Meet the team: Raf Dolecki

We sat down with Head Pastry Chef of The Garden and BABA, Raf Dolecki, to get his insight on the world of all things sweet, and we’ve also got him to share his passion fruit tart recipe.

How did you get into pastry?
I ended up in pastry school because honestly the opportunity presented itself and I was like, ‘why not?’. I started a three-year program where two days a week I was in classes and three days a week I worked for a small pastry shop ten minutes from my house in Poland. It was great, I could roll out of bed at 5am and be working at 6am – although I wasn’t so sure about things at first. Like most kitchens you need to work hard to prove yourself which means cleaning and more cleaning! Once I progressed, I fell in love – three years later I graduated with a journeyman diploma. From there I went on to graduate with a masters diploma, which helped me get to where I am today.

Tell us about Polish pastry – what are your favourite things?
Christmas pastries! I make a poppy seed strudel that’s assembled like a Swiss roulade. It has a poppy seed filling that’s made by cooking poppy seeds then putting them through a mincer with honey and spices. After that, you roll the mixture into the pastry and bake it.

I love bread – the rye-based starter that I use in The Garden’s bread actually comes from my home.

I grew up in a Catholic family, and every year we have Fat Thursday. Basically, it relates to Shrove Tuesday and happens before the start of Lent. Instead of pancakes we make doughnuts, and thousands of doughnuts are made each year. One year in the pastry shop I worked in, we made 2,000 doughnuts ourselves from scratch. They were even hand-stuffed and rolled with jam. I rolled so many that the night I dreamed that I rolled myself into one of the doughnuts!

Do you prefer working in a hotel or a pâtisserie?
Absolutely hotels! It’s amazing to be able to express myself in so many ways. Working at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel allows me to do lots of different things. I create desserts for both The Garden and BABA: in The Garden we go down the route of the classics and BABA, it’s about creating something unique and trying new ingredients.

I also get to mentor chefs – just now I’m teaching a waiter from BABA who wants to be a pastry chef. She has a true passion for the craft and I think she’ll do very well!

Tell us about the passion fruit tart – what’s your advice on making it at home?
It’s a tropical dessert to bring sunshine to the winter! The secret to a great tart is the pastry. Ensure you use cold butter because this will make a crisper and crumblier pastry. And don’t overwork your dough, as it’ll turn hard and tough. Lastly, as the filling is a custard, make sure to bake it at a low temperature and don’t overbake because it will curdle. I hope you enjoy it!

Make sure you continue down the page to find the recipe for Raf’s passion fruit tart with white chocolate sorbet!

Meet the team: Raf Dolecki

Passion fruit tart with white chocolate sorbet

Makes one 10-inch tart

Ingredients

For the pastry
150g cold butter
110g sugar
1 egg
600g plain flour, sifted

For the filling
225g double cream
150g egg (about 3 eggs)
187.5g passion fruit purée (approximately 6 whole passion fruits)

For the sorbet
150g white chocolate, roughly chopped
250g milk
100g water
75g glucose syrup

Method

For the pastry
1. Cream the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs.
2. Add the sifted flour and mix until combined – but be careful not to over-mix.
3. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for one hour.

For the filling
1. Make passion fruit purée by slicing the whole passion fruits in half and removing the pulp. Strain out the seeds to make a purée.
2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, and try to not make any air pockets.
3. Add the cream and the purée, the pass through a sieve.
4. Ideally you should prepare the mixture and refrigerate overnight before baking.

For the sorbet
1. Boil the water, milk and glucose in a saucepan, then place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour over the liquid.
2. Pass through a sieve, then churn in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, place it in a sealed container in the freezer and then whisk every hour until frozen.

Putting the dessert together
1. Heat the oven to 130°C.
2. Once the pastry is chilled, roll it into a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch tart pan.
3. Place into a loose-based tart tin and fill with the passion fruit mixture.
4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until – it should still have a slight wobble in the centre.
5. Serve each slice with a scoop of white chocolate sorbet.

Passion fruit tart