Terrified of split custards and the precision involved in pastry and patisserie? “Hopefully this is going to help people chill out about it,” says Ravneet Gill of her debut cookbook, The Pastry Chef’s Guide. “I wanted to break it down for people.”

The collection is pretty much perfect timing. Stuck at home with hundreds of lockdown hours to fill, now could be the moment you finally master custard, nail creme pat and bake the ultimate lemon loaf.

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Supremely practical and filled with step-by-step recipes the 27-year-old pastry chef relies on – for cookies and puddings, sponges and ice creams, and much more – the book is also designed as a “pocket guide for people who can’t afford [pastry school]”. Gill went to Le Cordon Bleu but could only afford two terms.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A massive THANK U for joining me on the cookie-along. Here is a recap video for anyone that wants to know the method. The recipe for this & others along with all the baking realness you need is in my book (link in bio). Some other recaps below •RAHUL u can add marshmallows •SOZ 4 swearing •no u can’t leave out the sugar that’s a diff thing altogether. Pls make bread •recipe on previous post •160 fan 12 mins or 180 oven 12 mins, from fridge or frozen •do you ac want a hair tutorial? LOL cos I will do it •As soon as my gorgeous Nan is back I’ll be getting her involved, she is stable RN and we are keeping really positive. In the meantime can the marriage proposal pls send me a private message with ur credentials pls x

A post shared by Ravneet Gill (@ravneeteats) on

 

You don’t need to be a trainee pro-chef though – and don’t be alarmed by the lack of images. Gill is trying to make your dessert life easier, not tougher. “My favourite books are the ones that don’t have pictures in,” she explains. “The ones that are A5, you can quickly pull them out, go to the recipe you want, look at a list of ingredients and then make it.”

And while Gill is quite meticulous – we turn her lemon loaf into a tray of mini loaves, and she weighs the batter out so each is impeccable and identical – mistakes can lead to ingenious concoctions, like her tiramisu ice cream. The result of “a stupid mistake, and it came out so brilliantly.”

In the foreword, Gill’s former boss, legendary restaurateur Fergus Henderson, writes that a “happy chef makes happy food” and Gill is fully onboard with that. “My mum says the same thing, she thinks if she’s angry or upset, it will ruin the rice,” she says. “If the rice turns out badly, it’s because of her mood.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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R&D for @puffthebakery. We wanted to just fill a cube of brioche with CUSTARD and serve it for people to share with some sharp compote. Thoughts?

A post shared by Ravneet Gill (@ravneeteats) on

 

But a mistake doesn’t have to ruin dinner. “With the tiramisu ice cream, I was a bit annoyed,” Gill admits, “but I’m very passionate about my food, and I think that comes across. I’m not going to be completely happy all the time when I’m in the kitchen, but I’m passionate about it.” And it’s that quality that can make cooking an amazing, transporting distraction – especially during a difficult time. “As soon as I go in the kitchen I can relax,” says Gill. “It’s like second nature; it feels good.”

The Londoner is also a co-founder of pop-up bakery Puff and launched Countertalk (countertalk.co.uk)– a community for people in hospitality that aims to “highlight good cultures in the industry to stamp out the bad ones”.

She has “always had a massive sweet tooth,” so much so she got a hole in one of her milk teeth from all the sugary treats she ate as a child (including a lot of chocolate raisins). She was a “very fussy savoury eater” though, until she hit her teens. The Indian food Gill grew up eating, plus chicken and chips, were acceptable – anything else, no. “If I went to someone’s house and they served me a quiche, I would freak out, not eat it. I just didn’t know what it was,” she remembers.

 

 

Then she joined the food industry, and “there was so much I didn’t understand about food. I didn’t know what celeriac was until I was 20.” She spent the first years of her career wanting to work in the fanciest restaurants, where the fruit purees are insanely glossy, and the additives and e-numbers free-flowing. “You go to fine patisserie shops and get these flawless looking desserts,” she explains, “[but] if it looks unnatural, it probably is.

“You’ll get ingredients that make things shiny or malleable or melt at a certain temperature – they’re all white powders. I used to want to do that until I was like, ‘Hold on, where is this stuff coming from?’

“I like things that taste good and look good – but I would rather it taste good than look good.”

The Pastry Chef’s Guide by Ravneet Gill is published by Pavilion Books. Photography Jessica Griffiths.

How to make Ravneet Gill’s lemon loaf cake

 

Best-selling pastry recipe books

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Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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