Baking: Perfect patisserie at La Petite Maison
Proof Covid hasn’t cancelled everything, filming has just wrapped on this year’s series of The Great British Bake Off. To celebrate, Alice Ryan interviews three indie business owners who changed career lanes to become star bakers. First up: Anna Racaza of La Petite Maison
Anna Racaza launched her patisserie business, La Petite Maison, literally days before the UK went into lockdown. Yet she’s fast developing a reputation for her works of edible art, spanning petit gâteaux, artisan chocolates and occasion cakes
"La Petite Maison has been brewing in my mind for many years, even way before I became a pastry chef. My dream has always been to have my own patisserie, and only in March this year I decided to set it up officially. I like to think of my style as unique and quirky – I love to recreate classic desserts but elevating them through flavour combinations or decorating them differently from the traditional.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, my grandfather often paid us a fleeting visit and every time he would cook us all sorts of pies, pastries and dishes. I remember coming home and getting excited by all the smells from the kitchen. Some of the desserts that I make now are Filipino inspired.
I studied Media at university and worked in marketing for a couple of years before I took this wild ride into the culinary world. I was obsessed with baking in uni and started a baking society which allowed me to be surrounded by kindred spirits and experience our first bake sale. I was hooked and thought “Hey, people might actually want to buy my cakes?”
The idea behind my petit gateaux was to take classic desserts – like the humble apple pie and carrot cake, for example – and turn them into something out of the ordinary. I spent some time testing out each recipes to make sure that they taste like the original, even though they look different. Each of my chocolate bonbons is individually hand-painted which adds to the charm. The painting bit is my favourite process.
I create bespoke cakes to order, where I work very closely with the client to find out what the recipient likes - their favourite flavours, colours or style - in order to make the creations more personal. So no two cakes are ever the same.
There have been pros and cons to launching right before lockdown. My initial plan was to trade in markets where I would have loved to meet all of my customers directly; to chat with them and get a feel of the traditional trade. However, lockdown has given me plenty of invaluable time to work on the business, which I would never have had before.
Nothing beats the feeling of reward when a customer appreciates the look and taste of my creations. The ultimate dream would be to have a physical shop. Ahhh. . . Fingers crossed!"
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