A recipe for making a busy red velvet birthday cake on a packed, non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Caramelised pecans included, but definitely not for the faint-hearted…
This story reminds me of the people we constantly work with and the food we share. In a restaurant, bakery, hotel, cafe or wherever, there is a team of people working in close proximity, facing the ups and downs of the day as a collective and, despite the stress and hard work, making the most of those shared moments to improve their day.
A busy non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Doors open at 08:00 and immediately a steady flow of hungry regulars, new faces, breakfast crowds, curious readers of online reviews, others who simply like the look of the cakes from outside and decide to come inside. Continue Reading
we’ve only just met.
And I’m interested in your hands…
Cold enough? Are they cold enough for a leap of faith?
We’re making the usual small talk:
life, work, sugar and chocolate
How long have you been studying the magic of the desserts
Oh yes, I have that cookbook in my kitchen, too
covered in flour, butter, eggs and soup!
At the stove now. Things getting warmer.
Temperatures rising. Clean pan. clean sugar, cold water no stirring.
bring to a boil. Quickly now!
And your hands – are they HOT or COLD?
You see, it matters, don’t you realise?
When you finally take the plunge, you WILL understand
it’s about the temperature and about the timing.
118C is the heat and 118C is the moment
Elsewhere egg whites whisking… Can you hear the mixer?
and I know that we’ve only just met.
but your hands, are they cold enough?
Are they cold enough for a leap of faith?
“Everybody loves cupcakes, don’t they?”. This is the answer I usually give when asked why I was trying to make cupcakes in Russia, and this is what I was telling the group of reporters in front of me at that moment. After a few years cooking my way around the country, the question had become pretty regular.
“Let me get this straight”, one of them suggested, waving her (dessert) fork at me “you came ALL the way to Siberia just to make… cupcakes?”
(Despite the aggressive tone of her question, the look on her face was telling me “this banana cake salted caramel one IS pretty good, though”)
Well that wasn’t entirely true, of course, I was here to try and achieve much more than that, and cupcakes were just a part of my role as the travelling chef. At the same time, I was hoping to also tap into the cupcake craze that had been sweeping the world the past few years. It was even hitting places like Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, so why couldn’t it succeed in the largest country on the planet?
Like I said, everybody loves cupcakes. Think about it for a moment. It’s like you are able to take a whole cake, just for yourself, without the actual guilt of eating a whole cake by yourself. Some of those cupcakes can be so tiny that they you can even two or three and compare different flavours before you force yourself to stop! Continue Reading
“That! That thing. you’ve done it again. creating something from nothing, making stuff like this…”
What are you talking about?
“I’ve just been to that fridge, couldn’t have been more than ten minutes ago – it was almost empty”
Well, there were a couple of things in there, you know. I thought we’d grab a quick breakfast at home before heading out.
“I know, but I don’t remember seeing all THIS stuff!”
You’ve just got to look for it and see what you can create. You see, I know how to look for it and make something that should work well together.
(She seemed suitably impressed, or at least my explanation convinced her I didn’t have a secret second fridge hidden away in the back)
I continued, feeling invincible now, i mean – everyone’s got these almond tart shells around – they’ll keep for days – hmmm, they are so good. And I just covered them with a little
white chocolate, you know, that one you nibble all the time when you’re reading?
(Without sharing, I wanted to add). and this is what to do next
…and everything freezes, I can still hear the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, waiters rushing by with their trays, the chef shouting for the sauce, plates on the passe ready to be whisked away, something bubbling on the back burner, something else sizzling at the front, the oven alarm sounds, it’s the cue to bring everything together, a synchronised motion of the entire kitchen team to get the plates out into the dining room.
this time, things don’t go to plan. Slowly the crowd is forming around me. Continue Reading