{Sweetspot: Craftsman and Wolves}

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Sadly, this won’t be an Easter post–but at least I have a picture of an egg. I haven’t had a new successful recipe recently (much less one for Easter), so instead I thought I’d share my trip to an eclectic, hipster bakery in San Francisco. It’s been almost two weeks since I made the trip to Craftsman and Wolves, and I’m still thinking about this place. A friend and I started our day in the city with breakfast at this patisserie, and it turned out to be our best meal of the day. With an edgy modern, even a little bit of stylized retro, vibe (I know that’s an oxymoron–but after all, retro is the new modern), this is no ordinary bakery. Craftsman and Wolves doesn’t evoke the comforts of a cupcake or even the delights of the now ubiquitous macaron, but rather gives its take on what pastries would look like if they were served on the Enterprise (for you Trekkies out there who also happen to read my blog). Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s not their inspiration, but I don’t know how else to describe it. “Very cool” doesn’t seem to do it justice.

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

While these pastries look like they belong in the Museum of Modern Art (each piece is really a masterpiece), they don’t sacrifice taste either. Or maybe they look so amazing that I was convinced they tasted just as good. And their claim to fame, The Rebel Within (a savory muffin with a perfectly soft boiled egg in the center), left me wondering how they did it–they must have some space-aged contraption to bake a muffin which leaves the egg yolk so wonderfully custardy and runny. I’m keeping this review of Craftsman and Wolves short and sweet, because, really, a picture is worth a thousand words–and you’d probably rather look at these pictures than read a thousand words from me. My last thoughts, though, are to say: GO THERE. It’s a worthwhile San Francisco experience in and of itself.

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Crafstman and Wolves_bakingattiffanys.com

Craftsman and Wolves is at 746 Valencia St., in the Mission District.

{Lime Macarons}

Lime Macarons - bakingattiffanys.com

I am back!  I know you have all been waiting SO anxiously for a new post!  Every week I thought about how I needed to write up a post, and the next thing I knew, a whole month flew by.  What has everyone been up to?  Sometimes I can’t even think of what I’ve been busy with, but I know I must have been doing something.  Let’s see…sometime over the last few weeks, I took a croissant-making class (which pretty much convinced me that I will very likely never ever make my own croissants at home–if anyone has a quickie recipe that doesn’t come from a can, I’d like to know), learned how to zip around on a Segway for a friend’s birthday (which was kind of scary at first–you feel like you might tip over–but then super fun once we started doing a little off-roading), decorated a wedding for good friends (I love weddings, I love how people come together for a special occasion–and okay, I admit it, I kind of like getting all dressed up too), oh, and got my taxes done (pretty dull but very necessary).

Lime Macarons - bakingattiffanys.com

I also had a really fun visit from three of my cousins (they’re sisters) to learn how to make macarons this past weekend (to be clear, they wanted to learn from me how to make macarons).  They say I’m like their 4th sister; we don’t see each other often, but when we get together, we’re always talking over each other trying to catch up.  Unfortunately for them, they had the misfortune of having me instruct them on how to make macarons.  I’ve had about a 50% success rate, hardly enough to qualify me to teach anyone.  We set out to make strawberry macarons, and I thought I’d try a new recipe (of course I would do that when showing someone how to make macarons for the first time).  I bought this book from Amazon, which got good ratings.  The discrepancy in the spelling of “macarons” should have tipped me off–the title of the book was “Macarons”, but each recipe referred to them as “macaroons”.  Very strange, I don’t know who did the editing (we all know it should be “macarons”!).  Something seemed off when whipping the egg whites so I tried to trouble shoot it, given my expansive knowledge of making macarons.  Suffice it to say they did not turn out perfect–or even close.  I think we were maybe able to make six (SIX!) macaron sandwiches out of a batch that should have made 24.  My cousins were so gracious and kind, saying they were delicious, as we sat down to our 6 macaron sandwiches with tea.  They really were quite good.  But how disappointing to put so much effort into something that turned out so disastrous.  Of course we took pics of the few that did turn out, pretending like it was a successful afternoon of macaron-making (the beauty of the iPhone camera and filters!)–the world doesn’t need to know what really happened (except now I just told you).

Lime Macarons - bakingattiffanys.com

Coming off of that debacle, I had to prove to myself that I *CAN* make macarons.  So this week, I wanted to make blackberry lime macarons.  I wanted to celebrate Spring (pastel colors and berries and all), and I thought the flavors might go together.  I returned to the only recipe that has worked for me so far, which comes from Laduree: The Sweet Recipes.  I have gotten the most consistent results from their macaron recipes–their instructions assume you know the basic steps to making macarons, so they’re not very detailed, but their proportions are correct.  My blackberries didn’t survive until the day I got to make these macarons, so the macarons ended up being simply lime flavored.  But no matter, the Laduree recipe still worked for me, and as the French would say, voilà, my macarons were beautiful!  (well, most of them; and as you can see, some still had a little dimple on them)  I’ve learned my lesson to use a recipe I know works when showing someone how to make something.

Lime Macarons - bakingattiffanys.com

I’m not going to include the recipe, since it’s very similar to the Macarons Citron (substitute lime for the lemon), except I also added lime zest to the macaron shells (if using 3 egg whites, the zest from one lime was enough flavoring).  It also takes me forever to type out these recipes.  I hope you try making them though.  As frustrating as it can be when macarons don’t turn out, it is truly a victory when they do, and so worth it.

{Pumpkin Cake a la Miette}

Pumpkin Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

Everyone loves cake.  For birthdays, weddings, graduations, and any special occasion, there is cake to make the event special.  Cake is synonymous with celebration.  But sometimes the cakes I really enjoy on any given day are the simple ones that don’t have a lot of adornment, yet are big on flavor.  These sometimes come in the shape of loaves or as bundt cakes, can be made with a variety of ingredients, and are easy enough to whip up after a long work day.  Because they aren’t as delicate as “special occasion cakes” they also make for great gifts that are hold up well in transport and can be enjoyed over the span of a few days (if you don’t eat it all right away).

Pumpkin Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

I first made this pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving dinner, and forgot to take pictures in the rush of everything.  I followed the recipe exactly (which was for a bundt cake) and it came out really nice–perfectly moist and light.  Pumpkin breads can often turn out dense and heavy, but this cake had a springier texture much unlike the standard pumpkin bread consistency.  I also thought I could make some adjustments to make it healthier, and ever since then I’ve been meaning to try making this again with a few modifications.

Thanks to Costco, I had 6 cans of organic pumpkin puree from the holiday season, and I finally got around to trying this recipe again this week (I guess I’m still in an “autumn” state of mind).  This time I wanted to be able to make loaves to give to some friends.  I made some substitutions using almond meal and coconut sugar for a lower carb content and to use less processed ingredients.  I also made a maple icing (instead of a chocolate ganache).  The cake was not as spongy–probably due to the almond meal–but still softer than the average pumpkin bread, and it was plenty moist.  This is the kind of cake you can have for breakfast, and that’s something to celebrate.  (The recipe I’m providing is for the “healthier” version).

Pumpkin Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

{Pumpkin Cake a la Miette}

1 hour, 45 minutes

Adapted from Miette by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath

Ingredients

    Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1-1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 3/4 t. sea salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or toasted walnut pieces (or other nut) (optional)
  • Maple Icing
  • 2 t. maple syrup
  • 1 T. water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

    Pumpkin Cake
  1. Butter and a 10" bundt pan and dust with flour, or use four 5" paper loaf molds.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, with a hand or stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together on medium for about 2 minutes.
  5. Lower mixing speed to low, and continue to whisk, slowly adding the oil; then whisk on high speed for about 1 minute.
  6. Switch to the paddle attachment (if using a stand mixer), and mix in the pumpkin puree using medium speed until just combined.
  7. Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing until just combined each time.
  8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in any nuts or chocolate chips by hand.
  9. Pour batter into the bundt cake pan or paper molds. If using paper molds, place them on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack--about 45-50 minutes for the bundt cake, or 40-45 minutes for the paper molds. The cake(s) are done when they are springy to the touch, and a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Allow the bundt cake to cool for approximately 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it onto a cake dish. For paper molds, allow cakes to cool completely on the wire rack.
  11. Maple Icing
  12. Whisk together maple syrup, water and powdered sugar. You can add water or powdered sugar to obtain the desired consistency.
  13. When the cakes are completely cooled, drizzle icing over the top.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/02/26/pumpkin-cake-la-miette/

{Rum Apple Cake}

Rum Apple Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

For us West Coast people, this winter hasn’t felt a whole like winter at all, even by California standards.  With temperatures in the low 70s and high 60s, it feels like we are having a perennial Spring.  Which I’m guessing most people would not object to–especially those who have been subject to the *polar vortex* in a large part of the country.  I like seasonal changes though, which gives time benchmarks and contrast, and I’ve been wishing the weather here felt a little more like the way it should.  The funny thing is, raised in sunny (and hot!) L.A., I moved to Northern California partially looking for a cooler climate (I love coats!  And boots!  And scarves!).  So December and January have been a bit of a bummer.  But finally this weekend we have rain!  Hooray for rain!  While the rest of the country is hammered with snow, California has been struggling to keep up its water supply.  We’ll need more rain than what we’re getting this weekend, but it’s something, and few things warm my soul like waking up to a brisk and soggy morning.

Rum Apple Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

On that note, cold wet weather means comfort food.  And this cake pretty much embodies all that is warm and cozy.  The apples, cinnamon, and rum (!)  are like a hug from the inside (maybe that’s a weird visual).  I adapted this recipe from Marcy Goldman’s A Passion For Baking a bit–shredding the apples (which is so much fun with a food processor! and it does away with peeling, coring and chopping, which I’m terribly slow at) and using half coconut sugar for the caramel flavor.  The original recipe also calls for Irish whiskey, but I sort of prefer rum, though you can try using your favorite spirit.

Rum Apple Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

{Rum Apple Cake}

40 minutes

70 minutes

Ingredients

    Apple Filling
  • 3 medium to large apples, shredded (with skin is okay; I used gala apples)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, minced
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • Cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 t. grated lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • Topping (optional)
  • 2 T. sugar with 1 t. cinnamon
  • powdered sugar to dust

Preparation

  1. Coat 10" bundt or angel food pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Apple Filling
  3. Mix together ingredients for the apple filling in a bowl and set aside to soak.
  4. Cake
  5. Cream together butter, sugars and lemon zest until fluffy and smooth.
  6. Mix in eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and rum until combined.
  7. Continue to mix in flour and baking powder until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  8. Stir the apple filling into the batter.
  9. Pour cake batter into the pan and top with a dusting of sugar and cinnamon.
  10. Place in middle rack of oven and bake for approximately 70 minutes or until a cake tester comes out almost clean.
  11. Allow cake to cool about 30 minutes, then unmold onto a serving dish. Dust top with powdered sugar to serve.

Adapted from Marcy Goldman's A Passion for Baking

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/02/09/rum-apple-cake/
.

 

{Oatmeal Cookies (or my version of Bouchon Bakery’s TLCs)}

oatmeal cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

It has been a full year of Baking at Tiffany’s!  It may not be apparent, but I really appreciate all the support simply through your readership this past year.  It’s been a fun time of trying new recipes and making friends, and I’m looking forward to another year of baking, blogging and connecting!  I don’t always have the time to keep up with the food blogging world, but I am thankful that you’ve welcomed me into it and I am thankful that you are following my site (along with what is coming out of my kitchen).

As I’m seeking to eat better, I’ve turned to making healthy (or really, *healthier*) versions of favorite recipes from the bakeries and chefs I love.  Healthy desserts can be an oxymoron, but I think there are ways to choose better ingredients without sacrificing taste.  But don’t get me wrong, there is always a time and place for decadent, full-fat, full-calorie, horribly bad for you desserts.  And I’ll never give those up entirely.  However, I’m hoping there are ways to make treats just a little more nutritious, so when I want that pick-me-up, I won’t have the guilt that goes along with it the second after I’ve taken a bite.  My goals in healthier baking may not necessarily be making something low-fat or low-calorie (though that would be nice too), but rather using less-processed ingredients with some health benefits.  Sometimes, this may be low-gluten (or gluten-free) or using unrefined sweeteners and plant-based fats, but always finding ways to make the calories count for something without sacrificing taste.

oatmeal cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

My first major attempt was with the Coconut Cream Pie from my last post, which I thought was a winner.  Fortunately, using coconut oil and coconut sugar worked well because it was, after all, a coconut pie.  I wanted to see how much the coconut flavor would come through in baking other types of desserts, so I tried the substitutes for Bouchon Bakery‘s TLCs recipe (or what is their oatmeal cookie with pecans).  Bouchon Bakery has yummy cookies, and this is one of my favorites.  I used coconut oil instead of butter, and coconut sugar in place of regular granulated sugar.  Coconut oil has had a resurgence in popularity since it’s been shown to help fight viruses and bacteria, keep weight balanced, and has antioxidants (among other health benefits), and is a versatile alternative to butter and other oils.  Coconut sugar is unrefined and may reduce blood sugar spikes that regular sugar causes (though it doesn’t mean we should eat more of it, sadly!).  The caramel flavor from the coconut sugar was a tasty complement to the oats, and while I could taste the coconut, it wasn’t overpowering.  I also used walnuts instead of pecans, because walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (good for the heart).  You can use pecans, as the original recipe indicates.  My friends weren’t able to tell that they were “healthier” at all–which is how good food (that’s also good for you) should taste.

oatmeal cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

{Oatmeal Cookies (or my version of Bouchon Bakery’s TLCs)}

2 hours

Yield: Approximately 24 cookies

Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

Ingredients

  • 153g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 138g coconut sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 106g coconut oil, softened (you can use the microwave for a few seconds)
  • 1/2 t. vanilla bean paste or 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg
  • 134 g rolled oats
  • 134 g chopped walnuts or pecans (or your favorite nut)

Preparation

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut sugar and brown sugar, breaking any lumps.
  3. Cream the softened coconut oil in a mixing bowl using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, and add the sugars to cream together until smooth, about a few minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Mix on low until combined.
  5. Mix in the egg on low until combined but do not over-whip the egg.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and mix in the the flour mixture on low until just combined.
  7. Mix in the oatmeal, and then the nuts, again, mixing until just combined. (Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it one last mix by hand to make sure everything is mixed in evenly).
  8. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  9. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Using a tablespoon, form balls of cookie dough about 1-1/2 inch in diameter, spacing them about 2 inches apart (coconut oil will spread more than butter).
  11. Bake on the middle rack for about 15 minutes or until firm in the center.
  12. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/01/20/oatmeal-cookies/