Verbenko specialises in desserts, savory items, and pastries.
“As a child, I loved cooking and spending hours in the kitchen trying new things,” Verbenko said.
“One of my biggest achievements was becoming one of the pioneering women at the ECA with a very high rate of attendance,” she added.
“I always thought the idea of being a woman chef was unaccepted in Egypt, but I try to break down barriers in this regard,” she stated.
Verbenko has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Russia. She obtained two certifications in the field, one in the food industry as a pastry chef, and the other from one of the top culinary academies specialised in pastry in Russia. She recently graduated from one of the finest Belgian chocolate academies, Callebut.
The master chef is multi-talented. She is a food stylist, recipe developer, and TV presenter.
She has worked as a TV presenter for five years. Her first show, aired on Sett El-Bait cooking channel, focused on international dishes from all over the world. She hosted several successful programmes as a pastry chef on the same channel.
Verbenko developed a passion for food styling during one of her cooking shows. “At that time, food styling was not very popular in Egypt,” she said.
She recalled memories of cooking with her mother.
In Russia, there is not a designated mother’s day, but Russians celebrate International Women’s Day.
“My mom used to make a special dessert for me. I loved it most. It is a Russian recipe of hazelnut-shaped biscuits filled with caramel."
Verbenko is a mother of two. Her son Adham is 19, and her daughter Sheyam is 15.
Sheyam is a talented cook, just like her mother. “My daughter attended some of my training courses. Now, she prefers to do recipes and everything by herself,” Verbenko noted.
She shared with Ahram Online one of her favourite recipes for Mother’s Day.
Rose basket chocolate cake recipe
50gm cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
⅓ Cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter at room temperature
3½ cups powdered sugar sifted
2-3 tbsp milk
1 sachet of vanilla sugar (optional)
To make the chocolate cake dough:
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare two round pans lined with parchment paper and lightly oiled.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat milk, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla essence until well combined. Add flour and mix on low speed until evenly moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture smooth (about 30 seconds).
Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan. It is best to wrap cooled sponges in a cling wrap and use in the next day. This will prevent sponges from crumbling too much.
American-style buttercream frosting:
Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar. Beat in the milk if necessary to loosen the mixture. Reserve ¼ of the cream and colour it with food colourings to attain desirable colours for flowers and leaves.
To assemble and frost the cake:
Remove cling wrap from the sponges. Use a serrated knife level to the sponges to remove the elevated tops. Use a pastry bag to spread some buttercream on top of the first sponge. Cover it with the second sponge. Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake. Level the top of the cake. Decorate the cake sides with the “basket weave” technique. It is perfect for creating a two-dimensional woven-look design. Place buttercream flowers over the cake. Pipe the leaves to finish off.