The only carrot cake recipe you will ever need - this time with fluffy, nutty brown butter frosting and choose your own adventure add-ins.Read More
A blushing pink pie filled with lightly spiced apples and dotted with fresh blackberries.
It’s officially Fall, y’all – and I couldn’t be more excited about all the apple, pumpkin, and cold weather things! And while it would be predictable of me to talk about the changing leaves, our first apple-picking adventure, and my favorite fall coffee drink (despite sounding too pretentious, it’s currently a cappuccino with one raw sugar packet – lol, just in case you wanted to know), I’m actually here today to talk a bit about food media and how it has changed over the recent years. That, and this pretty pink pie (jump to the middle/end of this post if that’s the only reason you are here – no shame in that!).
I was listening to Burnt Toast, Food52’s podcast, the other day. The episode was titled What’s Different About Getting a Food Job Today? featuring Food52 co-founding editor Amanda Hesser and Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach. Both are veterans in food media, and the episode highlights some of their thoughts and first jobs in the food world years ago as well as advice for future food writers trying to make it in the biz today.
Food writing as career is changing along side the blogging and social media game these days. In the episode, they talked about where it was once seen as a conflict of interest to work in AND write about the food industry, or just too much self-interest, now we want to hear from the doers – the chefs, farmers, makers, etc. In the past, going to culinary school put you on a very structured path into the kitchen, but now there are more jobs and opportunities in general and various ways to get into the industry. Now it makes you more interesting and valuable to have spent a season harvesting the crop instead of it looking like a misstep on your résumé. As Hesser points out, and I’m paraphrasing here, but now you can nerd-out on something specific like pickles or work on a farm and it’s cool. When reading résumés, it’s experiences like this that stand out over getting your masters in Food Studies (which didn’t even really exist when I graduated just a decade ago).
I found the entire conversation fascinating and thought about how it applied to my own meandering career path into food media. Listening to Meehan talk about his first internship with Food and Wine after dropping out of college and Hesser’s financial background followed by a bartending certificate, it was fun to compare my non-traditional entry to the food world as well. Starting my adulthood with a BA in Communication and trying to nurture a budding relationship with cake, I had no idea that a decade later I would be a cookbook author and ex-bakery owner.
If you are just starting out, their advice (and mine) is to get your hands dirty. “Wash dishes in a restaurant, volunteer at a co-op, assist a commercial fisherman,” as Hesser suggests. Or if your entire world revolves around finding an excuse to make a cake like me in my early 20’s, do as I did and just see what it’s like to work at a local bakery for a while. The bottom line is that if you want to work in the food media business today, you don’t have to go to culinary school or get a journalism degree. For me, I contemplated going to pastry school dozens of times. And while there is undeniable value in the discipline and attention to detail a pastry program will teach you, they can’t teach passion or creativity. At a certain point, I realized that my experience in the kitchen and love for cake was enough, and let it go (I even ended up training the interns that came from a local pastry school at one point).
I used to think that if I had a do-over I would have skipped getting my Bachelor’s and have gone to culinary school instead. This I now know is mostly due to the insecurities I had starting in the food industry without professional schooling, but I’ve made due without the certificate and am pretty happy with how things turned out (plus my four years at UC Davis were way too much fun to trade in and I probably learned a thing or two about the writing side of my job along the way). As it turns out, maybe my unconventional path was the recommended one after all.
If you ask me now what I would do with a do-over it would not be to attend pastry school but to have filled my pre-baby days diving deeper into my field of cake and pastry, traveling to other communities rich with food and culture, eating my way through France, and working on a farm. I would pick up odd jobs here and there (similar to my cake filling and frosting nightshift bakery days), finally try my hand at pickling and canning, or study everything to know about bread. Since 90% of my life is now dictated by the tiny human that runs our household, I constantly find myself holding back from applying for a job at the local pie shop, or anything in the food biz really. This isn’t because I want to gain odd experiences in order to advance in my food media career, but just because I am infatuated with nearly every aspect of food. I would love to know what it takes to make pie all day, perfect my dough from day after day of hands-on practice, and work with local produce to create the most delicious fillings around. I think the point that Hesser and Meehan were trying to make is that having that type of passion in just about anything food-related is more valuable than where you went to school or what degrees or certifications you picked up along the way.
For fun, Brett and I dream of retirement or even just a solid 48 hours to spend however we want. My dream usually involves reading cookbooks for hours, sourcing ingredients from the local market, and then cooking without interruption. For as much as I am turning into a city girl, this daydream now includes visions of working on a farm. A few weeks ago, we took Everett apple picking – a first for all of us, actually. I had an absurd amount of fun. Who would have thought driving to a farm and picking your own produce with a toddler could be so much fun!?!?! And while I know a couple hours picking apples does not even begin to compare to actually working on a farm and all the hard labour it requires, I can still romanticize what it would be like to really get my hands dirty. What, that’s not romantic to you? LOL. I didn’t put it together before we went, but the farm was Willow View Farms in Abbotsford – the family farm of my Insta-friend, Kelsey, aka the Kelsey_thefarmersdaughter.
Maybe Kelsey can hire me as intern one day once the kids are in school and I can drive an hour out of the city to pick apples and help tend to the goats…..
This is the first of many apple treats I have headed your way this season. And yes, I did use apples from the farm in my recipes. This pie in particular is studded with blackberries. Once baked, the berries turn the inside PINK! This combination doesn’t scream FALL, but it is a nice break from everything dripping with caramel and packed with cinnamon these days. For more detailed instructions on how to create the intricate braids and cut-outs, check out my article on Food Network.
Apple Blackberry Pie
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar. Place the ice in the water and set aside.
2. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms. Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.
3. Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar. Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl. The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky. Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed. Do not over-mix.
4. Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).
5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll. Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
6. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin. Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang. Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.
7. Start the filling (recipe to follow)
8. For the braided top, repeat step 5. Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut thin strips, about a 1/4-inch wide, for the center lattice. Follow the remaining instructions for the fishtail, 5-strand braided border here. Place the strips and braids on a sheet pan and chill.
9. Finish the filling.
10. Fill the chilled pie crust with the apple-blackberry filling by layering the apple slices in tightly and dotted with berries, but leaving the juices behind. Remove the strips from the refrigerator and create a lattice on top of the filling.
11. Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger. Cover the edges with the braided border.
12. Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
13. Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk. Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
14. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.
15. Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.
Apple Blackberry Filling
4 to 5 apples, pealed, cored, and sliced into thin wedges (about ¼ inch thick or less)
juice from ½ a lemon
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups fresh blackberries
1. Place the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl. Place the cut apples in the mixture and set aside while you prepare the top crust – about 20 minutes.
2. After the apples have a chance to rest, drain out all of the liquids.
3. Toss the slices with the remaining sugar and dry ingredients.
4. Gently fold in the blackberries before laying into the bottom pie shell.
This Chocolate Gingerbread Genoise is pretty much everything you want out of a celebration cake. Fittingly so, it comes from Butter's latest book, Butter Celebrates.
My first "Butter" experience was years and years ago - back before I lived in Vancouver and just came to visit. Immediately, I was swept away by swirly pastel frosting, a plethora of cookies, their world-famous gourmet marshmallows, and enough icing to satisfy me for a lifetime. My family and I ordered a dozen different treats to try and I've been smitten ever since. Owner and author Rosie Daykin has continued to impress over the years with her famed marshmallows popping up in retailers everywhere and the success of her first book.
Well, as you might be able to guess, she is back with another stunner. And it does not disappoint. With over 100 recipes, Butter Celebrates guarantees one sweet year after the next. From chocolate whoopie hearts for Valentine's Day and double-decker eclairs for Easter to apple spice layer cake for Thanksgiving and home-made jelly donuts (or Sufganiyot) for Hanukkah, there is something for celebrating all year long. What is a celebration without a special sweet treat anyways?
Once I got my copy of the book, I immediately began flipping through the pages trying to determine what to make first. In the end, the decision to make this Chocolate Gingerbread Genoise was a no-brainer. It's got chocolate in all of the right places and a generous portion of gingerbread frosting. As Rosie puts it, this "fancy pants" cake is sure to please at your next seasonal get together. You know, something that will guarantee those OOHHSS and AAHHSS from guests that are coupled with spectacular desserts. Just one of the many reasons you should be running to snag a copy of this book for the holidays!
The chocolate cake layers, or "genoise" is different than those of your average layer cake. This Italian sponge cake gets it lift from whipped egg white and egg yolks. It bakes up super quick in a sheet pan, so the cake may be assembled easily as a rectangle - or cut into circles as I've done here. The gingerbread buttercream is probably one of the best things I've tasted in a while (and I eat a lot of frosting, lol). The Italian Buttercream base is silky smooth while the added molasses and pinch of spice makes it extra festive. If that was enough to qualify this cake as "fancy pants," the whole thing is covered in a decadent layer of chocolate ganache.
Please trust me when I say not only did this recipe taste amazing, but there are so many other tasty one to choose from throughout the book. From someone that enjoys reading cookbooks for pleasure, there was plenty of photos and anecdotes to keep me entertained. Rosie's voice throughout is both joyful and comforting, making the recipes not only approachable but they stir up emotions of excitement and delight!
Be sure to take a look what a handful of my fellow bloggers are saying and sharing from the book:
Jenny's Guinness Cake with Pretzels on The Brunette Baker Heather's Cookie Feast on The Tasty Gardener Christina's "Hostess" Cupcakes on Strawberries for Supper Robyn's Orange Gingerbread Cake on What's Cooking on Planet Byn Gwen's Christmas Panettone on Devour and Conquer Meg's Lemon Loaf on Sweet Twist of Blogging Libby's Gingerbread Guys on LibbyRoach.ca Jan's Animal Cookies on Family Bites Mardi's Champagne Cupcakes on Eat. Live. Travel. Write Jacquee Eggnog-less Bars on I Sugar Coat It Kelly's Peppermint Nanaimo Bars on Kellyneil.com Amanda's Banana Pecan Caramel Cake on Once Upon a Recipe
If all this isn't enough to get excited, Rosie is graciously giving away a personally signed copy of the book and a box of Butter goodies straight from the bakery here in Vancouver, BC!
Be sure to let me know what your favorite bakery goodie is in the comment section to be eligible for the giveaway!
This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. Void in Quebec. Winner must answer a skill-testing question. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at 12:01am to Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 11:59pm. Winner will be contacted via email and name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter. Prize value is approximately $125.
A BIG thanks to Appetite by Random House for the complementary copies of the book for review!
Between my jumbo bag of Boom Chicka Pop Kettle Corn (my monthly treat to myself for making in out of Costco alive with an active 10-month old) and salted-caramel EVERYTHING, my love for sweet and salty treats has hit an ultimate high. Not only must I end a meal with some-sort of dessert at least about 85% of the time (who's with me?), but I usually follow that up with something that has a bit of salt and crunch. While this might seem a bit much (also probably not very healthy), who is to complain when my cravings result in something as amazing as these Salted Maple Pumpkin Donuts?!?!
I was ultimately inspired by this spice blend from Sweet Is the Spice (thanks to my monthly Hatchery.co box), my husband's love for donuts of all kind, and maple - because we are in Canada after all. Oh, and pumpkin - 'Tis the season!
I can't even imagine a time before sea salt and caramel went together. So sweet, so salty - so delicious! When I made a cinnamon caramel sauce earlier this season, I thought I would try it without the salt. Even though it was packed full of other yummy flavours, it was just not complete with a pinch (or a few) of salt.
Equally sweet but much more Canadian and donut-approved, I figured maple glaze would be perfect for my pumpkin donuts but could also stand to be kicked up a notch with a bit of sea salt. After baking off the donuts, I dunked them in a bath of classic maple glaze then gave them a sprinkling of both Maldon Sea Salt and the Sweet & Salty Surrender blend.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur
Pumpkin Donutsmakes about 10 to 12
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil 1 whole egg 1 egg yolk 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons maple syrup 3/4 cup pumpkin puree 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a donut pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, and egg yolk.
- Add in the sugars, maple, and pumpkin. Whisk to combine.
- Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
- Fill the wells of the donut pan about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the donuts comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack before dipping in the glaze.
Maple Glaze adapted from Broma Bakery
1 cup icing sugar, sifted 1/4 cup maple syrup a couple drops of molasses 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Combine all of the ingredients until together until they form a thick, but smooth paste. Add only enough milk so that it is slightly fluid. Use immediately.
- Place the maple glaze in a shallow dish just big enough to hold the donuts.
- Dunk the top surface of each donut into the glaze and let dry slightly on a wire rack.
- Just before the glaze completely dries (just a few minutes), sprinkle with sea salt and/or Sweet & Salty Surrender blend
- To prevent from making a huge mess, I like the fill the donut pan with a piping bag. The batter can be rather fluid. I find it best to fill a disposable piping bag, then snip off the tip once the batter is already inside so that it does not spill everywhere as I fill it up.
- If the donuts are stored overnight, the salt will begin to dissolve. They might look funny, but will still taste equally delicious the following day.
Side note: You guys! Boom Chicka Pop has a Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Kettle Corn for the holidays! If you are looking for a Christmas gift for me, just send me BIG bags of this!!
Lately, I've see the most lavish cake recipes with a hundred different ingredients and outlandish flavour combinations and I think "What happened to a good 'ol buttermilk cake and fudge frosting? Or a classic carrot with not-too-sweet cream cheese icing?"
I know, I know - I can totally be guilty of trying to reinvent the wheel, er cake, too. And while sometimes we are better off not throwing all of the trendiest ingredients into one cake (I bet there is a miso-matcha-cardamom-tahini cake recipe with brown butter & salted caramel frosting out there somewhere, hehe), other times we should in fact jazz up a classic.
With the holidays just around the corner (no really - Thanksgiving is next week), NOW is the time to go ahead and add that extra drizzle of caramel, throw on those unnecessary sprinkles, stick on some gold leaf, and light a few sparklers on top while you are at!!
(Anyone else thinking of the scene from Love Actually at the department store when they are trying to package up the mistress' necklace? Might as well dip it in yogurt next, am I right?)
Well, I have done just this! And yes, I just justified (or at least tried to) why its okay to go all-out and switch up a perfectly good recipe. Once you try this Pumpkin Tiramisu, you will understand. I hope.
Truth be told, I actually don't care for traditional tiramisu. They are usually a bit too booze-foward for me and I hardly understand why anyone would create a recipe that revolves around lady fingers. However, this is not why I felt the need to change it. I get that a lot of people love them some tiramisu (it is a classic, after all), so I wanted to make a seasonal dessert that everyone could get behind, tiramisu lovers and tolerates alike!
Here's what I have to say about this Pumpkin Tiramisu:
"Traditional tiramisu or “pick me-up” is all about the booze, coffee, and creamy filling. Sticking with the classic dessert-theme, I created an old fashion Heritage frosting (aka Ermine or Cooked-Flour) that still utilized tiramisu’s familiar mascarpone filling. This type of frosting is creamy and fluffy – it still reminds me of the filling used in a regular tiramisu, yet not nearly as rich and without the eggs. Instead of rum or marsala wine, the cake layers were brushed with a soak made from coffee liqueur to better compliment the pumpkin flavor. A shower of chocolate shavings or cocoa powder over the top makes this cake even more stunning and awe-worthy for the holidays."
Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe!