October 16, 2021

Breakfast with Blåhaj

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Weekends are normally the time for me to catch up on sleep, although with our CCzilla in the house, things don't always work out that way.  This morning, though, I woke up early for a different reason. I had been invited to do a Zoom tasting - something which has gained popularity since the global pandemic started, but something I had managed to entirely avoid until now - with Dominique Ansel. I received a delivery from Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel about an hour before the session was due to start, and there would be three different types of viennoiserie for us to taste through.

I set up my notebook for the Zoom session, arranged the goodies on the dining table, and invited Blåhaj to take a seat next to me. She had, after all, already taken a seat at the table, so it was only right that she got to participate.

There were about 20 of us from Hong Kong plus Dominique and A (who noted I wasn't alone). We would taste three different types of viennoiserie, starting from the most "simple" and classic.

But first, Dominique talked us through some of the basics of baking, beginning with the levain he started with before launching the first bakery in 2011. He discussed the different techniques, and spoke of his passion for for baking and the "simple" croissant.

He has posted about this countless times, so I know that he checks the cross sections of the bakery's croissants every morning to monitor the quality. During the session he asked us to show him our cross sections. I must say that the first one I cut into was slightly uneven and not up to their usual standards...

But the second one looked much better.

The pain au chocolat is made with different layers of regular and chocolate dough. A precision knife is then used to score the top layer just enough to reveal the layer below without slicing through the second layer. They also made sure there is enough chocolate inside...

The final item would be the DKA, short for Dominique's kouign amann. This was something that Dominique started making for the staff at Restaurant Daniel, and eventually this became his signature item. Like all items here in Hong Kong, the team has cut a good amount of sugar from the original recipe.

I normally would slice it in half to get a good look at the cross section, but Dominique asked us to rip it with our fingers instead. Very nice.

Living in France means there's always a neighborhood boulangerie nearby where one can pop out for fresh bread just about any time, but we don't have that luxury here in Asia. The humidity also makes it challenging, so the bakery comes out with multiple batches throughout the day. In general, Dominique recommends that we consume the viennoiserie within 1 to 2 hours, but this can be stretched to 4 to 6 hours. Beyond that, he suggests we re-heat them in a pre-heated oven for 1 to 1½ minutes.

This was a delicious and filling breakfast. It was good to see Celian on the call with us, and Blåhaj also enjoyed tasting the goodies. I must partake in more meals with her...

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