Meet James Campbell, the man and master chef behind our gold bullion bars, as he fuses Eastern flavours and precision with Western pastry heritage in his new book, Japanese Patisserie
James Campbell, M&S product development manager
As the former head pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental and a contestant on BBC’s Bake Off Crème de la Crème, there isn’t much James Campbell doesn’t know about patisserie. He’s the man behind our gold bullion bars and jaffa spheres and even admits to making his own puff pastry. So, with his debut book on the art of Japanese pastry out this month, we sat down to ask him about his flavour trip to the Far East and what we can look forward to in the future of patisserie.
“There has been a big explosion in pastry in Japan,” James explains. “A lot of French chefs are going over there to work now, and when you marry that Gallic food heritage with the Japanese approach to precision, you get something incredible.”
And that’s what James’ book is all about, introducing the incredible in a way that anyone from budding cooks to true pastry enthusiasts can appreciate: “It’s taking things that
are recognisable, like madeleines and Eton mess, and infusing them with flavours from Japan like pink peppercorns, green tea and yuzu juice,” he says.
So get ready to whip up something a little different (our three picks from James’ book are a great starting point) and prepare your taste buds, because James is predicting that even that most sacred of sweet treats, salted caramel, is set for a Japanese-inspired makeover: “In my book I use chocolate and white miso a lot.
There are ways of getting that earthy, savoury flavour into sweets that mimics salted caramel, and the Japanese do that so well with things like matcha and miso.”
James Campbell’s book, Japanese Patisserie, published by Ryland Peters & Small, is available now
“A light, airy pastry that needs to be cooked over heat, which has perhaps given it an unfair reputation as being difficult to master. If you follow these instructions carefully, it is actually fairly simple to put together.”
145ml whole milk
1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
1⁄2 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
145g white bread flour
Makes approximately 500g
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 and grease a baking tray with a little butter.
Combine the milk and butter with 145ml water in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to the boil.
Once boiling, immediately stir in the salt, sugar and vanilla extract until combined. Remove from the heat and add the flour all in one go. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until the mixture comes together into a smooth ball of paste that leaves the sides of the pan.
Put the pan back on the heat and let the flour cook out for five minutes, stirring to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually but firmly beat the eggs into the hot pastry, one by one, until fully combined and the mixture is smooth, soft and glossy. When you lift the spoon up the mixture should drop off when lightly shaken.
Your choux paste is now ready to be transferred to a piping bag and used. I would normally brush with a little beaten egg before baking to give the pastry a glossy shine when baked. Pipe eight balls or shapes spaced evenly apart onto the prepared baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Sesame peanut cookies
“These nutty shortbread-like cookies are truly delicious. This recipe was handed down to me by Lisa Phillips, an incredible pastry chef I worked with at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.”
150g caster sugar
140g light brown soft sugar
250g smooth peanut butter
400g plain flour
22g baking powder
1 tbsp each crushed salted peanuts and white sesame seeds mixed together for sprinkling
2 baking trays, lined with non-stick baking parchment
Makes 20 cookies
Put the butter, caster sugar and light brown soft sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together using a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until the dough comes together with a crumbly, short texture.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of non-stick baking parchment to roughly the size of the baking tray. Remove the top sheet of paper and lightly sprinkle the dough with the mixture of crushed peanuts and white sesame seeds. Transfer the dough to the freezer between the two sheets of non-stick baking parchment to firm up to make it easier to cut.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (350) Gas 4.
Use a sharp knife and a ruler to cut the chilled dough into 7cm squares; any excess dough can be mixed together and rolled out again.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for 8-13 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Sweet miso truffles
“These decadent little beauties are easy to whip up and can be made well in advance and frozen. Alternatively, they will keep nicely in the fridge for up to a week.”
100g dark chocolate
50g cocoa powder
2 baking trays, one lined with non-stick baking parchment, one with cling film
Makes about 20 truffles
Put the sugar into a saucepan on medium heat. As it starts to melt and caramelise, whisk in the miso paste followed by the whipping cream. Bring the mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the dark and milk chocolate. Allow the chocolate to melt, then add the diced butter and stir until melted.
Pour the truffle mixture into a container and place in the fridge for one hour to set.
Once completely set, use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out rough little balls of around 2-3 cm in diameter. Transfer the chocolates to the first prepared baking tray lined with baking parchment and put into the freezer to set firm again; about another hour.
Once firm, roll the chocolates between the palms of your hands to shape into individual inner truffles – they do not need to be perfectly round. Put them back in the freezer for an hour to firm. Melt half the dark chocolate by blasting quickly in the microwave for 30–60 seconds, then beat in the remaining chocolate until melted. Prepare the cocoa powder in a shallow dish or plate.
Once cooled slightly, put about a teaspoon of the melted chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll a truffle between your palms to give a delicate, even coating. Deposit into the cocoa powder and roll to give a generous coating. Transfer the truffles to the second prepared baking tray lined with cling film as you finish each one and return the full batch back to the fridge until the chocolate coating has set.