Expert Tips: Five Pros Share One Tip Each

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(This column appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

In our Expert Tips column, we connect with five professionals in the categories we remain focused—pastry, chocolate, cake, bread, frozen—to attain one high-level tip.


 Pastry

John Kraus, Pastry Chef/Owner of Patisserie
46, Minneapolis, MN and Rose Street
Patisserie, St. Paul, MN

“When we laminate kouign-amann, we mix 75% of the sugar with the butter for the first turn.  This makes the process much more efficient. It also helps to keep the sheeter clean.”


Chocolate

Christopher Curtin, Chocolatier/Owner of Éclat
Chocolate, West Chester, PA

“Machines may give many benefits to production and consistency but it’s important to maintain the craft with working with your hands as much as possible. It gives the product a certain soul that a machine can never give. Be consciously aware of the small details and it will eventually become instinctive.”


Cake

Nicholas Lodge, Co-Founder, The
International School of Sugar and
Confectionary Arts, Norcross, GA

“When covering a cake with rolled fondant, put some of the leftover rolled fondant in a small container, spritz it with some water and using a spatula, mix until the fondant has the consistency of royal icing (adding additional water as needed). This mixture can be used in a small piping bag to fill in gaps between the cake tiers when stacking a cake. Use it to fill in any imperfections, spreading with a small scraper, or pipe a shell border using a plain tip around the base of the cake.”


Frozen

Dana Cree, Chef/Owner of Pretty Cool Ice
Cream, Chicago, IL

“For the best flavor in Salted Caramel ice cream, use a dry caramel, where the flavor grows deeper and deeper as each successive spoonful is added. This will give you a more complex, layered caramel flavor in the finished ice cream. I also like to finish the ice cream with crème fraiche, which adds a bright dimension to the caramelized sugars.”


Bread

Tom Gumpel, C.M.B., President, MDJ
Baking, Inc., Sarasota, FL

“As pastry chefs we often crave and depend upon control in order to create a desired outcome. Control of ingredient interactions and specialized equipment are key to our success. When it comes to making high quality artisan breads, I recommend that you abandon that need to control. Use your senses in order to observe nature’s processes unfold. Your role here is to simply manipulate the dough when it gives you the signs. How much to mix, when to fold, form and bake are all observable steps, if you sharpen your observation skills. The transformation will surprise you if you simply let go of some of that control we’ve depended upon.”