From top professional chefs to trainees and home cooks, Canadian pure maple syrup makes a great store cupboard staple.
World-renowned pastry chef Claire Clark, co-founder of high-end patisserie catering service Pretty Sweet, has worked at leading hotels and restaurants, including California’s legendary French Laundry. She became the first person in the UK, and the only female recipient, of the prestigious “Meilleur Ouvrier de la Grande-Bretange” (MOGB).
Q. Why did you become a chef – and where did you train?
A. My mother was very artistic. She drew plans for the council on an old-fashioned weighted drawing table. She played the cello and painted watercolours as well as doing pottery. I grew up doing lots of creative things with her including music and cooking. She baked all our sweet treats as we were a low-income family – shop-bought biscuits and cakes were out of the question. I wanted to be a musician but wasn't good enough so opted for cooking, or to be precise, cake-making. I knew I wanted to be pastry chef when I enrolled at college. I went to Aylesbury College and did a two-year City and Guilds catering course.
Q. What advice would you give to a trainee chef?
A. Work hard, nothing in life is easy. When you feel like giving up, keep at it, tomorrow is another day. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Q. What three ingredients can't you live without?
A. For my consumption: Marmite, cheese and peanut butter.
For baking: butter, eggs and sugar.
Q. What is your favourite dish to cook – and why?
A. I love baking, period. Cooking for friends has to be one of my favourite things to do. I do show off when it comes to pudding.
Q. Why do you like cooking with pure Canadian maple syrup?
A. I think it's because it's a pure, natural product – nothing added and nothing taken away. It has a unique flavour that can't be quite determined. It's sweet, but no overly sweet.
We use it for our granola instead of honey, and as a replacement for sweetness in our range of vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free cakes. It gives an interesting flavour and is deemed healthier than sugar. It also adds a depth of colour to the baking and you don't need very much of it to sweeten or taste as its flavour is pronounced and instantly recognisable.
I have maple syrup at home. My favourite thing to do is simply pour it over warm, fluffy pillows of homemade pancakes. I have an amazing recipe from my time at The French Laundry in California. I serve the pancakes with crispy, streaky bacon on a Sunday morning. It’s something I first tried on a trip to Canada from the States – and have eaten a million times since.
Q. What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
A. A fish soup, eaten at 4am in a restaurant on the docks in Milan after coming out of a night club. It was a rich, dark, lush, perfect petite marmite of fish. I was starving and it was cooked to perfection. I remember every spoon. Heaven! It's not just about the food. It's a moment in time: the food, wine, where you are, and who you are with.
A sweet-sour vinegar made by fermenting maple sap and aging it in oak with a blend of cinnamon, cloves, pepper, thyme and spices.
100% pure and natural maple water is also known as maple sap and gets its authentic, fresh and delicately sweet flavour from Quebec’s majestic sugar maple trees. Ensure it’s always NAPSI-certified.
When you continue to boil maple syrup and stir it until it reaches a buttery consistency, it turns into a maple spread. Delicious on toast, bagels, crumpets and muffins.
Quebec bulk maple syrup producers are the only one in the world to have their products tasted and classified by a third party, giving a guarantee of authentic experience, taste and grading. There are four grades of 100% pure Canadian maple syrup. Varied, subtle and delicious, they’re a pleasure to explore!