Saturday, January 11, 2014

Helmut Newcake, Paris

Although gluten free goods are sort of having a moment here in the United States, since launching Dough gluten free bakery in DC, I've been curious to know about the availability of gluten free baked goods worldwide, especially in advance of our recent honeymoon trip to Paris.

In between admiring historic monuments, viewing priceless works of art, and taking romantic sunset strolls along the Seine, I couldn't wait to sample Helmut Newcake--the first gluten free bakery in Paris. I have to admit, I didn't really know what to expect from this off-the-beaten-track cafe, but I had no need to worry because everything they had to offer was beyond delicious.

Helmut Newcake is particularly unique because they have recreated gluten free versions of all of the most quintessential French desserts. From éclairs to croissants to canelés, Helmut Newcake gives any gluten free connoisseurs an authentic taste of Paris. Opened in 2011 in trendy Canal St-Martin, the bakery uses lots of locally available gluten free flours like chestnut and buckwheat, and even offers another trend catching on in Paris--the Sunday brunch.

In addition to the excellent pastries, is a provides a popular neighborhood hang out spot, with coffee and tea served in adorable vintage china, as well as a few small shelves stocked with gluten free grocery items for purchase.

If you go
36 rue Bichat
Paris, 750010
Metro: Goncourt & Republique
Wed-Sat 12:00-8:00pm, Sun 10:00-6:00pm
Closed Mon, Tues

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DOUGH: A District Bakery

So, let's cut right to the chase, shall we? We all know I've been slacking around here a little bit and, as I mentioned in my last post, it's for a very good reason because I'd have some exciting news to announce. Am I publishing a cookbook? No. Am I pregnant? No. Am I getting married? Well, yes, but that's not it. I'M LAUNCHING A BAKERY!

As you may have heard in the the news lately, lots of us in Washington, DC and elsewhere were affected by sequestration cuts requiring us to take several days of unpaid furlough leave. And while you might think that the time period while you're losing 20 percent of your income might not be the best time to open a business, I couldn't just sit around one day per week without making the best use of my time. I'll still be working my full time gig for now, but this bakery will allow me to explore my passion for baking and the joy I receive from baking for others, as well as filling the gluten free niche in the DC market.

Salted Caramel Brownie Creme Sandwiches

That's right--DOUGH is an exclusively gluten free bakery!! Although there are lots of bakeries in town catering to those with gluten free diets, many offer just a single option often mixed in amongst regular, glutinous baked goods (a dangerous risk for those with serious allergies). DOUGH will offer an entire bakery's worth of my favorite recipes like Brown Sugar Bourbon Peach Pie, Chai Latte Cupcakes, Chocolate Fudge Poptarts, and even a gluten free version of one of my favorites--French Madeleines!

Cardamom Cranberry Pear Scones

So, where can you get your hands on the goods? You can already order online from anywhere in the US through our website and for locals we're also going to be selling at two pop-up shops hosted at Tabula Rasa on Saturday, September 21st and Sunday, October 6th from 11am-3pm.

I'm so thrilled about this endeavor as a way to express my creativity and give back to our local community, and I hope you'll join us for the journey!

If you go
Tabula Rasa
731 8th St SE
Washington, DC
9/21, 10/06 11am-3pm
Metro: Eastern Market

Check us out

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Smoky Almond Peach Tart

I know, I know. It's been over a month since my last post and, it's true, the Cupcake Avenger has been a
little neglected lately but I can tell you that it's for a very good, exciting reason that I'll be sharing with you all soon--so stay tuned! In the meantime, I bring you this beyond amazing summer tart.

I can't believe it took me so long to make this tart, as it is such a complex combo of flavors and--AND!--it's made entirely in the food processor. 30 minutes from start to finish and you have this elegant tart to use up some of your bountiful summer peaches and (if you're like me) one of the 3 canisters of smoked almonds in your pantry that you keep forgetting you already bought before buying yet another canister of smoked almonds.

I adapted this recipe to use reduced fat vanilla wafers, cream cheese and sour cream (boring, I know) so feel free to do the same knowing that you won't be sacrifing any flavor, or go right ahead and go all out on this tart, it will be delicious either way.

Creamy Peach Tart with Smoky Almond Crust
     from Food & Wine

2 cups vanilla wafer cookies (5 oz.)
1/2 cup smoked almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 firm, ripe peaches, peeled and cut into thin wedges 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine the vanilla wafers with the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and process until fine. Add the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is set.   

2. Meanwhile, wipe out the food processor bowl. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, egg and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and process until smooth. Pour the custard into the crust and bake for 15 minutes, until set. Let the tart cool slightly and transfer to the freezer to chill, about 15 minutes. 

3. In a bowl, toss the peaches with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Arrange the peaches in 2 concentric circles over the custard. Remove the ring, cut the tart into wedges and serve

Monday, July 1, 2013

Martha Monday: Hearty Blueberry Muffins

While I have to admit that I usually prefer my baked goods to be heavy on the decadent ingredients that
make them oh-so-tasty, every once in awhile it's not so bad to have a pure, healthier baked treat that really allows all of the natural flavors to shine through. Not to mention, I have a pantry full of whole-wheat flour and wheat germ that I wasn't really sure what to do with : )

I actually reduced the brown sugar in this recipe to 1/3 cup with no issues, and you could try replacing the oil with applesauce or banana puree to cut down on fat content as well--though I have to admit that the hint of tropical flavor coming through from the coconut oil in this recipe is really delightful.

At 135 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per muffin, these little cakes make a great afternoon snack to fill you up and keep you going til the end of the work day. Or anytime really, these muffins are awesome! :)

Hearty Blueberry Muffins
     from Martha Stewart
     makes 12-14
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted, or safflower oil
2 large eggs
8 oz fresh blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together brown sugar, yogurt, oil, and eggs in another large bowl. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture and gently mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries with a rubber spatula.

2. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Apricot and Basil Shortbread Tart

Seasonal Amazingness. I think that's actually what this dessert should be called. I'm usually aghast at the
poor quality of produce at my local grocery store, but on my last shopping trip I happened to notice some perfectly ripe, large, unblemished, in-season apricots taunting me from amongst the smashed apples and moldy broccoli (seriously). Along with some fresh basil from the gardens of those of you lucky enough to have yards or balconies with direct sunlight (grumble, grumble), this tart makes for an elegantly refreshing taste of early summer.

Herbs seem to be having a moment lately. Infusing everything from cookies and ice cream to cocktails and liquors, herbs add a hint of je ne sais quoi particularly when enriching the flavor of sweets and desserts. I have to admit I was a little wary of the basil-infused pastry cream called for in this tart, but I am now a believer. Yes, it does taste like basil, but in the most amazing way.

Also amazing about this dessert is the crust. Though it's technically a shortbread, it's not the bland, sandy, rock hard crust you're imagining. Made with a unique combination of powdered sugar, egg yolk and potato starch, this crust was soft and tender and probably my favorite component of the entire production.

A couple of notes: This recipe calls for a 14x2" tart pan, but you could easily adapt it for a 9" round tart pan as well and baking for 40 minutes. Similarly, the recipe actually makes more than enough pastry cream and nearly too much crust, so feel free to adjust or adapt this recipe to make several mini tarts instead.

Apricot and Basil Shortbread Tart
     From Food&Wine

Pastry Cream
1 cup whole milk 
5 tablespoons granulated sugar  
1/4 cup packed basil leaves with stems 
2 large egg yolks  
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large hard-boiled egg yolk  
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter  
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup potato starch 
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt 

6 apricots (1 1/4 pounds), halved 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar  
1/3 cup apricot jam, melted 
1. In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the milk with the sugar and basil; bring to a simmer. Remove the milk from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the basil and squeeze any milk back into the pan; discard the basil.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of milk with the yolks and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the warm milk; bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Scrape the cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 14-by-4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the hard-boiled egg yolk with the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, potato starch and salt and beat at low speed until just combined. Using lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the side of the tart pan. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes, or until chilled.

4. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack and let stand until cooled, about 1 hour.

5. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the apricot halves cut side up on the paper and sprinkle all over with the sugar. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the apricots are tender and lightly browned. Let the apricots stand until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

6. Unmold the crust and transfer it to a serving plate. Using a small offset spatula, spread the cream evenly in the crust. Arrange the apricots on the cream, cut sides down, and brush with the melted jam. Cut the tart crosswise into strips and serve at once.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Homemade Doughnuts (Yes You Can!)

Having tried my hand at every other passing dessert fad--pie, cupcakes, macarons--it was really only a
matter of time before I broke down and made an effort at crafting my own homemade doughnuts as the craze sweeps through town. Right off the bat, I'll tell you that homemade doughnuts are both easier and harder than you would think. Easier in that deep frying is very intimidating but actually SIMPLE if you invest in an accurate thermometer, and harder in that it takes a loooooong time, plus you have to deal with that eternal prima donna: yeast.

Add to that, there are approximately 9, 537 doughnut recipes which claim to be "THE BEST EVER!" I even purchased three different cookbooks devoted exclusively to doughnut recipes, and each book espoused a completely different recipe and method. So. That being said, if you think all of this might already be a little much for you, you can still have delicious baked doughnuts at home with half the hassle. But, I encourage you to take the yeasty doughnut plunge, because it was totally worth it.

I have to say, I loved these doughnuts. They were tall, thick and--my favorite part--chewy. If you're more of a Krispy Kreme fan, this is probably not the recipe for you. But, if you like your fried dough to have a bit of chew, then you should definitely give this one a whirl. Also, having subsequently tried a recipe using less flour, these doughnuts were also considerably stronger and easier to handle, so they might be a good option for beginners.

Have you ever had one of those "Ah ha! Why did I never think of that before?!" moments in cooking? That definitely happened to me with Top Pot's doughnut recipe and their description of using a pan of boiling water to create a proofing box out of your oven. Pure. Genius. If you don't actually have any "warm, draft-free" areas in your home and always have trouble getting yeast doughs to rise, this will change your (baking) life.

Overall I was thrilled with these doughnuts and plan to make them again, though you only have to read about the recent difficulties encountered by Zeke's DC Donutz to understand one of the big downsides of doughnut making--you may want to open a window

A few notes: You absolutely need a thermometer for these doughnuts to work. You don't need anything fancy, and the candy thermometer you bought years ago, used once for fudge, then lost in the cabinet will work just fine. I also recommend any type of steel or metal implement for transferring the doughnuts from the baking sheet to the oil--a metal spatula, offset spatula, or some other heat-resistant implement that you can dunk directly into the oil is ideal. When transferring the doughnuts to the oil, try to shake off as much excess flour as possible, as it's these particles that can pop and burn, leading to a fire. Finally, I would recommend halving the frosting recipe unless, well, you really ingest doughnuts purely as a glaze delivery mechanism :)

Raised Glazed Ring Doughnuts
     makes 12-14, plus holes
     From Top Pot

3 Tbs (four 1/4 oz/7 g packets) active dry yeast
1 cup very warm water (about 105 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground mace (optional)
2 tsp salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling/cutting
1/4 cup vegetable lard
 3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Canola oil, for frying

1. Whisk the yeast, water, and 1 Tbs of the sugar together in the work bowl of a stand mixer and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, mace (if using), salt, and 4 cups of the bread flour. Set aside.

3. Add the shortening, egg yolks, and vanilla to the foaming yeast mixture. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed for 1 minute, to break up the shortening. Add about a third of the dry ingredients and mix until blended on low speed, then repeat with the second third of the dry ingredients.

4. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until no white spots remain each time, adding additional flour as necessary, until the dough is dry enough to clean the bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 2 more minutes. (It should be smooth like bread dough, but still a little tacky).

5. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet sprinkled with 1 Tbs flour, shape into a flat disk 6 inches in diameter, dust lightly with flour, cover with a dish towel and set aside.

6. Create a proofing box in your oven: Bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Pour 8 cups of the boiling water into a 9x13 inch baking dish and set it on the floor of your oven. Place the sheet with the covered dough on the middle rack of the oven, close the door, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a roughly 12 inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick, with a lightly floured rolling pin. cut into 12 doughnuts, flouring the cutter before each cut. (re-roll the dough for additional doughnuts). gently transfer the doughnuts and holes to two baking sheets sprinkled with 2 tbs flour each, arranging them at least 2 inches apart, and let rise in the oven (with new boiling water), uncovered, for another 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.

8. Using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, heat oil (at least 2 inches deep) in a deep fryer, large pot, or high-sided frying pan over medium heat to 350 degrees. when the doughnuts have doubled, carefully place a few in the oil, taking care not to overcrowd them, and fry for about 30 seconds. (Note that the doughnuts will look more brown when they're done than they do in the oil). Carefully turn the doughnuts and fry for another 20-30 seconds, then transfer to a cooling rack set over a layer of paper towels to cool, rounded side up.

9. While the doughnuts are still very warm, dip the rounded side of each into the warm glaze. let dry on cooling racks, glazed side up, for 10-15 minutes.

Simple Chocolate Icing

4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs hot water
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Place the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla and hot water in a alrge mixing bowl. Using a whisk, blend until the mixture is smooth and all of the sugar has been incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary. Add the chocolate, and stire to combine completely. If the icing seems too thick, add more hot water a teaspoon at a time.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sucré, New Orleans

This month I finally got to take my first trip to The Fiancé's hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Along with meeting family and friends, and marveling at the historic and unique architecture, I couldn't wait to try out all of the famous local foods. In addition to the obligatory gumbos, crawfish, poboys, beignets and King Cakes (yes, I may have sampled all of these and more, don't judge), when researching a bakery to visit, Sucré came up again and again.
While I wouldn't call it a "traditional" New Orleans bakery, the treats at Sucré have an overwhelming French influence, which IS traditional New Orleans :) Along with delicate patisserie desserts, gelato, and cupcake, Sucré also specializes in artisan truffles, chocolate bars and--of course--macarons.

In addition to the traditional almond, vanilla, pistachio and chocolate flavors, Sucré also features seasonal and New Orleans-flavored favorites I'd never seen before such as carrot cake, white chocolate lavender, bananas foster and pecan pie.

With plenty of tables and an assortment of teas, coffees and drinking chocolates, Sucré is the perfect stop after an afternoon of shopping on Magazine Street, or for a little taste of Paris in the bustle of The Big Easy. Can't make it down south anytime soon? Sucré delivers!

Wish I'd been able to try the S'mores tart--comes heated in its own miniature skillet!

More truffles than you know what to do with. Luckily there's a handy flavor guide

If you go
3025 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70115