Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Food trucking in the future.

Seeing as I graduate college in one year, and seeing as I have have no distinct plan for what I'll do upon graduating, you can imagine that I have been thinking a lot about the future. (These reasons in addition to my dad's nightly lessons on the physical possibility of time traveling to the future.) And you can also imagine that all of this has me pretty freaked out. (Especially the part about time travel.)

But the other day I came up with a plan that might actually be worth perusing when I finish school. Food trucking. Food trucks are huge right now in cities all across America, there's even a Food Network show about them, The Great Food Truck Race. The more I think about it, the more ideal it seems.

1. It's much less expensive (and less of a risk) than opening up a store front bakery.
2. It gives me the opportunity to start small, even if that means it's run solely by yours truly.
3. It's mobile, so if there's a location that's not ideal, I can move. If I find a great spot, I can return to it.

The more feasible the idea became, the more I began to seriously look into it. And that's when I found a few problems with my plan.

1. Food trucks are popular right now, but who's to say they will remain so in a year.
2. It can take over a year to get the right permits and license to run a food truck.
3. I know nothing about business management!

Despite these foreseeable (and certainly unforeseeable) issues, I still ran with the idea. Because if I learned anything from my baking experiences so far, it's that you have to keep going even when you're up against problems. I sat down in a meeting (dinner) with my creative team (family) to get their feedback. They were both excited and supportive. I was surprised by how much they were encouraging me. So we discussed things like the design of the truck, what colors to use, how to make it so guys aren't embarrassed to approach a cute pastry truck, menu placement, and most importantly, the name.

Naming is hard for me. I've been known to switch the names of stuffed animals, even after a long term relationship. My pet dog didn't even have an official name for his first few days with my family. So coming up with a truck name that is both original and catchy was a challenge. There are names with puns, but they run the risk of being missed. There are things that hold personal meaning, but they won't mean anything to a customer. And there are words that just sound cool, but may be hard to remember. I drew up a list of contenders after brainstorming with my family, and I still haven't decided which is my favorite.

While these problems aren't even a reality yet because I'm not certain I'll go into the food trucking industry, it's reassuring to know I have options. And beyond that, it's good to know my family will support me in whatever I choose to do.

Dessert In A Jar: The next big thing.

Food trends come and go like any other fashion. Cupcakes have been big for a while now, but it's no secret that they are on their way out in the world of vogue desserts.

For a few months now I've been noticing a new trend that I predict will be the next cupcake; desserts in a jar. You heard it hear first.

Everything from cakes to pies are being baked and served in little mason jars. There are many advantages to this new technique. I believe it was first introduced as a way to safely send treats over seas to soldiers. Now it is not only an adorable way to display pastries but it also provides perfect individual servings.

To check out some great recipes, I recommend searching Tasteologie!

(Pie in a jar - from the Family Kitchen blog.)

Fresh fruit!

Summer is a great time for buying and picking your own fruit. You may be lucky enough to have your own garden, in which case you probably already know what's in season. But if (like most people) you're don't have one, you can find a local farm or produce stand that is selling the freshest fruit.

It's important to cook and consume produce that is in-season. The more local your food is, the more fresh it's going to be. The more fresh your food is, the more flavor and nutrients it will have. If you buy in-season fruit from a local seller, you know you're getting the best ingredients possible. Whereas if you're consuming blueberries in the middle of winter they are probably coming from far away and therefor have a lot of preservatives on them. It's healthier, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly to buy local. Plus it also helps support local farmers!

Strawberries are at their peak right now, so go out and pick some!

Here's a schedule of what's best when:


Start Date

End Date


Late May

Late June

Early June
Late July
Summer & Fall Strawberries
Late July
Mid October


Mid June

Early July

Fall Raspberries

Mid August

Late September


Late June

Early August


Early July

Mid September


Early July

Late July


Early July

Mid August


Early July

Early August

Summer Apples

Mid August

Early September

Fall Apples

Mid September

Late October


Mid August

Late September


Mid August

Late September


Mid August

Late September

Tomatoes, Peppers & Eggplant
Late July
Late October
Mid August
Late September

(Taken from Linvilla Orchards' website.)

Macarons: Not entirely impossible

After visiting Paris with some friends this spring, and trying french macarons at Laduree (and ok, at McDonalds too) I have been hooked on the idea of baking them myself. Suddenly, I saw them everywhere, even in Ireland! I finally realized I was destined to bake them when I stumbled across Hisako Ogita's book, i <3 macarons, in the dollar-bin at a book store.

Laduree shop in Paris (unfortunately not allowed to photograph inside.)

Cupcakes and macarons at a local food market in Howth, Ireland.

I promptly bought the cute little book and flipped through a discouraging amount of instructions. These adorable pastries are more work than they appear! After reading the book and timidly buying ingredients, it still took me a few days to gather the courage to face them.

Finally, at midnight last night, I decided I had nothing better to do than give it a shot. The middle of the night presented an opportune chance to bake because not only had the day's heat subsided, but my family was asleep and would not see me struggle.

And struggle I did. From batter spilling all across my parchment paper to glass bowls exploding with syrup in the microwave, I nearly gave up many times. I was off to an unpromising start.

With instructions and terms such as "If the macaronage step is repeated less than 10 times, the baked macarons will lack luster. However, when it is repeated more than 20 times, oil stains may remain on the pastry's surface..." it is an understatement to say I was intimidated. There was no doubt that I would mess up some precise and minute detail that would certainly ruin the whole batter. But by 3:30 AM when my batches had finished baking, I was surprisingly pleased with their appearance.

Then I bit into one... dare I say better than Paris? Even after all of my mistakes, I still managed to achieve the texture and flavor I remembered from France. A crisp outer shell that encompasses a perfectly chewy melt-away inside. I ate a few more before even letting them cool or adding the cream filling.

Lesson learned? Don't be afraid to keep pushing forward. If I had given up at the first sign of failure, I know for a fact that I would not have tried baking these again for a while. But because I carried on I ended up with a delicious, albeit not perfect, end result.

Iced Chai Latte in 3 Steps

I'm baaack! It's an absolute understatement to say it's been a while... and although I could excuse myself by saying I just spent an incredible semester in Italy, I'll save those details for later posts. (Get ready for some delicious dishes!)

But now I'm back in suburbia and it's HOT. The weather is already hitting record highs and it's only mid June! My way of staying cool and energetic? Iced chai latte. I know you can stop in any coffee shop and order one for yourself, but have you noticed how expensive they are? So I've learned a way to prepared it for myself, for MUCH less money, and I'm guaranteed to have a constant supply ready in my fridge for when I need a quick pick-me-up.

You'll need:
- 3 cups boiling water
- 6 chai tea bags
- Sweetener (I use 6, but it's a your own preference)
- 3 cups milk
- A lot of ice

1. Bring the water to a boil and then steep the 6 tea bags for 5 or 6 minutes.

2. Remove the bags and let the tea cool for a few more minutes.
3. Fill a glass with ice. Then add one part milk, one part tea. Stir and enjoy!

Pointer: Only mix the milk and tea together when you're about to serve it. If you leave them separate, you can refrigerate the tea in an air tight container for a few days so you always have some ready!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Breakfast edition

I'm on the hunt for the best breakfast sandwich.

After a summer of claiming that I had found my choice for Best-Thing-I-Ever-Ate breakfast edition, I decided I should actually compare the sandwich to others before calling it the best. However, I technically have only just begun this quest. I rarely go out to breakfast, and when I do I often take my time with the menu. Breakfast has so many options, it's great but overwhelming. Now I'm on a mission and know what I will be ordering from here on.

So as of now I only have two contenders to report on.

#1) The Ardmore Station Cafe's (Ardmore, Pennsylvania) Sausage, Egg, and Cheese on a Plain Bagel
#2) Louis Family Restaurant (Providence, Rhode Island) Sausage, Egg, and Cheese on a Roll

These two are close to being a tie, each with pros and cons. Louis' bread choice is much more suited to a breakfast sandwich; it's not too thick, it's got a crispy outer layer, and it's not dense with butter. However, Ardmore's sausage is far better in taste as well as color.

Stay tuned for the next sandwich report,
bakey love

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ming Makes Cupcakes

I have a cold right now. And I can deal with the coughing and sniffing, even the headache. What I can't take is my lack of taste. It's the worst! It's been a few days since I properly tasted something and I really miss it. I will appreciate food so much more once this cold is gone!

In the meantime, a friend sent me a link to this great site called Ming Makes Cupcakes.
It's a really well designed collection of recipes. I just liked looking at everything and reading the cupcake titles... Cupcake #19: Blueberry Cupcakes with Maple Brown Butter Frosting, Cupcake #26: Port Wine and Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting, Cupcake #32: Graham Cupcakes with Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting.
And you need to look at the photography! If those names don't make you want to try the recipes, the pictures will.
There are smaller collections on the site of cookie recipes as well as savories.
If you have trouble reading the recipe in the design layout, there's a link in the menu bar to see just the text version.

Make sure to check it out and let me know if you give any of the recipes a try!
XX bakey love

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recipe of the Day #1

Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes
Oh Ina, you've done it again. Bring over your florist friend because we need to eat these cupcakes now.

These might be my favorite cupcakes I've ever made... I whipped them up (from a boxed mix, I'll admit) for a friends birthday and all but one fit in the delivery box. So of course I had to eat it. After the first bite, it was a test of devotion to go through with giving the rest away.

So if you make these for someone else, with some hindsight I strongly suggest you make a second batch for yourself. But be careful, there are at least 6 sticks of butter in each batch... Really, Ina?

(These take 35 minutes in the oven and the batter makes about 15 to 20 cupcakes.)


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

You can find the recipe online here!

xx bakey love

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baked Goods Smack-Down

A timeless battle: Cookie dough vs. cookies.
Which is better? The dough before being baked, or the end product of a delicious cookie?

After discussing the perpetual contest with some friends (a few on cookie dough's side, a few on cookie's) I was interested to know just what distinguishes them. There is an unexplainable difference between eating the raw dough and eating the finished good, and it goes beyond just the texture.

So while I can't identify which treat is the champion (ehem, cookie dough...), what I can do is explain the magical process that makes them so very different.

As it turns out, I'm not really a science person. And I know that baking is basically all about chemistry, so you would think this would make me relate and want to understand more about science. Not so... But I did manage to research and interpret the baking process enough to give a coherent explanation. But instead of trying to give a detailed verbal report, I have decided to do what I do best and get creative; I've drawn it out in cartoon form.
Stage 1: The fats (butter) in the dough are the first thing to be affected by the heat of the oven. Upon melting, it "coats egg proteins, starches, and a few gluten strands" which causes the dough to get tender. At the same time, the dough begins to release some of it's internal air and moisture, causing some rising (known as leavening).
Stage 2: The moisture and air that got released turns to steam in the heat of the oven. This process causes the internal part of the dough to expand and the cookie becomes bigger!
Stage 3: To make the cookie even bigger and stronger, the starch inside soaks up any moisture left in the dough and uses it to give more structure. About halfway through this process, proteins begin to coagulate; this is when something takes on a solid or semisolid state. This causes the cookie to develop a thicker outside "crust" and it also develops the cookie's flavor!
Stage 4: In the final phase of baking, the sugar in the cookie is broken down. This process, called caramelization, is what gives cookies their golden-brown color, and it's a good indicator to know when they're done!

I hope that was helpful!
All of my information was taken from the lovely Cookies In Motion!

xx bakeylove