Of Pastry and Pie: Confessions of a Pastry Chef

For many of us, the day doesn’t really begin until we’ve had our first sip of coffee.

Sometimes, however, instant coffee just doesn’t seem to do it. Maybe you forgot to grind your coffee beans the night before, or simply crave a croissant to go with it.

So, you stop by at a café to grab a cup’pa Joe on your way to work—scaring unassuming pedestrians with your blood-shot eyes and inadvertent frown. When you reach your destination, the corners of your lips curl ever so slightly, and your face contorts inch by inch as you break into a weak smile.

Hope greets you with the whiff of freshly roasted coffee beans, and you rest assured knowing you can always count on ol’ Joe to cure your Monday blues.

You wait your turn, and look around—distracted by the display, where the wonders of the baking world lay assorted in impeccable fashion. It’s a visual feast, a sight for sore eyes, a cure for ennui baked to artisanal perfection, wrapped in a sugary embrace.

And before you know it, you’ve been cured already by the sight of something truly divine.

Sinking your teeth into a freshly baked Danish pastry or tangy lemon tart, you know your life is finally worth living.

The coffee tastes better, the news seems more interesting, the day is full of promise, and the fate of humanity is brighter than ever. (That’s right—climate change doesn’t exist in the world of pies and pastry)!

You walk out the patisserie with a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and a bag full of hearty goodness that’ll cure moody coworkers infected by mournful Monday.

Makers of Magic

Once you’ve had your fill of banoffee pie or baklava at a party or restaurant, you’re likely to reflect deeply on the makers of the divine creation.

And if you’re curious enough to walk into a professional pastry chef at work, you’re bound to take a step back and exclaim, “What kind of sorcery is this?!

Pastry making is hands-down one of the most challenging aspects of the culinary world. It entails astute knowledge of baking, and years’ worth of credible experience creating an exotic array of desserts and savories.

Baking cookies and cupcakes may seem like a breeze with store-bought mixes and simple recipes at home. But if you’ve ever seen an episode of MasterChef, you probably know already how difficult it is to work with hand-made pastry.

Let’s take a look at 2 major pastry-problems that scare the most experienced pastry chefs:

  • Temper-tantrum

If you’re working with pastry, it won’t be long before you realize, the slightest degree in temperature can make the world of a difference. There’s a reason why pastry chefs work with mostly cold ingredients when creating pastry—cold butter, cold water, cold marble boards and equipment. When working on puff pastry, cold water creates air pockets within the dough that translates into a superb crisp that leaves you wanting more.

  • The holy matrimony of sugar and acid<

Sometimes, pastry chefs tend to notice that their sweet pastry tastes better than savory shortcrust. This comes down to the reduction of gluten formation, which can be achieved by adding sugar to flour before the water.

Of course, temperature and sugar are just two components of the goliath we call pastry.

Besides technical proficiency and hands-on experience, a qualified pastry chef must be dedicated to the craft, working at impossible hours in the midst of insane pressure to create what can easily be deemed a gateway to world peace.

Did all that talk of pastry and pie leave you craving a baked treat?

Head on over to Divine Specialties: distributor and importer of over 5,000 specialty items, including chocolate products, wholesale baking supplies and more.

With 75 years of experience whipping up some of the finest delicacies in Southern California, you can count on our executive pastry chefs to make you smile with every bite!

Life is only as sweet as you make it—order a delectable dessert or contact us for catering today!

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