Destinations Magazine

Lessons Learned from Cupcake and Tart Demonstration, Fortnum & Masons

By Melikeyuk
When I think of Fortnum & Mason's, I associate it with wealth, splendour, indulgence, suppliers to The Royal Family. So why did I feel the need to pay a visit to the store this week?

Lessons learned from Cupcake and Tart Demonstration, Fortnum & Masons

Outside Fortnum & Mason Plc

In an effort to tick off item 6 on my Food and Drink Wish List, I wanted to see the Cupcake and Tart Demonstration laid on by Laura Amos of The Dessert Deli . Laura has been working as a pastry chef since her teenage years and has worked in some of Jean Christophe Novelli's establishments as well as The Ivy and Le Caprice along the way. Laura has set up her own business, The Dessert Deli, supplying her luxurious goods to the likes of  Fortnum & Masons and Harvey Nichols.

Lessons learned from Cupcake and Tart Demonstration, Fortnum & Masons

Entering the Demo Kitchen at Fortnum & Mason

We had just over an hour and Laura whizzed through her tarts, raspberry and almond cakes and the ubiquitous cupcake. Here are a few tips I will take away with me:
  • Laura uses and recommends medium sized eggs in all her baking
  • If not using eggs from the farmers market (i.e. very fresh), pay close attention to the lion mark on the eggs as an indication of superior quality and high standards of food safety.
  • For tart bases use salted butter as opposed to unsalted. Unsalted butter may result in the tart being too sweet. Also, salted butter enhances the shelf life of the tart.
  • Use plain flour for the tart base.
  • Always leave the pastry mix in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. The gluten in the pastry will ensure the pastry has more elasticity when rolling. Without resting in the fridge, the pastry is too soft and liable to crack.
  • Pastry can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Use a polythene bag full of of dry, uncooked rice to "blind-bake" the tart. This will not melt (I was surprised too!) at an oven temperature of 160-165°C. The rice is small enough to get into the crevices of the pastry and is a cheaper alternative to the ceramic baking beans.
  • When making a fruit tart or clafouti be generous with the fruit. The mixture will easily smother and seep in between the fruit and it rises on baking, easily disguising the fruit.

Lessons learned from Cupcake and Tart Demonstration, Fortnum & Masons

Laura adds strawberries to the tarts

  • Use self raising flour with cupcakes and fruit tarts.
  • Used vanilla pods can be added to sugar and water to make a vanilla syrup. Laura applied some vanilla syrup to warm cupcakes, fresh out of the oven, to restore moisture.
  • A fruit puree or a fresh jam is used to coat the bottom of tarts or small cakes. This adds another dimension of flavouring and ensures the tart retains moisture.
  • Use a cocktail stick to dip into any food colouring before applying to any cupcake icing/frosting. This will ensure a moderate amount of colouring is applied.
  • For chocolate sponges, try using milk chocolate instead of dry cocoa powder. Cocoa has a tendency to dry out the cake.

Lessons learned from Cupcake and Tart Demonstration, Fortnum & Masons

The Finished Article - Cupcake

I was lucky enough to try the raspberry and almond cake and the cupcake. My thoughts? I love frangipane, so I would have to say that the the raspberry and almond was my favourite. I could not take any snaps as they were very hot out of the oven! I thought the cupcake sponge was deliciously light and the icing was just enough as it can be quite rich.
With all these tips, I should get baking, so my next challenge will actually be to produce some cupcakes.
For more information on Laura's cakes and desserts, visit :The Dessert Deli or follow her on Twitter at The Dessert Deli or Battersea Market

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