As a new season of Spring Baking Championship begins, celebrated pastry chef, Aisha Momaney, shares thoughts on vibrant Spring desserts.
Over the seasons, Spring Baking Championship has become a coveted title for many accomplished pastry chefs and bakers. In Season 6, Aisha Momaney looks to prove to Food Network fans and the judges that she is worthy of the baking title.
Pastry Chef at Vaucluse, her desserts are the perfect blend of impeccable flavors and stunning presentation. Looking through her Instagram account, the pictures of her desserts will make any foodie salivate. Yes, the desserts are just that good.
Thinking about the Food Network competition, Aisha’s pastry chef background should serve her well. In addition to her technical expertise, her plating skill could give her an edge in the competition. While some innovative flavor choices might not be a huge staple in this competition, her knowledge and experience will serve her well.
As the new Spring Baking Championship season is set to premiere, Aisha graciously answered some questions about her experience, Spring desserts and her thoughts on creative dessert ingredients. Although we do not know the outcome of this season, FoodSided will be cheering for her success from afar.
Cristine Struble: Spring Baking Championship celebrates vibrant colors and bright flavors, what are some of your favorite springtime desserts?
Aisha Momaney: Springtime is literally the time of rebirth for the earth, and after winter I think it’s safe to say that most people get excited to start seeing bright, beautiful produce at markets again! I love springy desserts which harness and utilize the colorful fruits of spring. Rhubarb and strawberry crisps, lemon eclairs, brightly frosted cupcakes with little spring violas as decoration. Spring is such a playful season, it’s so much fun to bring that playful quality to the kitchen.
CS: How important is it to balance visually stunning desserts with equally flavorful desserts?
AM: I would say it is of the utmost importance to make sure desserts (and food in general) always taste as good as they look! It’s one of the cardinal sins of cooking for something to be visually striking and then for the flavor to be completely lacking or not there at all. Then on the flip side we always have to remember that we eat with our eyes first! I always try to strike an equal balance between the two.
CS: In Spring Baking Championship, sometimes you have to adapt to the challenge, whether it is theme, flavor or ingredient, how important is adaptability in this Food Network challenge?
AM: I think adaptability was the most important quality to have in Spring Baking Championship. There would be times when we would go into a challenge and based on the visual clues given to us by Clinton we’d be expecting one thing and then he’d completely throw us for a loop with a twist! If you’re not ready to think on your toes you’re going to be constantly behind the 8 ball.
CS: At Vaucluse, your desserts were both beautiful and innovative, what is one of your favorite desserts that was on the menu?
AM: First of all, thank you so much! I was always trying to achieve desserts that would make people stop for a second and admire the food they were about to enjoy. I think my favorite dessert that I ever put on the menu was my Tarte Sablee au Raisins which was a layered dessert that I did with Concord grapes, candied hazelnuts, and goat cheese mousse. I garnished it with oxalis leaves and flowers because that pop of beautiful color was so important to me, and to make the dessert really come together. I loved this dessert because it was visually striking, but also because it was flavors that were unexpected to people and yet once they tried the dessert they were familiar and nostalgic.
CS: In a Michelin Guide article, you talked about Farm.One and working with farmers to bring vibrant flavors to a dish, how important are using creative ingredients to develop flavors in a dessert?
AM: Absolutely important. I kind of touched on this with the oxalis flowers on my grape dessert, but sometimes you can create something and it’s almost perfect but just needs that little.. something extra. I often find that little tiny puzzle piece that’s missing to be something as simple as a basil leaf, a viola flower, a tiny lemon gem marigold. Working with local farmers or purveyors whose entire craft is creating, cultivating, growing specific produce or plants has the ability to bring a dish to the next level. Think about the best strawberry you ever had, it was probably one that you picked yourself at a berry patch when it was soaked in sun and deeply saturated with vibrant red. That’s the strawberry you compare all other strawberries to, those are the ingredients that make dream dishes come to life.
CS: If you could encourage a home baker to master a French dessert, what should she choose?
AM: I have always had a fondness for French macarons, they are scientific marvels and take a lifetime to master. Once you have them down they are the best vehicle for almost any flavor! You can take them any direction you want, sweet, savory, colorful, understated but elegant. And they’re SO beautiful! And delicious! You really can’t beat a perfectly executed, gorgeously colored macaron. They’re also a great option for spring baking, imagine a gorgeous pink macaron with rhubarb jam and a delicious lemon buttercream filling!
Be sure to watch Aisha on Spring Baking Championship Season 6. The Food Network show airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.
What is your favorite Spring dessert? Have you ever tried to make a dessert from one of these Food Network competitions?