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Chef Van Damme and his Prof. Pastry book


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Very interesting article from last week’s Houston Chronicle, Click Here

Van Damme compiled his cutting-edge techniques and recipes for a glossy volume, On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals (Prentice Hall, about $90). In April, Gourmand International, organizer of the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, named it the best cookbook for professionals, beating out more than 4,000 other entries from 60 countries.
On a recent Tuesday morning, Van Damme showed his students a soufflé that takes less than five minutes from refrigerator to microwave to dining table. The secret: It was made several days earlier, then stored in the freezer.
The lilting curd takes him less than five minutes, compared to the typical stirring time of 15 to 30 minutes. With a texture like hollandaise sauce, it glistens, satiny smooth, even before passing through a fine sieve.

I took several classes at HCC and had no idea the Chef Eddy Van Damme (as far as I know he is not related to Jean Claude) is there. The food in the cafeteria sure did not reflect his presence :smile:.

The excerpts above certainly caught my attention in the article as well as the recipes included. Has anyone heard of him or his book?

Are the concepts mentioned in the article truly new? Or are they pretty common in the industry and the average diner is just learning about them?

I figured if anyone will have something to say about Van Damm, the book, the concepts it will be the good ol’ bunch on the Pastry and Baking forum. So let us hear it.

link to the book


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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No, sorry to say, but I'll be on the lookout for Eddy's book, thanks Elie. The souffle technique wasn't given in the article, but for a good two decades pastry chefs have developed ways to prep and pipe souffles in advance, hold them and then bake them "a la minute" in minutes--and there are various ways to do it. That's if you like souffles at all, which I don't, and I haven't ever served one in a restaurant context. It'll be interesting for someone who has the book to report what Eddy does on this front. As far as the curd, yes, lots of people have figured out how to be able to boil the curd so the eggs don't curdle by adding or tempering with lemon juice very early--and then to whiz in the butter/emulsify the mixture at the end once it's cooled down, with an immersion blender. I think Jacques Torres was the first pastry chef I saw do the butter/immersion blender thing, back when he was at Le Cirque. I've probably been making curds like this for about 10 years, but it's been done longer than that. I do like that Eddy is sharing methods utilizing the microwave, that has to get out to the pro community more, but the innovative Spanish pastry chefs have used the microwave for curds and creams (in print) for years already. Bottom line, it is always a good thing when a book is published which has a very personal point of view and isn't just the same old-same old, which it seems Eddy's book is not.

The issue isn't so much what the average diner knows--the average diner doesn't know much of anything--and first what pros do, and how they do it, all too often has to be filtered through the lens of the newspaper, magazine and cookbook food writer, who report to their editors and publishers, who usually feel all of this has to be adapted and dumbed down in the process. The good news of Ferran Adria, Herve This, Jose Andres, Grant Achatz and buzzwords like molecular gastronomy filtering out to this country's regional level is science and experimentation is officially hot now. That we've cooked and thought scientifically for years whether we realized it or not--that now more chefs, pastry chefs, editors and food writers have science on their brain--means everyone is going to hear more about this, even down at the local newspaper food sections, whether it's relevant and new or not, because it's perceived to have more cachet. It's something else to spin. The organic/Slow Food/Luddite/straight-forward types have already begun to fight back against what they perceive as manipulation, mind games and scientific parlor tricks. Now, whether any of this ultimately translates into better, more interesting food which tastes good, that's another story completely. The talented open-minded chefs and pastry chefs will still do the best food--because they do simple well and they do modern well; they appreciate and synthesize everything--and the less talented and less open-minded will still work within inherent limitations they can't or don't want to overcome. Diners and critics face similar hurdles.

Eddy's book seems geared toward pros with that price tag, my guess is it's for the hotel/CIA/ACF/cooking school crowd--but that's just speculation at this point until I see it. Could still be a very good book despite that--and despite the "prestigious" nod it got from the panel of 5 Gourmand judges (which isn't really that prestigious and just a made up excuse for publishers to put little gold stickers on books to help leverage sales) and I'll try to get my hands on it and let you know. Compared to what some of us have paid for European books, 80 bucks on Amazon is a bargain!

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


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This book sounded interesting, so I just placed an order. While I'm waiting for it to show up, I thought I would try the 6-Minute Microwave Cake as printed in the Houston Chronicle article. I made a few changes based on what I had at home at the time - I used walnut meal instead of almond, canola oil instead of olive, and left out the almond extract and dried cherries. I used a shallow 8" souffle dish with straight sides to bake it and the cake seemed to be done after about 5-1/2 minutes on high in my small microwave. The cake had very little rise, which makes me wonder if there was an error in the Chronicle's version since they list no leavening. The texture of my finished product is very moist, dense and chewy - kind of a cross between a chocolate financier and a fudge brownie. Like most cakes made with oil rather than butter, it initially seemed a little greasy, but that mostly went away after I let it sit for a couple hours. The flavor is very good - rich and deeply chocolate (I used Pernigotti dutched cocoa and a 59% belgian chocolate from Trader Joe's). I could see making it again when I wanted a quick chocolate snack, though I would call it a brownie rather than a "cake". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did anyone perhaps save the article and the recipes. The link in the first post no longer seems to work and I would be interested in reading it/trying the recipes. I have Chef Van Damme's book On Baking, but he does not discuss any of these tips and tricks in it. It is more along the lines of a classical baking book like Professional Baking from Wayne Gisslen.


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Did anyone perhaps save the article and the recipes. The link in the first post no longer seems to work...

Lysbeth, go to Google.com and put in the search terms "eddy van damme microwave cake" and the Houston chronicle article will (probably) be the first result. Then click on "cached" and you will have the article. I suggest you copy-paste it and save it on your computer.

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