Quarantine bakers have gone from making banana bread and ube pandesal to trying their hands at burnt cheesecake. Now, where do we go from here?
Home baker and all-around domesticated diva Paolo Lorenzana and technopreneur and designer Mai Cojuangco have some ideas.
We tapped these two for our Comfort Kitchen series recently to cook up something they associate with the cozy appeal of being stuck at home and it turns out, for both of them—and for many home bakers—it’s pastry.
Paolo and Mai are currently quarantined at home with their families in Subic and in Florence, Italy, respectively. Interestingly, what these two locales have in common is their proximity to fresh ingredients vital to recipes they are making: lemon pudding cake and ricotta crumble.
For Paolo, cultivating his own garden pays off dividends in the form of plump, golden lemons that he and his nephew harvest themselves. In Italy, meanwhile, for Mai, they are lucky enough to have a trusted guy who delivers fresh cheese door-to-door regularly.
But anyway, back to you, the bored quarantine baker who’s tired of making the same cake or bread since the lockdown began in March.
These two pastry recipes go above and beyond the cookie-cutter baked goods, which you must’ve mastered by now and yet they require the same foundational skills and essential ingredients that you already have. Put simply: These are the perfect transitions towards your dreams of advancing to pro-level baking.
Four other essential techniques you need to master for these recipes
Making soft peaks out of egg whites – The secret—if you don’t have a hand or stand mixer—is wrist action. And patience. “It’s a good upper body workout, too,” says Paolo, who we believe because of this technique is slowly mastering the handstand.
The delicate balance of a water bath – For the lemon pudding cake to rise half-way up and to be baked at the bottom, you will need to put the baking pan into a roasting pan half-filled with water. Preheat the water along with the oven and carefully submerge the batter.
Using your hands to make the crumb crust – When at home where running water is readily available, do not hesitate to get your hands dirty because some recipes rely on handy human work that cannot be achieved by any stand mixer—these include our ricotta crumble base.
Admitting that you need help – No, baking—although it is and can be a solitary exercise—doesn’t mean you have to always do it on your own. It also comes down to acknowledging that you need help, like Mai’s daughter, who thought mixing the ricotta filling would have been easier with a mixer only to realize all she needed all along was her mom.
With these skills in your arsenal, making these two pastry recipes would be as easy as pie.
Nolisoli Comfort Kitchen comes out Monday and Thursday nights on our IGTV.
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