Monday, August 19, 2013

Day at the Four Seasons (Part 1) - Playing in the Pastry Kitchen


We were excited to have been invited to a behind-the-scene tour at Four Seasons' pastry kitchen in a Saturday morning recently. As much as I like to bake occasionally, I had no illusion that being a professional baker could be an easy job, let alone a fun one. Nonetheless I love checking out how a real kitchen works, and sometimes you do pick up a thing or two in the process that I found it useful when I cook at home.


One corner of the kitchen
Across the labyrinthic basement underneath the hotel, we were welcomed by Chef Ringo and his assistant Tom, who gave us a brief tour of the different stations inside the pastry kitchen. It's incredible that the pastry kitchen almost operates 24 hours - starting early in the morning when the breakfast breads and pastries were baked, then the bread baskets served at Caprice in lunch (and dinner, of course), the pastry snack served in corporate functions during the day and night, and of course, macarons, cookies, muffins and other goodies sitting in the hotel room for their guests. Well, of course we have tried the awesome cheese puff and black olive loaf served before meals at Caprice, but I have to say it's not as good as the ones we had this morning, as they just came out of the oven!

Remember these, at Caprice?
Not only did we have a chance to tour the place and did a "secret tasting", we got to make our own. Under Ringo's supervision, we made a Flan Parisien, with thick custard charred on top in a crisp, buttery shell with aroma of vanilla beans in between each bites - think of it as a Portuguese egg tart only more delicate. I always had problem making a good tart shell at home so I was glad that I got to learn this morning. Well, it's no Four Seasons quality of course (well it's my first time making it, what do you expect?), but I have to say it tasted decent, definitely better than the many times I tried to bake a tart at home. =)

Thanks Ringo and Tom for showing us around and to Four Seasons Hong Kong for such a perfect Saturday morning!

Ringo showing us the ingredients and how to mix the tart dough
Putting the ingredients into the food processor
Shaping the tart
Tart shells in the oven - 190C for 10 minutes with the beans and additional 10 minutes without
While the tart shells were in the oven, we started making the filling
The shells were almost ready!
Pouring the batter on the tart and even it out with a ladle
20 additional minutes in the oven (broiler mode) and Flan Parisien is done! Not too bad for our first attempt, huh?

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