Sunday, March 27, 2011

News Feed

Sadly I am getting out of the habit of blogging but I am still baking so here's a little update about what going on with Le Petit Baker.

Saturdays at Emmit's

Beer and baked goods Saturdays are really catching on at Emmit's.  It definitely makes work more exciting and I love when someone comes in and asks what I baked!  I find myself bringing in sweets not only on Saturdays now.  This week I made vanilla orange biscotti and sugar cream pie.

Farmer's Market

I will officially be selling pie at the Empty Bottle's Summer Farmer's Market on Sunday May 15th (right before my birthday)!  I am extremely excited for my first opportunity to sell something even though I probably won't make much money.  I'm still deciding if I should stick to only pie or some other pastries too (I figured pie would be the easiest thing to sell).  So come see Le Petit Baker (along with follower Sam Masi) at the Farmer's Market (Note: I'm pretty sure the market is 21+ because it is a bar but I'll check on that).  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Vintage Find

A few days ago I went to an antique store.  Along with the cuban cigar box and 1960s cigarette case, I bought a pie and pastry recipe booklet from the 1970s.  I figured that this book would hold some precious recipes so I tested some out for a beer and baked goods Saturday at Emmit's. 
(My attempt to promote myself at Emmit's)

Since I took a few week weeks off baking for Emmit's I decided to bake two pies; one fruit and one cream.  I chose a spiced pear pie and a coconut custard pie. The recipe booklet I bought was interesting in comparison to recently published cookbooks.  While more recent cookbooks offer a step by step detailed list of instructions, this booklet basically gave you a list of recipes and maybe one instruction.  I liked this change of pace considering I am generally too stubborn or impatient to follow every detail.  So I woke up early Saturday and baked my pies.

I am generally more partial to cream pies but I feel that the spiced pear pie was too delicious!  A tasty spice I used was nutmeg (which is my secret ingredient that I incorporate into everything that I bake, along with love).  I also incorporated some lemon juice and zest which I could certainly taste. 

Although I found the pear pie to be a better creation, the generally consensus from Emmit's regulars and employees was in favor of the coconut custard.  The best part of the day was seeing my favorite men (Ron, Dave, Tom, and Jerry) sitting at the bar simultaneously drinking a Guinness and eating my pie! I was lucky enough the sneak a picture on my cellphone.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pi[e] Day!

Happy Pie Day!  So of course I am celebrating with my favorite dessert: pie.  I've been exploring how to make a ginger pie for about a week now and what better day to try it out than a day dedicated to pi or pie. I recently fallen in love with ginger.  I love baking with fresh ginger.  Ginger typically has a potent, spicy, tangy taste but when paired with some sugar, the taste is irresistible (at least for me!).  So, the second that my roommate reminded me today was pie day, I got started on this new creation.

Ginger Pie

I was surprised when I started looking for ginger pie recipes and couldn't find any.  I'm certain that I have seen ginger pie before but Google offered little results except for a fellow blogger who offered me a place to start.  I read the recipe and made a few adjustments.
Ginger pie is a custard like a pie, I found the base to be similar to a chess pie. Thinking about what would complement the ginger, I decided to add pecans to the pie dough.  I then proceeded with the pie filling.  The filling consisted of sugar (lots of it), butter, eggs, flour, fresh ginger, and lemon zest.  I added a few extra spices that I knew would bring out the ginger flavor.  I sprinkled the top of the pie with some sugar and baked.

As Told by Ginger

Well, as appetizing as I find ginger to be, it's not for everyone.  Not everyone can handle finding a fresh bit of ginger in their custard pie.  The fresh ginger pieces surprise you when it seems you're eating an ordinary custard pie but that's what I love about it; the unexpected crunch and spice.  But isn't that just like life- one minute you're going about you're daily routine and the next minute something or someone comes up and offers you a little spice to your life?  I should probably start baking more ginger pie.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Be Back in 5

Sadly, baking is taking a back seat this week.  Between pre-finals week and the St. Patrick's Day season at work, responsibility is calling.   However, I have recently made some efforts to break out in the baking world (however, none of these efforts have been successful).

PERKy baking enthusiast willing to work for free!

First off, I've been trying to get a job at a bakery for quite some time now (nothing against the lovely Emmit's) but have been unsuccessful due to my lack of experience.  I had the idea to offer to intern for some small cafe (whose identity I shall conceal).  I spoke with the owner and told her my long, extensive future plans and the struggle I have had finding a job.  My impression was that she was interested, I mean I was offering her my FREE labor.  However, her excuse that she was too busy to interview me (even though her cafe was completely empty) threw me off.  She claimed that she would call me later in the week, but she didn't.

The Empty Inbox

Next, I decided I should try to sell my baked goods.  I looked into a few farmer's markets and sent an email to the one I found to be most casual (an indoor farmer's market held in a undisclosed bar).  I described my situation (a student bakery with aspirations of a sole proprietorship who would love the opportunity to network and get feedback on her pies!) through an email.  I eagerly checked my email for a week only to find it empty, just like their bottles. ;)

Where's the Beef?
So my major beef with these people are that they never bothered to respond.  I can handle rejection, hey just tell me that you don't want some unexperienced baker selling potentially roofied pies to your innocent customers (my only secret ingredient is love, not drugs).  So a lesson to all of you: just be forward with your intentions and thoughts- if you don't want the lovely Le Petit Baker, just tell the lovely Le Petit Baker, I'll appreciate the honesty (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).

Calling All Stalkers

Hey, all of my stalkers, I mean readers (who for some reason refuse to "follow" my blog!) if you know anyone who knows someone who would want to offer the hardworking, passionate, and creative Le Petit Baker a baking opportunity, let me know!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bake it Blackberry

Black and Blue

Although muffins may not be my favorite breakfast, I had a request to make blueberry muffins. I like challenges and find blueberry muffins to be all too common, so I had to find some way to spin the original blueberry muffin. When I went shopping for ingredients I was unsatisfied with the fresh blueberries so then I thought to make substitute a different berry; I chose blackberries. Blackberries are more tangy than blueberries which resulted in a more flavorful muffin. And naturally, I added citrus (this time orange zest and juice).

Preparing the batter went smoothly because I had learned some lessons. I melted butter and needed to add buttermilk to the butter. I knew the butter would curdle if the buttermilk was not near room temperature (a lesson I learned from scone making). I also decided to cut the blackberries in half since they are considerably larger than a blueberry. I separated the batter into a cupcake pan and sprinkled the tops with sugar to add sweetness and also give the muffins a shimmery appeal.

The muffins browned beautifully and came out delicious. The blackberries were a great choice. The muffin was not very sweet but once you bite into a blackberry, the natural sweetness and tang balance out the rest of the muffin. My roommates were throughly satisfied but I hope my co-worker enjoys my innovation to the blueberry muffin.
Time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions.

That's one of my favorite TS Eliot quotes and basically describes my general indecisiveness (Prufrock and I are not so different). When asked to make blueberry muffins I contemplated dozens of ways I could make the muffin different and never resolved the situation. I had no clear idea of what I was going to make until I went to the grocery store and found the blueberries inedible. (This is the part where we flashback to me staring at the blueberries for four minutes as fellow grocery shoppers wonder why it is taking me so long to pick out berries). I was inspired to try a different berry and found the blackberries awaiting me.

This is also similar to my life philosophy. Decision making is so difficult for me that I let things make decisions for me. The blueberries were obviously not going to work so I looked around and the blackberries were so beautifully posed for me that I couldn't resist. This explains why it is so easy for me to stick to routine. My life is quite routine. It is not because I like change, it's because I am so much like Prufrock and contemplate what I am going to do instead of actually doing it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sweetish Visiting Cake

Yesterday I was invited over for dinner with my friend (and follower!) Sam.  Naturally, I was in charge of dessert while Sam handled dinner.  I thought a Swedish Visiting Cake would be appropriate since I was visiting Sam at his humble abode.  We sipped at red wine and chatted as he prepared a tomato penne with lemon and I prepared an lemon almond cake.

I took my recipe from the Dorie Greenspan book Baking: From My Home To Yours (of course I offered a few remedies to the original recipe).  I have found this baking book to be a great starting place for baking ideas.  Most recipes are unique and nearly everything I take from it comes out delicious.  The Swedish visiting cake permeates with almond flavor which lemon zest really enhances (and I hope I have already expressed my love of citrus).  
However, being in a new environment my baking clock was not properly adjusted.  The cake was slightly under-baked but both Sam and I discovered it was still delectable!  After our delicious (and organic) meal we indulged in the cake accompanied by a few cups of coffee.