Book review: A New Way to Bake by Philip Khoury

11 September 2023 by
Book review: A New Way to Bake by Philip Khoury

Philip Khoury's A New Way to Bake charts how a "baking-obsessed graphic design university student" from Australia became a pioneering plant-based pastry chef

By blending science and sugar in this creative collection of over 80 naturally vegan recipes, Khoury gently urges the industry to reconsider its reliance on milk, eggs and butter.

Classic puddings from across the globe, including American pecan pie, Middle Eastern maamoul and Italian tiramisu, are reimagined with the likes of silken tofu, melted coconut oil and orange blossom water. These are the staples of Khoury's "plantry", which ranges from oat milk to pectins and agar-agar powder.

Some dishes are almost deceptively plant-based; he confesses: "I developed and launched 20 (and counting) new plant-based products at Harrods, but without telling anyone before they tasted them that they were plant-based." Eton mess, for example, features meringues made from chickpea aquafaba as opposed to egg whites, while his Victoria sponge replaces yolks and butter with cooked and cooled sweet potato to keep that "perfect golden hue". For something more flamboyantly plant-based, there's the extra virgin olive oil cake and the fluffy baked silken tofu cheesecake.

Khoury's book is marked by an openness to collaboration. He reveals the challenges he faced while pursuing plant-based alternatives, whether that be reformulating cake batters by reducing their fat content or reconfiguring the purpose of butter in traditional short-crusts. His "vrioche", a vegan brioche that is essentially a sweet and yeasted dough, used for the base of his sticky date and cardamom buns, took "countless trials and hundreds of hours (at least four hours for every attempt)" to perfect.

Plant-based pastry is a careful, continuous experiment that has been made more accessible by Khoury's curiosity and thoughtfully produced recipes. His journey in baking began with a bite out of Pierre Hermé's millefeuille; perhaps someone else's will start with a slice of Khoury's warm, fluffy vrioche.

A New Way to Bake by Philip Khoury (Hardie Grant, £30)

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