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We chatted with the pastry chef Karim Merdjadi, who is well-known to foodies from his TV appearances and the Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen) food market, about must-have kitchen equipment and tricks for all baking enthusiasts, as well as autumn ingredients and food for the soul.

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During the epidemic you’ve probably found yourself with more free time than you’ve been used to in the past few years. How do you usually pass the time?

Actually, the activity remains the same, but I’m left with a bit more energy. This I invest in the development of products and preparations for the next year. There’s still not enough free time, however, which is both unfortunate and a good thing.

The time of baking festive pastries and gift-giving is upon us. What must-have accessories do you think every home baker would appreciate as a gift this year?

I think that every home baker should have a thermometer, a hand blender and kitchen scale.

Can you share with us any simple tricks that will come in handy for amateur bakers?

The most important elements both in professional and home kitchens are organisation and mise en place. Simply put: Before starting work, prepare all the ingredients and tools you’ll be needing for your recipe, and organise your work surface.

Autumn is a time that’s rich with various produce. Which autumn ingredient inspires you the most when creating desserts?

Chestnuts are in season at the moment and they are great for desserts. We often use them in our monoportion cakes and custom cakes. I advise you check out our boutique’s autumn dessert range at Dalmatinova 4a.

Which ingredient is most often overlooked when making desserts?

Oh dear, there are so many of them! Let me put it differently – we are all too preoccupied with vanilla and chocolate. But I would also say that home bakers use substitutes all too often. More attention should be given to the genuine, original ingredients.

During these difficult times, more than ever before, it’s important for the soul that we should eat something delicious. What do you cook or bake at home when you want to treat your family?

This is my wife’s domain. (Laughter) What pleases me best during the winter is a good black pudding.

The days are getting shorter and the evenings are longer and longer. Do you ever spend them watching cookery shows? If so, which one?

Why, MasterChef, of course!

What will you bring to this year’s November Gourmet programme?

We will be joining November Gourmet with a special gift package. It contains a packet of macarons, a jar of brownies and a jar of tiramisu. In short, someone is in for some sweet time! (Laughter)