Q&A: Kooky Bakes
“The idea of taking a flaky croissant dough and frying and filling it like a doughnut sounded sublime.”
If you’ve ever been to Scott Ball’s stand at KERB, Sunday UpMarket, or Brockley Market, you know he means business. The baking whiz and owner of Kooky Bakes dishes about all things sweet, from the inspiration behind his infamous “dosant” and what makes it different from Ansel’s “Cronut™”, to his wish for the good ol’ American pie to become the next food craze.
What inspired you to get into the food industry? I’ve always loved food. When I finished high school in the States I had to make a decision on what to study at college. It was between pursuing a degree in art, food, or retail. I resolved that I’d study business. But after a long soulless stint in IT, my deep love of food inspired me to get into the industry.
What is the best part of your job? It has to be the creative process, from getting an idea, working it though, executing it, and getting a positive response to what we do.
And the worst? Being surrounded by sweet things when all you want to devour is something savoury, teamed with the unsociable hours.
When are you happiest? When I see someone really enjoying something that I’ve made. Be it baked goods from the stall, or a meal.
What’s the craziest request you’ve received from a client? One Valentines Day we had a client wanting edible images on a dozen cupcakes and to be delivered with a sweet love note. We were sent the photos – they seemed rather peculiar, almost stalker-esque. We printed them up, boxed and delivered them. The poor guy had no idea who they were from and was a little creeped out to get a dozen cakes with various pictures of himself on them.
What sells out the most at your stalls? Each market we trade at is different. Some markets are very trend-led and others want the classic cupcakes and whoopee pies. Our signature slice is probably the most popular treat. Once we get explaining the ingredients people get hooked in. People are like, ‘a pretzel base with chocolate coconut caramel and pecans?’
What’s your favourite dessert? I’m a sucker for a great seasonal fruit crumble. I will always pick a fruit-based dessert over a chocolate-based one. Strange, as I work with quite a bit of chocolate.
Have you had Dominque Ansel’s “cronut” (or any other variation)? I’ve not had the original, sadly. That whole transatlantic flight is quite a journey for a pastry. I’d want to spend too much time re-eating my way through NYC, as its changed so much since I last spent a bit of time there. I’ve had most of the ones in London though. All in the name of research mind you. They are all different, which I think is amazing.
What inspired you to make the “dosant”? It was a hybrid that really excited me. The idea of taking a flaky croissant dough and frying and filling it like a doughnut sounded sublime. It made sense and was not rooted in gimmick.
How long did it take you to perfect the recipe? It took quite a while. I have a great croissant recipe, but it didn’t take to frying very well. So it was a lot of trial and error. Copious amounts of dough went to waste, but we have nailed it now.
What makes yours different from Ansel’s “cronut”? When you have a hybrid you have to pick what parts of each of the ‘parents’ are going to shine through. I love the flakey buttery qualities of a croissant – that’s where we take our lead from. We don’t sugar coat them, as we want the butter and the flake to sing, rather than the sugar be the opening act. And we make ours square so we can get more filling inside.
If you could make a hybrid of two foods, what would they be? I can’t imagine anything that has yet to be done.
What do you think will be the next food craze? With the age of the internet, every craze has the potential to have so much (or so little) momentum. It allows us to see something that’s slowly emerging on the radar. Luckily some have a staying power, whilst some, regretfully, lack the strength to stick around. I for one would love pie to become a craze. When I say pie, I mean American-style pie, billowy mountainous meringue pies, cream pies, and fruit pies brimming full of fruit.
Any American foods you miss? London is really amazing at the moment with great quality American food on offer. I do miss a good patty melt, biscuits & gravy, and corn dogs.
You’re holding a fantasy dinner party – who’s coming? Nigella Lawson, Adam Richman, Gail Simmons, Paloma Faith, Tina Fey and Björk.
Complete the sentence: “The meaning of food is…” A combination of love, pleasure, and passion.