As teenagers, the closest most of us got to pastry expertise was toasting a Pop-Tart without burning it. But at 15, Adriano Zumbo was already learning how to master pastry as an apprentice. Now the acclaimed chef has written his third cookbook, The Zumbo Files. And he wants us to become the apprentices.

There are chapters dedicated to – among other things – Zonuts (donut/croissant hybrids), Zumbarons (Zumbo’s legendary macarons) and Chouxmacas (think a deconstructed profiterole involving a choux bun, fruit gel, flavoured Chantilly cream and a macaron shell). Most sections begin with a master recipe, like the Zonut base, which becomes the foundation for the variations that follow it, such as the salted-malted-caramel Zonuts. “If you know the bases and you’re good with balancing out dishes, you can have a lot of fun,” says Zumbo.

Despite the sweet treats playing the lead role, the book includes a chapter of savoury recipes, something Zumbo hasn’t published before. His quiches, pies and sausage rolls bear his signature unorthodox style: take the beef, bacon, pea and wasabi sausage roll, or the ultra-Australian hamburger pie, complete with beef, bacon, beetroot and egg.

In typical Zumbo fashion, the recipes involve textures and ingredients that make them edible talking points. There’s a eucalyptus, thyme, honey and lemon Chouxmaca that incorporates eucalyptus lollies. And a Zumbaron made with hojicha, a roasted Japanese green tea featuring earthy, caramel notes.

But be prepared to wait: if patience is a virtue, the proof is in The Zumbo Files. Some of the recipes contain instructions to begin preparation either one or two days ahead. The popular V8 Diesel cake is one such recipe, a decadent arrangement of flourless chocolate biscuit, burnt chocolate brulee, chocolate macaron, chocolate cremeaux and chocolate crunch, to name a few components. “Even for us, pastry takes a couple of days for most things,” Zumbo explains. “It’s hard to make it in a rush.”

He says the only prerequisite for recreating his desserts is that you’ve got to love cooking. “I really admire people who give things a go. It’s all achievable if you set it out right.” The Zumbo Files is available from all good bookstores.

Adriano Zumbo’s Zonuts with Salted Malted Caramel

For the Zonuts:

62.5g fresh yeast
435g cold water
1kg plain (all purpose) flour
25g salt
120g caster (superfine) sugar
50g unsalted butter
450g unsalted butter, rolled out into a sheet
Canola, vegetable or rice bran oil, to deep-fry

Put all ingredients, except the rolled butter sheet, into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Start on a low speed. Mix on low–medium speed for 2 minutes, then mix on medium speed for 4–5 minutes to develop the gluten.

Place the dough in a clean bowl and leave to rest, covered, for 30 minutes at room temperature. Then transfer to the refrigerator for 1–2 hours to chill.

Remove the butter sheet from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you’re ready to use the dough to allow the butter to soften slightly. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a flat sheet 35–40cm long and 15–20cm wide. Lay the butter sheet in the middle of the dough and fold the sides in to make an open-ended parcel. Using the rolling pin, hit the folded dough lengthways to soften and flatten a bit and to make the first roll easier. Roll the dough lengthways using the rolling pin, and continue until it’s about 5–6mm thick.

Fold the dough into thirds and repeat the rolling process. Rest for 30–60 minutes in the refrigerator. Repeat the folding and rolling twice more for a total of four times. Rest the dough for a further 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Line a tray with baking paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to 6–7mm thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 6cm round cutter, then cut a small hole in the middle with a 1.5cm cutter. Place the zonuts on the prepared tray.

Fill your kitchen sink with warm–hot water to a level of about 2cm. Place a small dish in the sink and stand a wire rack on top so the rack sits just at the surface of the water. Place the tray with the zonuts on top. Cover the sink with tea towels and leave the zonuts to double in size. You may need to change the water a few times as it cools. Half fill a saucepan or deep fryer with oil and heat to 180–190°C or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds. Carefully place the zonuts in the hot oil and fry each one for 30 seconds. Turn over and cook until lightly golden. Remove using tongs or a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to dry. For the Salted Malted Caramel:

Preparation for this must start one day ahead.

Caramel Malt Custriano

30g full-cream milk powder
60g malted milk powder
4g iota carrageenan
1g kappa carrageenan
150g pure cream (35% fat)
235g milk
235g Caramel Maison (recipe below)
8g natural vanilla extract
50g malt extract

Caramel Maison

220g pure cream (35% fat)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
120g water
300g caster (superfine) sugar
60g liquid glucose

Put the cream, vanilla seeds and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.

Meanwhile, put the water, sugar and glucose in a heavy-based saucepan over medium–low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. Brush down the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to avoid any crystallisation. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sugar mixture until it turns a dark amber colour.

Carefully stir the hot cream mixture into the caramel to deglaze: be careful, it will spit and release a lot of heat. Stir until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Combine the milk powder, malted milk powder, iota and kappa carrageenan in a bowl. Put the cream and milk in a medium saucepan (but do not put it over any heat), add the powder mixture and use a hand blender to blend until well combined. Put the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly as you bring the mixture to 65°C (150°F).

Add the caramel maison, vanilla extract and malt extract, continue stirring and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a dish or container. Cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic is touching the surface. Set aside in the refrigerator or at room temperature to cool and set firm.

Salted Caramel Mou

300g caster (superfine) sugar
60g glucose
120g water
4g gold-strength gelatine leaves
24g cold water, extra
220g pure cream (35% fat)
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
200g unsalted butter
2g sea salt

This caramel is best made the night before using. Put the caster sugar, glucose and the water in a medium saucepan and over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, cut the gelatine leaves into small squares, place in a bowl with the extra cold water and set aside to soak.

Put the cream and vanilla seeds in another medium saucepan and heat over low heat until just below boiling point, then set aside. Continue cooking the sugar and water until it turns a dark amber caramel colour. Slowly pour the heated cream and vanilla into the caramel, being careful of the spitting caramel, stir well and continue cooking until the mixture is 122°C.

Transfer carefully to a food processor, add the butter and blend until smooth. Then add the soaked gelatine and any remaining soaking liquid plus the sea salt and blend for a further 30 seconds.

Pour the caramel into a bowl or dish and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic is touching the surface. Set aside to cool to room temperature until the caramel is firm and set.

Combine the zonuts and caramel. Stand the zonuts on a baking tray with the bottom side up. Use a skewer or another pointy object to make four evenly spaced holes in the bottom of each zonut. Put the caramel malt custriano into a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Put the custriano paste into a piping bag fitted with a 7mm piping tube. Insert the tip of the tube into one of the holes in the bottom of the zonut and squeeze about a tablespoon into each hole until the zonut is filled. Repeat with the remaining zonuts.

Turn the zonuts over. Put the salted caramel mou in another piping bag fitted with an 11mm plain piping nozzle. Pipe the mou in a circle around the top of each zonut. Store in a cool, dry place. These are best eaten within 4–5 hours of making.