Term 3 in William Angliss ✅ 9 months in Melbourne ✅ I sometimes wonder where time goes. Before I know it, I’ll be a qualified pastry chef👩🍳
Seems more scary than exciting at times because this industry asks so much of you. You don’t have a life. No weekends. Some days I come back so tired while the rest of my friends are opening a bottle of wine or going crazy at some nightclub. But I guess if you want something in life, you’ve got to work your butt for it, right? And when I say work, it’s not your regular 9-5 job.
Pastry chefs don’t have it easy these days at all. Apart from making the client happy with all the small details of their cake and the combination of flavours they would like, many come in with a whole bunch of dietary requirements that involve looking for safer alternatives. Some come with the weirdest of allergies or intolerances that are life-threatening so as a pastry chef, it is our responsibility to do enough and more research and dare not mess around because we could end up in jail. Some people think its about being ‘fussy’ or just trying to be difficult but it’s an actual issue that could harm someone very badly.
How come there are so many allergies these days and people have so many diet restrictions? I suffer from a slight lactose intolerance too but I think that’s a discussion I’ll keep for another day. What I’d like to briefly talk about are gluten-free diets.
After doing a whole term of Special Dietary Requirements, I think I’m qualified enough to enlighten you on what I’ve learned. Gluten is the protein present in barley, rye, oats, wheat and triticale. It enables the dough to be elastic and provides structure. But some people who suffer from coeliac disease(gluten intolerance), are unable to digest the gluten. Their bodies immune system attacks itself, causing the lining of the small intestine called the villi to inflame and eventually gets damage. Each person has a different level of intolerance and hence as pastry chefs, we always have to ask our clients before making any assumptions.
Today, with the number of alternatives in the market, it is not that difficult to make room for improvements. Recently, before I moved to Melbourne, I discovered baking with kodu millet. It is unfortunately not very accessible here but some Indian stores do store it. Also known as Varagu in Tamil, Haarka in Kannada and Arikelu in Telugu, it is most widely found in South India and grows in extremely dry areas. It has a number of health benefits being rich in dietary fibre and protein, containing antioxidants and a low glycaemic index which makes it great for diabetics too. It’s usually used as a replacement for rice but I decided to experiment with it as a replacement for flour and baked a traditional Upside down Pineapple Cake.
I’ve always been curious to know how these upside down cakes came to life. A lot of articles will tell you it all began with the pineapple ones but that is quite untrue as canned pineapples didn’t start manufacturing until 1901. It says to have originated during the 1800’s when ovens were not heard of and skillet cakes were a big thing. These cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. The Americans like to take credit for discovering this technique. But I believe the French Tarte Tatin was way way before. Whoever invented it, I would love to thank them because it’s my all-time go to cake.
Rings of canned pineapple nestled in a brown sugar glaze, it is absolutely delicious and can be made in a jiffy. The kodu millet gives a nice rustic taste, making you come back for another slice.
There’s no rules to follow while baking it. Just a great tip would be making sure the pineapple slices are half frozen and firm before placing in the pan otherwise once the cake bakes, you will end up with squishy pieces. Brown sugar gives the best effects but you could also use jaggery powder or Demerara sugar. White sugar is not advisable as you will not get that nice brown colour once it comes out of the oven. But it all depends on your liking. If you’re making this for a gluten intolerant person, make sure the baking powder says ‘no traces of gluten’. I’m saying this because some do contain so be careful.
It’s a simple, old fashioned cake that will never go out of style. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and never get sick of it!
Comment below if you have any questions. Happy Baking! 🍰