Category Archives: baked goods

Client Profile: The Bride & Groom

Here’s another post about a catering client- this time, a bride and groom.  A few months ago, the bride asked me to come up with some ideas involving baked goods as party favors for her wedding rehearsal dinner. After sending over photos and packaging ideas for several different sweets, she went with Austrian shortbread bars filled with fruit jam tucked into a pink Chinese takeout box. Continue reading

Whole Wheat Lemon Sweet Rolls

I went through a cinnamon-roll-making phase two years ago, right after I started reading the amazing and uber-popular blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I spied this recipe and decided to make cinnamon rolls for the first time in my life.  It was so easy and so fun that I made them every week for the next month.  I think my husband, friends and colleagues refer to that time as The Fat and Happy in, they were fat and happy, not me….wait, as in they were fat emotionally with happiness from eating the cinnamon rolls…oh well, never mind.  You get the idea.

Perhaps making cinnamon rolls so often made the process lose its charm, or more the more likely scenario was I just got distracted by a shiny, glossy photo of something else delicious-looking and moved onto making whatever that was.  Fast forward two years to last week, and alas, another head-turning picture caught my attention, and once again, it was one of some mouth-wateringly gorgeous sweet rolls.  This time, however, they were lemon sweet rolls, and I could not WAIT to start making them.

I changed the recipe just a bit by using a combination of white whole-wheat flour and white flour.  White whole-wheat flour isn’t actually stark white, but much lighter in both color and texture than regular whole wheat flour.  It’s really becoming a favorite to bake with since it imparts a nutty flavor that goes really well with chocolate and other sweet ingredients.  I also decided to use softened butter instead of melted, and made lemon sugar by whizzing sugar and lemon zest in my food processor.

First I rolled out the dough, then spread softened butter all over the surface:

Then added a generous layer of lemon sugar:

Start rolling:

Rolled it up nice and tight:

Cut them into rolls with a serrated knife (es muy importante to use a serrated knife so you aren’t pushing down on the dough!)

Set the rolls in a pan to rest and rise for about 20 minutes before baking for 16-18 minutes:

Then pulled out the freshly baked, sweet and sticky lemon rolls from the oven:

And slathered the still-warm rolls with a simple icing made with lemon juice and powdered sugar:


I think I actually prefer these to the traditional cinnamon roll, but I do have a special love for lemons so maybe that’s why.  Also, the combination of lemon, butter and sugar is simply magical.  I’m now thinking of other things to incorporate into sweet rolls- blueberries?  Cream cheese and sugar?  Maple sugar?  Maybe I’ll make savory ones with sauteed greens, cheese and bacon?  The possibilities are endless!

Hope you get a chance to try these- they are really special!  The recipe is here.

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Don’t you hate it when something doesn’t live up to the hype? The iPad is something that comes to mind, with the majority of press calling the much-anticipated tech product “overpriced and disappointing.” As a food lover, few things are as annoying as overhyped eats. I’ll be bold and say that local Los Angeles fave Casa Bianca falls under that category (in my opinion folks, so please keep the tomato-throwing to a minimum, thank you!) mainly for their use of canned mushrooms on their pizza. I can’t be down with canned mushrooms. Ever. On anything. I mean, it isn’t like we live in Antarctica where canned mushrooms might be your only choice. El Coyote is another L.A. landmark regularly filled to capacity, but if I wanted gloppy, overcooked Mexican food, I could just get some Taco Bell and put it on a plate (sorry Taco Bell, actually you’re not bad for the late night, post-drinking 4th meal). Although I’ve enjoyed the occasional bowl of tangy Pinkberry, the frozen concoction served in cutesy, colorful shops hardly lives up to the hype. I mean, c’mon people- it’s frozen yogurt, not the second coming of Ghandi.

That said, there are certainly places that deserve every last note of praise sung it their names by devotees the world ‘round. In N Out cheeseburgers with grilled onions are incredible and the maple bacon donuts at Nickel Diner are worth every, indulgent calorie. Ultimately, food is subjective, so it comes down to matters of taste, likes and dislikes, but these two things really do it for me. I recently found another place that does indeed live up to the hype- Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

J and I went up at the end of last year (again, catching up on my blogging!) and I insisted we go and see what all the internet love was about. The line snaking out the door at 11:00am was a good sign, and we dutifully took our places while I craned my neck above the crowd to see what on earth smelled so ridiculously heavenly. I had to resist the urge to elbow my way up to the front and stick my face on the glass like some little kid, but my eyes darted around the room taking in all of the lovely goodies resting in front of the lucky bastards (ok, too harsh) that were already seated. Let’s take a looky-loo, shall we?

Some berry pastry that every other person seemed to be eating

Giant discs of chocolate chip goodness…

Smaller discs of equally delicious goodness…

Luscious lemon bar…..

Yummy-looking scones……

If you’ve never had a gougere, your life is incomplete…..

The last part of the line runs right along the glass case filled with a gorgeous array of breads, cookies, pastries, puddings, bars and other carby goodies so you have plenty of time to try and accomplish the impossible task of choosing what you will eat. It’s times like those that you wish for a larger stomach (I mean, when do we girls EVER want for a bigger tummy?!) and do the tough negotiating in your mind while the register looms closer and closer. “If I got cookies I could get a few since they’re small….but then I’d miss the bread pudding…but the lemon bars seem really popular so maybe they are the best thing…what’s that berry pastry that looks so good?” But then, you see IT. The sea of fools part (sorry, I’ve had Jeff Buckley ringing in my head all week) and you know you’ve met The One, otherwise known as the Tartine Croissant. OhMyLordWhatAThingOfBeauty. The minute I saw the pile of huge, flaky croissants I KNEW at least one (if not two) were destined to be in my mouth:

Why, hello, beautiful!

J, who feels the same way about bread pudding as I do about croissants, practically dove into the gigantic chafing dish filled to the brim with a peach and blueberry version.

Did the croissant live up to the hype? Let me just say this: Best Croissant I Ever Had. No doubt about it. The outside was shatteringly crisp and buttery, while the inside was layered with soft, nicely baked layers of the same rich pastry. One of my pet peeves is buying what seems to be a beautifully baked croissant only to find a raw, doughy middle. Ew. No raw dough to be found here, as every delicious layer led to another. Croissant heaven.


J’s bread pudding was also stellar; moist, custard-soaked brioche studded with slices of fresh peaches and dotted with blueberries was just sweet enough, letting the fruit really shine through. Our only regret was ordering a cup instead of a bowl of it since it was gone in just a few, short minutes.

J’s cup ‘o bread pudding…

We bought a couple of sweets to take back to our hotel, but I can’t seem to recall what they were because the only things swimming in my mind at the time were the smell and taste of that perfect croissant.

I could take that guy…you distract him while I steal those criossants!

Believe the hype.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-1528
(415) 487-2600

Cinnamon Crack

SO what are you doing right now, right this minute? If you’re at home and you have flour, milk, sugar, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vegetable oil on hand then I highly recommend you stop reading this, trot over to your kitchen and make these amazing cinnamon rolls. Well, wait- maybe you should finish reading the rest of this post and then run over and start the very easy process of creating what I like to call Cinnamon Crack. When I saw the photo on Pioneer Woman’s website I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and when I made the first batch (I’ve since made five!) I couldn’t believe that such little effort resulted in what has now become the most requested item among friends.

You noticed that I didn’t list cinnamon on that list of ingredients, didn’t you? That is because you don’t need it to start this recipe. You see, you spend about 5 minutes heating the milk, oil and sugar (Pioneer Woman scalds hers and then lets it cool to room temp before adding the yeast but I simply heated the milk just enough to dissolve the sugar, then stirred it quickly off the heat so it quickly came down to the right temp) and then add the yeast and flour and then just let it sit there for an hour. Add more flour, the baking soda, powder and salt after that, pop it in the fridge overnight and fuggetaboutit. Easy.

In the morning take the dough out and let it sit out for an hour or two to take the chill off, then take half, roll it out, slather it with enough melted butter to kill a cow, sprinkle a bunch of sugar and cinnamon over it, roll it up, secure the seam, slice, put in baking dish, then bake. Sixteen or some odd minutes later, you have perfect, fluffy, moist and tender cinnamon rolls which you then drizzle with whatever icing you like (I leave the coffee out of mine but I’m sure it’s delicious).

So your total labor time is about an hour and you get a HUGE batch of what are easily the best cinnamon rolls several of my friends and I have ever eaten. I can’t decide what I like better- the maple icing dripping into each buttery seam or the crunchy cinnamon butter lava that forms on the bottom of each roll.

You’re still reading? Get baking!