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.