Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Former El Bulli pastry chef Albert Adria whips up baklava in London in time for Eid

The Spanish chef has debuted the new Middle East-inspired dessert at his Cakes & Bubbles restaurant

Albert Adria has created a lighter version of baklava at Cakes & Bubbles. Courtesy Laszlo Sifter
Albert Adria has created a lighter version of baklava at Cakes & Bubbles. Courtesy Laszlo Sifter

It is believed that from the 1990s until El Bulli served its last meal in 2011, some eight million people used to attempt to secure a table each year at Spain’s most famous three-­Michelin-starred restaurant. In ­addition to the famed lobster gazpacho, deconstructed Spanish omelette and caramelised quail’s egg, foodies thronged to the Catalonian eatery for its modernist desserts: chocolate soil, lemon ice snowballs, and marbles of coffee and rosewater floating in a lychee soup.

El Bulli’s pastry chef Albert Adria (brother of head chef Ferran Adria) went on to open Tickets, another ­Michelin-lauded tapas restaurant in Barcelona, which placed at position 20 in this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. He also runs the dessert restaurant Cakes & Bubbles at Hotel Cafe Royal in London.

Cakes & Bubbles is at Hotel Cafe Royal in London
Cakes & Bubbles is at Hotel Cafe Royal in London

It’s here that Adria (himself voted the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2015) debuted an all-new recipe this month inspired by a popular Middle Eastern sweet: baklava. The chef tells The National he “wanted to have something aromatic and sweet from the region because the Eid ­celebration was approaching. We also discovered how to serve a Moroccan mint tea with it and wanted to make this part of the experience”.

Somewhat paradoxically Adria has made a name for himself as a health-conscious patissier, and is forever experimenting with ways to make his desserts less heavy without compromising on taste. “The team at Tickets were testing different doughs that could have air inside them as we wanted to make the filo pastry, traditionally used in baklava, but lighter,” the chef explains. “We did this by sealing two layers of filo pastry and putting it in the oven. As traditional baklava is normally made with filo pastry, honey and pistachios, we decided to use the same flavours but create a version that is lighter and less sweet as this is what we are known for here at Cakes & Bubbles.”

Albert Adria was named the World's Best Pastry Chef in 2015 
Albert Adria was named the World's Best Pastry Chef in 2015

Baklava is the one dish that Adria says reminds him most of the Middle East, while rose is the flavouring he associates with the region. “Every time I smell a rose aroma, it reminds me of Turkish delight.” He adds that while patrons love his version of the baklava – a recipe he shares with us below – it’s the “cheesecake that’s been made famous because of our Middle Eastern guests, which they love probably even more than the baklava”. A flan, presented in a golden egg, air pancakes and chocolate corks, are some other bestsellers.

The egg flan, served in a golden vestibule is another best-seilling dessert at Cakes & Bubbles 
The egg flan, served in a golden vestibule is another best-seilling dessert at Cakes & Bubbles

Recipe: Albert Adria’s baklava

Serves 10

Ingredients and method for the pastry pillows

4 undamaged filo pastry sheets (30cm x 60cm)

50g lightly melted unsalted butter

Cut the pastry into squares of about 9cm x 9cm.

Take one square and brush the middle with the softened butter. Place another sheet on top and seal the pillow with a thermo seal spray on each side. Cook each square in the oven one by one at 250°C (it takes about 40 seconds for each to pop and get a nice golden colour).

When the pillow is ready, make a little hole and fill it up with pistachio cream, and brush with honey and orange blossom syrup (recipes below). Garnish with shaved toasted pistachios and serve immediately while crunchy.

Ingredients and method for the pistachio foam

52g pure pistachio paste

120g milk

100g white chocolate

280g cold whipping cream

2g salt In a bowl, mix pistachio paste with melted white chocolate (do not overheat your chocolate).

Heat the milk in a small pot and then pour it on top of the chocolate and pistachio mix. Add salt and cold whipping cream slowly, with the aid of a hand blender. Pour the mix into whipping siphon (essentially, a cream gun) – at two charges per siphon.

Ingredients and method for the orange blossom honey glaze

40g orange blossom honey

5g orange blossom water

10ml water

Simply bring all the ingredients to a boil and pour over the cream-filled pastry before garnishing with nuts.

Updated: July 21, 2019 05:09 PM

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