Founder of pastryschooldiaries.blogspot.com
Baking goddess and former interior designer Gina Pistone has been a Dubai resident for the last five and a half years, having moved here for her profession, and met her husband Jad here as well. The 31-year old comes from Las Vegas and is the founder of the Pastry School Diaries blog. She now spends most of her time baking, writing on parenting for Mother, Baby, & Child magazine, and spending time with her 18-month old son Mateo in her home in Palm Jumeirah.
About the blog
A few weeks before finding out I was pregnant, I decided I would quit design and move to Paris and study to become a pastry chef. Baking has been a part of my life ever since I was 12; it’s my past-time, passion, and ‘happy place’. Though becoming pregnant put a hold to my career, it didn’t alter my longing to become a better baker. The blog was a way of pushing myself to practice techniques and hone my baking skills. I test recipes that have intimidated me in the past – particularly pies and tarts, as pastry dough is a tricky science – and post step-by-step photos of recipes with explanations. I also share my mistakes so others can learn from it. I keep the blog light and fun because, let’s face it, there are a million and one baking blogs – we might as well have a laugh or two along the way!
It might sound horribly clichéd and American, but it’s Martha Stewart. I love her simplicity and the fact that almost all of her recipes are do-able. I always find myself on her website watching how-to videos, as she puts me at ease and can make anything look easy.
A foodie personality I would love to dine with
Ina Garten, the host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. Ina defines what it means to be the ultimate hostess. I would make her some of her specialties – Mac n’ Cheese (it has six cups of cheese!), and French apple tart (the first pastry I ever successfully made).
Every Sunday morning...
...I sit down with my laptop and a cup of coffee, and dive into Pinterest and other people's food blogs. I love the photography, and seeing what inspires others, as well as fusing recipes – take a cake recipe from here, a frosting from there, and then add a twist of my own.
My favourite cookbook
is from a bakery in Brooklyn, New York, called Baked (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Baked is obsessed with classic American baking with a retro twist, and their desserts make you feel like a kid again. I use these cookbooks as my go-to for weekend breakfast ideas and special occasion cakes and pies. I recently did the chocolate whiskey tart – safe to say, I have never tasted chocolate elevated to this kind of level.
Top baking tips
*I sift all dry ingredients – everything from cocoa, powdered sugar, baking soda and powder, to spices. It is a tedious step but when you see the clumps in the bottom of your sieve you’ll understand why it's so important. You are ensuring a thorough mixture by making sure there are no lumps in your dishes.
* If you wonder why your cake is dry or your cookies too brown on the bottom, you can bet your oven is not properly calibrated. Get yourself an oven thermometer that hangs on the wire rack and you’ll never have to guess if your temperature is accurate again.
*When a recipe calls for ingredients at room temperature, this doesn’t mean ‘Dubai room temperature’! Refer to this rule of thumb – give your butter a squeeze, you should be able to leave an imprint with your thumb, but shouldn't be so soft that it squeezes out. This is the perfect temperature for baking.
New Year resolution
I’d love to attempt baking bread from scratch and possibly trying homemade croissants – something I’ve always steered clear of.