Chef Bruno Feldeisen's Raspberry Mousse — and secrets for making your home baking more stunning
The Great Canadian Baking Show judge talks about his new cookbook, food styling, photography and more
Kicked out of school at the age of 15 and raised by an abusive single mother who struggled with drug addiction and mental health challenges, Chef Bruno Feldeisen bounced around from various foster homes and spent part of his childhood living on the streets of France. He says he never could have imagined, all those years ago, that he’d be a celebrated, award-winning chef and TV personality one day. He adds “cookbook author” to his growing list of accomplishments with the release of Baking with Bruno: A French Baker’s North American Love Story, a collection of his favourite recipes that are accessible and within reach for home bakers. Feldeisen says, “It’s like me going to your home and baking a nice dessert for you.” Most ingredients are pantry staples, the flavours are familiar and the recipes highlight his fondness for colourful fruit desserts.
As a teen, Feldeisen dreamed of becoming an airline pilot and traveling the globe. He yearned for a marvelous world of experiences better than what he’d been living. “One day I was wandering the streets of my small hometown and passed by a very old chocolate shop. They were looking for a chocolate apprentice. The sweet aromas of melting chocolate really got me that day. Looking back, it was the right decision.” The job gave him structure and a family-like environment, two things that were missing from his life.
As a judge on CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show, Feldeisen has been recognized for his work at restaurants in LA, New York, San Francisco and Vancouver. He was named twice as one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Chocolatier Magazine. His French training and North American experience have given him an appreciation for the way flavours can take new directions. “We used to define Canadian desserts with maple syrup, butter tarts and Nanaimo bars,” says Feldeisen, “today it is richer: waves of immigrants from all over the world have contributed a lot to the Canadian food culture in ways that make us culturally better and more aware. We are very lucky in that way.”
Feldeisen has a very keen eye and a great appreciation for simplicity. I wanted to know what catches his eye, how an average home baker can dress up simple desserts (especially for our amateur food photos), and what advice he has to help prepare us for the day when we’re able to entertain people again.
What are your tips for home bakers to make our desserts go from humble to stunning?
Clean lines, good ratio of height, a perfect bake (nice colour from the bake), adding related garnishes: fresh raspberries to a raspberry mousse, caramelized sliced bananas to a banana loaf.
That’s surprisingly simple. How can we make our desserts more appealing?
With the platter, plate or “vessel” used to present the food. It is true to every restaurant and magazine styling. You can enrich your “plate wardrobe” by going to thrift stores where there’s lots of amazing things to find. (Once we’re allowed to return to stores!). Proper lighting and angle when taking photos. Sometimes less is better in terms of presentation and style.
What’s your secret trick for making a dessert look more elegant in an instant?
I learned photography when I was young and use a lot of the principles in food presentation. Angles, height, thickness, balance of colours, negative space, contrast. A cake on a platter that is too large, is lost. A dessert on the wrong plate is not able to “breathe” or “be present”.
What recipe from your cookbook would you use as an example of a dessert that is simple yet stunning?
The raspberry mousse. I just love the contrast of the tart fruit and sweet cream. It is a bit retro and you can use frozen fruit.
What ingredients and desserts do you look forward to as the weather warms up?
Cherries, stone fruits, local berries. Nothing beats a warm fruit dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on the top!
What do you love about the way North Americans bake or create desserts?
I think in general, people in North America crave food stories; therefore, we are creating a food culture and giving access to an amazing array of food offerings. Look at Toronto: for the past 20 years it has been a vibrant city for food. Look at the number of pastry shops, the quality of the breads you find even in big brand grocery stores. People are demanding better and exciting food, food with a story behind.
What dessert do you feel is overdone?
Macarons. Bring on the whoopie pies!
Some people are not confident bakers. Could you finish this sentence: the key to being a successful baker is...
Trial and error! To this day I have to mess up, burn, and create a monster before I can successfully create a recipe. Of course, no one will see this side.
Here’s Feldeisen’s recipe for Raspberry Mousse from Baking with Bruno: A French Baker’s North American Love Story:
A fruit mousse is the perfect recipe to highlight a seasonal fruit at the peak of its season. The idea is to blend an acidic fruit pulp and a creamy light component. This delicious summer dessert can be topped with fresh berries and biscotti.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp unflavoured gelatine
- 1½ cups whipping cream
In an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
In a tall blender, mix the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice until smooth on medium speed.
Remove all the seeds by passing the raspberry purée through a fine mesh sieve.
Dissolve the gelatine powder with 4 tbsp. (60 mL) of cold water and stir with a small spoon until smooth. Pour the raspberry purée into a medium saucepan and warm slightly. It should feel warm to the touch.
Remove from the stove then whisk in the dissolved gelatine. Gently fold the whipped cream into the purée until fully incorporated and spoon the raspberry mousse equally into 4 glasses.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Tips & Twists:
Easily substitute the raspberries with strawberries. Or create a two-flavour combination by alternating layers of raspberry mousse and lemon curd for a delicious summer dessert.
Electric mixer. Medium saucepan. Rubber spatula. Hand whisk. Small sieve. Tall blender.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Pay Chen is a food and lifestyle expert on television, an occasional actress, and an avid eater who also writes about food and travel for numerous publications.