Happiness on a plate

Alisha Shinde
Thursday, 13 December 2018

Parag Kandarkar, sous chef-culinary, Hyatt Pune, held a special baking masterclass for the festive season. He tells us more about baking trends and how food is not only about taste today

Who wouldn’t like a masterclass on  baking, especially when Christmas is around the corner and the ‘official cake season’ has commenced. Keeping this in mind Parag Kandarkar, sous chef-culinary, Hyatt Pune, Kalyaninagar, conducted a masterclass and the guests enjoyed every moment kneading, rolling and baking Christmas goodies. Desserts are the centre of any Christmas spread, so cakes, cookies, puddings and doughnuts are all part of the festival treat. “But if you can make some healthy choices, you will thank yourself later,” says the chef.   

Talking about the growing trend of masterclass, Kandarkar says that these days food is a lot about aesthetics. “It is not only about taste anymore but also how the food looks,” he says adding that with social media playing an important role in our lives, people don’t only want to eat tasty food, but post pictures as well. 

“Even with a lot of reality shows coming up, guests these days are actually aware of the various ingredients, not only the ones which are native to India but exotic ones from across the globe,” says he. People are more aware of various cuisines, their tastes and the different ingredients that go into making a dish. “These days when a guest walks into a restaurant, they have certain expectations on how a dish should look and how it should taste. Which is why we have to be innovative every single time, so that people don’t get bored with a certain dish that we serve,” Kandarkar says. 

About the appeal of masterclass, he says, “It has become a great way of giving guests an insight on not only how their favourite dishes are prepared, but also how the kitchen works,” says Kandarkar adding that the guests find these interactions more than delightful and in turn offer the chefs an insight on what the guests like and what they don’t. 

Talking about the latest baking trends, the chef points out that it is ever evolving. “A few years ago, there was a great demand for buttercream, which later was replaced by fondant and now buttercream is back in demand. But it all boils down to how creative and skillful a baker can be,” says Kandarkar adding that it is extremely important to understand what a client wants. “Trust me, the client knows what he exactly wants because they surf the internet and draw a lot of inspiration from a number of pictures and websites and in the end want a product that will be etched in the memory of their guests and will get likes on social media.” A chef’s job is to deliver a good product and ensure that they bring a smile on the guest’s face.    

At the masterclass, Kandarkar shared some easy Christmas recipes and further mentioned that baking needs to be very precise in terms of quantity, steps, temperature and time, only then you will get the perfect bakery products. 

- Refined flour.. - .350gm
- Castor sugar.... - 100gm
- Fresh yeast... - 15gm
- Dried fruits.. - .250gm
- Chia seeds.. - .15gm 
- Salt. - ..5gm
- Lemon zest. - ..5gm
- Orange zest.. - .5gm
- Vanilla essence. - ..10ml
- Milk.. - .120ml
- Eggs.. - .4
- Unsalted butter. - ..120gm
- Cream.. - .10ml
- Mix a little bit of warm milk with the yeast to activate it.
- Mix refined flour, castor sugar and salt. Add chia seeds, dried fruits, orange and lemon zest, vanilla essence, milk, yeast and three beaten eggs and one yolk and a bit of butter to make a runny dough. 
- Let the dough rest till it becomes double its existing size.
- Brush cream to the dough with light hands and bake it at 175 degree C for 40 minutes in a preheated oven.
- Let it cool down before serving. 

- Sultana raisins... - 500gm
- Currents. - ..200gm
- Dried dates, chopped. - ..200gm
- Dried apricots. - ..100gm
- Dried prunes or figs. - ..50gm
- Lemon peel... - 25gm
- Orange peel.. - .25gm
- Glazed cherries... - 150gm
- Sherry/black tea. - ..500ml
- Margarine.. - .250gm
- Castor sugar.. - .180gm
- Molasses.. - .90ml
- Gluten-free flour. - ..500gm
- Baking powder... - 5gm
- Soya milk.. - .250ml
- Cinnamon powder. - ..8gm
- Nutmeg powder - ...7gm
- Mace... - 5gm
- Clove powder. - ..2gm
- Coriander powder... - 4gm
- Soak the dried fruits overnight in black tea or sherry.
- Add sugar syrup soaked lemon and orange peel to the fruits. 
- In a separate bowl, cream the margarine with palms (margarine is a bit hard so to make it smooth, you need to knead it with the palm so that it gets a smooth texture and the sugar granules break down in the process), add sugar and mix well to make it soft and pasty. 
- In another bowl, add molasses, soya milk and the spice powders.
- Fold gluten-free flour and baking powder in the above mixture along with the dried and soaked fruits.
- Bake at 150 degree C for 3 hours in an oven.

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