Grace Stevens

BAKING SWOON-WORTHY CHOUX PASTRY WITH GRACE STEVENS – EEK!

As part of the Design Joburg Collective, the Bosch Experience Centre hosted an interactive, hands-on baking class with celebrated pastry Chef Grace Stevens, on mastering the art of creating Paris-Brest Choux Pastry.

 

  • Grace Stevens is an award-winning TV chef, cookbook author and mastermind behind Grace Stevens everyday baking and decorating.
  • In 2017, the Bosch Experience Centre (also housing Siemens and Gaggenau) and Bosch Cooking Studio launched, offering cooking and baking classes in Kramerville.
  • Design Joburg Collective is a premier event showcasing the leaders in décor and design.
  • Visit www.sandtontimes.co.za for more stories.

 

On a warm Johannesburg morning, The Sandton Times set out to take on the ultimate baking challenge at a pastry-making class hosted at the Bosch Experience Centre in Kramerville with baking extraordinaire, Grace Stevens. Arriving at the state-of-the-art studio with an intimidating array of world-class German kitchenware and equipment at our stations, the bubbly Grace promised us light-as-air choux pastry by the time we were finished with her masterclass. It’s worth noting that we would have never undertaken this French feat at home, despite past efforts at challenging baking.

 

Grace Stevens
The Sandton Times set out to take on the ultimate baking challenge at a pastry-making class hosted at The Bosch Experience Centre in Kramerville with baking extraordinaire, Grace Stevens. Image: The Sandton Times

Choux, if you aren’t familiar, is the home of the cream in a profiterole, which is then topped with chocolate. We were due to learn how to create and pipe pastry into a variety of shapes to create desserts including Paris-Brest or Pâte à Choux, Profiteroles and Crullers. Based on the famous bicycle race between the cities of Paris and Brest, French pâtissier Louis Durand designed this dessert to commemorate the end of the race with a wheel-shaped choux pastry filled with a decadent hazelnut praline mousseline.

 

Host Grace Stevens, formally Cupcakes by Design, is a Cape Town-based cake decorator, instructor and author of two books namely, ‘Celebration Cakes: Step by Step with Fondant’, which was awarded the Gourmand Award for the Best South African Dessert Book in 2012 and ‘Cake Decorating with Grace Stevens’ in 2014. She’s multi-awarded but assured us we would be whipping up flawless pastries as good as hers by the end of the morning.

 

Grace Stevens
Makaira Govender for The Sandton Times, mastering the art of making Paris-Brest Choux Pastry. Image: The Sandton Times

A group of 7 baking enthusiasts began by preparing a crème mousseline (fancy French term for custard), which was then left to cool. Meanwhile, we began caramelising sugar, which would be poured over freshly roasted hazelnuts, to create a brittle. This was then blitzed in a food processor, resulting in a buttery hazelnut praline (divine), which added flavour to the mousseline.

 

Grace Stevens
Creating the choux pastry was a delicate process. Grace eased into it, taking us through each ingredient, how to add and how often to stir the dough, which made replicating the method seamless. Image: The Sandton Times

Some insider tips: when piping the pastry, count the seconds you pipe to ensure even shapes, and sprinkle the pastry with water before baking to get a crispy puff.

 

To assemble, the baked choux pastry was cut in half and piped with swirls of the hazelnut praline mousseline, resulting in the most boast-worthy creation. One of the highlights of the class was learning how to transform each of the components for other uses, like substituting sugar for Gruyere cheese to make savoury puffs, piping the pastry into different shapes to create eclairs and profiteroles – and freezing the leftover mousseline to make the creamiest ice cream.

 

Grace Stevens
Voila! The final product: a Paris-Brest or Pâte à Choux made from scratch. Image: The Sandton Times

Three hours dedicated to becoming “a goddess in the kitchen” was definitely a welcomed escape from the working day rut. Grace had the class laughing from start to finish while sharing expert tips and techniques to make baking at home less stressful with perfect, precise results every time.

 

An amazing experience to bring Parisian pastries to our very own kitchen – merci!

 

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Sandton Times Correspondent

Sandton Times Correspondent

Curated content from The Sandton Times newsroom desks.

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