Well, a (good) camera is essential to any food blog. A broken camera, however, means no food blog. Thus, I apologize; I have no clue what happened to my camera. Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging about delicious foods for my wonderful readers! 🙂
What do you think of when your hear “Independence Day” or “July 4th?” Most people I know probably think “America,” “Patriotism,” “Red, White, & Blue,” and a whole host of people related to the day of July 4, 1776 (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, etc.). Then we’ve got the barbecues and the cook-outs; what’s a Fourth of July without them?
Oh, but please, don’t forget what rounds out the end of the day: fireworks.
I made these cupcakes about a week ago, but the name for these cupcakes hit me today–a great coincidence. I wanted to try something different with my cupcakes, and I instantly remembered the champagne cupcakes my friend used to make for special occasions.
Champagne cupcakes? Yeah, that’s different, that’s special. However, I wanted something more…
Champagne cupcakes with Pop Rocks? Now we’ve got something to talk about.
Originally used to replicate the bubbly sensation of the champagne that is lost after baking the alcohol off, the pop rocks atop the delicate, barely sweet, fluffy cake and the sweet and smooth champagne buttercream create a sensation of which you’ve never had in a cupcake.
I like to be modest, but boy, was this a good idea :P.
So while you’re settling down from you BBQ today and watching the night sky, have one of these refreshing and fun cupcakes–the fireworks in your mouth will be a perfect complement to the fireworks above!
If you have friends like the ones I have, then you are one lucky person.
I’m talking about friends who will pick you up when you’re stuck at home in the rain with only a bike to get you around. I’m also talking about friends with whom you can have a philosophical conversation on the psychology of social relations while massacring wave after wave of alien invaders on the television screen in front of you. I’m talking about friends who are artists, rhetors, future politicians, athletes, or just downright cool.
Friend who are foodies, friends who would rather have a Big Mac than a peppercorn-encrusted New York strip steak with a red wine reduction; friends who enjoy cooking with you and friends who just like to eat the food you make.
Moreover, I’ve got friends who I not only appreciate but who appreciate me, so much so that on a rare occasion they will buy you an ice cream maker–because they remember talking with you about it a few months back–to say “thanks.”
For that, I’m one lucky guy.
Either that, or they all like me for the free food they get when they’re with me. I try not to think about that one, though.
As a newly graduated high school alumnus, I could say that I’m feeling pretty good.
Not only that, but I’ve got a new job at a bakery and more time to cook at home, so, my fellow readers, you’ll be seeing “New Post” much more often this summer.
Now, what will make you feel really good is looking at–and more importantly, baking–this recipe for dried persimmon granola. What will make you feel even better is knowing that this granola has absolutely no sugar added to the mix, but does have yummy, yummy powdered sugar.
Wait, say wha? No sugar added, but there is powdered sugar?
My friends, I give you the dried persimmon:
It’s covered with the stuff. Dried persimmons undergo a (typically) month-long drying process, through which they shrink in size, intensify in flavor, and develop a fine coating of natural powdered sugar. Under the snowy-white exterior lies that bright orange flesh that you saw three pictures above, and boy, does it taste incredible. The flavor is of a fruit you’ve never tasted before, somewhere between a candied apple and a pear. In a word, it tastes like fall. Now, what is fall without cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves? Well, a very bland fall, I can tell you that much.
Even though fall is over 3 months away, you can have fall in a jar whenever you make this–and trust me, when you see the ingredient list, you’ll be feeling good when you eat this stuff.
Today, I went out with a bang. Well, a bang without the sound effects. Or perhaps an explosion of powder is more apt.
Everything was going fine. However, a customer ordered 50 cupcakes–cleaned out the whole front of the bakery–so the whole kitchen was in cupcake construction mode and I was put in charge of making buttercream. I had made two batches yesterday and had already made two batches today that were perfect–perfect consistency, perfect flavor (this is my opinion, although L said they were excellent! :P).
I thought I had got the formula down. Butter, low speed, high speed. Powdered sugar, low speed, high speed. Flavoring, low speed, high speed, high speed. Simple enough, no? Well, when I got to the powdered sugar stage on my third batch, my brain said, “Who needs low speed? Pssh…let’s kick it into high gear.”
White. Powder. Clouds of white powder filled the air and covered my face and my jeans and I realized that, no, it isn’t simple enough.
What ensued was as scramble to clean and laughs from the whole bakery and from myself ridiculing my slight. “Eh, it had to happen once!” I said. “It happens to everybody,” G said, “and it happened to me twice!” At that moment, I knew I was in the right place. Sadly, Fudge the Intern is no longer, but…
Fudge The Baker is now in talks of employment in the bakery!
As I said, I knew I was in the right place–I will thankfully continue to be for the next few months before I’m off the Blg Apple.
P.S.: Today’s pictures–aside from the Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes are all funny goods or oddities I took photos of today. Thought I’d keep it lighthearted instead of the sentimental post I had planned!
Feet throbbing, back aching, and head pulsating, I stepped out of the bakery today missing the spring in my step that I arrived with earlier in the morning. Perhaps it was the longer hours today, or maybe it was the fact that there were six bakers in the kitchen when there usually are about three. Truthfully, it probably was just me being hypersensitive after a sugar crash.
None of this means that I don’t love what I do, however; baking is one of my huge passions and the opportunity to intern here is worth all the ephemeral aches and pains. However, I’m going to let the pictures do a little more of the talking today, if that’s alright with you all.
The day started out with some pecan pie bars (which I actually didn’t get the chance to photograph! So sorry, I’ll make it up to you all) while N sliced up and plated some brownies.
You’ve got your classic fudge brownies…
…your Scout Brownies (with Girl Scout cookies inside of them!)…
…your Peanut Butter Brownies (which look beautiful with the designs on them)…
…and your Fudge Walnut brownies…
These are actually some of my favorite brownies in the shop–although the salted caramel ones still reign supreme for me. I love the varied texture and nutty (duh) flavor that the walnuts give the brownie.
Now, this was a sad cupcake. An under-baked orange cupcake, it proved unable to be frosted with its orange buttercream counterpart due to the huge indentation in the middle. However, a quick piping job fixed the whole situation. Happy cupcake.
Oh yeah, lots of cookies today.
Also, lots of ice cream sandwiches.
Now, there were two real blg standouts for today. You saw a bit about the first in the first photo in the post. I cannot take credit for those cupcakes; one of my fellow bakers, “Q,”
did the beautiful piping and fondant job for those cupcakes. She even went into little minute details like the tiny fondant ladybug. Great job, Q!
The second was something of my creation. By the end of the day, I was thinking of things I hadn’t attempted yet. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw the industrial mixer.
I had frosted, yes, but never had I actually made the frosting. Luckily, G was more than happy to show me the ropes. The first batch started off a little rocky–a new mixer, an oral recipe–but after my first two very successful batches, I’m glad to say that I can officially make buttercream!
Tomorrow, my time as an intern officially ends (although I will be going in again on Tuesday to bake some things for a presentation). However, my time there hopefully won’t have to end as my internship concludes–fingers crossed! I’m hoping for the best tomorrow.
Lastly, I just wanted to say: thank you all to those who have been following my journey in the bakery these past two weeks. I really do appreciate your readership; I mean it!
You saw the pictures yesterday. You know you want them. Now let’s get down to business.
Your standard but oh-so-much-better lemon bar. The lemon bar is beautifully tangy, erring on the more solid side as consistency goes (versus the more “liquidy” or “jammy” versions of lemon bars), keeping its shape well. The lemon filling is accompanied with a satisfying crumble by the shortbread crust on the bottom, the flavor of which offsets some of the sweetness. All in all, a very well-rounded dessert.
This is probably my favorite combination of cupcake (chocolate) and frosting (cappuccino) from the bakery. The semisweet coffee flavor in the buttercream brings out and compliments the dark, intense flavor of the chocolate cake, resulting in a very grown-up version of the cupcake we all know and love.
Also, Forget about this particular picture; Girlfriend and I didn’t care about the looks of this cupcake when it was in our mouths :).
Vanilla Cupcake with Cappucilla Buttercream
If chocolate cake and cappuccino frosting is my favorite combination, the vanilla cake is my favorite standalone component of the three standard flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. Guys, this is vanilla, without question. The flavor is absolutely there and spot on, and your palate will dive headfirst into a sea of fluffy, moist vanilla. Also, cappucilla buttercream? That’s the vanilla and cappuccino buttercreams that got mixed while I was practicing. A serendipitous combination, I say! It’s like eating a vanilla cappuccino.
The bakery’s incredibly moist, deliciously fudgey brownie studded with pieces of Oreo cookies. Now, who has a problem with that combination?
I didn’t get any of the currants, as I only took a tiny slice to try it before I gave the rest to my mum, so I’ll talk about the general scone itself–and what a scone it was. Nothing like your store-bought or day-old scone, this had just the right amount–but barely any–crunch on the outside, a slightly sugary taste before giving way to an absolutely delicate and tender center. This was probably my favorite of the bunch because it was barely sweet and was a joy to eat.
A teeny bit dry (perhaps because it had been sitting out for an hour or two, but very awesome nonetheless. Layer after layer of goodness: toasted sweetened coconut flakes, walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and a nice crunchy shortbread crust. This morsel was gone in seconds.
Now, for the last sweet of the round-up!
So, I don’t know what this is. It has chocolate. It’s got some powdered sugar on top. It tastes…different. Other than that, though, I’ve got nothing. More on this one later.
Well, that’s it for the second taste test round-up! Tune in tomorrow for another day at the bakery.
There’s only so much new stuff one can do in a bakery before it all becomes repetitive. Thus today wasn’t a day full of new lessons and surprises in baking, but a day of perfecting technique, a day of getting into the groove of things, and, of course, a day of sweets galore.
One thing I’m very proud of today?
That. My first cupcake approved by N for sale in the shop (although I was too proud of it to give away so I took it home for my mum…it didn’t quite survive the bike ride, though :/). I’ve finally (almost) got the technique down! I would say that is miles ahead of the first cupcake I frosted today…
Yeah. I’m proud to show that mess because the photo before it. At least the camera makes this cupcake look pretty.
Like I mentioned earlier, today was a day of getting into the groove of things. Cookies were mixed quicker, scooped easier; doughnut muffins were finished off with more finesse; samples and trimmings were sampled less and less frequently ( 😉 ).
I could really tell the difference of how I was baking last week versus my first day this week. Everything “flowed;” I was able to do more in less time and more efficiently. I was also given the reigns by N to really work how I (i.e. the bakery) needed, working to make I saw that we needed versus having N follow me step by step to tell me what I needed to do. That doesn’t mean that I asked a few questions along the line; I’m still learning here.
OH! Did you all know the Bourbon vanilla extract is actually called “Bourbon” because of the name of the islands off the coast of Madagascar, not because of the alcohol content in a jar of vanilla extract? Just a tidbit I learned that I thought I should share.
HEY. I was excited when I heard it, and this is my blog. 😀
Anyways, at the end of the day, I felt fulfilled as all this work was starting to become second nature, even though I only have two more days of work at the bakery (:(). However, N and fellow baker “G,” the only other guy in the bakery, said they would love to have me work more at the bakery over the summer until I go to college! I think that would be a great experience…I’ll keep you all updated as we go on.
For now, I will leave you all with a little preview of what I’m blogging about tomorrow…
What a delicious week this has been.
First off, as you all know if you have been reading along, I’ve been interning at a bakery all week where delicious pastries of all sizes and shapes abound. Goodness, have I had my fair share of test tastings and sweets during the last week.
I’ve also been cooking up some more extravagant dishes in the kitchen as of late with the free time I have away from school. This free time has been an absolute gift; not only have I found time to care of so many things on my to-do list, but I’ve had time to dive into some dishes I have been waiting to cook up.
Also, as you may also know if you have been reading along, this was prom weekend for me, meaning a great dinner — filet mignon, chicken, sweet potato souffle, creme brulee — at prom and a scrumptious breakfast with friends and Girlfriend (you can see of what breakfast I’m talking about below and in this post).
With all these sweets from the bakery and elsewhere, my sweet taste buds are starting to get a bit tired out. My saving grace? Coconut Curry Chicken and Garlic Chicken gyoza I prepared and froze about two weeks ago, ready to be steamed or pan-fried at will.
These gyoza were incredibly fun to make (and very time-consuming, but I already told you that I have lots of time on my hands nowadays) because I started with some gyoza wrappers I bought, excess coconut milk and garlic, a fridge-full of ingredients, and no recipe in hand. I have to say, these gyoza definitely turned out very well for my first time preparing them, considering I was cooking off the cuff (off the top of my, umm, chef’s hat? But I digress…). The chicken delicately poached in a combination of coconut milk and curry is just awesome and, well, who doesn’t like garlic and chicken? I mean, come on, that combination was born a winner.
Here’s to another week of deliciousness–albeit, a bit further towards the healthier side :P.