once. Pulse once again, very gently, just until the mixture is well moistened. The mixture will aerate from the interaction of the leavening agents and the buttermilk. This contributes to the lightness of the biscuit. 4 On a generously floured surface, turn the dough out and carefully fold the dough until it starts to come together. 5 Start preheating the oven to 200° C (fanassisted gives the best results). 6 Gently gather and pat into a square shape, keeping a height of about 1.0 inch. 7 With a greased knife or dough cutter, equally divide dough into 12 portions. 8 Transfer onto a lined baking tray. 9 Brush top lightly with milk. Generously sprinkle with za’atar powder. 10 Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25

Cream cheese and honey bestow a delicately balanced flavor. This biscuit goes well with English breakfast or green tea.

minutes or until golden brown.

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za’atar M

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y first brush with this word was back in Jordan in 2008 when I worked at the Kempinski Ishtar Hotel in the Dead Sea.

50

It appeared a bit like a kind of gunpowder to me with its deep green-black color and its coarse and sandy texture. It is one of those really difficult-toappreciate mixture of spices—the aroma seeps straight into your nostrils (I remember sneezing a couple of times when I first smelled it). It edges more on citrus notes with earthy tones lingering toward the end. My first taste of za’atar was interestingly met with a sense of delight. It’s hard to describe the mélange of flavors. However, the most pronounced effect on the tongue is the biting sharpness of it, almost like concentrated lemon. Although I struggle to define how za’atar is like and give you a not-so-encouraging description of the same, it is actually a very enjoyable spice to work with. And I consume it in the form of manakeesh (a.k.a. manaeesh or man’ousheh) every morning as part of a Levantine breakfast—I call it the Arabian pizza. You will also find it sprinkled on haloumi cheese, which is equally tasty. Hot tea with mint and sugar (much like Moroccan tea) goes well with it.

Although I struggle to define how za’atar is like, it is actually a very enjoyable spice to work with.

So what is in the mix? It is made of ground thyme, marjoram, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac. You can make your own mix by combining the following: ⅓ cup sumac (you may increase slightly as desired) ¼ cup each of thyme, marjoram and oregano 3 tbsp toasted sesame seed 1 tbsp salt


Tablea is pure chocolate indulgence, preserving the distinct nuances of the cocoa bean’s character. In my hometown in Dipolog City, Philippines, dried cocoa beans are roasted, ground and traditionally molded into the shape of a tablet or disc weighing around 28 grams each (1 oz.). It was not uncommon back in the days, around the eighties, to find cocoa trees cultivated in the backyards. I remember my summer visits at my aunt’s place where cocoa pods lay scattered on the floor, ready to be either eaten or sun-dried. The flesh was sweet, tender and moist. The elderly would warn us against consuming a lot as it could make one intoxicated (there are studies validating the toxicity of raw cocoa bean consumption).

The pre-processed beans were usually taken to town market stalls equipped with milling machines, burr or blade type, to be pulverized to a fine paste. The former produces a finer and smoother texture, allowing the cocoa mass to be shaped into drops or coins, a modern adaptation. Blade-ground tablea has a rougher texture and requires longer cooking and mixing time to achieve a more homogenous beverage using an implement called batirol. It is made of two parts: the handle and the head, all made of wood. It closely resembles a honey server. If you don’t have access to tablea, you may use any 100% pure cacao mass or unsweetened chocolate. A high-percentage bittersweet chocolate may also be an alternate.

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L e s

D ĂŠ l ic e s

Q uo t i di a n

cardamom mixed nuts tart with yoghurt

intermediate

makes

CRUST 60 grams savory biscuits, crushed finely 100 grams flour, bread 8 grams sugar, caster 1 gram salt, fine 114 grams butter, unsalted, cold and diced 50 grams egg, cold, lightly beaten

extra flour for rolling --------------------FILLING 75 grams butter, unsalted 200 grams brown sugar, light, fine 234 grams dark corn syrup 4 grams salt, fine 20 pods cardamom, seeded and crushed 400 grams nuts, mixed, lightly roasted 40 grams Southern Comfort (optional) 10 grams vanilla essence, pure 150 grams eggs, lightly beaten 120 grams yoghurt, natural

12

tarts

30 + 30 mins

1 To make the crust, place all first four dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse briefly to blend all ingredients uniformly. 2 Add in all the diced cold butter and pulse again until mixture is coarse like cornmeal. 3 Pour in the lightly beaten eggs and continue mixing using the pulse button until mixture forms into a ball. 4 Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and give it a quick knead so it forms into a solid ball of dough. Flatten it out and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour. 5 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, and salt. 6 Bring to a boil and continue boiling for another minute. 7 Remove from heat and immediately add the crushed cardamom seeds to release the flavor. 8 Stir in the nuts and liqueur (if using). 9 Allow the mixture to cool slightly before stirring in the rest of the ingredients. Adding the eggs too soon may potentially cook it, resulting in an undesirable texture. Set aside. 10 When the dough is ready, preheat oven to 200°

C (fan-assisted preferred).

11 Lightly grease 12 pieces of 10 cm x 2 cm tart

molds.

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12 Roll dough out to about 0.25 cm in thickness.

Cover the tart molds by pressing the dough gently on the mold. Trim excess and place on a tray.

13 Place tray in the freezer for about an hour or

until the dough is set and hard. This will make the next step easier to do.

14 Lay a piece of aluminum foil or baking paper on

each tart shell.

15 Secure with baking pearls or beans. 16 Bake in the oven just until the dough starts to

turn opaque.

17 Reduce heat to 170° C. 18 Remove the pearls/beans and foil/baking paper. 19 Return the tart shells in the oven and continue

baking for about 10 more minutes or until it turns light brown.

20 When the tart shells are ready, take out of

the oven and equally divide the filling onto the molds.

21 Bake again for about 15 to 20 minutes or until

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the edges are set and the middle part is still slightly soft. It will continue cooking on the pan.

54

A scoop of p istachio or vanilla ice cream goes well with the cardamom flavor.


the no-secrets chef “Chef, what are your trade secrets?” Almost everyone asks me the same question over and over again since the time I began my foray into the kitchen. My response? I have NONE! Wala, aucun, keine, ninguno, mafi!

I still find it surprising that in this age of cutting-edge technology and fast-paced progress, we still stick to the notion of well-guarded kitchen secrets.

I still find it surprising that in this age of cutting-edge technology and fastpaced progress, we still stick to the notion of well-guarded kitchen secrets. You will be amazed the answers to your culinary challenges may just be in YouTube! If you have the proper technique, understanding, and skills, then the key to unlocking those “secrets” is in your hands. I am a very open and generous kitchen professional. I share my ideas and discoveries. This is most especially true when we speak about classic recipes and methods. In my opinion, modernity has sadly gradually killed our rich culinary heritage by ushering in convenience and speed. I fear that one day no one would really know what vanilla really tastes like or what difference real butter makes in patisserie. Hence, in writing this bakebook, I have endeavored to keep the momentum of long-established techniques in constant motion like a pendulum. At the same time, I am also taking into consideration the present demands—almost like a dance between two passionate lovers. If someone asks you what secrets you have in creating the recipes in this bakebook, simply say, “Chef Nouel helped me find the way.”

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L e s

D é l ic e s

Q uo t i di a n

petit mint lemonade japanese cotton cheesecake with caramel surprise advanced

makes

CARAMEL BISCUIT CRUST 200 grams sugar, granulated 65 grams butter, unsalted 140 grams cream 160 grams salted biscuits, crushed fine JAPANESE COTTON CHEESECAKE 140 grams caster sugar, divided 300 grams eggs, separated

1 gram cream of tartar 50 grams butter, unsalted 250 grams cream cheese, softened 100 grams sour cream 5 grams pure vanilla extract

Use only freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice will not give you the same results.

zest of 1 lemon 60 grams flour, cake 20 grams flour, corn 2 grams salt LEMON & MINT CURD

160 grams lemon juice, freshly squeezed 100 grams eggs, whole, room temperature 60 grams egg yolk, room temperature 170 grams sugar, granulated 20 grams tequila (optional) 1 gram salt, fine 115 grams butter, unsalted, softened 4 grams mint leaves, fresh, chopped

24

pieces

45 + 30 mins

Crust Preparation 1 Preheat oven to 170° C. 2 For the cylindrical silicon mold, I used Silikomart™ SF028 (Ø60 h 35 mm-Ø 2.36 h 1.38 inches). 3 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, caramelize the sugar over medium heat until dark amber in color. 4 De-glaze with butter and stir until smooth on low heat. 5 In another pot, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. 6 Slowly pour the hot cream into the caramel mixture, stirring constantly until smooth. 7 Remove from heat and take 150 grams of the mixture and add it into the crushed biscuits. 8 Gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until the biscuits are well moistened. 9 Using scoop number 40 (4 m in diameter), portion out the caramel biscuit mix into the individual cylindrical cavities, pressing down, lightly compacting and leveling out the crust. 10 Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes.

Do not overbake as the crust can get stone hard. Set aside.

11 For the remaining caramel, place in a container

and chill until set. This will be used later.

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Cake Preparation 1 Preheat oven to 100° C (fan off, lower heat on). 2 Prepare the bain-marie using a deep tray much larger than the silicon mold. Place the silicon mold over it. 3 Place the eggs in two separate mixing bowls. Set aside, covered. 4 In a heatproof bowl, place the butter and cream cheese and soften together over a pot of boiling water (double-boiler method), mixing with a whisk until well blended. You may also use the microwave using medium power, being careful not to burn the cheese. 5 Remove from heat and slowly stir in the milk until well combined. 6 Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. 7 In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining dry ingredients. Set aside.

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8 Now, we work on the eggs: Whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until lemon colored.

58

9 Fold the cream cheese mixture into the beaten egg yolks. You may do this manually with a balloon whisk. 10 Sift the dry ingredients over the batter while

gently folding it. Set aside. 11 Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar. 12 When the egg whites are very frothy, add

the remaining sugar and continue beating on medium speed just until soft-peak stage. 13 Fold the meringue into the batter in two

additions.


14 Portion out into the pre-prepared silicon mold

until almost full (the batter will rise). Pour hot water over the tray until it is filled up almost to the brim. 15 Bake in the preheated oven for about 20

to 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown. Make a regular check of the heat as ovens are not created equal. This cake is very temperature-sensitive (hence, the fan is not necessary). If you notice it is rising too fast or the top starts to break, then the oven is very hot. Immediately reduce heat by 10° C. Better yet, invest in a reliable oven thermometer to see the thermostat variables of your oven. 16 Switch off the heat and keep the oven door

ajar until oven has completely cooled down to prevent cake from shrinking too much. 17 Freeze the cake until completely frozen before

removing from the mold.

Curd Preparation 1 Combine the lemon juice (preferably with the pulp included for better body and texture), sugar, eggs, tequila (optional), and salt in a bowl. Whisk gently until well blended and strain into a double boiler or in a stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water. 2 Cook the curd mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens or registers 82° C on a thermometer. 3 Remove from heat and immediately stir in the chopped mint leaves (chop the leaves fresh or they will start to oxidize and become bitter). 4 Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. 5 With a hand blender, add in the softened butter a little at a time until all the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is well emulsified. You may blend in the butter by hand using a wire whisk but must be added while the curd mixture is around 40° C. 6 Chill the mixture until set.

Assembly 1 Place the caramel in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. 2 Pipe some amount of caramel (around 1 teaspoon) at the center of the cheesecake, forming a slight mound. 3 Place the mint lemonade curd in another pastry bag fitted with a larger round tip. 4 Begin piping out the curd from around the rim of the cheesecake, slowly taking the tip toward the center of the cheesecake (like a swirl) and covering the caramel. 5 Finish with candied lemon zest.

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Rustic & Chic

The beauty of being self-taught and creatively defiant is you surprise yourself with new discoveries and unique results you can be proud of. My major influences stretch from France to the USA. French techniques lend the exacting technical methods, while the American system teaches you to be bold and push boundaries. In this chapter, I present a few of my wellenjoyed inventions put forth stunningly by photographer-artist Dafna Ljubotina.

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NYC-based award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini signing my copy of his book after helping out in his book launch back in 2008.

62

Paying homage to the Middle East where I spent most of my chef life.


I have been inspired by countless number of very talented pastry chefs that my book collection keeps growing. ❡ What I thought then was next to impossible. I have unremittingly been traveling and meeting various culinary professionals until the point came when I found myself mingling with celebrity chefs—people you used to watch on television or read about in books. ❡ Undeniably, they are well respected for their talents and contributions in the field. And they very well are staunch industry revolutionaries! ❡ Hence, this special section reveals my creative journey, in which I join extolled contemporary pastry chefs in keeping the pastry world vibrant and fresh!

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These puffy gougĂŠres celebrate Arabian ingredients. To add spark, we prepare them a la Yorkshire pudding, yielding more body and flavor.


R u s t ic

&

C h ic

akawi cheese & rosemary gougères baked yorkshire pudding style in olive oil

advanced

makes

85 grams butter, unsalted 235 grams water 2 grams salt, fine 1 gram black pepper, freshly crushed 200 grams flour, all-purpose, bleached 360 grams eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten 200 grams akawi cheese, grated

virgin olive oil rosemary leaves, fresh, chopped { divided into two parts }

salt flakes, maldon, fleur de sel or your preference

12

pieces

30 + 20 mins

5 Set a fan-assisted oven to 200° C or 210° C on a regular oven. 6 Prepare a standard 12-cup muffin pan (1 cup = 6.35 cm in diameter) by portioning in a tablespoon of virgin olive oil in each mold. 7 Place the pan in the hot oven and allow the olive oil to get heated through (about 5 minutes). 8 In the meantime, have ready a number 40 mechanical scoop (4 cm in diameter), the chopped rosemary (one part for the mold and one part as garnish), and salt flakes. 9 When the olive oil is ready, remove pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle in each mold some amount of chopped rosemary leaves. 10 Quickly portion out the akawi dough into each

mold.

1 Place the butter, water, and salt in a heavybottom saucepan. Bring to a boil. 2 Remove from heat and add in the crushed black pepper.

11 Sprinkle top with the remaining chopped

rosemary leaves and salt.

12 Return the pan in the oven and continue baking

for about 20 to 25 minutes or until well puffed and golden brown.

3 Add in the flour and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a mass and is cooked through (takes about 2 minutes).

T a k e N ot e

4 Remove from heat and in two additions blend in the beaten eggs thoroughly. You may use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Fold in the grated akawi cheese. Set aside.

Highly recommended to be served fresh or warm. Dough may be prepared well in an advance and stored chilled and tightly covered. Before use, bring the dough first to room temperature.

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choc-nut cream puffs

crowned with crunchy choc-nut streusel and a fresh raspberry surprise advanced

makes

There are things you simply can’t outgrow. The heavily popularized cookie butter wasn’t serendipitous. Someone decided to revolutionize the way the Christmas tradition of serving Speculoos (from which the cookie butter is made) is enjoyed and made it available the whole year round. Choc-Nut carries the same entitlement. A Filipino milk chocolate bar made of cane sugar, cocoa powder, peanuts, and milk powder, it doesn’t quite resemble the milk chocolate bar you are familiar with—it doesn’t run the risk of melting in your hands. Instead, it crumbles like rubble. Imagine a powdery Gianduja but made of roasted peanuts and with more earthy notes.

12

pieces

50 + 20 mins

That’s as close as I can describe it. If you have no access to it, mix 55% dark couverture chocolate and sweetened peanut butter in equal ratio. The streusel mixture will be a little softer than usual. Hence, it is important to freeze the streusel sheet well for easy handling.

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T a k e N ot e Have all the components ready a day before. It is important for the pastry cream to be prepared well ahead of time to allow it to fully set.

Components a CHOC-NUT STREUSEL & PÂTE À CHOUX

Prepare one recipe of the Streusel p.21 Replace the brown sugar with equal quantities of Choc-Nut. Prepare as instructed. ❡ Prepare one recipe of the Paté a Choux p.22 piped into 4 cm in diameter each using #866 Ateco French star tip. Follow instructions on baking with a streusel topping. Freeze the shells before use for easy handling. b GANACHE FILLING 100 grams whipping cream

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100 grams dark couverture chocolate

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{ I used TCHOPro PureNotes Fruity 68% Dark }

fresh raspberries c CHOC-NUT FILLING

400 grams pastry cream p.20 100 grams Choc-Nut, crumbled down 100 grams whipped cream, soft-whipped

1 Prepare the ganache: Bring the whipped cream to a boil. In a separate container, melt the dark chocolate. 2 Make a ganache with the two ingredients by adding the hot cream into the melted chocolate in increments and stirring continuously with a rubber spatula until well emulsified. You may also use a hand blender. Set aside to cool down (but not refrigerated hard). 3 Start with the Choc-Nut filling: Using your hand, break the pastry cream down into a smooth paste using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, ensuring there are no lumps. You may use your mixer with the flat beater attachment at slow speed. 4 Gently fold in the soft-whipped whipping cream in two to three additions until mixture is fluffy and well blended.


5 Fold in crumbled-down pieces of the Choc-Nut, leaving a few whole pieces for texture. Set aside in the refrigerator. 6 Slice the shell into two, crosswise, using a serrated knife a little below the streusel portion. Make sure the bottom part is not fully flat, as you will fill it with ganache. 7 Fill the bottom layer with ganache and place one or two pieces of fresh raspberries. 8 Using a large star tip, pipe the filling in a swirl, totally covering the base and the raspberry. 9 Place the streusel shell on top. 10 To create the spotted effect, color a portion

of the streusel mixture with black color paste. Before fully rolling out the streusel, randomly sprinkle small pieces of the black streusel on top using a microplane grater and continue with the rolling process.

Store in a covered container to prevent the filling from developing a hard crust. Use within one to two days.

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bola de sylvanas

covered in crushed savory biscuits and filled with candied lemon and mocha pieces intermediate

makes

One of my earliest memories was being introduced to this proverbial Filipino speciality. Mom raved about it until it became a family quest to replicate the recipe, which we all saw as daunting and delicate. Sylvana is as simple as the Parisian macaron, but the process requires great care and attention. The sylvana is served frozen, so temperature is a challenging factor especially if you are in a tropical region where there is so much humidity aside from the hot weather.

30

pieces

30 mins

contain flour and ground cashew nuts. This results in a nuttier flavor (it’s gluten-free too), and it is rolled into a ball, which almost any child can do. Of course, you can always use cashew nuts. However, the additional candied lemon peel goes well with almond flour and mellows down the richness of this treat.

To address this, I have come up with an almost foolproof version using the French Dacqouise recipe by replacing the meringue wafers that chiefly

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Components a ALMOND DACQUOISE & ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM

Bake one recipe of the Almond Dacquoise p.19 and replace the chopped nuts with candied lemon peel (dry). Bake at a lower temperature of 160° C (vents open if available) until very dry and crisp. Leave the oven door ajar so the meringue stays dry. ❡ Prepare one recipe of the Italian Buttercream p.23 flavored with pure vanilla. Keep aside at ambient temperatures and away from direct heat. b FILLING 100 grams praline paste, 50%

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4 grams instant coffee powder

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4 grams water, warm c COATING

I used Ritz crackers

125 grams salted crackers, crushed into a fine powder

1 Prepare the filling by heating the praline paste to about 40° C. 2 In another bowl, dissolve the instant coffee powder in the warm water until smooth. Add into the heated praline paste. The mixture will seize and become dry and crumbly. Break into pieces and fold into the prepared Italian Buttercream. 3 With your hands, break the Dacquoise into irregular small-sized pieces so that they can be packed into a number 40 scoop (4 cm in diameter). 4 For every 200 grams of Dacquoise, use 1 x recipe of Italian Buttercream. 5 Fold the two together until the Dacquoise pieces are well coated.


6 Using a 2oz scoop, scoop out the mixture onto a pan lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Place in the freezer to harden the outside part. 7 Roll each piece in finely crushed saltine crackers and gently form into a ball with your hands. Do this in batches and with gloves. 8 To retain the shape, place the coated pieces in small spherical silicon molds. 9 Freeze overnight before serving.

T a k e N ot e Sylvanas are best consumed within three days, after which the Dacquoise will start losing its crunchiness.

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chocolate mediterranean profiteroles verrine with poppy seeds and mastic creme patisserie

advanced

yield depends on verrine size

My Greek entrepreneur friend who now runs a successful coffee kingdom first showed me his Greek profiterole recipe when we were both opening a luxury patisserie in the Middle East. Little did I know I would be enchanted by its unique identity. In the kitchen of Fairmont Hotel in Dubai, I came to establish this recipe as a mainstay item on our Friday brunch. Of course, it received some tweaking from my insatiable gourmet spirit.

45 mins

the pastry cream. With the Arabian and Greek ensemble, it is but apt to call it Mediterranean Profiteroles. Ideally a verrine-type of preparation— meaning it has to be served in a small glass vessel—this can easily complement your show-stopping dessert spread as you can play with various designs, shapes, and decorations.

The milk chocolate cream is reminiscent of the Arabic muhalabiya, comprised chiefly of milk, sugar, and cornstarch. However, to pay homage to the origins of this dessert, I chose to incorporate mastic gum or mastica in

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Mastic gum is a kind of natural resin that comes in tiny, almost round-shaped, globules and somewhat translucent, with a tinge of light yellow or green. It is primarily harvested on the Greek Island of Chios. Mastic or mastica has a very mild cedar flavor with pronounced notes of pine.

Components a PÂTE À CHOUX & PASTRY CREME

Prepare a half recipe of the Paté a Choux p.22 piped into 2 cm in diameter, each using the small #863 Ateco French star tip. Sprinkle top with poppy seeds. If not available, you may use chia seeds. ❡ Prepare a half recipe of the Pastry Creme p.20 , omitting the vanilla. Replace vanilla with 5 grams of mastic gum (mastica) pounded to a fine powder (mix with a little amount of sugar and pound gently using a mortar). Simmer the mastic powder in the milk in the first stages of the preparation, ensuring it is dissolved completely before proceeding to the next steps.

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b MILK CHOCOLATE CREAM

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150 grams whipping cream 350 grams milk, full cream 40 grams flour, corn 30 grams sugar, granulated 100 grams dark couverture chocolate (at most 66%), chopped 50 grams butter, unsalted, softened

1 Prepare the profiteroles: From the base, using a small round tip, pipe the mastica pastry cream into each of the mini-cream puffs. 2 Distribute the filled cream puffs amongst the verrines. 3 Prepare the chocolate cream: In a heavy-bottom saucepan, place all ingredients except the chocolate and butter and whisk gently until all the dry ingredients are dissolved. 4 Bring to a moderate boil, stirring continuously until it starts to thicken. 5 Add in the dark chocolate. Continue cooking until the mixture becomes viscous. This takes only about one to 2 minutes from the boiling time.


6 Remove from heat and stir in the butter. 7 Place mixture in a double-layered pastry bag to prevent yourself from getting burned from the hot mixture. I highly advise you wear gloves for double protection. 8 Cut off a small portion of the pastry bag’s tip and begin dispensing the hot chocolate cream on top of the filled cream puffs in the verrines. Give each verrine a gentle tap on the counter to allow the chocolate cream to flow down some more into the base. 9 This process must be done quickly as the chocolate mixture sets in a short amount of time. As the temperature gets cooler, it will start setting and you cannot repair the viscosity by heating it again. 10 Allow to cool down completely before placing in

the chiller for storage.

Choose an appropriate verrine or small glass vessel for the profiteroles. I used a bottle that can take about 150 mL of liquid.

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violet flan fingers

reminiscent of the upside-down custard cake advanced

makes

It comes in different names and forms—flans, custard, crème caramel, crème brûlée, and the like. However, in this version the custard sits on top of a vanilla sponge cake, topped with caramelized sugar. It has a touch of violet and comes in a shape most contemporary chefs would approve.

16

pieces

45 + 20 mins

well under ambient conditions (as the buffet is in an open-air dining area) and I usually use coconut milk as a base instead of cow’s milk for a truly tropical note!

In Fiji Islands where I had my stint at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa for almost two years, flan cakes were easily a popular item. The flan cake holds

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I used the “Pillow” mold from Silikomary™ (SF 165; 18,97 x 1,69 h 1,25 inch)

Components a CUSTARD 180 grams egg yolks 395 grams condensed milk { equivalent to 1 standard-sized can }

410 grams evaporated milk {equivalent to 1 large can}

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50 grams sugar, granulated

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drops of violet essence

drops of fuchsia food color b CASTELLA SPONGE CAKE 85 grams egg whites, room temperature 60 grams caster sugar 60 grams egg yolks 20 grams honey, warmed 60 grams flour, bread 20 grams milk, full fat c CARAMEL 100 grams sugar, granulated 40 grams water

1 Prepare the caramel by combining the sugar and water in a heavy-bottom saucepan. 2 Cook over medium heat until dark amber in color. Immediately portion out onto the mold. 3 Next, prepare the custard mixture. Lightly break the egg yolks with a wire whisk in a bowl and gradually pour in the condensed milk and continue mixing with the whisk until well blended. 4 Dissolve the sugar in the evaporated milk. Add a few drops of fuschia food color to reach a desired shade. Gradually add this mixture into the milk-yolk mixture, mixing them well together but avoiding incorporating too much air. We do not need bubbles. 5 Add a few drops of violet essence to taste. 6 Strain into a bowl and set aside. 7 Lastly, prepare the Castella Sponge. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites on medium speed with the cream of tartar until very frothy. 8 Add in the sugar in two additions, beating until the meringue is soft and glossy. Do not whip to stiff-peak stage so the cake has a uniform texture devoid of large air bubbles. 9 Whisk in the egg yolk one piece at a time or in smaller portions at a time to keep the meringue from deflating. Blend manually using a rubber spatula or balloon whisk.


10 Pour the honey in a thin stream, folding it in and

being extra careful not to incorporate too much air.

11 Using a sieve, sift the flour over the mixture and

fold in.

12 Finally, pour the milk all over the batter and fold

in once again until well blended.

13 Give the mixture a quick tap on the counter to

remove excess air.

Assembly & Baking 1 Preheat oven to 160° C (fan off, only lower heat on). 2 Prepare the bain-marie using a deep tray much larger than the mold. Position the mold on top of the tray. 3 Pour the custard mixture into the mold lined with the hardened caramel up to 1/3 full. 4 Place the Castella Sponge batter into a piping bag. Make a small incision at the tip and gently pour batter on top of the custard filling in a swirling motion up to 3/4 full, ensuring the custard mixture does not leak out to the surface. 5 Place the entire bain-marie set-up in the oven and pour warm water onto the tray until it is halfway through the level of the mold. 6 Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. 7 Cool down the cake completely and store in the freezer, covered, until very hard. De-mold and serve when fully thawed.

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Cre-ate

It all begins from scratch. The beautiful sketches provided capture the process of creation in my kitchen. Even before the recipe is formulated, the images appear in my head. Gradually and almost literally, various flavors form in my mouth. And the process of recipe writing begins.

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C r e -at e

gluten-free praline black forest cake professional

makes

I conceived of this recipe for a Christmas potluck dinner over at a friend’s place. Because my friend has developed allergies from gluten, the dessert had to be devoid of any wheat products. Black Forest is one of my childhood favorites during special occasions, especially in the cooler months of December where the kick of cherry brandy evokes revelry.

2

cakes

2 hrs + variable

and putting together the different gluten-free layers and letting them set with the chocolate mousse overnight. The second stage is devoted to glazing and decorating. Be very careful not to form tiny bubbles in the glaze as it will obviously show on the surface. I always use a reliable stick blender to achieve a velvety smooth and shiny coating.

To make this work for gluten-intolerant individuals, I had to devise a way to replace the chocolate genoise with flourless chocolate biscuit. The recipe requires careful preparation. Allow yourself two days to finish the cake. The first stage involves baking

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Components a Almond dacquoise & sour cherry filling

Bake one recipe of the Almond Dacquoise p.19 and replace the chopped nuts with candied lemon peel (dry). Bake at a lower temperature of 160° C (vents open if available) until very dry and crisp. Leave the oven door ajar so the meringue stays dry. ❡ Prepare sour cherry filling or Amarena cherries. b FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE SPONGE 240 grams egg whites, room temperature 4 grams cream of tartar

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160 grams egg yolks, room temperature

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240 grams caster sugar 70 grams cocoa powder, Dutch-processed

1 Beat the egg whites until frothy. 2 Add in the cream of tartar. 3 Continue beating on medium speed until softpeak stage. 4 Gradually add in the sugar, beating continuously until stiff and glossy. 5 Give the egg yolks a quick stir so they’re well blended. 6 In a thin stream and with speed at low, carefully incorporate the egg yolks into the meringue. 7 Sift in and fold the cocoa powder. 8 Immediately divide onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 9 Bake at 180° C (fan on) until firm to the touch (around 25 minutes). 10 Allow to cool completely and refrigerate.


c DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE 1000 grams dark couverture chocolate* (64%) 300 grams milk, full fat

1 Create a ganache with the chocolate and milk by carefully emulsifying the two ingredients.

1 liter whipping cream

2 When temperature is down to 40° C, fold in the whipped cream.

{ I used Valrhona Manjari 64% (Madagascar) }

3 Keep covered in a cool place until ready to use.

d CARAMEL PRALINE GLAZE 120 grams caramel milk chocolate (36%), melted { I used Valrhona Caramelia 36% }

40 grams praline paste 50%, warmed 50 grams whipping cream, hot 150 grams hot glaze, neutral { I used Puratos Harmony™ Classic Neutral }

30 grams water, warm

1 In a bowl, mix together the melted milk chocolate and warm praline paste. 2 Slowly add in the hot whipping cream until well blended. Keep the mixture at 40° C. 3 Combine the warm water and hot glaze, being extra careful not to incorporate too much air bubbles. 4 Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. 5 Pour into the chocolate mixture gradually and mix with a rubber spatula until well blended. 6 You may use a stick blender to emulsify the glaze. 7 Use at 40° C.

e KIRSCH-CASSIS PUNCH 80 grams cassis puree May be substituted with mixed berries puree

30 grams water 100 grams sugar, granulated 60 grams kirsch May be substituted with cherry juice

1 Combine the puree, water and sugar in a heavybottom saucepan. 2 Bring to a boil just until the sugar is completely dissolved. 3 Cool down completely before stirring in the kirsch. 4 Keep chilled.

for a non-alcoholic punch

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f GARNISHES Amarena cherry Chocolate-coated cocoa nibs Dried flowers Fondant glaze

1 This makes two 20 cm round cakes with a height of 6 cm. 2 Dacquoise with candied lemon p.19 —cut into 4 discs at least 2 cm smaller than the ring mold. 3 Flourless chocolate sponge—cut into 4 discs at least 2 cm smaller than the ring mold. 4 Line a 20 cm x 6 cm ring mold with acetate film.

Assemble

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1 Coat the insides of the lined ring molds with dark chocolate mousse for a smooth outside finish.

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2 Place the flourless chocolate sponge at the bottom that has been lightly coated with tempered dark chocolate at the base. 3 Fill top with dark chocolate mousse, 0.5 cm thick. 4 Place the candied lemon dacquoise disc on top. 5 Spread the sour cherry filling on top, 1.5 cm thick. If using amarena cherries, coat the dacquoise first with a thin layer of dark chocolate mousse or unsweetened whipped cream to hold the cherries in place. And before placing on top the next layer of dacquoise, spread another thin layer of the mousse/ whipped cream.

6 Lay the second candied lemon dacquoise disc. 7 Pour the remaining dark chocolate mousse on top and smooth down to the rim. 8 Freeze for about 30 minutes. Spread another layer of dark chocolate mousse and smooth down. Return to the freezer. Finishing ✽ Cover the cake with the caramel praline glaze ✽ Spray with dark chocolate To p D e c o r a t i o n ✽ I used Puratos™ white fudge to create the swirl on top ✽ The chocolate-covered nibs are from Tcho™


Caramel-praline glaze 4 Dark chocolate mousse 3 Almond dacquoise with candied lemon 2 Sour cherry filling 5

gluten-free praline black forest cake

1

(prepared or Amarena cherries)

Flourless chocolate sponge

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C r e -at e

plum bouquet victoria cake advanced

makes

2

cakes

2 hrs + variable

It doesn’t have to be made of expensive ingredients or adorned with edible gold or a complicated piece to celebrate a special occasion with loved ones.

sheet. Fear not! All you need is a tall and narrow heat-resistant container, a reliable slicing knife (a serrated knife doesn’t always work for me in this case), and a kitchen cloth.

Although simple, the finishing touches require a lot of patience and time—a labor of love fit for very special moments.

Fill the container with hot water and place the knife inside until it becomes hot. With the kitchen cloth, quickly wipe the knife dry and aim the knife’s tip at an angle from the middle point of the cake.

Experiment with other fruits that are firm yet flexible so you can easily form floral patterns. Mango, nectarine, and peach are a few of my other options. You can use white or milk couverture chocolate as an alternative to the dark chocolate decoration around the sides.  Alternatively, you can design a basketweave pattern along the sides using plain or lightly sweetened whipped cream or simply cover with toasted almond slices for a more rustic effect.

Gingerly slice through the cake in a slow sawing motion ensuring the chocolate sheet remains intact. Dip the knife again in the hot water as necessary and replace the water as frequently to keep it hot all the time.

The most challenging part about this cake is cutting through the chocolate

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Components a VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE & VANILLA PASTRY CREAM

Bake one recipe of the Victoria Sponge Cake p.25 in two 23 cm round cake pans, 8 cm in height. ❡ Prepare the vanilla pastry cream p.20 without the gelatin. ❡ Prepare 500 mL of whipped cream. ❡ You will need about six ripe plums and two green apples. b PLUM COMPOTE

1 De-seed about six pieces of ripe plums and chop them up into smaller cubes. 2 Measure white sugar up to 75% of the amount of plums used using the imperial system (for example, if you measured 1 cup of chopped plums, put 3/4 cup of sugar). 3 Add two sticks of cinnamon and 60mL of red wine (I used Malbec for this recipe for a richer flavor) or red grape juice. 4 Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the plums are cooked through and the mixture is thickened. Set aside to cool down completely and chill.

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Construction

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1 Split each Victoria sponge cake into two layers (horizontally) to give you four layers in total.

Assembly 1 Line a 23 cm x 8 cm ring mold with acetate film. 2 Coat the insides of the lined ring molds with whipped cream. 3 Place the Victoria sponge at the bottom. 4 Coat with plum compote, 0.5 cm thick. 5 Spread a layer of whipped cream, 0.5 thick. 6 Repeat steps 3 to 5 until all the sponges have been used. 7 On the final layer of Victoria sponge, spread the vanilla pastry cream, 1.0 cm thick. 8 Chill until set, about 1 hour.


5 4 3 2

plum bouquet victoria cake

1

Dark couverture chocolate Vanilla pastry cream Plum compote Whipped cream Victoria sponge

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Finishing 1 Dark chocolate decoration around the sides using tempered dark couverture chocolate spread thinly on a strip of acetate film that is slightly wider than the height of the finished cake (about 10 cm). 2 Finally, create the plum roses on top (see stepby-step guide).

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Preparing the fruit petals

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1 Prepare the lemon-water bath for the garnishes by bringing to a simmer 500mL of water. Remove from heat and add a squeeze of half a cheek of lemon. 2 Prepare the fruit petals by cutting the plum into two and de-seeding it. Core the apple then half it crosswise. 3 Using a mandoline or a truffle slicer, slice the fruit from the tip of the sliced part so you will create half-moon-shaped pieces. These are your petals. 4 Immediately immerse the fruit petals in the hot lemon-water bath to soften and keep them from turning brown. Make sure the water bath is hot (not boiling) when you use it so the fruit pieces will soften.


5 Before use, fully drain the water and place the fruit petals carefully on a tray lined with thick tissue paper to absorb the excess water. They must be devoid of any extra water or the cream on top will be watered down. Refer to the photos for your reference in the succeeding page. 6 Glaze the top with a clear or neutral hot or cold glaze as preferred.

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C r e -at e

floral basket celebration cake professional

makes

This is one of my favorite artistic achievements and always a wellenjoyed project requiring my hands to gingerly mold gum paste into edible pieces. The special cake-decorating class I took at the Notter School in the USA has sharpened my cake designing acuity. Within the span of five years, so much has changed in the sugarcraft business. What we are used to then is unfortunately already passĂŠ. With this very important undertaking, I implored to create flowers and trimmings made entirely of sugar and

1

cake

2 to 3 days

molded using my bare hands (with the help of cutters for the accents). Again, time is both your friend and enemy. But the more time you have, the more things you can do with sugar (and the beautiful they will be with the great attention).

vanilla extract

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I needed three days to prepare the sugar decorations while half a day to finish the cake assembly.

Components a VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE & ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM

Bake one recipe of the Victoria Sponge Cake p.25 ❡ Prepare one recipe of the Italian Buttercream p.23 flavored with pure vanilla. ❡ Prepare red fruit jam, gum paste flowers and twigs, and fondant ruffles

Preparation

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1 I used Wilton™ gum-paste mix and followed the instructions to the letter with foolproof results. Ensure you keep your gum paste covered with plastic at all times as it dries out quickly. In temperate areas, you may need a dehumidifier and work in an enclosed space.

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2 You may also use rolled fondant to make the flowers, but make sure to add tylose powder in the ratio (1 to 2 teaspoons for every 500 grams of fondant), otherwise the decorations will not set hard enough and break easily.

3 As for the finishing touches on the flowers and twigs, I didn’t use airbrush. Instead, I brushed the colors on to create a more rustic look. 4 It’s best to bake the cake at most a week in advance, kept frozen so this will be out of your way. Use at least a 24 cm ring mold with a depth of 4.5 cm. Bake five layers. 5 Use an all-natural jam. I used Bon Maman™ raspberry with seeds for taste and texture. Please refer to the illustration and photos on the next pages for the cake assembly and techniques used in creating this wonderful cake.


3

2

floral basket celebration cake

1

Victoria sponge cake (with boiled orange) Red fruit jam (prepared) Italian buttercream

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To p 1 I made three types of flowers for this cake, namely rose, daisy, and carnation. 2 The only time I used a cutter was when I made the daisies and the leaves. 3 Everything else was made by hand. It takes a lot of practice to achieve good results. 4 For the leaves: I used powdered food color and brushed different shades of green and yellow. 5 For the carnation: I used metallic red edible food color on the edges. 6 For the twigs: I rolled leftover gum paste into thin ropes before shaping them. When completely dried, I brushed on brown food color paste.

Bottom Left The frill’s edges were carefully brushed with silver food-grade powder mixed with some rosewater (or you can use vodka). Bottom Right Pistachio-flavored cupcakes accompanied this flower basket

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C r e -at e

decadent chocolate cake with fresh strawberries advanced

makes

Going back to the bygone days when baking didn’t have the luxury of today’s implements, I certainly find joy in decorating cakes using the mighty spatula and the star tip. I am always drawn to the beauty of the olden days—much because these days you can easily mask your lack of skill with the use of a mold, a chocolate spray gun, or other modern conveniences. More often in becoming current, you let go of traditions— traditions that are steeped in history and the art of the human skill where one can be truly called a tradesman.

1

cake

30 + 40 mins

bag with great definition and tastes rich and creamy. In the Asian region where cream isn’t a common ingredient, a different version of icing is used made of condensed milk, a starch, cocoa powder and egg yolks. It brings back memories of the olden times and its flavor is unique–fudgy texture like tootsie roll.

This cake uses whipped chocolate ganache that pipes out of the pastry

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Components

Prepare one recipe of the Pastry Creme. p.20 Prepare whole and chopped fresh strawberries. Bake the following recipe of decadent chocolate cake Prepare whipped ganache frosting. a DECADENT CHOCOLATE CAKE 250 grams flour, all-purpose bleached 350 grams sugar, granulated 90 grams cocoa powder, Dutch-processed 8 grams baking powder

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5 grams baking soda

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8 grams salt 250 grams milk, full fat 125 grams vegetable oil 100 grams eggs, lightly beaten 10 grams pure vanilla extract 235 grams espresso punch, hot but not boiling Make four shots of espresso and dilute with hot water to the required quantity. Alternatively, use 15 grams of instant coffee powder to replace the espresso if unavailable.

1 Preheat oven to 180° C (fan off, lower heating on). 2 Line the bottom of two 23.0 cm x 4.5 cm round baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside. 3 Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. 4 Add in the milk, oil, lightly beaten eggs, and vanilla. 5 On low speed using the flat beater attachment, beat the ingredients until smooth. This takes about 2 minutes. 6 Immediately pour in the hot espresso punch and beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the batter’s texture and body are developed. 7 Pour into the prepared pans. 8 Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until fully done.


b WHIPPED GANACHE FROSTING 500 grams whipping cream 500 grams dark couverture chocolate* (68%) 60 grams butter, unsalted, softened

rubber spatula until well emulsified. You may also use a hand blender, which facilitates the process. 4 Incorporate the softened butter until well blended. 5 Pour on a baking tray lined with a cling wrap. 6 Allow to cool down in the refrigerator until it is partially set (about 20° C).

1 Bring the whipping cream to a boil. Remove from heat. 2 Melt the dark chocolate. 3 Make a ganache with the two ingredients, adding the hot cream into the melted chocolate in increments and stirring continuously using a

7 Place in a mixing bowl and with a flat beater beat the mixture on medium speed until it becomes light and fluffy but still soft. Do not allow the mixture to become extremely fluffy and firm or it will set hard quickly and will be difficult to use. Melting it down again will give you an inferior-quality ganache frosting.

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Assembly 1 Divide each chocolate layer into two yielding four layers in total. 2 Whip the ganache only when you are done filling the cake as it sets over a short period of time. 3 Remember to wash your strawberries and dry them well with paper towels to avoid watering down the ganache. 4 Freehand assembly:

This requires a good eye to keep the cake even and level and a stable hand for a uniform and smooth finish. a Place the first layer of chocolate cake on a cake board. b Spread vanilla pastry cream on top, 0.5 cm thick. c Lay the next layer of chocolate cake on top. d Repeat the above steps until all cakes have been used.

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e Crumb-coat the finished layers by thinly coating the cake with the whipped ganache ensuring the top and sides are even.

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f Finish off with another layer of ganache. g With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe shells or rosettes around the top border and base of the cake with the remaining ganache. h Garnish with fresh strawberries on top while the ganache is not yet completely set. i With a pastry brush, lightly coat strawberries with a clear gel for a glossy finish.


4 3 2

decadent chocolate cake with strawberries

1

Vanilla pastry cream Chopped fresh strawberries Decadent chocolate cake Whipped ganache

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Artsy FinalÉs

No dessert must be treated less. Endings are to be as memorable as great beginnings rounding up the gastronomic experience. Let’s embark on a journey to a satisfyingly edible finalé.

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For the chocoholic, it combines varying textures from crisp to billowy soft. Major components: madeleine, mousse, and tempered chocolate shell


A rt s y F i na l É s

the pod professional

makes

This is the ultimate chocolate encore celebrating the highly prized cocoa pod. A chocoholic, I am always drawn to the versatility and elegance of chocolate. This composition combines different textures—the softness of the mousse, the tenderness of a cake, the crispness of dark chocolate, and the crunchiness of the cocoa nibs.

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It will also go well with either a berrybased or citrus-based sorbet. However, I still insist on having it on its own, sitting on a smudge of bittersweet chocolate sauce. The Pod requires precision and patience. Hence, I highly recommend you re-create this with proper time management.

The Pod, aptly named from the obroma cacao’s form, stands well on its own or may be served with a sauce from the citrus and berry families, more so because it contains a small component of lemon curd in the middle.

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Components

Chocolate hazelnut madeleine Milk chocolate mousse Lemon curd Milk chocolate praline glaze Dark chocolate cocoa pod shell Garnishes: chocolate-coated cocoa nibs and dried flower petals a CHOCOLATE-HAZELNUT MADELEINES 112 grams butter, unsalted 85 grams chopped dark couverture chocolate { I used TchoPro PureNotes™ Chocolatey 70% }

2 grams salt 4 grams baking powder 30 grams cocoa powder, natural { I used Hershey’s™ natural cocoa powder. Dutch-processed is too strong in flavor and strength, the batter will be stiff. }

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60 grams flour, all-purpose, bleached

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1 Melt the butter on medium heat in a heavybottom saucepan. 2 Remove from heat and add in the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until melted and well blended. Set aside. 3 Sift together the salt, baking powder, cocoa powder, flour, and hazelnut powder. Set aside. 4 In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and vanilla extract on high speed using the whisk attachment until it starts becoming fluffy. 5 Reduce speed to medium and gradually add the sugar. Continue beating on high speed until mixture is thick and light yellow.

150 grams eggs

6 Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry mixture. Carefully fold in last the cooled chocolate mixture.

5 grams pure vanilla extract

7 Keep chilled for at least an hour before baking.

135 grams sugar, caster

8 Preheat oven to 200° C (fan on) or 210°C on a regular oven.

40 grams hazelnut powder

9 Place the mixture in a pastry bag. I used Siliconflex™ Cabosside Mold (76mm x 46mm x 23mm). 10 Pipe mixture onto each cavity to almost full. 11 Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until

it begins to rise and reduce heat to 170° C and continue baking until done. Be careful not to overbake it. Refrigerate until firm.


b MILK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE 80 grams egg yolks 50 grams egg 65 grams sugar, granulated 60 grams glucose 60 grams water --------------------300 grams whipping cream, soft-whipped 80 grams whipping cream, heated 300 grams milk couverture chocolate* (53%), melted { I used TchoPro SeriousMilk™ Cacao 53% }

c LEMON CURD Use only freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice will not give you the same results.

160 grams lemon juice, freshly squeezed zest from all the lemons used 100 grams eggs, whole, room temperature 60 grams egg yolk, room temperature 170 grams sugar, granulated 1 gram salt, fine 115 grams butter, unsalted, softened

1 Whisk the egg yolk and egg together until frothy. Set aside. 2 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, boil the sugar, glucose, and water together until it reaches 118° C on a thermometer. 3 On medium speed, gradually pour the syrup into the beaten eggs. Continue beating until mixture has cooled down to room temperature. 4 Combine the hot cream and melted chocolate, forming a ganache. 5 Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (paté a bombe). 6 Fold the whipped cream in. Keep covered in a cool place until ready to use.

1 Combine the lemon juice (preferably with the pulp included for better body and texture), eggs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Whisk gently until well blended and strain into a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add in the zest. 2 Cook the curd mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens or registers 82° C on a thermometer. 3 Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. 4 With a hand blender, add in the softened butter a little at a time until all the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is well. You may blend in the butter by hand using a wire whisk but it must be added while the curd mixture is around 40° C. 5 Pipe curd onto a cake pop or half sphere mold of about 3.0 cm in diameter. Alternatively, you may also individually pipe on a silicon mat. Freeze until ready to use.

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d MILK CHOCOLATE PRALINE GLAZE 120 grams milk couverture chocolate (53%), melted { I used TchoPro SeriousMilk™ Cacao 53% }

40 grams praline paste 50%, warmed 50 grams whipping cream, hot 150 grams hot glaze, neutral { I used Puratos Harmony™ Classic Neutral }

30 grams water, warm

1 In a bowl, mix together the melted milk chocolate and warm praline paste. 2 Slowly add in the hot whipping cream until well blended. Keep the mixture at 40° C. 3 Combine the warm water and hot glaze, being extra careful not to incorporate too much air bubbles. 4 Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. 5 Pour into the chocolate mixture gradually and mix with a rubber spatula until well blended. 6 You may use a stick blender to emulsify the glaze. Use at 40° C.

T a k e N ot e If mixture is very thick, add a bit more hot water.

Construction

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To make 12 pieces of cocoa pods

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5 De-mold and place each madeleine on top of the filled chocolate shell, pressing down gently so the mousse attaches firmly to the madeleine.

1 Make 12 pieces of chocolate cocoa pod shells using tempered dark couverture chocolate set on the ™ Cabosside Mold (76mm x 46mm x 23mm)—the same mold used for the madeleine. Chill and keep them in the mold.

6 Clean any excess mousse coming out from the sides.

2 Fill the chocolate shell with the milk chocolate mousse until almost full.

8 With the madeleine portion facing down, dip the pod into the warm milk chocolate praline glaze to completely cover the madeleine and seal the shell from any exposed mousse.

3 Place the frozen lemon curd in the center, pressing down gently on the mousse to secure in place. 4 Level off the madeleine on the surface of the cabosside mold using a serrated knife.

7 Once they are ready, gently de-mold the chocolate pods.

9 Garnish the pods. For more details on the construction, refer to the illustration on the next page


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the pod

1

Milk chocolate praline glaze Chocolate hazelnut madeleines Lemon curd Milk chocolate mousse Dark couverture chocolate shell

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A much lighter dessert option of chocolate, vanilla, and orange flavors in a visually tantalizing composition


A rt s y F i na l É s

pas religieuse the parody

professional

makes

A parody doesn’t only exist on the Internet. Creating this interesting dessert was fun-filled, as I started with an idea of the popular Religieuse turned the other way around—Pas Religieuse! Although it mimics the same style, the components are far more intricate and require attention to detail.

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Remember to bake the choux dry over moderate heat so the crust is browned and stable. Lastly, you may experiment with other color combinations for the streusel crust—try red, green or orange, matching the flavor elements of your creation. Create your own fantasy!

Pas Religieuse is a play of flavors and textures—caramel, orange, fruity praline and chocolate. Best served with a vanilla sauce or an orange-based accompaniment. Proper preparation and baking of the choux is very essential as you can either end up with deflated pieces or ones that have irregular shapes affecting the final appearance (and, I wouldn’t use it at all).

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Components

Fruity feuilletine disc Caramel milk chocolate mousse Caramel chocolate glaze Baked choux with black streusel Vanilla pastry cream with ground boiled orange Vanilla sponge a FRUITY FEUILLETINE DISC 200 grams praline paste 50% 30 grams dark couverture chocolate* (68%), melted { I used TCHOPro PureNotes™ Fruity 68% Dark }

100 grams butter, unsalted, melted 100 grams feuilletine flakes 70 grams dried cherries, chopped finely 70 grams dried blueberries, chopped finely

1 Mix together the praline paste and melted dark chocolate. 2 Add the melted butter. 3 Add in the feuilletine flakes and dried chopped fruits. 4 Immediately dispense in shallow silicon discs of 4 cm in diameter. 5 Freeze until set.

70 grams dried apricots, chopped finely

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b CARAMEL MILK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

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80 grams egg yolks 50 grams egg 65 grams sugar, granulated 60 grams glucose 60 grams water --------------------300 grams whipping cream, soft-whipped 80 grams whipping cream, heated 9 grams gelatin leaves, bloomed 300 grams caramel milk chocolate (36%), melted { I used Valrhona Caramelia 36% }

1 Whisk the egg yolk and egg together until frothy. 2 In a heavy-bottom saucepan boil the sugar, glucose and water together until it reaches 118° C on a thermometer. 3 On medium speed, gradually pour the syrup into the beaten eggs. 4 Continue beating until mixture has cooled down to 40° C (the sides of the bowl feel warm to the touch). It is essential the mixture doesn’t cool down any lower than 40° C to keep the gelatin from setting too fast. 5 Melt the gelatin in the hot cream. Combine this mixture with the melted caramel milk chocolate, forming a ganache.


6 Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (paté a bombe). 7 Fold the whipped cream in. 8 Immediately pipe the mixture into a special silicone mold called “stone” by Silikomart™ SF163 (ø65 h 30 mm) halfway through. 9 Place the fruity feuilletine disc in the center and continue filling up the mold with the mousse. 10 Seal the mold with a thin disc of vanilla sponge

cut into the size of the opening.

11 Freeze until set.

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c CARAMEL CHOCOLATE GLAZE 100 grams sugar, granulated 30 grams butter, unsalted 70 grams whipping cream --------------------150 grams milk couverture chocolate (53%), melted { I used TchoPro SeriousMilk™ Cacao 53% }

150 grams hot glaze, neutral { I used Puratos Harmony™ Classic Neutral }

30 grams water, warm

1 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, caramelize the sugar over medium heat until dark amber in color. 2 De-glaze with butter and stir until smooth on low heat. 3 In another pot, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. 4 Slowly pour the hot cream into the caramel mixture, stirring constantly until smooth. 5 Remove from heat and pour into the melted milk chocolate until well blended. Keep the mixture at 40° C. 6 Combine the warm water and hot glaze, being extra careful not to incorporate too much air bubbles.

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To make 12 pieces of cocoa pods

3 Place each glazed piece onto a small round cake board.

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8 Pour into the chocolate mixture gradually and mix with a rubber spatula until well blended. 9 You may use a stick blender to emulsify the glaze. Use at 40° C.

Construction

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If mixture is very thick, add a bit more hot water. You may also add gelatin if you have problems with it not setting well or clinging onto the mousse.

7 Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat.

1 Fill twelve pieces of the baked choux shell with boiled orange pastry cream from the base of the frozen shell. Keep chilled. 2 De-mold the mousse and coat with the caramel chocolate glaze.

4 Place the filled baked choux on top of the glazed mousse. 5 With the whipped ganache, pipe on four sides using a small star tip (see photo for more details). 6 Soften the white fondant in the microwave and place in a paper cone. Pipe a swirl around the top of the baked choux.


6 5 4

pas religeuse

3 2 1

Milk chocolate praline glaze Baked choux with black streusel Vanilla pastry cream with ground boiled orange Fruity feuilletine disc Caramel-chocolate mousse Vanilla sponge

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Savory meets sweet! A simple ending to a meal and pairs particularly well with steak.


A rt s y F i na l É s

pretzel & english mustard delice advanced

makes

While enjoying a pint of cold German weissbier (wheat beer) in Munich with a piece of pretzel on the side and waiting for my bratwurst to be served, I was visited by my wild, sweet-toothed alter ego. “Maybe throwing sugar on the German fare and relish it as a dessert?” so the all-too-familiar voice spoke.

10

pieces

2 hrs + variable

that must be resolved so there could be no more wild whisperings in my head. The result is a delicately flavored gossamer lemon sponge cake laced with apple-vodka punch, covered all over with vanilla-mustard crème mousseline and finished off with a crown of ranch pretzel croquant.

And as soon as I arrived in my kitchen, I found myself experimenting with mustard and spiced pretzels. A very unusual combination indeed, but one

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Components

Ranch pretzel croquant Lemon sponge cake Apple-vodka punch Vanilla-mustard crème mousseline Garnish: caramelized sugar, edible wafer paper Have on hand the following: a 8 to 10 pieces 6 cm round ring molds lined with acetate on the sides b Wafer paper, cut into 2 x 2 cm squares c Pastry bag fitted with round tip (ø 11 mm) d Pastry torch

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a RANCH PRETZEL CROQUANT

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100 grams honey-mustard ranch pretzels, chopped 40 grams icing sugar 25 grams butter, unsalted

1 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, add in the sifted icing sugar and broken pieces of honey-mustard ranch pretzels. 2 Mix with a non-stick spatula or wooden spoon to evenly coat the pretzels with the sugar. 3 Bring heat to medium and carefully caramelize the sugar with the pretzels. 4 Turn off the heat, add the butter, and mix into the croquant so the pieces are well coated and separated. The addition of butter keeps the croquant from sticking together and also lends a mild buttery flavor. 5 Immediately pour the caramel-coated pretzels onto a silicon mat or baking paper to cool down.


b LEMON SPONGE CAKE 200 grams butter, unsalted 200 grams sugar, caster 10 grams lemon extract or paste { I used Puratos Classic Citron }

zest from 1 piece of lemon 200 grams eggs 200 grams flour, all-purpose 8 grams baking powder

1 Cream butter and sugar with the lemon zest and extract or paste until light and fluffy. 2 Add eggs one at a time on medium speed until well combined. 3 Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the batter. 4 Spread onto a sheet pan at a thickness of 2 cm. 5 Bake at 180° C (fan off, upper and lower heating on) for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. 6 When cool, refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

c APPLE VODKA PUNCH 40 grams apple juice, fresh { Green apple is preferred }

10 grams lemon juice, fresh 50 grams sugar, granulated 20 grams vodka

1 Combine the juices and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan. 2 Bring to a boil and continue boiling for another minute. 3 Cool down completely before stirring in the vodka. 4 Keep chilled.

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d VANILLA-MUSTARD Crème MOUSSELINE 225 grams butter, unsalted 150 grams sugar, granulated 60 grams water 100 grams egg yolks 10 grams pure vanilla extract

lemon zest from 1 piece of lemon 10 grams english mustard { I used Colman’s Original English Mustard }

3 Boil on medium heat until it reaches softball stage (118° C). 4 When the sugar mixture is almost at softball stage, beat the egg yolks with the lemon zest and vanilla extract at high speed until light using the whisk attachment of your mixer. 5 Reduce speed to medium and in a thin stream pour the hot syrup in. 6 Increase speed back to high and continue beating until mixture cools down to room temperature. 7 Gradually add the cubes of soft butter (not melted) into the egg yolk mixture.

1 Cut the butter into smaller cubes. Set aside to soften. 2 Combine the sugar and water. Construction

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To make 8 to 10 pieces of mini cakes

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1 Cut the lemon sponge cake into discs using a round cutter slightly smaller than the 6cm ring molds. Make 30 pieces. Store chilled and covered until ready to use. 2 Place the acetate-lined ring molds onto a large tray covered with silicon mat. 3 Pipe a thin layer of the mousseline on the base and with a small spatula spread some more mousseline from bottom up, covering the entire sides, ensuring there is no trapped air so the cake looks smooth. 4 Place one layer of the sponge cake at the bottom, pressing gently onto the mousseline. 5 With a pastry brush, moisten the cake with the apple-vodka punch. 6 Pipe on top a thin layer of the mousseline.

8 Finish beating on medium speed until buttercream is smooth. 9 Add in the mustard and beat just until well incorporated. 7 As you will need two more pieces of the sponge discs, thinly coat one side of each of the remaining discs with English mustard. 8 With mustard side down, place the sponge disc on top of the mousseline and repeat the same process for the remaining disc, moistening each piece with the apple-vodka punch. 9 Level off the mousseline and place in the freezer until completely set. (Refer to the illustration for more details.) 10 De-mold the cake and finish off with the

garnishes and ranch pretzel croquant.

T a k e N ot e The bee on the wafer squares is a stamped design using edible black color.


Milk chocolate praline glaze Vanilla-mustard crème mousseline English mustard Apple-vodka punch Lemon sponge cake

5 4 3 2 1

pretzel & english mustard delice

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Photo by JFXie


Gourmet Cuisine At Cruising Altitude

No, this isn’t about high-altitude baking. It’s culinary artistry at 39,000 feet. Chefs now come with a new agenda-cooking airborne.

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Flying has totally pushed my boundaries as a pastry chef. Despite the cooking requirements and limitations while cooking airborne, I try to bring in a touch of my patisserie style—clean, elegant and fresh!

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When I was offered the job to be a chef on the aircraft (a.k.a. inflight chef), I didn’t have a good clue what my new role would entail. And being a pastry artist, it was even more daunting. After clocking in around 3,400 flying hours for almost two years now, I feel this job is something to be proud of. Only a handful get to experience it, and there are probably just fewer than 500 of us all over the world cooking up restaurant-style dishes up above the skies

The Hiring Process

L

et’s wind the clock back to 2012 in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I had a few days left to my holiday and upon a friend’s insistence, I went to an open recruitment day where everyone can walk in with their CVs and apply for available positions. Unsure and nervous, I queued up with the crowd of probably 200 at the training academy of a UAE airline Young and progressive, the company has introduced so many novelties in the business of flying. There are flying nannies who can look after families with children, food and beverage managers to up the ante in business class, and in-flight chefs—the role I was interested in—who are tasked to create remarkable moments in first class with their culinary prowess. The company decides who continues, filtering everyone right at the doorstep. The recruitment representatives, obviously dressed up like they’re ready for the catwalk, already have the criteria set on their minds. Waiting for your turn for the shortlisting was nerve-wracking. “Are you qualified to cook?” a female recruitment agent asked.

“Well, I am a pastry chef,” I hesitantly replied in earnest. “But I can certainly cook like I do at home.” I was definitely not expecting anything, but her affirmative smile made me more determined. “Okay, you may go in.” There were around 100 would-be in-flight chefs that day. To make it even more fascinating, there were many who flew in from all over the globe vying for that uncharted role in the industry we were all excited to explore. The process was long and intense. No one knew for sure how many would make it. The way it works is this: the shortlisted applicants are trimmed down by groups, each with a number assigned. I was called to step out of the auditorium together with 11 other people, not knowing what our fate was. This happened twice. With each step came a battery of written examinations, role-playing, and interviews. Out of more than a hundred, only two of us made it after a grueling eight hours. That was the only time when it all sank in that everyone is not built for this kind of job: it is

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definitely not just what you know but how you can showcase yourself as an ambassador of the airline.

A Dance Between a Chef and a Cabin Attendant I was very, very wrong in believing I was going to immediately step into the aircraft and do my stuff. A rigorous seven-week training awaited my batch of future in-flight chefs. You go through the same training as any cabin attendant studying safety, first aid, and the aircraft types you are going to operate in. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back to school, but as weeks went by, I learned as many new terms and skills I thought I would never be able to push inside my head. The chef-crew wedlock opened a new horizon. It changed the way I viewed flying and the job of cabin crew. Yes, we are chefs, but at the same time we are also part of the crew, looking after everyone’s safety onboard those flying pressurized tubes.

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We have specialized equipment in our specialized kitchens called galleys. There are important rules of the air: no flambés, no birthday candles, no flames!

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A chef without his fire is a soldier without his rifle. However, we do have our induction skillet, diminutive convection ovens (similar to a combioven), water boiler, microwave oven, and toaster. We learned how to be wine connoisseurs and baristas, housekeepers and doormen. It is an all-in-one job with the prized toque above our heads. The game has changed. Over time, you adapt to the differences between cooking on the ground and cooking up in the air. You invent new methods and bring your cookery as close to a hotel restaurant as possible. Your guests are personalities from different industries: CEOs,


skies. It is not just about the concept of having a chef preparing your food a la minute any time during the flight. The service flow has also been refined and complemented with fine silver and china selection exclusively from designer brands like the UK-based Studio Williams and Vera Wang.

Over time, you adapt to the differences between cooking on the ground and cooking up in the air. You invent new methods and bring your cookery as close to a hotel restaurant as possible.

celebrities, sheikhs, and affluent individuals. They expect nothing but the best. As for myself, I haven’t put aside my pastry skills. I do make cakes in the aircraft, much to everyone’s surprise. The day I successfully graduated as a full-fledged in-flight chef, I faced my role with a fresh take—I am going to see the world and getting paid to do it!

Up, Up, and Away! The airline I work for has changed the ball game in the culinary industry. This concept was introduced by other airlines. However, the airline I work for turned the idea into a full-fledged operation from the system to the hardware. It is a very bold move and has set the airline well apart from competition by giving first-class passengers their own fine-dining restaurant in the

In-flight chefs are reserved solely for the first class. As such, there is either an 8-suite or a 12-suite configuration in the premium cabin in the majority of the company’s aircrafts. The Airbus A380 is different in many ways, however, as it has suites, studio apartments, and a residence.

How Is It like Working as an In-flight Chef? Everything starts on the ground. There are strict protocols relating to grooming and we must first look the part of a cabin crew before anything else. This is a stark departure from the kitchen culture—rugged, informal, and individualistic, including the mood going with it. Being hospitable is a signature character of the airline and a genuine smile is the least you are expected to wear at work. A badass attitude is a no-go and, over time, many in-flight chefs have learned how to project themselves as airline ambassadors, leaving behind the reputed belligerence. This is one of the main reasons the airline is so challenged in recruiting chefs who fit the profile of its cabin crew: conversant, impeccable in personal style, and diplomatic (as opposed to our reputed short fuse). There is a handbook defining the airline’s look, including how company pins and name badges are worn, the recommended make-up shades and lipstick colors to wear for the women, and when to put on the chef’s jacket. Before reporting for duty, these pre-departure specifics must be adhered to. I would need at least an hour of preparation at home, which I prefer to do hours and hours before my flight, so I can rest soundly before duty starts. I double-check whether my legal documents are with

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me: my passport, flying licenses, and company ID. I hang my uniform sequentially from the shirt to the waistcoat and to the jacket, ensuring I don’t miss a single thing. Imagine finding out your necktie is still in the wash a few minutes before the company bus picks you up. This highly reflects the high standards the airline has set for itself and for a very good reason: fierce competition requires a winning attitude. To date, the airline has been consistently voted as a leading airline in the Middle East for many years. Upon reaching the airport and being cleared by security (we are not exempt from the screening), all crew members operating the same flight are briefed by the team manager—aptly named cabin manager or purser—and the pilots. We are given the necessary information on our flight: whether there are VIPs onboard, the flight time, and most importantly, the load (in short, how many passengers to look after).

As the airline crew consists of various nationalities from every possible nook and cranny, no two flights are ever the same, whether you are a junior or senior crewmember. The guest profile, routes, and aircraft type also affect the in-flight experiences. The other essential thing for you in the briefing is learning the crew composition—the languages spoken and cultural background of your colleagues, which is the trickiest as you will have to rely on your past experiences in terms of their work styles and personalities. Most airline carriers recruit from their own native population. I have observed that in the case of my airline employer, a multiracial team can be either challenging or rewarding. It enriches you as an individual and you find yourself better at understanding the world more than your peers who have never left your home country. There are several types of aircrafts and configurations—it is difficult to streamline your workflow especially as you will be flying with different sets of crew all the time. You need to be highly adaptable and flexible. Some are efficient enough to work without supervision while others may easily get stressed or nervous. The time available before departure also influences your rate of work.

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After going through all the formalities, we are shuttled to the aircraft and the ground preparations ensue. It’s finally game time! In my opinion—and many crew will agree—this is the most hectic part before a flight.

A multiracial team can be either challenging or rewarding. It enriches you as an individual and you find yourself better at understanding the world more than your peers who have never left your home country.

For us chefs, this is the moment to get well prepared: to know the profile of all the guests traveling on first class and determine their individual preferences. You are no longer encased in that shell tucked in a special area. You belong to the cabin. This is also the moment when your very special page 138


Pear jelly and blueberry tart

Every time I fly crossing different continents I remember my foray in the various hotels I have worked in and these creations come to life in my mind.

Salted caramel and brownies

Chocolate tartufo

Strawberry and mint shortbread bruschetta

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G ou r m e t C u i s i n e at C ru i s i ng A lt i t u de

knafeh bars intermediate

makes

25

pieces

45 + 20 mins

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Knafeh takes on a totally new form with this original recipe. Unique yet familiar, versatile and revolutionary, these knafeh bars are a novel way of experiencing an authentic Ottoman fare. ❡ Knafeh dough resembles the Asian rice vermicelli noodles but smells more like a phyllo dough. Chiefly made of water and flour, it is almost flavorless, rendering it very versatile. It is also the very reason why sugar syrup is always added to the baked dough to lend some flavor to the knafeh. ❡ In this recipe, knafeh is mixed with a few other pastry elements providing a burst of flavors.

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DOUGH 224 grams butter, unsalted 300 grams brown sugar, soft 100 grams eggs 5 grams vanilla extract 315 grams all-purpose flour Dry the knafeh dough in a 100-120° C oven, preferably convection, until very crisp and light brown.

6 grams baking soda 8 grams salt 2 grams cinnamon, ground 400 grams knafeh dough, baked FILLING OPTIONS

300 grams Nutella or any hazelnut-chocolate spread 250 grams Speculoos or any cookie dough spread 250 grams peanut butter 250 grams fruit jam of your choice

1 Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 2 Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Continue beating until well combined but not fluffy. 3 In another bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the knafeh dough. 4 Add the dry mixture all at once or in two batches into the butter mixture. At slow speed, combine the two mixtures. 5 Carefully mix in the dried knafeh dough until well blended. 6 Spread about 1 cm thick of dough onto the bottom of a rectangular pan of about 30 cm x 45 cm or 9 x 12 inches, lined with baking paper. 7 Spread the filling on top uniformly using a beveled spatula. 8 Using your hands, cover the top with the dough sparingly so some patches of the filling are exposed. The dough will spread out and cling onto the surface—don’t press the dough down onto the filling or flatten out on the surface with a spatula. 9 Bake in a 175 ° C preheated oven for about 20 minutes. 10 Allow to cool down completely before cutting

into squares.

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role sinks in. You will be attending to guests of high stature, possibly your favorite celebrity, an important leader of a country, as well as owners and main decision makers of big companies or organizations. This is your moment to shine.

As I mentioned, on an aircraft, your kitchen is called a galley and it generally consists of a convection oven with steam (which produces pressure), an induction skillet, a toaster, a microwave oven, filtercoffee and espresso coffee equipment, warming compartment (for plates and/or breads), chiller/ freezer, and a water boiler. You will also have carts holding food, equipment, and amenities, refrigerated or not.

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That being said, and hopefully you won’t let the pressure get in your way, preparedness is paramount, which means you have discussed the menu options and taken the order and briefed your first-class colleagues about the guest requirements and what you expect to happen all throughout the flight. The airline’s concept is dine any time. Hence, you have to know your menu and catering provisions by heart. In my experience, guests love to be surprised and will almost always welcome your suggestions (they call it a chef’s special). During ultra-long-haul flights ranging from 12 to 17 hours, you will have more leverage with your menu choices as guests will take their time, giving you ample

spacing in between for creative work and getting organized. A night or morning departure also greatly impacts your timing and workload. Night flights are generally easier in the kitchen’s point of view as you will expect guests wanting only breakfast before landing, affording you ample preparation time. Physically, it is a tough one since you’re biologically programmed to be asleep. Fighting off a sleepy head has never been an easy task.

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Plated Desserts Professional Training Program, L’ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona, 2010, France


lying around, equipment is latched, trolleys and containers stowed in their original stowage). Good housekeeping is quite essential.

This job definitely allows one great amounts of energy and time in something worthwhile, especially things a chef usually misses out on: a long-forgotten hobby, a lost skill, or starting a family.

In as far as we chefs are concerned, perhaps the most exciting item on board is what we call “the protein box.” It is your repository of meat and sauces from beef tenderloin, lamb shank, chicken breast, fish, or seafood placed in an insulated cooler box, as they are considerably raw. This gives you room to enhance your guests’ culinary experience and offer your signature dishes. After all, it is your own restaurant in the sky! Services stop when the aircraft starts to descend. With the limited time left to clear all service items from the cabin or serve the last meal order, it can be stressful and strenuous. While turbulences can occur any time, I find myself being thrown out of balance when the plane passes through some pockets of air disturbances especially when thick clouds are in the way. It is most helpful and safe if the galley is secure (no cutlery and plates

I always get asked, “What happens during turbulence?” All airlines have pre-set policies and procedures and there are no shortcuts to safety. The priority is always your own safety. Thus, you have to put your cooking aside and fasten your seatbelt to ensure that potential risks are out of the way.

A Transformative Career The in-flight chef-hood, in my opinion, is still in its experimental phase—not even in its infancy, but it has opened new avenues to chefs who are done with the rut of the typical hotel operations. The future seems very bright and prosperous. Every flying chef I know has now set new goals for himself in which a sense of financial stability is almost insured, compared with traditional land-based jobs. It could be to remain flying as a chef or be a cabin manager or join the pilot cadet program. It has opened up other possibilities such as training positions for newly hired chefs or menu designing for the airline. In my case, it has given me more than tangible achievements. I have never had so much precious time for myself and my passion than in this job. It has made me breathe! Consequently, all the goals I have set a decade ago are slowly getting realized—one of them is this book you are holding in your hands. This job definitely allows one to afford great amounts of energy and time in something worthwhile, especially things a chef usually misses out on: a long-forgotten hobby, a lost skill, or starting a family.

The Long-Haul Challenges The biggest challenge in this job is the disrupted sleeping pattern.

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Our circadian rhythm is constantly in a battle as we can be awake at night and asleep by day. And this affects almost everything in one’s life. I normally require six hours of sleep even after a hectic day in the hotel kitchen, but since I began flying, I can easily clock up 12 hours. And when you reach that point you thought you got it all figured, you end up wondering why you have been up like a zombie for more than 36 hours. It is definitely not a job for the weak spirit and feeble health. Many have asked, “How do you still look good at the end of a fourteen-hour flight?” It’s our innate hospitality that keeps us so bright and cheerful—behind all that is a sleepyhead badly needing a billowy pillow and a comfortable bed! Our bodies are fully spent at the end of the flight. Although we have timed rest periods in longhaul flights, we still have our duties to fulfill in keeping everyone safe, hydrated, nourished, and comfortable.

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It’s probably the remnant aura of hospitality, friendliness and duty that you get to see on our faces as you leave the aircraft.

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Nevertheless, it is a very beautiful and rewarding opportunity getting to see places, taste different cuisines, and access to ingredients and tools you could otherwise just put on your wish list.

Bon voyappetit!


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index

B

biscuits, 49, 53, 57, 71 za’atar, 49 black forest, 85 bola de sylvanas, 71-73 bread quick bread, 33 brigadeiros, 47 brioche, 37 buttercream Italian buttercream, 23, 72, 98

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C

142

cake black forest cake, 85 castella sponge cake, 80 decadent chocolate cake, 103 lemon sponge cake, 125 vanilla sponge, 24, 118 victoria sponge cake, 25, 91, 98 caramel, 57, 80 cardamom, 53 cassis, 87 cheese akawi cheese, 65 cheesecake japanese cotton cheesecake, 57 cherry Amarena cherry, 86 chia seeds, 16, 33, 76 Choc-Nut, 67-69 chocolate couverture chocolate, 18, 68,76, 87, 94, 105, 112, 118 cocoa powder, 16, 18, 45, 86, 104, 112 coconut coconut oil, 33 desiccated coconut, 19, 47 coffee 72, 104 espresso, 104 cookie dough spread Speculoos, 137

cream pastry cream, 20, 68, 76, 92, 104 whipping cream, 68, 76, 87, 105, 111-114 milk chocolate, 76 cream puffs, 22, 67 creme mousseline, 23, 123-126 cronuts cinnamon-sugar, 31, 45 chocolate cronut wedges, 45 curd lemon-mint, 57-59, 113 custard, 80

D

dacquoise, 19, 72, 86-88 delice, 123

F

feuilletine disc, 118-119 flan, 79 fondant, 45, 88, 98, 121 fruit jam, 98, 137

G

ganache chocolate ganache, 68 whipped ganache, 105 gelatin, 20, 92, 118-120 glaze hot glaze, 87, 114, 120 caramel praline, 87 milk chocolate praline, 114 caramel chocolate, 120 gluten-free, 71, 85 gougéres, 65

K

kirsch, 87 knafeh, 136


L

lemon candied lemon, 19, 37, 71-72, 86-88 lemon curd, 113-114 lemon extract, 125 lemon paste, 125 lemon juice, 57, 113, 125 lemon zest, 24, 57, 113 liqueur, 53

praline paste 72, 87-88, 114 profiteroles, 75-77 punch apple-vodka punch, 124-126 kirsch-cassis punch, 87

R

ranch pretzel croquant, 124-127 rosemary, 65

S

madeleines, 112-114 manakeesh, 50 marjoram, 50 mastic gum (also mastica), 75-76 meringue, 72, 80, 86 mint, 57-59 milk almond milk, 33 condensed milk, 47, 80 mousse, 87-88, 112-114, 118-121 mousseline vanilla creme, 23, 123-127 vanilla mustard, 126 mustard, 123-126

salt, 16 salted crackers, 72 sesame seeds, 37, 50 sponge flourless chocolate sponge, 86 lemon, 125 strawberries, 103-106 streusel, 21-22, 37, 67-69, 117 sugar caramelized sugar, 124 icing sugar, 19, 22, 25, 124 granulated sugar, 17 caster sugar, 17 sumac, 50 sylvanas bola de sylvanas, 71-73

N

T

M

Nutella, 137

O

oregano, 50

P

pancake, 35 pas religieuse, 117-120 pastry cream, 20 patĂŠ a choux, 21-22, 68 peanut butter, 137 pistachio, 47 plum, 91-94 plum compote, 92 praline praline glaze 87-88, 112, 114

tablea, 35-39, 47, 51 tart, 53-44 tartar, cream of, 19, 86, 57 tequila, 57-59 thyme, 50

V

vanilla essence, 33, 47, 53 victoria cake, 25, 91, 98

Y

yoghurt, 53

Z

za’atar, 49-50

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Parting Shot I knew I was born a sweet tooth

| Nou e l’s

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Doing the finishing touches on my brother’s wedding cake

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the baker’s treats

les dèlices quotidiens

48 rustic & chic

cre-ate

artsy finalès

Nouel's Nifty Chic Baking  

Chef Nouel celebrates his creativity in this curation of recipes reflecting his ingenuity and international experience defining original ide...

Nouel's Nifty Chic Baking  

Chef Nouel celebrates his creativity in this curation of recipes reflecting his ingenuity and international experience defining original ide...

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