The next baked sen­sa­tion

We’ve weath­ered Cronut dom­i­nance, seen the cake-pop bub­ble burst and dal­lied with the kouign-amann, but what, asks Larissa Dubecki, is the next big thing?

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Contents -

In the wake of Cronuts, cake-pops and the kouign-amann, we pre­dict the next big thing in bak­ing.

It be­gan,

as so many things do, in New York

City, home of the Statue of Lib­erty, the Em­pire State Build­ing, and a hum­ble bak­ery in West Vil­lage that was to change the course of culi­nary his­tory. It was here, on the cor­ner of Bleecker and West 11th, in the year 2000, when that high-wa­ter mark of early noughties cul­ture, Sex and the City, parked its fic­tional char­ac­ter Car­rie Brad­shaw out­side Mag­no­lia Bak­ery for an epoch-defin­ing scene of cup­cake con­sump­tion. (And what kind of cup­cake was it? His­tory re­lates it was a vanilla cup­cake – nat­u­rally – that sparked scenes rem­i­nis­cent of The Bea­tles vis­it­ing the same city 36 years ear­lier.)

It’s tempt­ing to sus­pect that, like then serv­ing Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, ac­tress Sarah Jes­sica Parker didn’t in­hale, and that it was her stunt dou­ble con­sum­ing all those calo­ries, but the re­sult was the same. In the wa­ter­shed year of the new mil­len­nium, the world hailed the first celebrity baked good.

The en­su­ing 17 years can be charted by the rise and fall of pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters, and equally by the ebb and flow of cult pas­tries. The must-have ed­i­ble tchotchke has shape-shifted many times, but has al­ways held onto the ba­sic recipe of flour, but­ter, su­gar and nov­elty. In­sta­gram-wor­thi­ness has be­come an in­eluctable part of the mix – for, as the philoso­phers have asked down the ages, if a baked item was eaten with­out first be­ing pho­tographed, was it ever re­ally eaten at all? And let’s not for­get the queu­ing. The peo­ple lin­ing up in Mel­bourne’s be­fore dawn for a Lune crois­sant know it’s not just pas­try per­fec­tion they seek, but the thrill of the chase.

Bak­ing can tell you a great deal about a cul­ture. Our love-’em-and-leave-’em re­la­tion­ship with a conga line of con­fec­tionery is symp­to­matic of an un­cer­tain age driven by the guid­ing prin­ci­ple known as fear of miss­ing out.

The end­less quest for the Next Big Baked Thing has pro­duced some ideas a few prof­iteroles short of a

cro­quem­bouche – the freak­shake phe­nom­e­non was des­tined to reach an early use-by date – but for ev­ery flimsy mash-up like the cake pop there has been some­thing de­serv­ing of our love. To wit: the Cronut, that com­pellingly de­li­cious love child of the crois­sant and the dough­nut that upon its début in 2013 seized the public imag­i­na­tion with the fer­vour of a red cor­dial-fired tod­dler at a pet­ting zoo.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the Cronut ex­tends be­yond its per­fect ra­tio of crunch to squelch. Trade­marked by Man­hat­tan baker Do­minique Ansel within days of his re­al­i­sa­tion that he had a huge hit on his hands, it rep­re­sents the cor­po­rati­sa­tion of the bak­ing world. What Ansel didn’t re­alise was that by putting the le­gal feel­ers on his In­sta-cult item he be­came the Branch Da­vid­i­ans of bak­ing, lead­ing to screeds of neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity when sto­ries of cease and de­sist let­ters hit the me­dia. But, in fair­ness to Ansel, what pâtissier doesn’t want to lay claim to the pas­try equiv­a­lent of split­ting the atom?

The bak­ing trends that have sub­se­quently cap­ti­vated us have all been in ca­hoots with so­cial me­dia. Many have flared like a su­per­nova be­fore splut­ter­ing out, but the real stay­ers have beauty as well as brains. The mac­aron re­vival of 2014, still go­ing strong thanks to the crisp lit­tle French meringue sand­wich be­ing eas­ily ac­ces­sorised with any out­fit (some have dubbed it the haute cou­ture of bak­ing).

Of a sim­i­lar ilk, the dough­nut, which be­gan with a fling with Krispy Kremes that de­vel­oped into a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship with the ar­ti­sanal likes of Short­stop and Dough­nut Time.

Yes, dough­nuts are for­ever, and so too might be Black Star Pas­try’s straw­berry and water­melon cake, which came close to break­ing the in­ter­net with its pink pret­ti­ness, earn­ing it the moniker of the world’s most In­sta­grammed cake.

Right now the com­pass point of public af­fec­tion is swing­ing back in favour of the au­then­tic and true. The kouign-amann, the Bre­ton work­ing­man’s an­swer to the posh Parisian’s crois­sant; the canelé, like a cup­cake with in­tel­lec­tual pre­ten­sions; the clas­sic, oh-so-chic éclair. Vive la France, only they’re now all bite-sized and ac­ces­sorised with out­landish ed­i­ble baubles. Their value is just as much in the view­ing. Gaze into any bak­ery cabi­net and it looks like all the pret­ti­fied, minia­turised in­hab­i­tants are about to head off for a knees-up at the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val.

So where to next? An­other mash-up? Bah, that’s so 2015. The bak­ers of the land peer­ing into the tea leaves are read­ing a fu­ture of reprised Aus­tralian clas­sics. The mon­key­face bis­cuit might be ready for its close-up. The vanilla slice could be due for a rein­ven­tion. But the stand­out can­di­date is the neen­ish tart, that half-and-half iced sta­ple of any self-re­spect­ing bak­ery. It’s able to be ac­ces­sorised in pretty colours, with a killer com­bi­na­tion of short­crust pas­try, jam and enough su­gar to knock your teeth into next week. You read it here first. Mock cream is poised for a come­back.

ÉCLAIR FU­TURE Above from left: sour cherry, rasp­berry cheese­cake and basil, and tiramisù éclairs by Ni­co­las Poe­laert of Choux Pâtis­serie in New­cas­tle, NSW.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.