hand-rolled-out doughs are made by hand.
And I feel that handwork is the defining
characteristic of artisanal baking. Once I
have rolled out the dough by hand, I rely on a
cheap Henckels paring knife ($7) to cut it.”
Adrian Vasquez, pastry chef at Providence
in Los Angeles, has a hand-held
immersion blender in his hands during
much of the time he spends in the pastry
kitchen. With it, he produces ethereal
foams, flawless plating sauces and other
SHOW-FORM MOLDS SHINE
Deden Putra, executive pastry chef at the
Four Seasons’ Beverly Wilshire, Beverly
Hills, Calif., looks back fondly on his
purchase, 10 years ago, of a miniature
offset spatula, the first tool he bought.
“It has multiple uses for me,” he says.
“It’s the perfect tool for smoothing icing.
I also use it for pushing batter into each
corner of the baking pan and then for
leveling the top. Once the cake or tray
of brownies has baked, the long skinny
blade is the perfect shape for running
around the edge of the pan without
damaging the sides of the brownie or
cake, components that are often used in
my multicomponent desserts.”
Pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon of San
Francisco, who has worked in restaurants
in Yountville, Calif., London and, most
recently, New York, calls the miniature
offset spatula her friend. “Its nickname
is ‘baby.’ It can do anything,” she says.
“Don’t let its diminutive stature fool you.
Put one in your back pocket, and you can
do anything—slice through a tautly held
stack of parchment paper or cut one clean
line for a cornet, spread tuile batter flat
on a Silpat or take a tiny piece of dust
off a custard’s pristine surface, open a
cardboard box taped shut or gently pry
open a can of Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
“The offset spatula is my friend, my right
hand. I use it to lift a hot Silpat off a sheet
pan and slide cookies onto the counter to
cool faster. It lifts cookies and biscuits, and
you can even serve cake with it. It will pull
apart two kissing pieces of frozen dough or
stir milk into your tea on the fly. I even use
it to stir quinoa grains cooking on the stove
for a budino. And, when making marmalade,
I use one to pull out a piece of the syrupy
fruit to see if it’s set.” She also uses it to cut
a pound of butter into neat, even cubes.
“Having an offset spatula in your back
pocket can spell the difference between
a nonchalant cook and a well-prepared
chef,” she says.
An offset spatula is the favorite tool of many pastry chefs.
Robert Wemischner, based in Los Angeles,
is a pastry chef/instructor/author. His
most recent book is The Dessert Architect
(Cengage Publishing, 2010). Visit www.