The Anatomy of a Macaron with Duc Liao of Scratch Pastries
See also: Tastemakers 2012: Duc Liao
Mabel Suen Anatomy of a Scratch Pastries praline macaron.
See also: Heavenly: Salted Caramel Macarons at Scratch Pastries
When you're cooking, it's all about a dash of this and a splash of that. But baking is another matter, an exact science. In this series, we're going behind the bakery case and into the kitchens of some of Phoenix's finest purveyors of sweets (and some savories). Fresh out of culinary school, Chow Bella contributor Mabel Suen will work with local chefs to learn their tricks for making perfect pastries, baked goods and desserts. Stay tuned for findings once the flour settles.
The Baked Good: The Macaron
The Chef: Duc Liao
The Place: Scratch Pastries
At Scratch Pastries, as far as macarons go, it's what's on the inside that counts. To pastry chef Duc Liao, who grew up in France and knows a thing or two about art both in and out of the kitchen, a simple shell made with just egg whites, almond flour and sugar can go far with the right kind of filling.
Mabel Suen Scratch Pastries makes macarons in flavors such as raspberry, praline and salted caramel.
Getting that "simple" shell just right to begin with, however, isn't as easy as it sounds -- especially when dealing with something as moody as egg whites in meringue. In the quaint yet contemporary bistro-style storefront that is Scratch Pastries, Liao takes a break from kneading some sort of dough in an industrial sized mixer to explain the philosophy behind his baked goods.
"On a professional level, you have a very high expectation for everything that you do," he says, explaining that consistency in technique is how he aims to perfect his own pastries. Past that, it's about learning how to deal with exterior factors, such as humidity, and most importantly, adding that personal touch.
"The exception is what you put inside your macaron," he says. "After you get the shells perfect, the inside becomes your signature."
To Liao, the macaron is something that can be learned in a day but can take years to perfect. Since the opening of Scratch Pastries, he says he's changed the recipe at least four times. His ideal macaron is slightly dry -- almost flaky -- on the outside and moist, soft, and fresh on the inside.