LONDON — To mark the 10th anniversary of its popular fashion afternoon tea, dubbed “Pret-a-Portea,” the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge here is set to publish a book of its most popular baking recipes.
The book, called “Pret-a-Portea, High Fashion Bakes and Biscuits,” will be published by Laurence King and will feature baking techniques by the hotel’s head chef, Mourad Khiat, and recipes of 20 of the most popular cakes, biscuits and mousse served as part of the hotel’s afternoon tea during the last ten years.
Khiat explained that recipes are of different levels of difficulty. “It really is for anyone who has or hasn’t baked before,” he told WWD.
One of the recipes includes simple-to-make triangular praline slices decorated with bow-shaped icing and glitter flakes to imitate a pair of Jimmy Choo signature metallic, pointed-toe pumps.
Another recipe offers the Pret-a-Portea take on brownies, which includes decorating them with drops of cream and red chocolate buttons to pay homage to the popular polka-dot pattern from the Valentino fall 2014 runway.
“Pret-a-Portea” was quick to gain popularity upon its creation in 2006 for its playful interpretations of seasonal catwalk trends in sweet, edible forms.
This season for instance, Khiat and his team re-created Manolo Blahnik’s polka-dot pumps in the form of vanilla biscuits topped with white and red icing and Prada’s striped summer tote was made into a red velvet chocolate cake. In other instances, the interpretation can take a more loose form and Khiat can draw inspiration from small details such as color, embellishment or pattern.
For summer 2017, Nicholas Kirkwood’s bold zigzag patterns were translated onto a white and dark chocolate garnish topping a strawberry tart and the fiery orange color of Balmain’s dresses became the reference for a bright peach jelly.
“Just like in the fashion world, we in the pastry kitchen are always looking to push the boundaries and be innovative in our creations. The process can take several months to ensure we translate each piece correctly. It’s important that the cakes carry the essence of the item of clothing and that our guests can immediately detect and recognize the trend we are highlighting,” Khiat explained.
He pointed out that despite their commitment of incorporating fashion and design elements to baking, taste is never compromised. “Pret-a-Portea is a collection of cakes so we must always be very mindful that there is a good balance in flavors, colors and textures. As good as our creations look, they must taste delicious. We will never compromise taste for design. You’re coming for tea — not a fashion show.”
The book is set to launch on Sept. 19. It will be priced at 12.95 pounds, or $17, and sold at the hotel’s Collins Room where afternoon tea is served.