A cake can do many things. It can make you smile, make you think, bring back memories, give you a delicious experience or help you reward yourself. At other times, it invites you to new adventures, like taking you to a tropical island, while evoking the scent of an exciting perfume. And that is exactly the reward for August Confectionery and 7scents coming together.
We tend to think that food is just stimulation for our taste buds, but since Heston Blumenthal we know that the process is not so one-sided, and there are few more complex experiences than putting a bite in our mouths. The sense of taste is preceded by the unconscious sense of smell when we breathe in the aroma of the food: flavor is born from the harmony of the two. But this multi-sensory game is not only an inspiration for chefs and master pastrycooks. Just as bookbinders are well aware that the touch of the paper is as important as the look of the finished product or furniture designers cannot ignore ergonomics as well as style. But what if a professional focuses on just one sense? Ideally, he or she should enter into dialogue with experts in other fields.
Perfumers always design fragrances with breathtaking precision. Their aim is to end up with a finely tuned composition in a bottle that tells a story and works like the harmonies of notes in a symphony, providing a complex experience. When we as consumers are trying to decide which fragrance is right for us, what we can identify with, we can expect the perfect choice to create that sense of fulfillment. So it is with flavors: if we pause for a moment, we actually know what it is we desire. Chefs and confectioners guide us, invite us on an adventure that, if we accept it, will be crowned with surprises. And what happens when these two fields meet? This was the question posed by Ákos Pozsgai, founder-owner of 7scents, when he first smelled a sample of Renier Perfumes’ Guanabo perfume. Bergamot, passion fruit, lily of the valley, jasmine, salt, the vibe of beaches—although not a particularly sweet, feminine composition, it’s easy to associate it with dessert. Ákos’ imagination immediately began to run wild, so he asked the creators, Renier Rodriguez Mendez and Miguel Matos, for their blessing on the idea.
It is also down to luck that the cake was born. Ibolya Augusztné Szőcs, the master pastry chef and hostess of Auguszt Confectionary, is very fond of characterful oriental scents, especially incense, which she also prefers to use in her own home. When she spotted the perfect perfume for her in the 7scents range, she taxied to the shop in a stealthy half-hour, just as she was—in a chef’s coat, in a hurry. But she and Ákos started chatting, they easily hit it off, so there was no question of working on the idea together: Ibolya accepted the challenge with humility, yet curiosity and the Guanabo dessert was born
When it comes to perfumes, we always talk about head, heart and base notes, which can be evoked in a cake. The head scent lasts for a few seconds, which, in the case of food, is the first aroma fragment or bite. The heart note is deeper, more persistent, which can be created by the filling of a dessert, for example. The base note is the longest lingering one, which stays with us for a long time—according to Ákos, it’s what stays in the mouth as an aftertaste. The Guanabo is built around just that. As well as resembling the look of the perfume itself, it has the elements that make it special. The word guanabo means an island in the middle of the ocean in the Taino Indian language—an exotic atmosphere embodied in the turquoise blue coating and clean shape, and the vibrant bergamot puree flavor. This is surrounded by a more neutral white chocolate mousse, while the saltiness of the sea is echoed in the salty sponge cake crumbs, and the harmony is completed by a passionfruit glaze and gold dust.
The tradition and knowledge that has been interwoven in the history of August for more than one hundred and fifty years were brought to life. Ibolya’s aim was to find a balance between the fragrance and the dessert recipe, so she was not afraid to deviate slightly from the original: rose, for example, is one of the elements of the perfume, but using it as an ingredient would have resulted in either too pale if created with rose water or too robust with rose oil, so it was ultimately left out. The reception of the cake has been overwhelmingly positive, with old and new August customers seeking it out, and even Miguel and Renier found it perfect, so it remains available for another week instead of the planned two-week period, while stocks last. And August isn’t stopping there—the now four-generation confectionery dynasty will be coming up with new recipes and finely tuned specialties in the coming months, so they’ll be worth keeping an eye out for. And if you’re coming into autumn with a new scent, you know where to visit.
Photos: Krisztina Szalay