If you're doing some holiday baking, there are some ways to avoid wasting precious sweet ingredients. Image: Natallia Harahliad / Shutterstock
If you're doing a lot of home baking this holiday season, you'll probably want to follow in the footsteps of the top pastry chefs who precisely weigh everything down to the milligram, a process which is great for creating successful desserts but which can tend to result in a large amount of leftover ingredients. To avoid throwing anything away, we've put together the top tips and recipes for reusing everything. To your spatulas!
Vanilla bean pods in the sugar bowl
Given its exorbitant price, you'll probably want to make the most of any vanilla beans and pods that you have purchased for flavoring the mousse of your cakes and puddings. Did you know that you can insert a split pod into a sugar jar to make your own vanilla sugar? Make sure you use a good quality bean, preferably from Tahiti; Polynesian vanilla is highly aromatic. Count one or two pods for 500g of powdered sugar. Meanwhile famous chef Jean-François Piège advises drying a pod before mixing it in, in order to boost the vanilla taste of a dessert, a tip he shared on an episode of "Le Meilleur pâtissier."
Egg whites in the freezer
Egg whites are 88% water and can be easily frozen. After weighing out the amount needed for your meringue or for your moist but light cake, pour the rest into an ice cube tray, or into an airtight container. You can store them this way for up to ten months. You may even find the ingredient useful in the future for recipes that work best with aged egg whites. This will help you create perfect macarons, according to Mercotte, the famous amateur pastry chef who accompanies Cyril Lignac on television. The expert separates the whites from the yolks up to a week before making the shells...
Icing for decorating cookies and cupcakes
When it comes to food waste from pastry making, this is one of the most significant. After all, to successfully frost a cake and obtain a smooth, even result, you need a lot of extra material. Shiny icing, made of glucose, sugar and gelatin, can be frozen. However, when reusing the preparation, it will be necessary to mix it again in order to obtain a homogeneous texture. But be aware that the icing can also be kept for a week in the refrigerator. It can then be reused to make another dessert—perhaps for New Year's. Another option is to melt the icing and add mascarpone. You can then thin it out and obtain a new icing that you can easily use with a pouch to decorate cupcakes or cookies.
Leftover cake for puddings or crumb garnishes
If you're making a cake, you will probably have prepared a sponge cake, a rolled cookie or a dacquoise for your base. And of course, you will have some base left over. Don't panic, keep the surplus until you finish preparing your menu. Then in a second step, you can moisten the dry cake with a sufficient amount of milk. By adding vanilla sugar, dried fruit and eggs, you can prepare a new cake quickly and easily. You could also decide to dry the remains of the original cake in a preheated oven at 100° to obtain crumbs which can be sprinkled on desserts like mousses, puddings, fruit purees or other creamy desserts. These can be stored in an airtight box for three months.