Have you ever wanted to be able to impress your dinner guests with some good looking, delicious desserts? Well now’s your chance to wow them at your next dinner party by attending a special pasty masterclass with Alice Hall, Head of Pastry at Lucky Cat Mayfair, Gordon Ramsay’s superb Asian restaurant in Grosvenor Square.
Lucky Cat Mayfair was Gordon Ramsay’s first Asian eating house to open back in 2019 and is inspired by the 1930’s Tokyo kissas and Shanghai’s drinking dens following Ramsay’s extensive travels throughout Asia. In creating Lucky Cat, his vision was to bring together the best cuisines of the region accompanied with exceptional cocktails in a special ambiance, something I believe he has successfully created here in his Mayfair restaurant.
While Lucky Cat currently offers a popular selection of masterclasses where guests can master sushi, cocktails and sake, the new pastry masterclass adds a new dimension to the offerings, where for two hours you will learn about the history behind some classic desserts as well as the techniques in creating a few of Lucky Cat’s most popular Asian signature desserts, before trying your hand at decorating and piping to make the dessert really stand out. You will then get the chance to hang up your apron and enjoy the desserts you created!
Lucky Cat embraces innovation and unlike many restaurants, places their desserts centre stage, headed up by Alice Hall and her three-person all female team. And with an average of 80 covers at lunchtime and 150 at dinner, they certainly have their work cut out for themselves.
Alice has been with Gordon Ramsay Restaurants for a number of years now. Growing up in Bristol, Alice left school at the age of 15 and was home schooled before landing her first job in a kitchen where she had to work really hard. But after a year she moved to pastry and found her passion and niche.
With over 20 years of experience as a pastry chef, Alice has worked at some top London restaurants. These include three years at Le Caprice, four years at The Ivy, three years at Sexy Fish as well as more recently working at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at The Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park.
With her expertise in blending traditional and contemporary desserts with an Asian twist, Alice works closely with Gordon Ramsay and Lucky Cat Global Executive Head Chef Andre Camilo to create desserts that are a staple of the dining experience, such as a delicate souffle woven with passionfruit and yuzu to their Chocolate Tofu and decadent Blue Willow featuring rose, lychee, chocolate and raspberry.
A real source of inspiration comes from the changing seasons, giving Alice the chance to experiment, collaborate and push the boundaries to come up with a new innovative menu to ensure freshness and excitement for diners, particularly the regulars.
So, what can you expect to learn from the pastry masterclass? Well, the first thing you’ll appreciate is just how much equipment they use in the kitchen, from chopping boards, saucepans, baking trays, mixing bowls and whisks, to blenders, grease proof paper, piping bags and pastry knives.
You will learn about all the ingredients that go into creating these fabulous desserts. For example, the Apple Treacle Cake, which was the dessert we were making, requires 140gms of Okinawa black sugar, 480gms of Maple Syrup, 8gms of cinnamon powder, 3 eggs, 140gms of Panko and 5gms of sea salt to make the cake’s base.
We were then shown how to boil the maple, sugar, butter and cinnamon before adding the mix to the whisked eggs in three stages before adding the panka and mixing it well before putting it back on the stove and cooking it out like porridge on a low heat for two minutes. The mix is then poured into a ready lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes before chilling it for a couple of hours.
Next was the creation of the Tonka Cremeaux which requires 125gms of whole milk, 125gms of double cream, 100gms of egg yolks, 5gms of gelatine bloom, 200gms of white chocolate, 40gms of unsalted butter, 1 vanilla pod, 2gms of ground tonka bean and 5gms of sea salt.
The gelatine is added to ice cold water until it’s bloomed. The milk and cream are then heated to 70°C and poured onto the yolks and returned to the heat and cooked out like a custard to 75°C before adding the gelatine bloom. The chocolate is then poured on and mixed together in three stages along with the butter and strained before chilling overnight.
Making the apple gel requires 250gms of apple puree, 75gms of caster sugar, 75gms of water, 4gms of Agar agar and 30gms of apple juice. We make a simple syrup and add the puree before boiling and whisking while simultaneously adding the agar. Finally, the ingredients are poured into a container and chilled until set.
Lastly, we learn how to make the Vanilla Tea/Compression Syrup, which requires 250gms of apple juice and 45gms of Rooibos. The juice is heated to 65°C and then poured it onto the tea and left to steep for 10 minutes. It is then poured onto the prepped apples and chilled, bearing in mind that the longer you leave them, the more flavour you will get.
The final and fun part is the plating of the Apple Treacle Cake, where we were taught the ribbon technique which requires keeping even pressure and piping just up against the side of the cake. You need to start from the bottom and pipe about 1 inch wide vertical rows, zig-zagging back and forth up to the top of the cake. Served with vanilla ice cream and apple molasses, this dessert makes the perfect end to any meal.
And having put in all that hard work and effort to create this fabulous looking dessert, it was time to grab a spoon and enjoy the fruits of our labour, and wow, does it taste good!
Could I replicate the cake in my own kitchen a home? Probably nowhere near as well as it looked under Alice’s guidance and watchful eye.
Lucky Cat Manchester opened last June, and this year will see Lucky Cat Miami open in February with the same experiential and superb cuisine accompanied with inventive cocktails.
For more information on Lucky Cat Mayfair and to book a pastry masterclass of up to six guests, please visit: www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay and by Simon Burrell