A Friday Chat With Searcys Head Pastry Chef, Yvonne Graham19 February 2021
Yvonne Graham is the winner of the inaugural John Searcy award introduced in 2019, which recognises individuals who epitomise our founder’s quality and hospitality excellence values. Yvonne is an exceptional example of this. An outstanding pastry chef, she is passionate and creative.
Yvonne, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am the Head Pastry Chef at Searcys. I have been with the company for 15 years. I have a long career in event catering, hotels and restaurants. I like to think of myself as a very creative person, and if I were not a pastry chef, I would have loved to have been an interior designer.
What drives you?
Creativity! Now more than ever, I love to create. I love the process and strategy of producing something completely new from scratch, and this is ultimately where my drive comes from.
My life during lockdown
Like most people in these difficult times, I have tried to keep my days reasonably structured. My son is being educated online, so that dictates my timing and routine. During the first lockdown, I was baking every day trying new flavour pairings. I have stayed away from the more popular lockdown ‘trends’ like banana cake or sourdough. As I’m used to baking in volume, my neighbours have been happily fed. Check out my recipe for my home-made doughnuts below – a firm favourite!
In the summer of 2020, I was delighted to help celebrate the 100th birthday of one of Searcys former customers, Mrs Christian Lamb, whose wedding we organised in 1943. I had to make the birthday cake in my kitchen at home, which was a challenge with my small oven but a challenge I relished.
At Christmas, I decided to bring cheer to bring some festive cheer to my neighbours by making 900 chocolate truffles and delivering them to our community’s vulnerable. It indeed went down a treat!
When inspiration becomes a recipe
I am inspired to cook and create by absolutely anything. It could be a friend talking about their holiday and the food they ate, leading me to recreate a recipe.
Cocktails inspire me a great deal, too, especially when it comes to chocolate truffles, ice-creams, and my plated desserts. This is where my imagination really goes wild.
Yvonne’s doughnut recipe
- 20g fresh yeast
- 210ml milk
- 510g plain flour
- 90g caster sugar
- 10g salt
- 6 egg yolks 60g melted butter
- Raspberry jam
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.
- Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix all the liquid ingredients and the yeast mix.
- Knead until smooth.
- Cover and leave to proof, double in size.
- Roll out to 7mm thick and cut out with a cutter.
- Cover with greased cling film and leave until double in size.
- Fry at about 170c for a few minutes, then turn and fry another couple of minutes until golden brown. Drain and cool.
- Fill a piping bag with raspberry jam. Make a small hole and fill it with jam.
- Roll in caster sugar.
Other filling options include salted caramel, Nutella, Baileys and orange chocolate custard.