Pastries, those wickedly, often gooey deserts we love, have a rich story. A recipe for stewed fruit, wrapped in dough, appeared in a cookbook available in the Middle East, 5000 years ago. Sweet cakes ended the finest meals in Egypt, where the difference between a baker and a pastry chef was well-known 4000 years ago. Medieval Crusaders returned with decadent pastry recipes, quickly adopted in the castle kitchens of Europe.
Renaissance chefs, catering to royalty and elites, perfected new pastries: choux, a hot-water paste with eggs, puff pastries and brioche, small circular cakes. Marie Antoinette said, â€œLet them east brioche.â€ In the early 1800s, Antonin Careme, with artful flair, raised French pastry to an art form.
Box stores and bodegas, today, sell millions of modern pastries. A modern pastry is flour, much sugar, some fruit, chocolate or caramel and air, served in a plastic bag. Long gone is any sense of pastry as artful.
Tiffany Jones, of Peridot Sweets, leads a drive to bring back the ecstasy of pastry through her enchanting and charming art form, her aesthetics and wickedly sinful tastes. The current avalance of television shows, hosted by chefs â€œmake baking pastries seem easy,â€ says Jones. â€œIt takes up to ten hours to bake a four-tier wedding cake, not 42 minutes, plus commercials, as you see on television.â€
Jones attended culinary school: â€œYou cant get an interview for an hourly wage job in a big hotel,â€ she says, â€œwithout it.â€ She worked Four Seasons Hotels, where she cut her teeth on wedding cakes. At the Mirage Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, she learned desserts and speciality cakes from Andrew Economon. â€œI was lucky to get A-list, on-the-job experience,â€ she says.
â€œStaging or presentation,â€ says Jones, â€œis as important as is baking; pastries must look good enough to eat.â€ The Peridot Sweets website, which includes generous advice for home bakers, confirms her claim. Its a sirens seduction to reach into the screen for one of the cakes, cookies or chocolates shown.
Martha Stewart is an inspiration. â€œI dont care much for her recipes,â€ says Jones. â€œHer seven-minute frosting wasnt too good. Her presentation, in â€˜Living Magazine, is the best.â€
Jones is exuberant and relentless. As we talked, she was dealing with a realtor, taking care of seven-month-old daughter, Jovi, and baking. Her style is intelligent, ambitious and determined, thus ensuring her company, Peridot Sweets, succeeds.
Peridot Sweets thrives on-line. An eponymously standalone bakery opens, in Las Vegas, in June 2013. The grand opening is in August 2013, â€œI want every part of Peridot Sweets running smoothly, at peak performance, before I tell the world were here.â€
Tiffany Jones is the multitasker of all multitaskers. In this interview, she offers advice practical to home bakers. She describes how she set up her on-line business and grew it, using social media and referrals, to the point she can open a new brick and mortar restaurant in Las Vegas. She talks of balancing business, parenthood, marriage and much more.