It’s concrete grey and five stories high, but it’s not your local parking lot.
Welcome to the latest bespoke gourmet cake masterpiece from Dubai-based pastry chef Nadia Parekh.
“We're gonna do a lot of chocolate decoration and a lot of shards and metallic features and some sugar work as well,” she explains to me as she gets to work. “I love movement and I love texture in my cake. So I do a lot of things with concrete texture and I add colours on top of that. What we've got here is freshly baked vanilla sponge. It's my all-time favourite recipe. So what you do is you sort of whip the eggs and sugar, until it's really pale and fluffy. I have some milk chocolate ganache and it's a bit whipped, as you can see, it sort of holds its own shape as well. Incorporating air into anything changes its consistency.”
Nadia is the founder of Dubai-based, small-batch, gourmet bakery Mélange. Her background, though, is a degree in clinical psychology from McGill Uni. So is there a link?
“I guess you could link it in terms of comfort food,” she says. “But I think for me, the biggest thing is I find this really therapeutic."
The contents of her latest creation?
“So we've got five layers of vanilla sponge in between. We've got chocolate ganache, whipped ganache. We have got some strawberries. And all of that is cemented together with the Swiss meringue buttercream.”
I tell Nadia, as she lays on a crumb coat of frosting outside to seal the cake, that she has the skills of a bricklayer.
“It's funny you should say that,” she says. “Because the tools are very similar as well. We're gonna go for a greyish concrete colour because everything really pops. We're going for a very modern vibe with this cake. Edgy, chic, but industrial.”
The decoration comes in brightly coloured abstract forms of tempered chocolate and sugar. So how do you attach them?
“I know it sounds not so elegant, but you sort of just shove it inside the cake, to be honest. And what we'll do is we'll work our way down into a bit of a cascade.”
It looks almost too good to eat. But then again... As I take a bite, the icing just melts on my tongue instantly. It disappears.
“That's why I love Swiss meringue buttercream,” explains Nadia.
The cake is surprisingly salty and not too sweet.
It tastes just as good as it looks.