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Ahoy, Aspiring Bakers! This Pastry Chef's Recommendations Will Bake You Happy

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    Desserts will never desert you, they will only bake you smile. The puns maybe bleh, but love for desserts, especially when it comes to cakes, tarts and more, is eternal. But the key to good desserts is in the core of its making --- the ingredients, the equipment, the art, et al. Whether you're an aspiring baker or simply someone who loves whipping up some baked goodness, we spoke to an expert to tell us about some baking magic. 

    We spoke to Lavanya Arora, the founder and head chef of Delhi's cloud bakery To Pastry With Love. Professionally trained in Baking and Pastry Arts from The Culinary Institute Of America, Lavanya's cakes are a delight to the taste buds and soul. She believes not all cakes are a ticket to diabetes, and hence makes gluten-free and vegan cakes too. Well, good for us. 'Cause we are all game for some guilt-free indulgence! Here's what she recommends.

    Which Cocoa Powder To Use?

    Non Alkalised Cocoa Powder

    Not many people know this, but a good quality cocoa powder can do wonders. It can improve the texture and flavour of the baked products drastically. Lavanya prefers Dutch processed cocoa powder to anything else. You can mix this in your doughs, batters and liquids.

    Lavanya's picks: All Things Chocolate (Indian and homegrown) and Callebaut Cocoa Powder (Imported)

    Which Mixer To Buy?

    Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers

    People, who are new at this, tend to get confused when choosing an ideal mixer. It's not only important for mixing the ingredients well, but also for a lovely texture. The expert says stand mixers have more speed, power and convenience (it's hands-free). 

    Lavanya's picks: For someone who’s just starting out, she recommends KitchenAid. It’s ideal for home usage. But if you intend to use it professionally or for your business, she insists for a SPAR mixer instead. It can endure longer work hours.

    Which Is The Best Replacement For Refined Sugar?

    Vanilla Honey

    Vanilla Honey

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    Health-conscious peeps, this one's for you. While baking, we do like our desserts to be moderately (or sometimes very) sweet, but we do not prefer overloaded sugar in the name of sweetness. Did you know that honey makes for a great replacement? Now you do!

    Lavanya's pick: Vanilla Honey from The Gourmet Jar. It’s organic, unprocessed and the vanilla flavour makes it even more awesome.

    Which Is A Good Flour For Baking Bread?

    Whole Wheat Flour - Bread/Baking Atta

    Whole Wheat Flour - Bread/Baking Atta

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    While many brands use claims of 'chakki fresh atta' like a scam, it's important to use good quality flour for your baked goodies to look perfection. And if you have an alternative to maida, then why not go for a healthier option?!

    Lavanya's picks: TWF's Flour X, which is specially for bakers looking for a maida alternative. If you’re looking for something in bulk, she recommends Swiss Bake Ingredients’ T55/T65 bread flour available in a 20kg packing. 

    What Chocolate To Use For Baking?

    Callebaut Chocolate

    While we are still using Dairy Milk chunks in our cakes (because they are readily available for sudden cravings), you shouldn't if baking means serious business for you. As the expert says, only use couverture when baking. Not even compound chocolates, since they are synthetically produced and have heaps of sugar.

    Lavanya's picks: Callebaut & Valrhona.

    What's A Good Whipping Cream?

    Elle & Vire Excellence Whipping Cream

    There are bakers and then there are bakers who are artists. The former lot focus more on the inside, and the latter's focus is also on how pretty the cake is looking. A common ingredient used for toppings on cakes, pies and other desserts is whipped cream. Lavanya emphasises that availability of good quality whipping cream is something everyone wants to know and for her, Amul cream isn't really on top of the list as whipping creams should have a minimum of 35% fat content to whip.

    Lavanya's picks: Elle & Vire, President, Paysan Breton. You can find them on Nature's Basket, BigBasket and other online gourmet stores. 

    Pro-Tip

    Delhi folks, you might want to visit Lavanya's two go-to places for all baking requirements in Delhi --- Baker’s Solution in Adhchini and The Butler Hotel Supermarket in Lajpat Nagar 1.