Pain Au Tiramisu: Rod Shokuhi

Pain Au Tiramisu: Rod Shokuhi

Rod Shokuhi spent his early years in hospitality sneaking a teaspoon of tiramisu from the trays in the coolroom. These days, he merges his love for the coffee-soaked cake with his love for pastry and, in particular, Viennoiserie. He tells Baking Business the story behind the pastry and walks us through the steps of creating his famous pain au tiramisu.


Back in 2002, when I was 16 years old, I began my hospitality experience while still in high school. I was washing dishes and waiting tables at my mum’s restaurant, Nights of Shiraz—a traditional wood charcoal Persian eatery—as well as washing dishes at my cousin’s restaurant, Boleros—an upmarket Spanish restaurant along the Yarra River.

At a young age I knew I wanted to be involved with food; it was central to our culture during my childhood, but I always seemed to gravitate towards the sweeter things in life. But as far as knowing “what was what” in a restaurant coolroom, to say I had no clue is an understatement! All I knew was what tasted sweet, sour, bitter or salty.

One night during a busy Friday dinner service, my cousin yelled out, “Rod! Get the tiramisu from the coolroom.”

Alas, I had no idea what tiramisu was or what it looked like but he was training me to eat, remember the flavour, then remember the name. So, after I had been looking around frantically for about two minutes, he came in, put his hand on my shoulder, handed me a teaspoon and said, “There, that tray. Grab it, taste the corner only!”

That one moment stayed with me, because of how it tasted and how it made me feel—it seemed to last forever. Nostalgia and memories rushed into my mind of time spent with Mum at an old-school cafeteria in Adelaide where she used to take me out for hot chocolate and cake. Every service after that, the crew knew who’d been chipping away at the corners of the tiramisu. Every tiramisu I’ve tasted thereafter has not come close to that experience.

A few years later my cousin taught me how to prepare it, and now anytime I make a tray, I seek out whomever is fortunate enough to be around me and spoon-feed them. Their reactions are always priceless, and always bring me right back to that moment in my cousin’s coolroom.

After qualifying as a chef at Jacques Reymond Restaurant, I began to obsess more and more about pastry. A few years later I enrolled into a patisserie course and became hook-line-and-sinker obsessed. Pastry became my world and it led me to the Yarra Valley, where I began to spread my wings as head pastry chef of Oakridge Winery, then head pastry chef of Stones of the Yarra Valley. It was here I discovered my love for sourdough and Vienoisserie, and after completing work experience with Michael James at Tivoli Rd Bakery during the low season in the valley, my knowledge only grew, and later landed me a position as head baker of the renowned Natural Tucker Bakery in Carlton.

Now, just to be clear, I am not a baker by trade. I wouldn’t want to disrespect the bakers of our world with a title, however, what I do associate myself with is a chef who holds a deep love and respect for artisan breads and pastries. So, in attempting to marry my experiences with the three worlds of savoury, sweet and bakery, I realised I was in a great position to recreate my memories using, in my opinion, one of the greatest vessels a chef can use: Viennoiserie.

There’s an Italian Deli a few doors down from the bakery and one day when I was in their shop I spotted a bottle of marsala and instantly thought: tiramisu. Walking back to the bakery I started planning how I wanted the pastry to look and how it was to be eaten.

After a week or so the pain au tiramisu was born: a dark cocoa and plain croissant dough filled with Cacao Barry chocolate, marsala and espresso-soaked sponge biscuit all topped with a light ribbon of whipped mascarpone with vanilla.

Pain Au Tira Misu



Group A: Whipped Macsarpone
Mascarpone Cream
Thickened Cream
Vanilla Paste
Castor Sugar

Group B: Savoiardi Filling
Savoiardi Sponge Biscuits
Sugar Syrup

Cocoa Detrempe

Group A: Dry Ingredients
cocoa powder
castor sugar
dry yeast

Group B: Wet Ingredients

Plain Detrempe

Group A: Dry Ingredients
castor sugar
dry yeast

Group B: Wet Ingredients

Group C: Preferments
pate fermente



STEP 1 – Build the pre-ferments

Here at Natural Tucker Bakery we use a poolish and pate fermente (old dough) for our Viennoiserie production as I believe this produces a beautiful flaky pastry with good depth of flavour from the fermented dough. If you don’t have any pate fermente offcuts lying around, don’t worry, you will by the time you cut your shapes out of your dough for the next time you make this.

In a small jar mix equal quantities of tap water and bakers flour, adding a small pinch of active dry yeast to make a wet paste. Seal the lid and leave in the fridge overnight, giving it a long cold ferment.

STEP 2 – Scale Ingredients

It’s always a good idea to weigh your ingredients ahead of time, so when it comes to the moment of mixing, especially in the warmer months, things like your flour/water/cocoa powder won’t allow the dough to increase in temperature and kick-start fermentation (when fermentation begins it can be tricky to slow it down). And in order to get those epic Instagram shots of dough and butter lamination, cold is your friend. When we refer to the dough that is to be laminated with butter, we call this dough a “detrempe” (pronounced; deh – tromp).


Weigh up in groups like so, so no ingredients get mixed up:


Group A: Whipped Macsarpone
Mascarpone Cream/Thickened Cream/Vanilla Paste/Castor Sugar

Group B: Savoiardi Filling
Savoiardi Sponge Biscuits/Espresso/Marsala/Sugar Syrup


Group A: Dry Ingredients
flours/cocoa powder/salt/castor sugar/dry yeast

Group B: Wet Ingredients


Group A: Dry Ingredients
flours/salt/castor sugar/dry yeast

Group B: Wet Ingredients

Group C: Preferments
poolish/pate fermente


STEP 1 – Mix and Ferment

Place the bowl of a mixer and its hook in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before you begin, then start by mixing the Plain Detrempe. Combine and mix Group B and C for around 2-3 minutes to get all the ingredients broken down, then add Group A and continue to mix on low speed for 6 minutes. At first

the dough will be a little tacky but as mixing continues and speeds up, the gluten will absorb more liquid and form stronger bonds. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for a further 6 minutes. All this mixing creates friction, which elevates dough temperature that can begin the fermentation too early, which is why we chilled our ingredients and bowl prior to commencement.

After the dough is mixed, remove from the bowl and shape the dough into a rectangle about 5cm thick, place onto a lined baking tray and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge overnight.

Repeat this process with the Cocoa Detrempe.

Cold fermenting overnight increases the strength in the dough’s gluten network, which you will need when you stretch and laminate butter into the Detrempe. It also builds the flavour profile by allowing the lactobacillus bacteria to increase in population, giving your pastries a milky acidic flavour rather than a sharp acetic one.

STEP 2 – Soak and Whip

From the Tiramisu group, begin with the Whipped Mascarpone and combine all the Group A ingredients into a bowl with a whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form. Place into a piping bag fitted with closed star tip, twist the end of the bag to seal in the cream and chill.

When making the Savoiardi Filling we use freshly brewed espresso at Natural Tucker Bakery for maximum flavour and depth but you can easily substitute with Nescafe, or a better domestic option are Nespresso Pods. For the liquids all you want is a balance of sweetness (syrup), bitterness (coffee) and richness (alcohol). Try not to go too boozy otherwise you’ll risk throwing out the balance of the whole pastry. Then line a glass jar with your sponge finger biscuits and pour in the liquid mixture. Wait 2-3 minutes then, using a stick blender, puree the mix. You don’t want it too wet or too dry, an easy way to remember is by association. For me, I look for the texture of wet sand at the beach.

Put the mix into a disposable piping bag, twist the end of the bag to seal in the mix and chill.



STEP 1 – Laminate Plain Detrempe

Obviously at the bakery we have a commercial dough sheeter that makes rolling the dough a breeze, but for this method you can opt for a rolling pin when rolling out your dough. Also a note on butter sheets: you can buy them from specialty stores and suppliers—look around using Google—otherwise you can use a block of butter by placing it in a large sandwich bag, then bashing and rolling it out to the edges of the bag to achieve a sheet of butter. YouTube has plenty of content if you get stuck on this.


Start by bringing the dough out of the fridge and onto a clean bench with no flour then flatten the dough with your palms to remove the excess gas that has been collected during the long ferment. You will smell sweet, sour and milky tones exiting the dough, which is great! That’s flavour!

Butter Lock-In

Aim to get a rectangle shape 20cm x 30cm with the narrow end facing your belly. Now roll it out away from you (forwards from your belly) until it’s double the original length maintaining a rectangle. Place the sheet of butter 2cm from the edge of the ‘belly end’ of the dough. Cut the dough in half then grab the two furthest corners and bring that end over to meet the end at your belly. Press the pin onto the top in small grooves working from top to bottom, then roll to smooth the surface. Move straight on to 1st Fold.

1st Fold

Roll the dough out until its 1.5cm to 2cm, trim the sides to retain a rectangle shape, keep this “old dough” for the next time you make pastries, then fold one side over by ¼ and the other side over by 3/4 and press the dough down slightly (both seams should meet face to face). Then fold the furthest end over completely to the belly end. Press the pin onto the top in small grooves working from top to bottom, then roll to smooth the surface. Place the dough back onto the lined baking tray, cover and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

2nd Fold

Repeat the first fold process except instead of folding one end in by ¼ I want you to bring both ends in at the ½ way mark instead, like a book. Leave a thumb-width gap between the two seams then bring over the furthest end of the block of dough to the belly end. Press the pin onto the top in small grooves working from top to bottom, then roll to smooth the surface. Place the dough back onto the lined baking tray, cover and freeze for 30 minutes.

STEP 2 – Roll Down Cocoa Detrempe

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1cm thick. Rest in the fridge until the resting period for the Plain Detrempe is over.

STEP 3 – Roll Down, Shape & Chill

Lay the Cocoa Detrempe over the top of the Plain Detrempe completely covering the surface and side, trimming and discarding the excess cocoa dough. Lightly flour the cocoa dough surface and roll down the combined doughs (maintaining the length of the dough as close to 39cm as possible) until it is 0.5cm thick.

Using a ruler and small sharp knife, mark the middle section of the dough, from top to bottom, at 13cm intervals trimming the excess dough. Repeat on the left-hand side of the sheet. Now it’s a case of join-the-dots and cut straight across. Line up your ruler with the top two markings across the dough and cut and drag the knife across the dough.

Once all horizontal lines have been cut, repeat the same process across the dough making your markings every 9cm on the bottom edge of the dough then the top. Join-the-dots from top to bottom in a straight line and cut straight down.

You now have neat rectangles.

Now place two batons of chocolate at the top of each rectangle, then gently roll the top end to the bottom end. You should now have a bi-colour roll with a chocolate centre. Make 6 incisions on top of each roll about 2mm deep.

Place these rolls into the fridge to allow the butter and dough to firm up overnight.


STEP 1 – Prove

On a lined baking tray, place the pastries roughly 10cm apart, spray with canola oil and cover lightly with clingfilm, place in a warm environment until doubled in size. At the bakery we have the luxury of having retarder provers. It acts as an automated fridge and prover so that we can set it for the time we want to bake the pastries and it’ll chill then come on to prove at the relevant time.

STEP 2 – Bake

Pre-heat your fan-forced oven to 185°C, then glaze your pastries with an egg wash and load the tray into the oven. Bring the temperature down to 160°C and bake for 10 minutes. Then, turn the tray around and bake for a further 5 minutes at 170°C.

Bring the pastries out and cool on the trays.

STEP 3 – Fill and Garnish

Poke a small knife into the side of the pastry and pipe the biscuit filling in until you see it trying to escape out the ends. Then for the top using an up-and-down motion pipe the mascarpone on top until 4-5 layers are achieved. Dust very lightly with cocoa powder and some coffee beans.


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  1. Robert

    22 November

    I feel really happy to finally have a website for the baking Industry in Australia and look forward to so many more entertaining and educational times reading here. Thanks once more for all that you do for the industry.

    • bblogin

      25 November

      Cheers Robert

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