I’m still working….on baking

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

After spending a few months in the kitchen improving my skills as a baker, I have once again returned to human resources.   Fear not fellow bakers, I have not turned my back on my passion for pastry.  I accepted a position as the Human Resources Manager for StarChefs.com, an online magazine for culinary insiders – and am reporting to Antoinette Bruno, the CEO and editor-in-chief and to Will Blunt, the Managing Editor.

Antoinette Bruno

StarChefs.com, the ‘word on food,’ has published more than 30,000 pages of original content and gets more than 30 million hits a month (just a feeeeew more than my blog) .  Our chef advisory board includes top chefs, including Bobby Flay & Marcus Samuelsson! (and darn right….I’m gonna work on those connections☺).  Our biggest event is the International Chefs Congress, a three day culinary event, with 3,000 attendees (of which 50% are chefs).  For three days, top chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists and sommeliers from around the world share their techniques and culinary knowledge and compete against their colleagues in challenges, including a food truck derby, a sommelier smackdown and an international pastry competition.

Whew! ….I can’t wait for ICC 2012!

And…. if being surrounded by very talented and creative colleagues wasn’t enough, I even get to work in an office that has a liquor cabinet, keeps beer in the fridge and encourages employees to play with the office mascot, Bruno (a french bulldog – no relation to Antoinette).

The past two weeks I have been concentrating on my new position.  This past Saturday, however, I was concentrating only on baking!  I’d like to thank everyone that joined us for the first Baked and Brewed party (I’ll share details in my next post).  We had a great time!

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Good things come in small sizes…

…or at least that applies to my miniature carrot cakes.

I know that it has been a few weeks since my courses at the SFBI ended.  However, I wanted to share our process for making these adorable carrot cakes.  I am not including the recipe but feel free to e-mail me if you are interested to making these for yourself. They’re worth it!

Honestly, I was a bit concerned about this recipe.  It is very different than any other carrot cake recipe that I have tried previously.  In the end, the pineapple (yes, we added pineapple!) really added moisture to the cake and did not impart a strong pineapple flavor.

To make the cake layers, we used a silicon muffin pan.  Each layer was made with 25-30 grams of the batter.

We layered our carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting and added a swirl of frosting around the side of each cake.

Using a small spatula, we smoothed the frosting around the circumference of each small cake, leaving a thick enough layer to ensure that a good amount of coconut could adhere to the frosting.

Once the sides of each of our cakes were covered in coconut, we placed our cakes on our cake board and prepared them for decorating.

Using a piping bag and tip, and beginning in the middle of each cake, I added a swirl to each cake top.

The final step was adding a small, marzipan carrot for decoration.

Happy baking!

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I am so excited that my friend from the San Francisco Baking Institute was able to visit me in NYC!  Bethany and I spent the day shopping for pastry supplies and sampling local goodies.  Neither of us had ever visited Baked, so we hopped on a train to Brooklyn to try the famous bakery.

We couldn’t narrow down what we wanted to try, so we tried it all……

We started with the chocolate malted cake.  The pound cake was wonderfully moist.   The chocolate malted frosting was light and fluffy.  The malt flavor was not too intense and really added to the overall flavor of the cake.

We also ordered a vanilla pistachio cupcake and banana whoopie pie to share.  The cupcake cake itself was okay, but the frosting was SO delicious.  It had the most intense vanilla flavor.  I loved having the pistachio flavor in both the cake and the frosting.  The banana whoopie pie was our least favorite dessert of the day.  The banana cake was heavy and dry.  The cream in the middle was lost between the heavy layers of cake.

The bourbon pecan bar made up for the disappointing banana whoopie pie.  The bar had a thin crust, which tasted like pie dough.  It was not as sweet as a sucre dough.  On top of the dough was a layer of chocolatey goodness.  This layer was covered with the caramel pecan filling.  The flavors were amazing.  The texture was perfect.  This was my favorite treat of the day!

The bakery is very cozy on the inside.  There are inviting benches in the windowsill and a cozy sofa across from the window.  Along the right-hand side of the bakery are wooden benches.  I love the warm color palette of oranges and browns and the simple decor.

We had a great time, and I’m so glad that I got to finally try this bakery…and with another baking enthusiast.  Thanks Bethany!

Happy Baking!

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Inaugural Baked & Brewed Party!

I am very excited to announce our first Baked & Brewed Party!

We’ve been killing ourselves baking and brewing, so we’re very excited to share the fruits of our labor with all of our friends.

Halloween 2011

As the party draws closer, I will continue to give updates as necessary.  Keep checking back by clicking on the party flyer image on the right-hand side of the main page.

We would love to see you!

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Baked fruit tarts

A couple of days ago, I posted my first experience baking rustic tarts at home.  I had quite a bit of pastry cream left over after making the rustic tarts, so I decided to go ahead and experiment with making baked fruit tarts.  Honestly, I just wanted to try my new tart pans!

I made the dough using the same sucre recipe and same mixing process and again let the dough rest for 4 hours before rolling out with my rolling pin.  After rolling the dough into 3mm thickness, I cut the dough into 6 inches circles using a circular cutter.  I stacked these circles between sheets of plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to rest.   This dough is much easier to work with when it is cool.  After a couple of hours, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and shaped the dough in my tart pans.

After shaping, I placed the tart pans in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. When making tarts, it is important to let the dough rest before baking in order to prevent the dough from shrinking during the bake.

Before baking, I removed my tarts from the refrigerator and docked the dough with a fork.  I pre-baked the tarts for 15 minutes before adding the cream.  For this recipe, I used equal parts pastry cream and almond cream.  I filled the tarts half full with cream. I added sliced apples to half of the tarts and topped with cinnamon and sugar.  For the other tarts, I added frozen blackberries and topped with sugar.  I returned the tarts to the oven and baked for another 25-30 minutes.

The blackberry tarts turned out WONDERFUL.  Jeff and I both agree that the blackberry was the best.

Happy Baking!


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