Baking tips from Claire Ptak

The Violet butterscotch blondieClaire Ptak is a California pastry chef who moved to London in 2005 after working at Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. She owns Violet, a baking company in East London which supplies her popular Broadway Market stall and is best known for its American-style cupcakes with buttercream frostings that change with the seasons. Her latest cookbook, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, has been a hit on both sides of Atlantic. Indexed magazine Bon Appétit recently caught up with Ptak to get her suggestions for home bakers

Her first piece of advice? Think like a cook - meaning approach your desserts in a similar manner as your savory food items, taking into consideration the balance of flavors. "You're thinking about flavor all the time, adjusting it and balancing it, just like when you make a soup," Ptak says of baking at Chez Panisse. "I really took to that. Because even with something like a chocolate chip cookie, you're still looking for the perfect balance of sweet to salt to butteriness."

Another tip for home bakers is to taste everything, right down to the flour. Taste any fruit you will be using before you add it to a batter or dough - you can adjust the sugar level depending on how sweet it is. Using buckwheat flour for the first time? Ptak says you should taste that, too. "It's going to feel odd to have a little lick of some raw flour, but you'll really get a sense of what you're working with, and I think that's what people should think about doing a bit more when baking," she says. Read more of Ptak's advice at the Bon Appétit website

Photo of The Violet butterscotch blondie from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak

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