Dining In 1 minute 07 June 2017

Ask The Experts: How To Keep Pastries Crisp in Humid Weather

Illustrious pastry maestro Will Goldfarb of Room4Dessert shares his secret recipe for keeping meringues crispy in the summer humidity.

Ask the Expert desserts

In this edition of our regular series, we pick the brains of pastry whiz, Will Goldfarb.
Will Mugshot.jpg
Widely known as the "Golden Boy" of pastry, chef Goldfarb has worked in some of the world's top kitchens, most notably El Bulli, prior to opening Room4Dessert in New York in 2005. He relaunched Room4Dessert in Ubud, Bali in 2014, featuring dessert and cocktail tastings.

Dear Will, I love this time of year but the humidity is such an inconvenience for baking! Any practical tips on how I can keep meringues and pastries crispy in this weather?
Very good question! As a meringue fanatic I too grapple with how to keep my sweets dry and succulent in this beautiful island paradise. Fortunately one of Santa’s little elves bestowed an Excalibur dehydrator upon me which is where I keep my meringues during service so they stay just as dry as the day they are made.

But I’ll tell you; the real secret is our new method of making a meringue. We do something we call a Balinese Meringue (see recipe below) - made by warming palm sugar and water with egg whites and then cooking them at a very high temperature. Next we freeze them, and then we whip them, before finally dehydrating them. In the end we get a beautiful fluffy yet crispy meringue all due to the magical properties of palm sugar.

SEE ALSO: Pastry Chef to The Stars: Eric Lanlard
Left: Will Goldfarb at work. Right: One of his creations at Room4Dessert. Photo credit: Room4Dessert
Left: Will Goldfarb at work. Right: One of his creations at Room4Dessert. Photo credit: Room4Dessert
Our last secret is the simplest: at Room4Dessert, we like to do everything in front of the guest. So we always put any dry ingredient on the plate at the last possible second, even after the frozen ones!

Here is a recipe for our Balinese meringue that you can try at home:

  • Mix equal parts water, egg whites and coconut palm sugar together. We use coconut sugar from Big Tree Farms here in Bali just down the street from Room4Dessert, but you can use any old palm sugar
  • Warm the mixed ingredients over a water bath, taking care to mix them carefully so as not to make an omelette.
  • We use a precise temperature (84 Celsius) but you will notice that the egg white will begin to set and the mix will be fluffy.
  • Mix it again and strain it and put it in the freezer overnight.
  • The next morning, whip it up and either serve it as is, freeze it like a semifreddo, or dry it in the oven (we are sneaky and use the dehydrator at Room4Dessert).

  • Recommended reading: View all Ask The Experts stories here

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