He was only 11 years old when he first started kneading dough and making cakes. Maurizio Colenghi has not stopped since. After years of dedicated study he is now at the helm of one of Italy’s most critically acclaimed bakeries. His pastry shop Dolce Reale is one of Brescia’s biggest sweet tooth destinations. “I started playing around with baking in middle school, hanging out in a little bakery in the afternoon. This went on during high school too. After graduation I opened my own little shop in 1992” in Montichiari, the same city where his now famous bakery is located. “Initially I opened the business aiming to serve restaurants, but the feedback I got from customers was so enthusiastic that I switched and focused everything on retail”. All the while Maurizio specializes and studies widening his field of vision, attends baking and chocolate making classes and then flies to Brussels, where he enrolls in the Culinary Institute. Twenty years pass before he decides to completely overhaul his offer and open the current bakery, built on three levels: the shop on the ground floor, the kitchen upstairs and the apartment on the third floor.
Contemporary bakery art
Heaps of experience, travels, constant studies… but how can Colenghi pastry art be described today? “I need to make a premise: pastry baking is changing, it’s an art form that’s in constant evolution, and always influced by French-speaking countries”. This imitation trend is partly useless, “because the French are the first to gather inspiration from Italy and its unique style. It’s time the world famous Italian brand take back its identity”. This is exactly Maurizio’s plan: “The modern consumer is much more attentive than in the past. Initially cake purchases were only to satisfy a craving, nowadays there’s more awareness of quality. I intend to provide that to my customers, always focusing on the Italian style”. This driving force is the same guiding Ampi, Accademia Maestri Pasticceri Italiani, of which Maurizio is a member: “my approach is the same shared by my fellow Pastry Academy colleagues: creating gorgeous and delicious and detailed cakes. These don’t merely appease the palate but satisfy the mind as well”.
The Accademia and Maestro Massari
The Accademia environment allows its members to constantly interact with colleagues “We have two yearly big events during which we engage in competitions and exchange tips and advice. We organize two major conferences, one is technical among ourselves, and then another public one”. Among the Accademia celebrities is naturally also the illustrious neighbor Iginio Massari. A mentor for Maurizio: “Massariis the person I consider my mentor. He basically raised me. In addition there are many other colleagues whom I highly respect and feel particularly attached to. But Massari always has something to teach me”.
Among Dolce Reale’s baking fundamentals is obviously ingredient quality. “I purchase many of the ingredients I use directly from the various producers, others I buy from wholesalers”. For chocolate, one of Maurizio’s favorite foods, he sources at Domori. The other important pillar in any bakery is butter, his choice is Belgian Korman: “I particularly like Belgian and French butters. Italian butters are unfortunately still underpar”. Why? “Because unfortunately butter in Italy is still considered a by-product of milk, with cheese coming in first and butter at the very end of the production line. Butter is sorely lacking attention and due consideration”. Now if butter is not Italian, all other ingredients are – from Garda lemons to Collebeato peaches.
After years of change and evolution, now Maurizio feels he has reached a balance, a moment in his career in which “it’s time to stay focussed in the kitchen to maintain our high quality standard”. No big projects for the time being, but surely many changes on the sales counter turnaround: “I’d also like to start making candy. I believe small artisan confections can enrich the shop’s offer. They will never become the house specialty, but I’d like to give it a try nonetheless”. In addition to year-round panettone, both classic or studded with hazelnut-milk chocolate gianduia, plus seasonal variations – like the September fig version, October-November with marron glacé and a version with rose petals in May.
For the holiday season Maestro Colenghi is sharing a winter twist of his classic torta Paradiso.
For the cake:
300 g. fresh butter
300 g. confectioner’s sugar
1 vanilla pod
300 g. whole eggs
150 g. all-purpose “00” flour
150 g. potato starch
8 g. powdered yeast
1/2 lemon zest
Whip the butter, sugar and vanilla together and slowly incorporate the eggs one by one until completely absorbed. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, starch and yeast) and fold it into the mix. Bake at 180°C for approximately30 minutes.
For the respberry jam:
200 g. fresh raspberries
20 g. sugar
Warm the fruit in a small saucepan and bring to 60°C. Melt the sugar in the sauce and allow to cool. Using a paring knife, score a line around the outside of the cake as a guide for cutting. Then insert the blade of your knife into the cut, hold it steady and cut horizontally through the centre of the cake to make two layers. If using the string method, slide the string into the cut and pull through the cake. Slather the jam on both layers. Re-assemble and dust with confectioner’s sugar, garnishing with 2-3 fresh raspberries.
Dolce Reale | Montichiari (BS) | via Mantova, 158 | tel. 030 9961988 | www.dolcereale.com
by Michela Becchi
translated by Eleonoras Baldwin
Pasticceri & Pasticcerie 2017 del Gambero Rosso | Prezzo: 14,90 | Available in bookstores, newsstands and online