Perfect pastry with six professionals from the world of pastry

Perfect pastry with six professionals from the world of pastry

We asked six professionals from the world of pastry to reveal their favorite products, brands and equipment, and share their tips. Here’s what they said.  

Healthy, organic products that do not contain artificial colors or preservatives are in high demand.

Product highlights
Our 3D cakes are my favorite. It’s fun to build them with my team, as our creativity in merging art and technology is challenged.

I use top-of-the-line ingredients, such as fresh cream and butter imported directly from France. Our baguettes are made with a long fermentation and sourdough starter to produce an incomparable flavor and
guarantee an extended shelf life.

Talking machines
Almost every piece of baking equipment can be replaced by staff working manually. Nothing beats the traditional, ancient method of doing things by hand, although it’s time consuming and rarely an option in
the fast-paced world we live in. The most important piece in the entire baking chain is without doubt the right oven, as nothing can be baked properly without one.
My favorite oven is Bongard, a well-known French brand, which has a very accurate temperature and is easy to operate. Temperature is absolutely key in baking for pastry, cakes, macarons and meringues. My oven has an internal circular air system, ensuring the right temperature for different types of baking. Some items need to be cooked thoroughly at a relatively high temperature while others merely need to be gently dried out. To obtain the best results the correct and constant temperature is vital for a perfect final product.

Quality matters
As there are still a lot of hotels looking for good deals, the leading brands are aware that they need to make a difference in terms of quality and service. We, as Home of Breads, focus solely on high-end products by using top ingredients, such as organic flour and seeds from Germany, natural sourdough and the best French butter and chocolate. Trends are shifting toward heathy eating, gluten-free, keto, sugar-free, dairy-free and organic options.

All natural
I like products that are natural and do not contain additives or chemicals. Organic is the way to go.

Brands in the kitchen
I tend to use Schapfenmuhle flour, which is made in Germany, butter and cream from Elle&Vire and the chocolate of Callebaut and Valrhona.

Machine must
All of my bakery equipment has a role. I believe that German proofers and ovens are the most effective and durable. They do not require much maintenance, are computerized and are extremely accurate.
Given the fact that we must deliver the same quality every day, having high-quality equipment is fundamental.

What’s trending?
With Covid-19 largely behind us, food on the go is likely to rise, with fewer takeaways being ordered. As a result of widespread lockdowns during the pandemic, home baking became very popular. I do think this has led to greater appreciation for skills involved in making and baking consistent products. My feeling is that savory bakery products and viennoiserie morning goods, like croissants, will become mainstream once more. They are convenient, have global appeal and are the ideal breakfast or lunch snack.

Bakery picks
Naturally, I love laminated pastry, croissant and pain au chocolat. These items are very difficult to make correctly, but once perfected they are sublime — the flakier the better. Viennoiserie can be enjoyed in many forms: plain, such as a croissant; or as a filled pastry, such as the popular cruffin. Globally, chefs and bakers are innovating, adding their special touch to classics. For example, French chef Dominique Ansell fried croissant pastry and created the cronut.

Artisanal pastry
I’m not a fan of specific brands; I prefer the originality and creativity of pastry produced by artisans.

Machine favorite
The Rondo pastry sheeter is undoubtedly my favorite machine. It allows me to control the process of lamination and create consistent pastry time and time again. However, most importantly, it saves me valuable time that I can spend on the development of new products. Additionally, the accuracy of the rollers allows the operator to sheet the pastry to a specific thickness, which not only guarantees consistency in product size and weight but also provides accurate costing and financial control over each batch of pastry produced.

In demand
Due to the social media explosion, food, in general, and baked goods, in particular, have become very popular among foodies.
In my opinion, these can be divided into several subcategories, from what is modern and innovative to what is healthy. Flour rich in fiber and protein, and organic fruits and grains are constantly in demand.

Baker’s passion
Of course, French bread is at the top of my list as a consumer and also as a chef.
I enjoy crafting it with respect and love. Also, brioche holds special memories for me. Throughout my childhood and my work as a chef, I discovered that it represents a product that can be developed in so many different ways.

Equipment matters
The most important equipment in my kitchen is the oven, dough mixer, freezer and fridges, especially if I’m working in a hot country. Almost everything else is secondary, although some items, like the dough sheeter, are very helpful.

Nutrition’s the word
Nutrition has more meaning today than ever before. Thanks to new techniques, like the reverse method — in which salt is added after fermentation and sugar degrades, leading to a lower glycemic index — it is
possible to make food healthier. It is also possible to use new kinds of ingredients; for example, chickpea flour contains proteins that are better than wheat proteins. Through the Ambassadeurs du Pain Association, I am
able to contribute to published works and online articles regarding health and baking.

Sourdough best
My favorite product is sourdough. I don’t really have a favorite brand because we do it our way. Liquid yeast is the key ingredient, and if I had to choose one, it would be the sourdough of Agrano due to
its organic label.

Essential equipment
The relationship between a craftsperson and their tools is very personal. If I had to choose one item of equipment, it would be my trusted oven. You can use your hands to weigh, divide and shape, but you cannot bake without an oven. I am fortunate enough to be able to use the electric powered Merand oven. It is extremely reliable, and the results are consistent.

Making a mark
Croissants and laminated dough are experiencing a revival. Twisted, colored, filled and paired with savory and sweet flavors, they have been taken to a new level.
Furthermore, vegan and gluten-free products are becoming more sophisticated, remaining in high demand.

Go-to brands
The most important ingredients are basic; they can make or break a dish for me. I love the German flour of Schapfenmuehle.
Paired with my own techniques and skills, I am able to achieve consistent results.
The second ingredient I can’t go without is dairy, especially butter and cream. I prefer using a French butter and cream from a cooperative called Candia. I can’t recommend it enough for its freshness, high percentage
of dairy fat, amazing taste and the stability of the cream, which is second to none.

Must in the kitchen
I can’t live without my Kenwood tabletop mixer. It has been my kitchen companion for years and has never given up on me!
Boasting an array of attachments, it is extremely versatile. Other than that, I rely on my blast freezer and deck oven.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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