Holiday chat with a Pastry Goddess, Part 1

Posted 12/10/20

Last April, I started seeing these amazing desserts on LinkedIn made by one of the most talented pastry chefs I’ve ever seen. Her name is Julie Jangali.

Julie and I have worked together on a …

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Holiday chat with a Pastry Goddess, Part 1

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Last April, I started seeing these amazing desserts on LinkedIn made by one of the most talented pastry chefs I’ve ever seen. Her name is Julie Jangali.

Julie and I have worked together on a holiday project for you, Gentle Reader. This week she’s answering 20 questions, and next week she’ll share a recipe that’s doable for a home baker, and give us some tips to take our own holiday desserts up a notch or two thousand.

Q: My mom bakes and our family frosts at least 12 dozen sugar cookies every Christmas. Usually, we just give them a couple of shakes of holiday sprinkles, jimmies, or colored sugar. Doing just this takes 3-4 hours. What is a quick, easy way to up our decorating game that won’t have us still working on them at Easter?

A: I would recommend using royal icing rather than buttercream. Buttercream will never set unless you refrigerate it. Remember butter at room temperature will always get soft. Royal icing you can color it with food coloring and the process takes about 4 to 6 hours to dry. You never have to worry about it getting soft.

Q: You were a finalist on Food Network’s Chopped Sweets. What was the application process like?

A: It’s a long process; you fill out the application, go through an interview process with more than one person from the show, final interview with one of the producers which takes about an hour if not more. Then you wait for the call to hear that you’re in which takes about a week! Total process I would say almost a month.

Q: How did you find out you were in?

A: Almost a month it took to reveal through email that I was a finalist.

Q: From application to the episode airing, how long did it take?

A: About six months if not more!

Q: How good looking is Scott (host Scott Conant) in person?

A: He is a sweetheart and the screen can’t capture his heart and character enough to show that he is a true lovable human being! But ... every single one of his fans already knows this fact about him including me!

Q: What’s up with that hair?

A: He is showing his Italian flair with that hair! AAAAA-MAZING! #truth

Q: Spill any inside info you can.

A: Just know that the TV world will show you exactly what it wants you to see to keep its audience engaged. #thatsall

Q: Name a couple of your pastry role models, and what you’ve learned from them.

A: My mother has been my role model since day one of me holding a whisk in my hand while helping her in the kitchen (the story is deeper than that; check out my Instagram page @desserts_1st). She is my inspiration, my role model, and my overall reason to succeed in my career let alone my life.

Q: What is your favorite type of buttercream, and why?

A: I would say Swiss Buttercream is the best especially for cake decorating because it is the easiest way to get smooth beautifully clean lines for your masterpiece!

Q: I’m a pretty decent home baker, with an extremely adversarial relationship with pie, especially fruit pies (passable but boring flavor, less than 50/50 chance of it being cooked through). What’s your best advice?

A: It’s helpful to bake your pie in a glass-bottom dish so that you can see when it’s golden brown to your liking. This is called par-baking the crust. Also, if your fruit filling seems extra wet, drain off a little bit of liquid before adding it to your shell. If you’re extra worried about wet soggy crust, sprinkle flour on the crust before adding the filling or you can brush the dough with egg wash, which is known as beaten egg.

Q: Bundt cakes are notorious for sticking to the pan, any tips or tricks to share?

A: I never use butter to coat the pan that will be filled with my batter. The milk solids in butter (talking science here ladies and gentlemen... I’m sorry!) Will act like glue. This will cause the cake to stick to the pan. Also, coating the cake pan too early will allow the oil to slide down the inside of the pan and pool in the bottom. Try waiting until after you have mixed your batter then get your pan ready!

Q: Favorite store-bought guilty pleasure treat?

A: ICE CREAM ... I’m human, sometimes I have no patience and when I want a cold munchy, I satisfy my craving by going to one of my favorite spots.

Q: Favorite fancy bakery treat to eat?

A: I grew up on cream puffs and roulette cakes and I continue to do so! Thank you, Mommy:)

Q: Your creations always look so perfect. Do you ever have failures?

A: No one is perfect and yes, I have failures. I try to make my failures into success by including them as an ingredient in another one of my projects if I can!

Q: You have a toddler son. Have you started baking with him yet?

A: For the most part, I do all my baking when my son is napping, to be honest. I try not to let my profession intervene in Mommy life with my son. If I have a big project, I will accomplish it late at night when he is asleep or daddy plays tag your it and takes over (I love my husband, he is truly an amazing father ... I had to add this in because it’s the truth!). My son is our priority! Just like I’m answering these questions at nearly midnight so it doesn’t factor in Mommy and son time.

Q: Hardest pastry to make successfully?

A: Macarons give me my money’s worth because oven temperature, humidity, love, and patience = success ... DUH! Nine times out of 10 I succeed and if I don’t I will figure out a way to use my not so pretty macarons into another beautiful creation! I hate throwing things away unless I really have to.

Q: Most deceptively easy pastry?

A: Cream puffs ... So easy yet so many ways to make them look deceptively challenging to create to your advantage of being creative!

Q: What’s for dessert on Thanksgiving?

A: Simple yet deliciously amazing!!! My always go-to ... Apple pie ala mode :)

Q: What holiday treats are 100% mandatory in your family?

A: As Persians regardless of what holiday ... You better believe we have our cream puffs and our roulette cakes! Did you not watch Chopped Sweets- Million Dollar Desserts, which was Season 1, Episode 7?

Q: A lot of families will be celebrating remotely this year. What are some terrific treats to make for absent family that ship well?

A: I would say decorated sugar cookies ship well as long as you plan ahead of time to let the icing dry before shipping! This is my go-to because I can get super creative with design ad flavors!

Q: You make the most amazing French macarons I’ve ever seen. Tell me about your history and relationship with them. And how hard are they to make successfully for the home baker?

A: I’ve had my love and hate relationship with macarons!!!! However, through time and perseverance, I’ve succeeded making some of the most amazing macarons ever! Always remember, ovens vary through every household and climates vary in every state ... so be PATIENT. It takes a couple of trials and errors to master the craft of the so-called Macaron!!! #namaste


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