Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cupcake entreprenuers featured in the New York Times

Elizabeth Olson profiles cupcake entrepreneurs in this New York Times article.

Bakery hunting deal for today only: Platine Bakery cookies on Groupon!

If you have not yet had the chance to try Platine Bakery in Culver City, today's deal on Groupon offers that $12 will buy you $25 worth of Jamie Cantor's much buzzed about cookies! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Porto's named by The Great American Bakery Hunt as best reason to hang out in Burbank/Glendale on your day off

Recently I visited Porto's Bakery, a family-owned bakery cafe establishment and the best reason I can think of to trek to Burbank (or Glendale) on your day off. Porto's has over 35 years of business under their belt, and this becomes crystal clear while ordering: an incredible diversity of fresh pastries line the cases, and the staff impressively runs the place like a well-oiled machine. I'm warned by Porto's regulars that one must have a system before walking into this bakery. It's a little like stepping into a bakery theme park: there are multiple lines for ordering, a limitless amount of desserts to choose from, and then complicating your decision is the Latin America-influenced cafe menu. Pastries I nibbled on included the spinach and feta croissant, the Refugiado (also known as their signature guava and cheese pastry), the Cheese roll, and a strawberry and cheese croissant. Naturally, I couldn't leave without getting my savory on, so I sampled a meat pie and a potato ball as well. What's particularly unbelievable about Porto's is that everything is so fresh, and yet, there's an incredible amount of volume in their bakery cases.

What makes me love this bakery even more is the fact that it has a neighborhood history. There's something really exciting about seeing a bakery business in action that has roots in the community, one that has grown from a family's original vision into a bustling success with two locations.

For more fun facts about Porto's, including a description of the 24-hour preparation process that goes into making their traditional Cuban crackers, read the Frequently Asked Questions on the Porto's website. It was impossible to sample everything in one visit, so watch out for more Porto's posts to come!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A farmer's market for every day!

Check out this handy dandy map of Los Angeles Farmer's Markets, courtesy of the LA Times.

Just discovered Hygge Bakery, a Danish bakery in downtown Los Angeles!

My heart is racing a little bit faster after just discovering Hygge Bakery, a Danish bakery in downtown Los Angeles. Several years ago, I studied abroad in Denmark and immediately fell in serious love with their bakeries. And to make my separation from the country even more difficult, I lived with a Danish family whose matriarch was a baker. To this day, I still keep in touch with her, and frequently have daydreams about the creations that came from her oven. It was a pretty blissful existence: even with the chilly weather, how could one ever complain knowing that at the end of the train commute from Copenhagen (school) to Roskilde (home), freshly baked homemade cinnamon rolls awaited you at the kitchen table?

Now a resident of Los Angeles, I've tried to keep the Danish culture in my life by going to Scandinavian events, including the Annual Scandinavian film festival that happens in Beverly Hills each year. But my heart always aches a little bit, to be back in Denmark, and to get another taste of the culture I fell in love with.

I won't get a chance to get to downtown to try Hygge until after the Thanksgiving holiday. But the idea of a bakery named Hygge already resonates with this bakery hunter: Hygge, Danes will tell you, is something we can't necessarily translate into American terminology, but a concept that is a huge part of Danish culture. Some web writers out there have taken a stab at the definition, so if you're curious to read about Hygge, check out this link at The Hygge House website, some musings over at The Danish Web, or if you'd like the Hygge 101 version, this travel article encourages you to "Hygge it out in Denmark." Better yet, just go to Denmark and enjoy the breathtaking baked goods and hygge for yourself.

Evil spammers force the Great American Bakery Hunt to enable comment moderation

Hey folks, while I'd rather be writing about bakeries than comment moderation, just a quick note about a matter of blog business:

After a series of unfortunate spam incidents in my Comments section, I am forced to enable comment moderation as well as word verification for all comments left on The Great American Bakery Hunt. I apologize in advance to all well-meaning commentators who will now have to take at least 30 extra seconds of their lives they will never get back to fully execute a sincere blog comment.

Thanks for understanding!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Can someone please remind me again why I'm not in Paris right now?

This recent New York Times travel article by Tony Perrottet documents a modern man's hunt through Paris as he tries to follow in the footsteps of Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimrod de la Reynière. Grimrod was a 19th century aristocrat famous in food history circles for his Almanachs des Gourmands: culinary guides to the city of light that reveal meals of Paris past.

Perrotet managed to reach Stohrer, a bakery and culinary destination still in business long after Grimrod's time.

Next time I'm in Paris, I'm going to Stohrer and ordering Le Baba Au Rhum, in honor of an old language teacher from the South of France who once described this to me as her favorite French dessert. (While I may not always remember every conjugation, I can usually tell you the favorite dessert of my French teachers.)

Salted caramel bar addiction

For the record, I could write an entire blog devoted to Huckleberry's salted caramel bar. Ranked #1 by The Great American Bakery Hunt as addictions you should keep through the New Year.

Here's to the holidays!

It seems to be a law of the universe that every food blogger loves the simple apple tart recipe of Alice Waters. I baked up this little number to share at the first annual pie swap day taking place at work this week, an event which yielded a surprising number of homemade pies. I took the liberty of making a tart, though technically it was pie-swap and not tart-swap day.

Did I mention that pie swap day also involved a large, precariously wrapped, fresh-out-of-the-oven turkey which a coworker and I transported via dolly from Whole Foods to our office, complete with the bird's juices leaking everywhere throughout the streets of downtown Santa Monica? (See the beginning of our journey, below, pre-juice leakage disaster.) Here's to the holidays!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some whoopie pies, straight from Philly!

Thanks to Lindsay, Philadelphia representative of The Great American Bakery Hunt, for sending us some whoopie pies, straight from Philly to LA! You're a gem, and we hope the east is treating you well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finding a whole lot of good in Echo Park

If you're in the Echo Park neighborhood, you can do something good, read something good, and eat something good all within a few minutes. (But beware, returns on purchases made at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart must be made BEFORE date of purchase.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

The studio apartment baking adventure continues

Thanks yet again to Mark Bittman for another great recipe. Tonight, I used his simple and quick "Fastest Yeast Bread" recipe to churn out a freshly baked loaf post-work. Not only was it a delicious midnight snack, but my entire apartment now smells like a bread factory. (Turns out, this is a pretty appealing phenomenon.) Who needs scented candles when I have flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil?

More LA bakery hunting to come soon! Until then, just call me your average non-profit worker by day, yeast bread scientist/blogger by night.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A sure Sunday treat in the form of baked goods and indie rock

If you're interested in nibbling on some baked goods while seeing a jolly band, stop by the Sunday Hollywood Farmer's Market. Ideally, you'll also spring for one of Vera's Tamales (with the green salsa) before stopping at the edge of the market to appreciate the sounds of The Petrojvic Blasting Company. If you're not a fan yet, they'll probably charm you once you see them play the drums with their feet and sing strong and proud over the inevitable traffic and fire engine cacophony of Hollywood. It's as sure a Sunday treat as you'll ever find.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baking for safety and survival in West LA

If you're a blogger who's also a jogger and currently living in Santa Monica, you've probably resigned yourself to tinkering around with google analytics tonight instead of taking your daily post-work run.

The Great American Bakery Hunt has deemed current conditions unsafe for blogging joggers in West LA, and our reasons are twofold: Not only do the palm trees that line our usually serene streets appear precariously ready to snap in half, but there's so much debris in the air that anyone outdoors should be wearing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-style protective eyewear.

If you're the kind of person who thinks they can tough it, learn from our mistakes at The Great American Bakery Hunt now and save the money on eye drops and patches later (although the latter is well-timed for Halloween.)

Plus, the weather's awful, so come inside and bake.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Teacake Bakeshop's 335-mile journey

Thanks to bakery hunter Lisa, who traveled on a 335-mile expedition to deliver some goodies from the Teacake Bakeshop for us to enjoy. She has done this on more than one occasion, but what is always amazing is that the treats arrive intact: cupcakes without so much as a lick of frosting missing, cookies without even a nibble stolen during the long journey down the 5 freeway. Does Lisa buy a separate stash of treats to snack on to protect the common good, or does she just have an unusual amount of willpower when it comes to delicious desserts in her passenger seat? We may never know. In any case, we tip our bakery hunting hat off to Lisa!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

hope in the form of a cheese danish hypothesis

Few things are better than enjoying a meal with others who passionately appreciate great food. During one of many entertaining culinary conversations at tonight's sushi meal, one diner at the table concluded that you could make a life's work out of hunting the perfect cheese danish. Here at The Great American Bakery Hunt, we couldn't agree more. The perfect cheese danish should demand our respect. But perhaps, for you, it's a different taste you're searching for: maybe you've spent your whole life seeking out that perfect pie crust you remember your aunt making, or perhaps you're hoping for a reunion with that elusive Irish soda bread recipe that defined your childhood?

This search brings us to the most challenging part of being a true bakery hunter: Nostalgia can play funny tricks on the food enthusiast's mind. It's difficult for the average, modern bakery to measure up to our taste buds-- which are hopeful, yet biased with the flavors of family ovens past. We're still so deeply in love with food memories of our pasts that we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment (otherwise known as rebound meals.)

Meanwhile, we're in a race against time where all great food traditions and recipes are at risk of being forgotten. We may run around as consumers trying to find the perfect taste, texture, and combination of ingredients, but we don't always work hard enough to fight for the food traditions that matter most to us by creating them ourselves. (Which means I'd better learn my grandmother's gumbo recipe before I do anything else.) Otherwise, I'll face the doom of rebound recipes that will never truly satisfy.

Tonight, it seemed a noteworthy blessing that I was surrounded by people who consider obtaining cheese danish in its perfect form a legitimate pursuit. And that, my friends, is what The Great American Bakery Hunt is all about. So bake, cook, eat what inspires you the most, and believe that cheese danish perfection is in the realm of the possible-- even if it means you have to make it yourself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The New School of Cooking lures vulnerable bakery bloggers with a yeast breads class

I am seriously considering an $85 yeast breads baking class (I can't afford) at the New School of Cooking in Culver City. How can they advertise yeast bread education and expect me to stay away? Thoughts?

Monday, October 19, 2009

a stormy Santa Monica invites baking opportunities

To bake or not to bake? That is the question.

The Santa Monica "winter" is approaching, and the first storms have rain-shy Californians flocking inside. After the last rain over our usually sunshine-bathed land, the local beach path was desolate. Usually home to so many outdoorsy folk, it was barren of rollerbladers, joggers, and cyclists.

In cities like Seattle, people may go about their business as usual on a rainy day. But in California, rain can mean having a usually bustling city all to yourself. Thus, bringing The Great American Bakery Hunt to this question: as stormy weather patterns rise, does baking also increase? I can't imagine where these outdoor exercise fiends escape to when the sky turns gloomy, but I'd like to think they use inclement weather as an excuse to indulge in a little home cooking.

One thing is for certain: The Santa Monica Farmer's market on Arizona experiences slower than normal sales on these rainy days-- so it's a great time to get a potential deal and support your friendly, local farmers. If you can get past getting a little damp, it may be the perfect time to buy that exotic ingredient you've been eying every Wednesday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday night date with butter pecan cupcakes

After a truly epic Friday happy hour, I went directly to the grocery store and purchased the necessary ingredients to make some butter pecan cupcakes.

Included in my purchase was the 18-egg "Family Pak", which holds the promise of many baking experiments to come. While I'm clearly not buying 18 eggs for a family, the cashier asks no questions and probably just assumes I'm a single woman who eats an excessive amount of eggs. (In addition to my baking aspirations, I was probably subconsciously influenced by watching the morning news, where CBS announced earlier that it was National Egg Day.)

Most importantly, sometimes you just need a Friday when you can come home, enjoy a night free of social obligations, and make your entire studio apartment smell like a combination of dark brown sugar and vanilla.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Late night Los Angeles desserts: an ongoing investigation

Some things in life are inevitable. This includes dessert cravings that always strike after most bakeries have closed their doors for the night. It's a most unfortunate situation to find yourself in: perhaps it's 10 pm after a late dinner, and you're determined to take the edge off by satisfying that sweet tooth of yours. But everywhere you look, it's closed doors and mounting frustration. You think to yourself, "This is America. What kind of a country do I live in if I can't even get a quality piece of pie or chocolate chip cookie right now?"

But not all American city-dwellers are plagued by these night owl woes. While bakery hunters in New York are spoiled by an abundance of late night options (including cocktails & cupcakes sold by nocturnal bakery hunting-savvy establishments), Los Angeles seems to offer few late night dessert options. If I had the resources, I'd put an end to this madness. With a little political clout, I'd be able to tie public transportation initiatives to late-night bakery reform and we'd all be happier, greener, and more sugar-high Angelenos.

But until then, I'll be searching for late-night bakery hunting opportunities and will not rest until I find them. This is a work in progress at The Great American Bakery Hunt, so we'd appreciate any advice you can offer. (Please consider the baked good that will truly satisfy the late-night craving, all things fresh and worth savoring. Packaged apple strudels from the 7-11 don't count.)

The late night baked good timeline of Los Angeles seems limited to establishments that still close around 10 or 11 pm, including Mani's on Fairfax, Crumbs, & Urth Cafe.

But let's not forget the longtime LA landmark Diddy Riese. Simple, cheap, and undeniably appealing, you can snag a giant ice cream cookie sandwich for only $1.50 until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays (12 pm the rest of the week.) You'll have to make it to Westwood Village at the end of your night to get one, and brave horrific parking scenarios to access these treats. But let's face it, there's nothing like reliving those college years via people-watching UCLA undergrads while butter pecan ice cream oozes out of your chocolate chip walnut sandwich and down your arm.

But let's just assume you've passed the 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 pm, or 1 am cutoff. Your heart starts to sink and desperation approaches. The bright yellow light of Denny's starts to beckon you, but you know their Oreo cheesecake will sit unsatisfactorily in your stomach, crushing your dessert dreams like a cartoon anvil. You consider buying a candy bar from the 24 hour grocery store and calling it a day, but it feels like giving up. Luckily, you've got until at least 2 am before you have to raise the white flag and sulk to your bed in defeat, nursing a sugar packet. So you head to Swingers, the late night diner establishment: You wouldn't expect it, but their butter pecan cupcake has the power to speak straight to your late-night baked-good lovin' heart (depending on the location, Swingers is open most nights until between 2 am & 4 am.)

A Special Note to our Readers: This is a part of our ongoing investigation into the void of late-night bakeries in Los Angeles. Want to help support the cause for late-night baked goods in our fair city? Send us some tips and we'll spread the word! Write your local Congressman! More importantly, always keep some homemade cookie dough in the freezer for nights when the craving hits hard.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anyone know how to cure regional food envy?

One night this summer, I spied one of my coworkers carrying a Ziploc bag full of bready, doughy, buttery homemade goodness. It was on this day that I discovered the undeniably delicious West Virginian pepperoni roll. In a fortuitous string of events, a care package of pepperoni rolls baked by a West Virginian coworker's mom ended up as a part of this West Coaster's midnight snack. And it hit me, like a slap across the face: I had regional food envy (RFE).

Unbeknownst to me, I had been living a life void of one of the most simply satisfying marriages of bread and meat. Until this point, I was unaware that pepperoni rolls existed at all, and that they are as everyday to folks from West Virginia as avocado consumption is to Californians. Always intrigued by baking traditions, I started to investigate for The Great American Bakery Hunt, intending to write a tell-all history of the P-roll. RFE had me hooked. Then, a little paper you may have heard of called The New York Times, with all of the time and resources of full-time writing professionals, recently scooped me in their "United Tastes" series. But I'm happy to be echoing their pepperoni roll praises, so long as it means the P-roll gets to live on.

As the NY Times article "Fast Food Even Before Fast Food" describes, the meaty rolls have their roots in the hearty lunches miners packed to get through their long days at work for the coal companies. What the New York Times does not mention is the controversial legal past of the pepperoni roll. According to pepperoni roll lore, West Virginian Senator Jay Rockafeller "saved" the pepperoni roll from West Virginia extinction by lobbying against proposed health department restrictions that would have doomed many pepperoni roll bakeries to go out of business. It was a historic victory for the P-roll, its makers, and all of humanity. You can read Rockafeller's thoughts about his pepperoni heroism in this letter. Internet sources also suggest that such rolls, where meat is baked "hidden" inside of bread, may be forbidden in some US locations.

While I'm not sure what the regulations are in California, it's very possible that I was unlawfully consuming pepperoni roll contraband at some point this summer. I'm typically a law-abiding citizen, but some rules are clearly meant to be broken. In the case of pepperoni roll legislators Vs. The Great American Bakery Hunt, give me my pepperoni rolls, lock me up, and throw away the key.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

try these San Francisco treats...

Thanks to Lisa, a Bay Area representative of the Great American Bakery Hunt, for introducing us to Kara's Cupcakes. You know you're dealing with a true friend when someone drives hours from the Bay Area to LA with pastry box in tow, and resists digging into the treats during the long trek.

As for Kara's Cupcakes, there's something particularly endearing about a bakery started by a woman born the daughter of a dentist, who was routinely discouraged to eat sweets as a child. Baked goods with a touch of rebellion? Fantastic!

Try the fleur de sel cupcake for a tasty treat. And as long as you're in San Francisco, you might want to save room for Andronico's "Adult Brownie." I haven't yet tasted one, but after the descriptions, I'm ready for a trip up North.

If you're far from California, this article on Serious Eats provides you with the guidance to make an Adult Brownie in the comfort of your own home. Adulthood just got more appealing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fanatical pumpkin consumption in Los Angeles may have unintended consequences

Planning any pumpkin recipes? If you live in Los Angeles, you better plan ahead. A Whole Foods employee says "it's becoming impossible to find canned pumpkin in LA. People are buying it by the caseload to feed to their dogs." Better start shopping now for those Thanksgiving pie ingredients, or you'll be vying against some pumpkin-hungry golden retrievers for your favorite traditional holiday dessert.

And kids, you can forget about carving those jack-o-lanterns in October. Your Halloween fun is now at the mercy of health-conscious pet owners, who will surely take their overzealous pumpkin consumption to the patches. Welcome to growing up fast in Los Angeles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Let your will to bake be strong

Awhile ago, I decided that having a tiny studio apartment kitchen was daring and adventurous-- mostly in that "I would be so bold as to cook an eight course meal in here if I really wanted to" sort of way. Once I made this decision, every culinary endeavor was an opportunity to prove I could not be defeated by the small misfortunes of sparse counter space, a minuscule sink, or an oven just slightly larger than those of the E-Z Bake variety.

While I took a solemn oath to persevere for the good of the bakery hunt, I failed to anticipate that a near death experience would be a part of this gig. During a Santa Monica sunset this week, on an otherwise typical evening, an abrupt and dramatic crash rattled the studio. I rounded the corner to the kitchen and before my eyes was a crime scene of fallen dishware.

Formerly bolted to the wall, a massive cabinet now hung in the precarious balance, wedged between the wall and kitchen table. Among its fallen relics: champagne glasses with golden-inscribed "New Year's 2005!", a post-studying abroad Paris-themed martini glass, some 50's diner-inspired ice cream sundae glasses, and most of all, a plethora of random dishware with uncertain origins. Long before people force their relatives to purchase designer china patterns under the guise of matrimony, us modern, single twenty-somethings embark on a journey of mismatched adulthood. We're so full of the spirit of culinary adventure, we care not for convention and cohesive dish sets and care only for a colorful life where we savor the ingredients with the best flavor. This is a simplicity we long to hold onto at The Great American Bakery Hunt. When we don't have the fancy cooking tools in the recipe, we improvise. When each use of the broiler sets off the smoke detector within 30 seconds, we open the front door. When use of a 450 degree oven transforms studio apartment into sweat lodge, we keep on baking, but we change into shorts. Nothing can stop us.

It took me awhile to clean up the great cabinet catastrophe. My glass measuring cups, somehow, survived the carnage, as if to tell me "Go on and bake fearlessly in this kitchen, against all odds."

So beware the hazards of studio apartment cooking, but let your will to bake be strong.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Cupcakes, economics, and solutions for mending a broken heart

Daniel Gross at Slate has urged us to consider that the "cupcake bubble" may soon burst. While it's true that consumers are bombarded with the variety of cupcakeries that have sprung up recently, I'm holding on for dear taste to the hope that the best of them will survive. If I have to make a cross-country pilgrimage to New York's Magnolia Bakery in an act of bold support, I will.

While trendy bakeries may come and go, I firmly believe that some cupcakes have serious staying power. You've tasted them before and their frosting has spoken to your heart. They've provided a perfect, sticky, finger-licking conclusion to your picnics. They've gotten you through bad days, rainy days, days with too much traffic, and days where your work continues long after 5 o'clock.

Perhaps most importantly, they've helped to mend the heartache of friends after bad break-ups (particularly after your computer crashes and you have to find a replacement for that melancholy break-up mix CD you were crafting. If you were planning on helping your heartbroken friend to "forget about life for awhile" via the lyrics of Billy Joel, consider that small cardboard bakery box full of cupcakes as an equally legitimate form of escapism.)
Sure, we could bake our own cupcakes for the heartbroken, but we'd like to go on living in a world of great cupcakeries if possible. However, if the Daniel Gross cupcake burst omen comes true, I've developed a list of alternative solutions for mending broken hearts:
Option 1) Famous film breakups marathon, with heavy emphasis on the John Cusack-- please highly consider High Fidelity and Say Anything. If the night gets long, turn to Swingers for a little comic relief courtesy of Vince Vaughn. (Stray from Vince Vaughn in The Breakup, which is too obvious of a choice.) If things are really bad, you may have to break out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Transition into lightening up that angst with hopeful or non-threatening romances with inconclusive endings. See Juno, Paper Heart, Ghost World, and The Royal Tenenbaums. A variety of Woody Allen movies can also be helpful. For some, Match Point can make most reasonable people seriously reconsider ever dating again. Of course, adjust all screenings based on personal taste and genre preference.
Option 2) Haagen-daas
Option 3) Spring for some of the good stuff and make a celebration of it.
Option 4) Any combination of the above three.

This urban pie-hound is taking a stand

The scene: a recent vacation in a peaceful mountain town. My quest: the perfect piece of fresh fruit pie. The dilemma: Everywhere I turned, food vendors confessed their pies were made with frozen or canned fruits. And where there's smoke, there's fire. After such admissions, one must assume the worst about the crust. (In a recent post, the blog At the Very Yeast confirms this store-bought crust suspicion.)

It's not that a pie with pre-made, frozen, or canned ingredients can never be tasty. But when you're used to living in Los Angeles, with everything at your fingertips, you become a bit fresh-ingredient obsessed. So I'll ask you this, readers: When it comes to frozen fillings and pre-made crusts, what's an urban foodie to do?

Call me the city's most discerning pie-hound, or just call me plain practical: if you're consuming all those calories, why not eat the best of the best? When it comes to a great piece of pie, I prefer to make no compromises.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a seemingly innocent trip to Barnes and Nobles prompts a hungry drive up the coast of California

Put a food blogger in the cookbook & food writing section at Barnes and Nobles and watch her salivate over jacket covers for hours on end.

The store has a powerful force-- with so many recipes at your fingertips, you feel like you could master every international cuisine if only there was enough time.

Once you step inside those aisles, you're convinced you must read books like A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in America and Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South.

And then there's the jacket covers that indulge the dreamer in every food blogger. For example, why can't everyone be like Liz Thorpe, who left a "normal" life to work at Murray's Cheese and then wrote The Cheese Chronicles, thus becoming America's sweetheart of cheese expertise?

Scanning these aisles are also a great way to discover bakeries on the map, which is how I determined I'll be visiting the Big Sur Bakery in the near future. Tucked away in a spot off of Highway 1, the Big Sur Bakery serves baked goods out of a 1930's wooden farmhouse. They recently released a cookbook, which means I'll probably have to digest its pages in anticipation, then enlist a friend to join in an impatient, hungry drive up the coast.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bacon bundt cake!

I have to get my hands on some of this as soon as possible.

a heart full of determination on a Saturday morning in Santa Monica

I woke up abruptly this Saturday and knew what I needed to do: quick like lightning, change out of those pajamas, cue the giant sunglasses, start up the Volvo, and navigate through the frightful maze of the Santa Monica city parking structure. If this was going to happen, things had to go according to plan.

It's 10:45 am on a Saturday in Santa Monica. Do you know where your alligator is?

The alligator is the ever-so-elusive breakfast pastry sold by The Bread Man at the Saturday morning 4th and Arizona farmer's market. And if you wake up too late, you've got no chance of capturing one. If you think you can make up for it at the Main Street Sunday market, think again: The Man only sells alligators on Saturdays.

Now, I've had many a morning where I've ventured out on the same mission, only to be confronted with disappointment. Sold out. Alligators go quickly, and I'm often working against myself since sleeping in brings me almost as much satisfaction as a great bakery hunt.

But today, my belly was empty and my heart was full of determination. I parked as quickly as possible, and started making my way to the street level. I passed a couple in the structure, waiting for the elevator. Amateurs indeed. After trotting down three flights of stairs, I glanced up. They had followed my lead after experiencing the notoriously slow elevator wait, but there was no getting in my way. The first and only rule about pursuing the gator is that you have to assume every market shopper is your fierce competitor. Today, I was certain, was the day the heroine would get her alligator!

The alligator represents the perfect marriage of cinnamon, sugary icing, and pecans, all atop a sweet pillow of doughy pastry. With a cup of strong coffee on a weekend day, this is everything your Saturday breakfast should be.

I power walk down the alley that connects to Arizona, arrive to the market, and stake my claim. With only three alligators left, I'm just in time.

I tell the vendor, a friendly older gentleman, that I'll take two. He then proceeds, with gloved hand, to delicately scrape the remaining pieces of icing-covered pecans from the bottom of the box. It was destiny. This wise man knew that the forgotten pecans, having fallen from their purchased alligator brethren, belonged with a true baked good enthusiast. It was the kind of gesture that one would never request or expect, but one the pastry lover secretly hopes for. I could have hugged him. (I wonder if he chooses someone during every market to bestow this kind gift upon?)

I've been away from my west LA apartment for the past 3 months, living in a desert town barren of fresh baked goods. Thanks, Bread Man, for a great homecoming with that extra special extra pecan touch. I'll surely return-- whenever I can wake up in time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homemade graham crackers and mix CD's

This is the 2nd article in our official, annual, based-on-real-life "True friendship series" brought to you by The Great American Bakery Hunt":

True friendship means sending The Great American Bakery Hunt nut-free homemade graham crackers to snack on since we've been headquartered for the past two months in a nut-restricted workplace. And then adding to that some awesome mix CD's (with playlist notes; one CD jazz influenced, and one indie rock, in case you were wondering.) Thanks Justin!

Vanilla & Comics

This is the 1st article in our official, annual, based-on-real-life "True friendship series" brought to you by The Great American Bakery Hunt":

You know a true friend when they send you vanilla bean to cook with, blackberry honey, and comics in the same package. Thank you P!

Cupcakes in a jar via the US Postal Service

Imagine my surprise when The Great American Bakery Hunt received a whole package of cupcakes in a jar one sunny afternoon from the Bangerang Bake Shop! The sender? Well it was none other than Meera Bonbonerie, regional representative of The Great American Bakery Hunt, Cincinnati chapter. Meera is one of our most thoughtful contributors here at TGABH, and we salute her always. We're pretty sure she sent these to us while traveling the West Indies, but you just never know for certain where M.B. has landed. From Florida to the Nati, from California to the West Indies, we know she's doing great things out there wherever she is, and finding all the best baked goods along the way! (We'd most like to picture her atop the seat of her folding bicycle, sipping on Newman's Own lemonade and chompin' on a frosting-topped cupcake.)

Meera, you've outdone yourself once again!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baked, another one for New York

New York is a city rich with bakeries, and here's another one this Californian will file away for future adventures. Not only was Baked recommended by a friend and local to the area, but apparently their brownies are one of Oprah's favorite things. While I know the media queen has named a lot of favorite products, I also think she has probably had the opportunity (and the means) to taste some of the best brownies in the world. So I'm taking this place pretty seriously. An open request to Baked: I'm running short on flight money, so please consider establishing a California location.

Putting the camp twist on homemade pretzels

Back in April, I blogged about rising early to prep for a camp pretzel-making program I put together for some kids and their families during a family camp session. Below you can see some of the pretzels they shaped that day!

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The thing I love about cooking at camp is that it really opens people's eyes up to ways of cooking they never dreamed of doing with their families. In the same way that parents introduce kids to the source of their food through farmer's markets, introducing new recipes to families can empower them to experience food as more than food consumers. Also, it's fun! During these activities, I can see that people gain new relationships to what they are eating-- whether through the sense of pride that comes from creating something with their own hands, making a recipe outside one's own cultural traditions, watching kids try something new for the first time, or simply because time spent making this recipe is rare time spent together.

One of my favorite moments was when one of the teen campers started twirling the pretzel dough, in the style a passer by might see in a bakeshop window. When I asked her how she learned to do that, she said that she had seen a baker doing it in the mall. She then proceeded to show others around her how to twirl the dough before shaping the pretzel. "How big should they be?" people kept asking. The great thing about this recipe is that it didn't really matter. Kids could choose to shape their pretzels however they wanted.

Everyone was putting their own twist on the recipe, and that was the magic of it all.

A food blogger can't help but anticipate this film...

Julia Child in any form is extremely awesome.

The Great American Bakery Hunt travels to the great food city of Seattle

The Great American Bakery Hunt recently visited Pike's Place farmer's market in Seattle and found it extremely hard to leave. There was an abundance of great food going on throughout the permanent year-round market, and we just happened to visit during the overwhelmingly delicious Seattle Cheese Festival. (These people had such a passion for cheese that I found myself close to making a career switch to dairy farmer.)

The same day I visited the festival, and my last day in Seattle, we prepared for a food marathon.

I insisted on stopping at a local grocery store, PPC, which seems to be the Seattle version of Whole Foods. I was on a coffee hunt for Newman's Own Organics coffee, which is difficult to find by the bag in Southern California. I also ended up buying a few bags of Cafe Laddro's brews. After reading that kids are entitled to one serving of a fruit or veggie at PCC while their parents shop, I'm glad I bought a few bags of java from them.

Before wandering down to Pike's Place market, our next stop was Macrina Bakery, a charming bakery and cafe whose cookbook I immediately purchased.

They had an impressive selection of breads, pastries, and overall baked goodness that satisfied the bakery hunting soul. The Parmesan, ham and rosemary biscuit had to be my favorite, half of which I saved for the plane ride and then devoured after takeoff-- instantly becoming the envy of the crackers and peanuts crowd. (I always think ahead to the plane snack.) Macrina is the kind of place I would frequent weekly (daily?) if I lived in the area, and I look forward to testing out some of their recipes.

Sadly, after arriving at the market & cheese festival, we realized we missed the owner of Macrina speaking by only an hour! We were too busy leisurely enjoying her food to know any different.

Later that afternoon, we were pacing ourselves through the cheese festival after having already made a sinfully good grilled cheese stop at Beecher's handmade cheese the day prior.

We made our last meal stop at Emmett Watson's oyster bar. This place was billed as the local, laid-back oyster bar, which is exactly what I was looking for. It's nothing against the fancy-shmancy waterfront seafood joints, but this is my kind of place-- the every woman's oyster. There's a tucked away patio where you can sip your hefeweizen in the sunlight and slurp oysters to your heart's content, menus written on brown paper bags, and malt vinegar to put on your french fries. Friendly service, charmingly unglamourous, this one is for the people!

Below, my token tourist shot with the "Rachel" the famous market pig...In the background, the fish market famous for coworkers flinging fish orders at one another.

Thanks to my friends in Seattle, new and old, who introduced me to a truly great city! There was a lot of culinary ground to cover in one weekend (not to mention copper river salmon season), but I think we did Seattle proud!

yet another reason to visit Portland

The Great American bakery hunt has a few Oregon-based hunting buddies, so I wanted to post this tip received about a Portland bakery called La Petite Provence. While I have never been to La Petite Provence, I'm filing it away for a future adventure. Looks like yet another reason to visit Portland, city of rainy weather, microbreweries, and people required by law to have strangers pump their gasoline.

a friend to those with food allergies

The Great American Bakery Hunt has many friends out there who have quite specific food allergies, so we try to keep our eyes peeled for products that can be of help. Enter Cherrybrook Kitchen, a food allergy friendly company whose products I recently spotted at Henry's market. With kid-friendly packaging and an informative website, it's great to see other companies out there who are doing their part! For anyone who has tried shopping for products without traces of nuts, it's not always easy, so please spread the word about these specialty products.

trying to nurse myself back to health with some chocolate pecan pie

It's June, and the summer camp season is in full effect. Days are full of unexpected surprises, including warnings of thunderstorms (in the middle of the desert in June?), wild horse wranglings, and rattlesnake sightings. June gloom has invaded California, and with this invasion, some unexpected headcolds have also taken residence in my supposed sunny state. With the conclusion of the first session, I've come down with a little bug. Of course, I'm combating my soar throat with a little silky spice tea my friend sent me from Seattle, along with some Blackberry infused Moon Valley honey. But to start the real healing, I've had my mind on some pie. Since for three months out of the year, I live in a "peanut and tree nut free" environment, I could think of nothing better to nurse me back to health on an LA day off than some chocolate pecan pie from Babalu in Santa Monica. If you're a pecan pie traditionalist, I can certainly understand, but I would urge you to give this union of pecans and chocolate just one try. Sure, Babalu's pie slices are a bit steep in price, but for my nut-deprived diet, it's just what the doctor ordered.

Still healing,
The Great American Bakery Hunt

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Early morning Santa Monica farmer's market confessions

It's Wednesday, which for everyone in downtown Santa Monica means the joy of the Santa Monica farmer's market (or for some, perhaps just a little more traffic, pedestrians with rickety vegetable carts, and crowded parking structures.) Since I belong to the first group, I couldn't resist the urge to take a quick stroll through the hustle and bustle of the awakening market when I arrived to work very early this morning. Are there others out there that enjoy walking through an empty farmer's market? Walking past the early-rising vendors, you'll see entire lives strategically and carefully packed into vans and trucks. Long metal poles clank and clack to transform into the lively culinary tent cities that bring Arizona street to life. The environment feels familial as people call "good morning" to one another, yawn with their mouths open wide, and get ready for their consumers. English and Spanish words dance throughout the market, around an otherwise still third street Promenade. As everyone arrives to this Los Angeles destination, it's quite possible you could hear any language uttered. At the height of the market, it's a certainty you'll observe wide-eyed stroller-riding children marvel at seriously giant artichokes and drool over orange slice samples. It's a constant that people will chat about the recipes they're planning to make with their families. You'll probably brush shoulders with some great chefs. However, there's something about observing an empty market that really reaffirms the respect I have for the hard-working individuals who run it. As it starts to warm up and the sun comes out, the unpacking continues-- lettuce heads, apple turnovers, cash boxes, calculators, scales, and more morning greetings. In Santa Monica, Wednesday is meaningful. Forget your middle of the week humdrum, because the market is today.

On the road...

The Great American Bakery Hunt is going to Seattle. Please drop a line to us to share any must-eat must-see baked good destinations!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saving dough on baked goods

Sweet Blessings Bakery in Albuquerque offers its customers "recession busting" half priced baked goods every day. Anything in their case that is not sold by mid afternoon is sold at the sizable discount, with the theory that happy customers will keep coming back for more. The Great American Bakery Hunt has seen other bakeries out there with special "Bake Sale" sections, non-advertised corners of the case that hold discounted tarts and pies with imperfections. At the farmer's market, one can often get a good deal towards closing time, as vendors rush to sell off their inventory. But these deals mostly fall upon the regular customers on the scene, and are not as openly advertised as the daily offerings of the Sweet Blessings Bakery. Local note: The roll out of bed farmer's market strategy will not work if you happen to love the "alligators" the Bread Man sells at the Santa Monica farmer's market. These pecan-icing creations seem to be sold out mid-market all the time!)

The Great American Bakery Hunt is interested in other strategies bakers are utilizing to lure consumers wary of spending. Write us and tell us how your bakery is doing and what customers should know about supporting baked goods.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Catering to the community

The Great American Bakery Hunt always appreciates a good story about nonprofit organizations and baked goods coming together for a cause.

Fast-casual restaurant chain Corner Bakery recently issued a press release detailing charitable organizations selected to receive free catering in honor of National Volunteer Week.

According to the release, Corner Bakery sees this as an opportunity to acknowledge the work of volunteers who are giving back to their communities. During these rough times, Corner Bakery's actions are particularly relevant for members of the nonprofit community. The economic downturn impacts the extent that organizations are able to acknowledge volunteers through appreciation efforts such as a simple "thank you" meal or treat. Because many community programs rely hugely (if not entirely) on the help of volunteers, Corner Bakery provides important support in this area.

Cheers for the "catering to the community" movement-- hopefully other bakeries and restaurants will follow suit.

Follow that cupcake!

Bakery hunting sources in Connecticut recently tipped us off to The Cupcake Truck, a mobile cupcakery that updates cake-seekers on their daily location. If you're in the Connecticut area, navigate to the Cupcake Truck using Twitter updates or their blog Food-Driven. One can't help but feel enticed by the descriptions on their site: For $2, you can purchase a "chocolate ruin" cupcake. The good people at the Cupcake Truck suggest that the deep, dark chocolate buttermilk cake "may be your downfall."

You have to appreciate the philosophy of these Cupcake Truckers, who write: "We're just two people who love good food. We also love making people smile. And we've learned that nothing makes people smile like good food. That's why we do what we do. Because this complicated, challenging world could use more smiles."

Keep on truckin' Cupcake Truck! The Great American Bakery hunt salutes you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where culinary dreams take shape, batch by batch - Los Angeles Times

Check out this article on an LA-based incubator kitchen that's helping small culinary businesses get started.

"We want to be a place where people can start from nothing and grow -- and grow out of us in some ways," says Andrea Bell, the owner of Chef’s Kitchens Co-op, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles."

Thanks to Mary MacVean at the Los Angeles times for this great article!

Where culinary dreams take shape, batch by batch - Los Angeles Times

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Huckleberry delivers

I blogged back in January about my mouth-watering anticipation of the bakery Huckleberry, a brain child of Santa Monica locals Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, a husband and wife culinary duo. Now that we're in April, I'm just now getting the opportunity to give this bakery the blog post it deserves. Huckleberry, Santa Monica's charming new foodspot, is located on Wilshire between 10th and 11th streets. It has been open since February and is starting to extend its hours into the Spring.

Zoe Nathan learned to bake at Tartine in San Francisco, so its unsurprising that Huckleberry has a similar inviting feel, as well as a familiar line of customers to match. Even with far more seating than Tartine, Huckleberry has been so packed on recent occasion that I'm now educated in the Huckleberry code of ethics. If you think you can just pop into line as if you're in a Starbucks, think again. I should start out by saying that Huckleberry serves Cafe Luxxe coffee, so I'm not implying a lack of good java. Coming to Huckleberry is not an experience of convenience, but rather one of appreciating and savoring thoughtfully executed food treasures. So perhaps you've noticed that you have to wait a few minutes in line? Well, there's good reason for that line, and I'm sure often it is rooted in customers confused and racked by indecision due to the taste potential of what they might order. Huckleberry is just the sort of place that The Great American Bakery Hunt loves to see: completely genuine, deliberate in its actions, and inviting to the bakery hunter. While it could easily become an LA baked good destination, it also still feels like a place where one can appreciate great food with a friendly neighborhood vibe.

Thought is put into their seasonal ingredients, items are made fresh, and customers really have to think before they choose. After only a few months of business, it already feels like a landmark on my city map, a place I'd like to linger with old friends over coffee and fruit crostatas. And who knew a maple bacon biscuit could be so good?

Huckleberry's creations are quality, with items such as fresh flatbreads "warm right out of the oven", homemade donuts (sorry Krispy Kreme on Wlishire), and the bustle of a bakery that means business. Their menu is featured on a spread of chalkboards and changes frequently with seasonal ingredients. This is also unsurprising in light of Nathan's ties to the farmer's market community.

With Huckleberry's thoughtful baking, I wanted to buy a tote bag to support in some free advertising, but I couldn't justify the $30 price tag, which I would estimate equals about 6-8 Huckleberry pastries. Huckleberry, I want to support you with an enviro-friendly canvas bag, but I work for a nonprofit! That $30 is going towards the pastries that eventually would go into that bag. Spending $30 on the bag means no pastries to tote in said bag. Do you see my dilemma? For the record, I would mop your floors, knead your dough, and/or continue to write glowing blog posts of your bakery in exchange for a canvas bag that I would shamelessly flaunt in grocery stores, swap meets, fitness centers, and various shopping trips across America. Or I'll wait until I win the lottery and we all know what my first purchase will be!

Until that happens, for now I'll stick with my $2 appalingly pastel but still endearing Santa Monica Public Library tote bag. But I'll be back for the pastries. These, my friends, are priceless.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Early morning baking

I'll be simulating the baker's life tomorrow, when I get up for some early morning dough prep for a camp pretzel making program! Making homemade pretzels with a bunch of kids and families? What could be luckier? I'll post some pretzel pictures when I'm able.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

President Obama supports The Great American Bakery Hunt

In an unprecedented show of support for The Great American Bakery Hunt, President Obama stopped at two bakeries to pick up a variety of treats during a recent visit to Canada. His purchases included an "Obama tail", a hot pastry reminscent of funnel-cake, and Canadian maple leaf cookies from his second bakery stop on the hunt.

What lessons can we draw from this presidential bakery tour? Even during these desperate economic times, bakeries can find hope in folks from all walks of life continuing to crave baked goods. You can take the money out of a recession, but you can't take away a world leader's sweet tooth. Indeed, this means hope for the next generation of bakery hunters.

Editor's Note: Interested in more news like this? Why not swing by the Obama Foodorama blog for round the clock analysis of Obama gastronomica?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dear Nashville lonely hearts...

Feeling loveless this Valentine's Day? Perhaps you need to take a trip to Tennessee, where the Loveless Cafe will serve you up some commiseration in the form of fresh biscuits and Southern charm. With biscuits like these, who needs romance?.

The great land of Davis inspires some homemade pretzel making

On a recent trip to visit Davis, my friend Lindsay spearheaded a genius homemade pretzel making project. Since I'm officially addicted to Rockenwagner's pretzel bread offerings, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that basic pretzel making is a relatively simple process. After prepping the dough, we planned to bake it over at a friend's house pre- dinner party.

Below, Lindsay, our noble Protector of Dough, cradles the dough to shield it from the chill Davis air. We were a little concerned about the yeast and potential temperature changes while traveling. Bakers, heed this warning: When homemade pretzel making on the run, you must have a Protector of the Dough.

After boiling the pieces of pretzel dough, we brushed them with an egg wash, kosher salted them, and baked them. Then, voila! Pretzels hot from the oven and devoured immediately by yours truly.

Thanks to friends Sarah and Lindsay for introducing me to this recipe! It is also worth mentioning that Davis was a great farmer's market city. The Saturday market featured a great variety of vendors, including several bakeries. Upon entering, we were greeted with free naan samples, then eventually wandered over to the flourChylde bakery. The flourChylde's retail location is in Marin County, where they offer several wheat and gluten free options for people with alternative diets.

Also, it's worth mentioning that Davis has a grocery store called the Nugget. You really can't go wrong when you're buying ingredients from a place like that. Not only because the exterior of the Nugget features (naturally) a sign that says "Nugget", but also because there are Roman-like grocery goddesses governing the top of the building, adorned with billowing frocks, looking down on passers-by, regally balancing baskets of stone fruit on their heads, and beckoning you to explore the magic that is cooking and baking in the city of Davis. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not used to seeing majestic robed women towering over me whilst I enter grocery stores.

See what I mean? Here's one pretzel recipe from Alton Brown, if you're looking to get into the pretzel spirit. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Los Angeles Magazine reveals top 20 bakeries

Los Angeles magazine's February issue features LA's top twenty bakeries, and the Great American Bakery Hunt thanks them for leading us to new lands of baked goods. Since I hail from a family of writers, I even bought a copy to support print journalism! Huzzah!

Unfortunately, all of us at The Great American Bakery Hunt are a little disappointed Yummy Cupcakes was not included in the top twenty picks. With Los Angeles cupcakeries Sprinkles and Wilshire rival Vanilla Bakeshop both getting a nod, I think Yummy deserves a shout out as well.

I suppose you did what you thought was best LA magazine, I truly believe this is the case. But if you haven't yet tasted the brown sugar cinnamon flavor over at Yummy, you best get over to Wilshire and get some! For your own sake, if not for your readers/the American people.
You can check out recipes from the 20 bakeries reviewed at the LA magazine website under the title "Recipe Box".

Tartine dreams do come true

It's been over a year since I received the Tartine cookbook as a gift and have been hoping to visit the San Francisco neighborhood bakery. I have toiled away in my studio apartment, attempting to create their Gruyere cheese gougère and fruit galette recipes, but I finally tasted the real thing last weekend.

If you're looking for Tartine, spot it from the line forming outside the door and the pigeons outside competing for the best crumbs in town. In the two hours that I spent enjoying the majesty of the greatest San Francisco treat, there was rarely a moment when the bakery wasn't crowded with its fans.

After visiting a friend in Davis, we made the drive to the bakery and plotted to order an aggressive amount of pastries, an amount fit for a proper Sunday feast. At first, a few friends thought it crazy that we were venturing into San Francisco only as a bakery detour. But if only they had sampled the greatness of Tartine's selections, they would soon discover that San Francisco is much more than a destination for clam chowder, Chinese food, and cable cars.

Among other things, we sampled the artichoke quiche, the sinfully grand bread pudding (made with bananas that day), the croque monsieur, the croissants, morning buns, scones, gougères, and the many, many cups of (free refills) coffee that is nestled in the corner of the bakery. Of course, that didn't stop us from getting meringues, frangipane tarts, hazelnut tarts, mexican wedding cookies, and more to take on the road.

Tartine is the kind of bakery that I only wish existed in Los Angeles, the kind of bakery that makes a city great. Although at one point, the weather started storming on our outside cafe table, I must state for the record that I would gladly endure eating my Tartine croissant in the rain any day, if it meant I could savor the goodness (this statement also applicable to hailstorms, blizzards, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.).

Huckleberry, my mouth is watering in anticipation!

Back in the summertime, I posted about a farmer's market lecture I attended that featured local Los Angeles pastry chef Zoe Nathan. For all you Los Angeles pastry fans, you might be curious to know that she is planning to open her new bakery Huckleberry this February! Get ready...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Making good on resolution #1

The first official baking project of 2009? A new apple tart recipe. Although I often use an Alice Waters tart recipe, I'm trying to break my routines this year and experiment. In particular, I'm on the lookout for the perfect glaze-- one that adds flavor without being too overpowering. While I really enjoy how the Waters recipe simmers the apple peels in sugar to create a light glaze, today I used strained raspberry preserves to achieve a different effect.

While New York dropped the ball, Mobile opted to ring in 2009 with 14 lbs. of marshmallow, 6 lbs. of chocolate, and 45,000 calories

The Tennessee-located Chattanooga Bakery created a giant version of their signature Moon Pie dessert and transported it via a sports utility vehicle to Mobile, Alabama as a part of a sugar-inspired New Year's celebration. Once in Mobile, the giant moon pie would be at the mercy of the first 3,000 hungry Alabama residents who managed to get in line for a piece of the action. Onlookers would also watch the ceremonial lowering of a faux Moon pie at the stroke of midnight. Originally, the idea was to lower the authentic, edible, giant version of the moon pie at the crucial juncture of the new year, causing the ingredients to coat revelers in a sticky layer of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker sediment. At the project's final stages, it was decided to drop the faux moon pie as a more reasonable alternative. If we've learned anything from this story, it's that one must use logic when dropping any version of a giant moon pie from the air! According to msnbc, the entire moon pie experiment, including the 600 lb. electric moon pie, is costing taxpayers $9,000.

The following video, for anyone interested, focuses a bit more on the construction of the giant moon pie.

Happy New Year from The Great American Bakery Hunt

Since I've made a resolution to blog more, I'm getting right down to business with a post-celebration post. I'll leave you with these short and groggy words of holiday cheer: I am hopeful that the New Year will bring all bakery hunters great joy, whether in the form of buttery croissants, conquered recipes, or bakery exploration. The Great American Bakery Hunt wishes you a tasty 2009.