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Chef Favourites: Baking Tips & Tricks

Feature: Quick Read
Words by Emilie Dock

Is it just us, or does scrolling through Instagram of late feel more like we’re competing in The Great British Bake Off? Perfectly golden sourdough here, dense and delicious banana bread there… An opportune moment, then, to call on our talented pastry chefs Markus Bohr and Alistair Birt for advice. Glistening chocolate sculptures, exquisite patisserie, decadent puddings – you name it, they’ve perfected it.

Caramel: A Game of Patience

Alistair: “In a heavy-based pan, heat a quarter of the sugar at a time, only adding the next batch when what’s already in there has fully melted; this allows you to control the colour better. When you think it’s ready, take it a little further, especially if you’re going to dilute it with butter or condensed milk. If you don’t it’ll be too sweet and you’ll miss out on that slightly bitter, dark, rich flavour we all love so much.”
Chef pouring caramel over a cake with pecans on top

Tempering Chocolate: Precision Is Key

Alistair: “Tempering chocolate can be tricky, but it’s the key to creating flawless, glossy moulds, decorations and sculptures with a crisp, satisfying snap when you bite into them. First off, invest in a food thermometer – you’ll need it to heat, cool and reheat your chocolate to very precise temperatures. And make sure all of your equipment is bone dry before starting. Even a hint of moisture can cause the chocolate to seize.”
tempered chocolate
Rhubarb tarts on luxury white and gold brimmed plates
Plating: Engage the Senses

Markus: “Creating beautiful patisserie takes practice. To make it easier, invest in a few simple tools: a small offset spatula to move pieces around; tweezers for adding garnish; and an elongated table spoon for quenelles.” “While you’re experimenting, never forget that the look of the dessert should support the culinary experience – a mint leaf may add colour, but if it doesn’t support the overall flavour, it’s no good!” “If in doubt, arrange your toppings or garnishes in odd numbers – it’s more pleasing to the eye.” “Most importantly: warm desserts go on warm plates, cold ones on ambient plates.”

Chocolate Pots: The Ultimate Crowd Pleaser

We defy any sweet tooth not to devour the whole thing in under five minutes, lick the pot, then ask for the recipe. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Harrods Chocolate Pot recipe

Serves 8

300ml whole milk
45g caster sugar
20g cornflour
10g cocoa powder
80g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate

135g plain flour
35g cocoa powder
10g baking powder
2g salt
90g sugar
60ml vegetable oil
30g whole egg
150ml milk

Chocolate buttons
Cocoa nibs or chopped nuts

The Tools to Baking Success

Shop All Bakeware
Food and wine on table


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