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Pastries are no cakewalk
SHALINI SAKSENA chats up Chef Stephane Treand, a food industry veteran who tells her that the secret of a great pastry lies in its ingredients
Many balk at the thought of baking. They have their reasons. From using the correct tools to following the recipe to a T in a particular order, can be tedious. Some feel it is time consuming — what will all the whisking, prepping and letting the dough sit in the refrigerator come to mind when one wants to bake. One also needs several equipment — a weighing machine to get the correct proportion, cups and spoons, baking dishes and the most important piece of equipment — a good oven.
But Chef Stephane Treand, a French pastry chef from Brignoles, France, Meilleur Ouvrier de France award recipient, and a restaurateur residing in California, US, tells you that baking can be fun given that there are so many tools, equipment and machines available in the market.
“It is not correct to assume that baking is tedious. Yes, there are a certain rules that one has to follow while cooking a complex dish. But this is true for any cuisine. There are so machines and equipment that can be used to reduce the hours spent while baking. It is a misnomer that baking is all about following a recipe in the traditional fashion. Yes, there are many chefs who are now going back to the traditional way of art of pastry making. This has more to do with the artistry and intricacies involved rather than to do with taste,” he says.
He also busts some myths that are associated with baking. “I don’t understand from where one has got the idea that whisking of egg whites should only be done in a glass bowl using a wooden spoon. Pastry chefs use machines to whip up the whites and the end product is not only beautiful to look at but tasty as well,” says Treand whose name is associated with many contests and demos the world over.
The chef who was in the Capital recently to teach the art of chocolate baking to pastry chefs of the Academy of Pastry Arts, says that as far as the calibre goes, there is little difference. “There are beginners and there are professionals. I teach in the US and I find that the level of French pastry is not so high as compared to Europe but there is a lot of curiosity and hunger to learn,” Treand says.
There are several techniques now in use. The most popular being chocolate air brushing,” the chef says and tells you that the secret of a great pastry is not so much dependent on the kind of equipment used but the ingredients themselves.
“The reason why the French are considered to be the best when it comes to pastry is because it is seeped in our culture and the decoration was essential too. We have a saying in France: ‘If it looks beautiful, it is bound to be tasty too’. A pastry with the minimalistic of ingredients will win every time,” Treand says who favourite pastry is coffee éclair and lists a few things that needs to know while dealing with chocolate.
“Tempering is important. Avoid humidity. Always use cocoa butter chocolate which is dark. One can use a microwave to melt the chocolate but never a glass container. Never store it in the refrigerator; at most put it in the chiller,” he concludes.
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