One of the most common questions I get asked by hobbyist bakers is how to best improve their skills with a little bit of creativity and still get good results. In my opinion the best way to go about this is by building your foundation then mixing and matching. Master a few basic recipes really well and learn the techniques behind them. Learn a basic pastry recipe, a cake technique, ganache making tips and know how to make a creamy, smooth custard. There are hundreds of recipes available and as you start to read them you will see the overlap in techniques.
From this foundation play around with different components, serving them individually, together or layering them. It’s just like having a pair of jeans that you can dress up with a pretty silk top and high heels or make it more casual with a pair of ballet flats and a comfy cotton shirt. By combining two different components that you have already mastered you will be able to create a totally new dessert that allows you to play around without going through a new learning curve, especially for moments where you want to impress.
I’ve made one example from the collection of recipes we have here at Havven. The quince cake with its spicy ginger notes will go very well with our yogurt panna cotta. Combining the two components and presenting it in individual serves rather than cutting it into a cake allows me to create a new dessert experience while relying on what I know already works. This is the end result:
Makes 10 dessert jars
What you’ll need:
- 10 each 220ml jam jars (I love the Weck Jars)
- 1 recipe spiced-ginger quince cake
- 2 recipes yogurt panna cotta
- 1 recipe streusel
- piping bag
1) Make the cake batter as directed in the recipe (steps 2 to 9). Instead of spreading it on a pan, fill a piping bag and pipe 80g of cake batter into each jar. This will be approximately 1/3 full.
2) Bake the cakes in a 170°C oven for approximately 20 minutes or when a knife inserted comes out clean.
3) Cool the cakes completely on wire racks.
4) Prepare your yogurt panna cotta mixture.
5) Once the cakes are cool to the touch, pour the panna cotta mixture into the jars then let it set overnight.
6) Sprinkle with generous amount of streusel and enjoy.
It is a delicious homely dessert. The panna cotta will soak into the cake a little and make it extra moist. Just like a nice spiced chilled pudding.
Chef’s Tip: To create a perfect panna cotta, arrange your glasses on a tray and keep it in the refrigerator. Once your mix is ready, pour the mixtureon your moulds, pulling the tray out slightly while still on the fridge. This prevents you from lifting and moving the glasses a lot giving you a nice clean finish on the rim.
There you go! You have just created a new dessert from the recipes posted previously! It’s a great way to build up on your repertoire. Master the basics then creativity will follow.