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Pastry making an art and innovations - importance of ingredients and machinery

Indulgence is revered in today's society, goading consumers to view food as a pleasurable experience that goes beyond the task of nourishment. 

This has resulted to development a subsection of modern, urban "foodies" who see baking and cooking as a form of art, an extension of self. Thus, cakes and meals are bearing more quirky aesthetics and flavourings to truly allow for self expression.

Innovation is everywhere, and has made it’s make on the world of baking. The consumer is prone to travel more and with the increasing number of culinary shows on television the awareness has grown manifold. As funny as it seems, the truth is that people are moving back to their roots. They are ready to spend more on organic produce than what is readily available. Likewise is bakery and pastry. People prefer whole wheat, rye, and quinoa or multigrain breads over the regular loaf. The consumer is also becoming more conscious about the intake of sugars and hence pastry chefs need to address this demand too with innovation. The customer is looking for something that’s fresh, tasty and healthy.

Ingredients are a vital part of baking. The quality of ingredients used is of extreme importance as they do not transform during baking. What goes in comes out. Besides quality it is important to use ingredients that are extremely fresh. The ‘carbon footprint’ of the food item should be on a bare-minimum scale. Today, in terms of ingredients there are various ready to use products available. Various brands produce ready to use products thus making it easier for the pastry chef to produce consistent and quality products, minimizing the risk for errors.

It is a known fact that fresh ingredients increases the flavor & enhance the taste of patisseries. The various seasonal ingredients, full of fresh herbs, fruits, fruit purees and cress instantly give a garden fresh punch, building an indulgent affair. This trend will see an up rise in the coming year with home bakers to expert chefs, using garden produce in their baking process.

Pastry is the most innovative and creative of all the departments in the kitchen. It’s important for the pastry chef to keep trying and depicting emotion in what he puts on the plate. The strife should never stop to get better. Young pastry chefs like Dominique Ansel, the creator of the cronut, a hybrid of the croissant and doughnut is a perfect example of innovation. The line of people waiting for his creation speaks volumes. Flavoured croissants that are filled and made with flavoured and coloured dough that make them look appealing are enticing the consumer to try them. Another trend is the Puff Brioche. Its taken the traditional brioche to a whole new level both in terms of flavour and texture. Various innovative dessert trends include mirror glazing. The consumer also wants to have a sensory and textural experience with his dessert and today’s trend includes a dessert with various combinations of flavours and textures. Unlike just the regular crème caramel, today’s consumer wants something more composite. It could include a mousse with a crunch and sponge, as well as a glaze. A modern twist on classic desserts is in trend. Pastry has also advanced to an extent that silicon moulds in various designs are used to create desserts giving greater choice to the maker. The availability of frozen purees and berries has made pastry making fun as there is greater variety and choice and you don’t have to depend on the season.

During the past years, a large number of scientific studies had been published specifying a direct association between uneven diets and rising incidences of chronic health-related issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. This international debate has launched a rapidly rising, increasing investment in industry for research in products with nutritionally value-added ingredients that promote health and wellness .

With the rising number of people becoming aware about their allergies to various ingredients, a pastry chef must be adept to using gluten free flours and replacers to address the population that suffers from celiac or gluten allergies. Restaurants have menus especially designed for this customer. Gluten free breads are a regular feature at good bakeries.

In regards to limiting the sugar intake, smaller dessert portions at buffets are trending. While it allows the consumer a chance to try more than one pastry it also allows those on a limited sugar intake to try smaller portions without wastage. Savoury muffins, mini cupcakes are doing their rounds.

Use of innovative techniques and exotic ingredients had already knocked baking doors and is surely an upcoming trend in the years to come. It not only offers a variety to pastry lovers but also enhances their sensory experience. So whether it is Freeze dried fruit or organic vegetables, what comes on plate is unique and exquisite. For instance freeze dried raspberry offers a crunchy taste & sharpness while powdered cheese helps in boosting the flavours, for creating a delectable dessert. Apart from this a texturizer and an airing agent gives volume to one's bakery innovation.

In regards to innovation in machinery, the industry has moved way ahead. From breads being make by hand and foot to using dough kneaders and sheeters for lamination. The use of spray machines to visually enhance the appearance of the cake or pastry has been trending for a while. This technique adds colour and eye appeal to the product. Chocolate bon bins are sprayed with coloured cocoa butters giving it a glossy appearance. The use of molecular kits to play with the texture of products is also used to create textures on the plate.

As a pastry chef it is important to keep in touch with the trends because that is what the consumer wants and that is what is going to sell.

This article is written by Chef Alisha Falerio, Pastry Chef, Academy of Pastry Arts , India

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