Chef Unnati Supekar Chef Instructor Culinary Academy Of India
We adore desserts and pastries. Period. As Terri Guillemets once said, “Desserts are the fairy tales of the kitchen - a happily-ever-after to supper.” Being a Pastry Chef myself, a meal to me, is unfinished without desserts.
Broadly speaking, desserts are categorized into European Classical Desserts and French Classical Desserts. Knowing this distinction is indispensable for a Pastry Chef. Although French Desserts are commonly found throughout the world, there are other notable classical desserts too, which are equally good, if not better.
These days, chefs in training who aspire to be join the pastry kitchen, widely believe that the knowledge of basic pastries and some traditional pastries would sail them through. I say otherwise. Knowledge is boundless and so is the importance of European Pastries and Desserts in the career of a budding Pastry Chef. Having in-depth knowledge about classical pastries brings forth innovation through classical techniques with a distinctive presentation.
In the following sections, I share a detailed note on the intricacies of being a Pastry Chef and the criticality of knowing European Classical Pastries.
Who exactly is a Pastry Chef?
A pastry chef is one who takes care of a professional Bakery and Pastry department, checks all the work happening in and around the area, takes care of the baking section, as well as the cold/patisserie section. The key responsibilities of a Pastry chef can be highlighted as below:
♦ To oversee all general operations of the Pastry Department.
♦ To ensure that products are prepared with proper hygiene and sanitation practices.
♦ To ensure that the quality of products remain at their peak.
♦ To maintain and update all records, secure orders, and stock materials in their respective places.
What is the European Pastry?
An intriguing question, European desserts come from the large cluster of countries surrounded by the Arctic Ocean in the North, the Atlantic Ocean in the West, the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the Black Sea in the east; and specifically, from certain parts of France and Western Europe. Since the geographical area is extremely large, the cuisines and desserts emanating from these places are not necessarily named after their home country/city but are instead classified as European, more specifically as European Desserts and Pastry. In addition to this, there are some striking differences between European pastry/desserts and American desserts owing to factors like climate, ingredients, eating habits, regional produce, etc.
Why is European Pastry imperative for a Pastry Chef?
We all are aware of some popular and classic desserts such as the Crème Caramel from France, the Bread and Butter Pudding from America, or the Tiramisu from Italy, all regulars on menu cards even in India. As the diversity quotient of Europe is high, it had a direct bearing on the dishes, their preparation, and their choice of ingredients.
♦ Perhaps, the most famous European Dessert – Baklava. The delicate, oil-based dough used for making Baklava, is traditionally made by spreading the dough and rolling in into thin semi-transparent, layers. This sheet is then placed and butter and brushed with nuts layered between them. The process is repeated again and again until 3 layers are constructed and then baked. Hot rose flavored sugar syrup is poured over it before serving. In this dessert, the critical aspect of preparation is the phyllo sheets and the techniques used to make them (although, readymade phyllo sheets are now available in the market for convenience’s sake).
♦Opera. Notwithstanding its long process of preparation, this delightful pastry leaves you wanting more. As such the pastry has an almond sponge, with alternate layers of French buttercream flavored with coffee and rich chocolate ganache.
♦ Dobois Torte. I suppose this isn’t as popular as its other cousins because of the long time it demands for preparation. A gateau made using at least 6 layers of almond sponge layered with chocolate-flavored buttercream and then finished with a caramel garnish on top, this rich, flavourful delicacy requires you to master several basic culinary techniques.
The sheer diversity of the European desserts and their preparation is enough to bring about a special reaction from guests and patrons almost immediately. All these desserts must be popularized to the general public and even more so to an aspiring Pasty Chef; simply because of the intricacies and the myriad of techniques required in their preparation. It is only after knowing and learning these principles that one will induce innovation automatically.
As a Chef, I strongly believe that knowing only the basics would not help you much in your future as it restricts you to something rudimentary. However, understanding European Pastries at a fundamental level would not only help you make new desserts/fusion desserts but also teach you the methods and techniques necessary to sustain a career in this space. Once you’ve learned them, you’ll also be in a better position to plan menus, make innovative desserts and create your own top desserts.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 BrandCai
Sravya on November 25, 2020:
Amazing article Unnati. It clearly demonstrates your love and knowledge of desserts.
Surbhi Kohli on November 25, 2020:
Beautifully explained chef
Kirti Mahey on November 25, 2020:
Nice article ..very informative and well explained too.
Rehan khan on November 25, 2020:
Awsome Worth Reading
ROHAN on November 25, 2020:
Sobha on November 25, 2020:
Beautiful explained ... each & every details ...
Shiladityadutta on November 25, 2020:
Chef,Your writing is the result of intensive and extensive research.
Satish K on November 24, 2020:
good Morning Madam, This is satish CCCFPPP 2819 Batch.I am working in Costa as third pastry man and thank you for the skills and knowledge you have given to us. When I saw the article I remembered you. I always remember all our brand cai faculty for making our careers , we were three people from our batch on the same ship ......Thank you so much unnati madam.
Costa Cruise Lines