Cupcake Friday Project

A one-woman test kitchen meets nano-bakery

Working on a food truck

Mel on Luscious Bakery's Food Truck
This summer, I started a wonderful side-gig of working on my friend Jamie’s beautiful food truck. Luscious Bakery is a unique brunch bakery truck, specializing in homemade brunch-inspired items featuring fresh, quality ingredients, as well as other baked goods (like Jamie’s GINORMOUS cookies … god they’re delightful!)

The truck has a 500 lb convection oven mounted inside, so Jamie is able to bake cookies fresh on the truck, as well as warm up bakery sandwiches, quiches, cobblers, biscuits … it’s absolute genius! I love working with Jamie, since we have similar baking styles (focus on fresh, fresh, fresh!), and she’s been an amazing mentor.

And apparently, I’m rather good at working the window! Even though I can be a fairly shy person, there’s something about food that makes me pretty chatty. Not sure what you want to eat when you visit the truck? Well, I’ll chat with you about my favorite items, make suggestions, and be my sassy self! It’s a lot of fun, and I see it as one more step along my culinary learning journey.

Life is like a box of cookies …

Brooklyn Bakery Sign

Adorable sign outside of a bakery in Brooklyn. I appreciate the sentiment.

… you have everything from whole cookies to broken pieces, with crumbs collecting in all the corners.

Yes. It’s been almost 2 months since I posted last. Part of it is because I’ve been extremely busy baking and writing for Table Matters. It’s been a great opportunity to team up with the online food magazine, but it’s also a fair bit of work coming up with 2-3 new recipe concepts per month. And on top of that, I have my dedicated cookie/caramel corn clubbers I’ve been baking for.

The other part is harder to talk about. But it’s definitely affected me. It’s hard to bake … to create something new and inspired … when your energy is close to zero and depression and anxiety crawls up your spine, reaches up over your shoulders and tries to fold your body in half. It’s easier to watch countless episodes of Criminal Minds on Netflix. But it’s definitely not as fulfilling.

My husband Ray and I decided we needed to separate in late August. He moved out in October, and life has been a series of ups and downs. It’s been bittersweet and difficult, and we’re both trying to move forward and make this as easy as possible for both of us. I hope that our friendship can weather this storm, but I also have to remember that this is a process that takes time.

So that’s where I’ve been and where I am now. That said, I have SO many recipes I need to share, so I’m going to make the effort to post 1-2 times a week, and of course I’ll repost my Table Matters pieces.

Is there something you’d like to see in particular? Specific recipes? Tips? Let me know!

Baking is science!

science-baking-final-rd2

Shari’s Berries contacted me with this really wonderful infographic, asking me to share it with readers, and I just couldn’t say no!

Johnny Cupcakes fashion tip

Johnny Cupcake Tip

If you’re a baker, and a lover of cupcakes, you might have a t-shirt or 2 from Johnny Cupcakes. I receive their emails regularly, but they tend to be for new t-shirt designs or hot sales. So when I saw this particular email, I was amused (and yes, this is the marketing day-job side writing …)

The pie’s the limit!

Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme missing a sliceOn Saturday, Collingswood Farmers Market hosted its annual peach pie baking competition, and this year Ray and I changed it up a bit. We BOTH entered.

Both of our pie ideas were just too good to pass on, so when you have 2 ideas and 2 people, you get 2 pies. Or in this case, a pie and a tart.

Herb and Chevre Peach Tart with Balsamic Crust

Ray’s entry into the peaches-plus category: Herb and Chevre Peach Tart with Balsamic Crust

However, today’s post isn’t going to have my usual pie recipes in it. For that, you’ll have to wait for my article on Table Matters to publish (mean, I know).

Early Gre Peach Pie with Thyme

My entry into the peaches-only category (where peaches are the only fruit to be used): Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme

The outcome of the baking contest was that my pie came in 3rd place for presentation, Ray’s tart made it up onto the scoreboard for his category of peaches-plus (I think he was in 4th or 5th place), but my Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme did not get any flavor points from the judges in the peaches-only category. Maybe it was too weird, but we really liked it!

Blueberries and cream cookies

Blueberries and cream cookies
While I think I like blueberries fresh off the bush the best, these cookies may become my new favorite. The cookie is chewy, caramely, with a gentle crunch to the edge, and then the tartness of the blueberries comes in. Heaven. Absolute heaven.

The cookie base for this recipe is inspired by Serious Eats’ Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, and I think it might become my new base for all cookies that have add-ins like this. I used to be a big fan of the New Best Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie, but unfortunately those have been coming out hard. I much prefer a chewy cookie.

What have you been baking this summer? I know I’ve been keeping my baking to a minimum, mainly because I’ve been so busy working on our condo, training for the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, volunteering at PAWS and writing for Table Matters. But I haven’t forgotten about all you lovelies!

Blueberries and cream cookies

Yield: Approximately 48 cookies

Ingredients

Blueberries and Cream Cookie Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ice water
10 oz (approximately 2 cups) flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 oz (approximately 3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz (approximately 1/2 tightly packed cup plus 2 tbsp) brown sugar
8 oz dried blueberries
8 oz white chocolate chips

Directions

Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.

Cook the butter, swirling regularly, until the butter is browned and has a nutty aroma. This should take about 5-7 minutes, depending on the strength of your stovetop.

Whisk in the ice water (which replaces the moisture cooked out while browning the butter), and cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine both sugars, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix on medium high speed until the mixture is golden, about 5 minutes.

Set the mixer on low and slowly pour in the browned butter. Once added, turn the speed up to medium and mix until combined.

On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down when necessary.

Add the dried blueberries and white chocolate, mixing to combine.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill the cookie dough for at least 8 hours or up to 72 hours.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line cookie sheets with either parchment or baking silicone.

Scoop the cookies onto the sheet, leaving at least 1.5 inches between cookies.

Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for an additional 6-7 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and place on cooling racks. After about 5 minutes, the cookies can be transferred off of the cookie sheet and directly onto the rack.

Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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