Barley Swine’s Executive Pastry Chef Augusta Passow uses unique recipes to tell even more interesting stories.

By Cy White, Photos by Richard Casteel

Augusta Passow never imagined the kitchen was the place for her. “But if you asked people around me they would say, ‘Yes! Absolutely!’” she says with a laugh. A Montana girl, she moved to Austin nine years ago, and for the past four years she’s taken up residency at Barley Swine as their executive pastry chef.

“I’ve always worked in kitchens and was always cooking but kind of thought it was something I was doing as a hobby or working till I made my next move,” she admits. “Then in my early 20s I decided this is what I was going to make a career of. I moved to Austin to attend culinary school, specifically for patisserie and baking. From there I had a couple of really great career opportunities that eventually led me to Barley Swine. With my time here I’ve been able to grow into my personal style of creating dishes while also learning about Texas produce and our local farms, which has always been the standard for Bryce [Gilmore] and his restaurants.”

“I like looking at a recipe that calls itself a salad but is jello, whipped cream, fruit and cottage cheese,” she says. “Seeing how I can twist that using local ingredients into something that you wouldn’t see at your family potluck but brings back those memories and flavors. I love when people try my desserts and say it tastes like something so specific, even if it’s not the flavor profile I was going for. I like that it sparks this bit of joy for them.”

The Kitchen is for Everyone

Her time in the kitchen has generally been a pleasant one. A far cry from the horror stories of women working in restaurants in the past. “Working at a restaurant like Barley is really special because it carries that ethos of what Austin is,” she says. “We have this space where we’re able to push ourselves and our creativity. Bryce has made sure that his restaurants have that welcoming environment. Not only for the guests but for his employees as well. It lets us all be the weirdos that we are and also come together as a team to have one main goal of creating a memorable experience for our guests.”

For those interested in giving a professional kitchen a shot, her advice is both validating and incredibly optimistic. “Kitchen culture is definitely changing,” she insists. “It’s not as cutthroat as it once was. People are really pushing for more of a work-life balance. Maybe we all realized that we could have more beneficial careers if we actually took a moment to breathe once in a while. If someone was trying to make the change to a professional kitchen they should just go for it. I feel like most restaurants are open-minded about being a space for teaching and growing into a career.

“Be Your Own Leader”

“Also, be your own teacher. Find out what kind of cuisine or style speaks to you, and learn all you can: reading, cooking at home, etc. Even if you’re not looking for a job, reach out to a restaurant and talk to them about coming in and seeing the kitchen or helping out for a day. You may be surprised with how open they can be.”
Passow offers her interpretation of a basic frozen custard. Thinking outside the box to bring unique flavor profiles to the forefront.

“I’m choosing to do a sunchoke frozen custard, with a pecan macaron, coffee cremeux and strawberries. I love this dish because it’s small but mighty as far as flavors go. Using sunchokes in custards because the richness from the eggs really goes great with the flavor of sunchoke and vanilla. I don’t always get to mix hearty vegetables with fruit because of the seasons. Bt we’ve lucked out the last couple years with these winter strawberries. This dish is great for winter. Which I think is what makes it special.”

Sunchoke Frozen Custard Recipe

Pecan Macarons

Ingredients

75 grams pecans (or pecan flour)
50 grams powdered sugar
30 grams brown sugar
40 grams granulated sugar
55 grams egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Combine pecans, powdered sugar and brown sugar in a food processor and blend.
  2. Sift two times, then set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, whip granulated sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites together on medium speed to stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in pecan mixture in 3 parts.
  5. Continue folding the mixture until it is glossy and slightly runny.
  6. Pipe small rounds onto a silpat or parchment paper-lined tray.
  7. Let dry out up to 1 hour before baking.
  8. Bake at 300° for 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
  9. Keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

Coffee Cremeux

Ingredients

225 grams milk chocolate
65 grams espresso
2 gelatin sheets
130 grams milk
183 grams heavy cream
30 grams sugar
52 grams egg yolks

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside, keeping warm.
  2. Pull espresso shots.
  3. Bloom gelatin in cold water.
  4. In a small pot on the stove, bring milk, cream and sugar to simmer.
  5. Temper the hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Return to heat and gently cook until it begins to thicken. Mixture should reach 180°.
  6. Remove gelatin from the water and wring out any excess moisture, then add bloomed gelatin to the milk mixture. Strain the mixture over the melted chocolate.
  7. Completely re-melt chocolate mixture and chill until set (ideally overnight).

Strawberry Gel

Ingredients

150 grams strawberry puree
125 grams water
1 gram salt
100 grams sugar
4 grams agar
15 grams lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a small pot on the stove, heat strawberry puree, water and salt.
  2. Combine sugar and agar and whisk into the hot strawberry mixture.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice and chill until set.
  5. When fully set, break up and blend into gel.

Sunchoke Frozen Custard

Ingredients

65 grams sunchoke
450 grams milk
225 grams cream
150 grams sugar, separated
112 grams egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Toss sunchokes with cooking oil and salt of choice. Turn out onto baking tray, then bake At 375° for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small pot on the stove, combine milk, cream, 100 grams of sugar and roasted sunchokes. Slightly mash sunchokes with a whisk or wooden spoon.
  3. Bring to a simmer, then take off the heat and let steep for 45 minutes.
  4. Strain sunchokes from milk mixture using a fine mesh strainer. Discard (or eat) sunchokes.
  5. Reheat milk mixture to a simmer.
  6. In a separate pot, combine egg yolks, vanilla and 50 grams of sugar. Mix until lightened in color.
  7. Temper the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and return to heat. Gently stir with a wooden spoon to 175°, or until it coats the back of the spoon and you can run your finger through it.
  8. Strain and place over a bowl of ice to chill.
  9. Once chilled, churn in an ice cream maker, per its directions.
austin-woman-augusta-passow

Plating Instructions:

  1. Pipe or spoon a small amount of coffee cremeux in the bottom of a small bowl. Top with a pecan macaron, flat-side up, slightly pushing into the cremeux so it doesn’t move.
  2. Transfer blended strawberry gel to a small squeeze bottle or piping bag. Pipe several small dots on the macaron.
  3. Lay a small scoop of ice cream in the center of the macaron.
  4. Garnish with fresh sliced strawberries.

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