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tidbits

From our November/December 2013 issue:

The Trendiest Treat of 2013

Chef Dominique Ansel, who spent seven years with the legendary French pastry company Fauchon and, after moving to New York, was the Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under chef Daniel Boulud for six years, garnered multiple awards for his work during that time. In 2011 he opened his own shop in Soho, but nothing could have prepared him for what happened this summer.

On May 10 of this year Chef Ansel introduced the Cronut®, a feat of pastry engineering that is almost as mind-boggling as the frenzy the pastry inspired. In basic terms the Cronut is made from pastry dough that has been sheeted, laminated, proofed and then
deep-fried. It is then filled with cream, a trick that’s also a bit
difficult to achieve in a pastry that has a punched out center
hole. Chef Ansel has noted that it took him many failed
experiments—10 different recipes, individual adjustments
to timing and temperatures—before he settled on a final,
proprietary process for the sheeting, lamination and frying in
grapeseed oil at one specific temperature.

Blowing Up and Backlash
The Cronuts, offered only in rose vanilla for the month of
May, sold out in 35 minutes on the first day. Within days, the
long lines for the specialty item had garnered media attention
and a limit had to be put on the number of Cronuts per
customer, as reports of Cronut scalping went viral. Soon
enough, Chef Ansel was called to task by some for creating
‘artificial shortages’ and deliberately inflating demand.
On June 4—less than month after the introduction—he was interviewed on FirstWeFeast.com. “….people forget we’re not a Cronut shop. We are a French bakery…we have almost 100 different items on the menu. And with all the beautiful items that we have, it’s very important to me to keep our roots.” These include a highly-praised kouign-amann, fresh-from-theoven madeleines, and his home-town take on the classic Paris-Brest, dubbed a Paris-New York.

The media attention also drew commercial imitators, with ‘dossaints’, ‘frissaints’, ‘cronots’, etc. In late July Chef Ansel was interviewed by Anthony Bourdain, who took over Piers Morgan’s
TV show for the evening. Chef Ansel was once again asked about production—if people are lining up hours in advance, why not just make more? His response—that they started out making 50, then 100, and now they’re up to 300-350 a day—didn’t seem to satisfy Bourdain. “We’re not a factory. Sometimes there’s loss in the frying, sometimes in the finishing…there’s no way to predict exactly how many we’re going to be able to sell on any given day, but we are trying to keep up with demand,” Chef Ansel said later.

Building On Sucess
But to Chef Ansel the runaway success of the Cronut, while not
necessarily problematic, is incidental to his business plan. He’s
not interested in franchising and promises that his new cookbook
deal will not be a Cronut cookbook. “I love Cronuts, but I also
love to create new desserts. I don’t want my life to be managing
the production of Cronuts,” he said.

True to his word, in July—right in the midst of all the Cronut
frenzy—he introduced frozen s’mores,a vanilla ice cream based
on maras dondurma (a chewy, melt-resistant form of ice cream
native to Turkey) rolled in crispy chocolate feulletine and encased
in fresh marshmallow. These are stuck on cleaned willow sticks
and torched to order. At the same time this seasonal treat was
launched, he wrote in a food diary for TheHuffingtonPost.com
that he was working with his staff on their autumn specialties.

Chef Ansel also decided to use the power of the Cronut for good.
In August he teamed up with FoodBank NYC for The Cronut™ Project—using the hunger for Cronuts to feed hungry New Yorkers. For six days two passion fruit Cronuts, a flavor exclusive to the project, were available—one to the person who donated the most that day and the other to a random donor. The more times you donated—even at pennies per donation—the better your chances to win.

By September the Cronut frenzy seemed to have died down somewhat, as there were reports that on some days there were still Cronuts available at lunch time. In mid-September Chef Ansel worked with restaurateur Danny Meyer on a fundraiser for the New York City Police Department. At the original Shake Shack location in
Madison Square Park people started lining up at 4:00 am for a
Cronut Concrete—a one-day only treat of butter caramel frozen
custard blended with cinnamon sugar Cronut holes.

Lovers and Haters
While oddly mean-spirited coverage of the Cronut continued to
appear, Chef Ansel continued to do what he most loves, create new desserts. In early October, he gave a sneak peek via his Instagram on what to expect for his autumn/winter specials, which included an
amazing looking ‘snow-dusted’ pine cone pastry. In response to a
business writer who, during the height of the Cronut frenzy, urged
Chef Ansel to capitalize on his invention, he wrote, “This bakery
is my baby, my name is on the door and I don’t want to see it
scaled out and lose its charm…I believe a business should have
heart behind it. Customers can tell the difference. And as chef,
you want to be able to look at your fellow chefs and stand tall, not
feeling like you’ve sold out.”

So while the Cronut craze burned bright Chef Ansel wisely didn’t
let it turn his business, and his life, into something he didn’t love.
Instead he used his opportunity in the spotlight to continually
mention the range of products available at his bakery—and nab
a cookbook deal—making the power of the trend work for him,
instead of sweeping him away.


American Cake Decorating 2014 Editorial Overview

Here’s a run-down of what we include in every issue, as well as what to expect for the coming year:

Test Kitchen: We ask an experienced baker, cake designer,
chocolatier or sugar artist to try out a new piece of equipment,
tool, ingredient, etc., as they document their process to share
with our readers.

Business-Minded: Insight into the issues facing small- to mid-sized business owners including marketing, hiring, pricing and more.

Profile: An in-depth look at a key individual, with commentary
on how they built their business, what challenges they faced
and what they plan for the future.

Share Your Love:
Short interviews with two sugar arts professionals on their current inspiration.

Madeleine: A “stream of consciousness” interview with a sugar
arts professional on their taste and flavor memories.

Sweet Science: A more technical take on a specific ingredient or
process that is critical to the success of any cake, pastry or baked good.

By the Book: Similar to Test Kitchen, instead here the contributor
takes on a new release, trying out a project, method, technique
or recipe from the book to share with readers.

Work Station: Announcements of new products that have
caught our eye at shows or through press releases.

Plus: Every issue contains a showcase featuring individual design projects, a trend feature, tutorials, reports on shows or other events in the cake/pastry/sugar arts world, recipes, a Spanish translation on one tutorial and more.

NEW FOR 2014:

In My Kitchen: We talk to a cake/pastry/baking creative and ask
to take a look inside their kitchen—personal or professional—
where they can share what’s in their pantry, their refrigerator,
their tool drawer, or what’s on top of their counter, on their
bookshelf, etc.

First Rise: Short interviews with “rising stars” in the cake/pastry
world.

Last Bite: A beautiful cake/dessert photo to close out the issue.
And: We plan to expand our international coverage, reach out
to a younger audience, renovate our website, build our social
media presence and launch a digital edition!

Showcase Themes & Deadlines for 2014:

March/April
Theme: Springtime Sweets
Editorial Close: IMMEDIATELY!

May/June
Theme: International Desserts
Editorial Close: February 28, 2014

July/August
Theme: Down the Garden Path
Editorial Close: May 2, 2014

September/October

Theme: Small Bites & Dessert Buffets
Editorial Close: July 7, 2014

November/December
Theme: Holiday Desserts
Editorial Close: August 29, 2014

Email us if you're interested in contributing!



Peach and Basil Cobbler
Makes 6 servings.  

Filling:
4 large ripe peaches, pitted, and sliced into wedges (you can peel them if you like, I usually keep the skin on)
1 to 2 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Topping:
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oat flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2) To make the filling simply mix all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 

3) To make the topping, combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (this is a different bowl than the filling filling). Rub in the butter a little bit at a time with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.

4) Place filling in 8 x 8 baking pan. Cover with topping.  

5) Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 25 to 27 minutes. Let cool slightly.

*Differences from the original Martha Stewart recipe*

  • She uses sugar in the filling: I find that fresh, ripe peaches have enough natural sugar already and do not need any additional processed sugar.
  • She uses lemon zest in the filling: I personally did not like the taste that the lemon zest added to this particular recipe.
  • She uses all purpose flour for the topping: I use whole grain oat flour which is higher in protein and fiber than all purpose flour. In this recipe I also think the oat flour gives an added flavor that is delicious!
  • I also added a tiny bit more almonds because I enjoy the crunch texture!

Apple Cider Cake

This apple cider cake was featured in our recent Tidbits weekly email newsletter (sign up on the homepage, if you’re not getting it) and we got it from the website, SheKnows.

4 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups applesauce
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cans (15 ounces) solid pumpkin
1 cup apple cider
5-1/2 tablespoons condensed milk
2-1/2 cups chopped MILKY WAY® bars
12-cup Bundt cake pan

1 - Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Then set the mixture aside.

2 - In a mixing bowl, mix applesauce and both sugars together one at a time, add eggs and stir in the pumpkin puree mixture. The mixture should be moist and loose.

3 - Blend the flour mixture slowly into the wet mixture. Add apple cider until the mixture is smooth.

4 - Pour half of the mixture into a Bundt cake pan.

5 - Follow up with a layer of chopped MILKY WAY® bars and complete with the remainder of the pumpkin mixture.

6 - Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes and then check the consistency with a toothpick. When cake is done, place it on a wire cooling rack.Carefully loosen the cake from the pan and flip it upside down so it slides gently out of the pan.

7 - Heat the remaining MILKY WAY® bars with condensed milk in the microwave for 30 seconds and drizzle the mixture over the cooled cake. Add chopped candy pieces to top the drizzle.


Modern Art Desserts – A Beautiful Bite

The pastry chef behind the now-famous Miette bakery and the Blue Bottle Cafe at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, Caitlin Freeman, has done many edible artistic creations, the most famous probably being her Modrian cake. If you'd like to try to recreate one of Caitlin's works of art, you're in luck. You'll find step-by-step instructions in her new cookbook, Modern Art Desserts (Ten Speed Press, 216 pages). Taking cues from works by Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Jeff Koons and Matisse, you'll find everything you need to make your own edible masterpieces. She even includes templates for several of the art-inspired desserts online.



Video Treats from Sachiko Windbiel

Sachiko’s charming fondant characters were featured in the Sept/Oct issue of ACD, where she also shared that she creates fun little stop motion videos featuring her designs. Check out her youtube channel for these, as well as her video tutorials on a range of fondant topper designs, including a timely ghost cupcake tutorial.



Food Coloring Options

In the July/August issue of American Cake Decorating the Sweet Science column by Junita Bognanni covers the emerging market for all-natural food coloring. While there are a growing number of commercial providers, if you’re willing to try “old-school” methods, Junita put together this quick list of supermarket-ready options.


Pink and Red: Beets, raspberries, pomegranate, hibiscus flowers
Orange: Carrots
Yellow: Saffron, turmeric
Green: Spinach, kale and matcha powder
Blue & Purple: Red cabbage, blueberries and blackberries

In the same issue, the Test Kitchen column examime working with natural dyes from India Tree. There are a few other natural resources you may be interested in:

Chocolate Craft Colors

Nature’s Flavors


Music as Inspiration

In the July/August issue of American Cake Decorating, chocolatier Frederic Loraschi described how he uses music to inspire him. One example he gave that we didn't include in the issue was how The Blush collection he did for Valentine’s Day was inspired by a song from Frank Wiedemann and Ry Cuming– “Howling” (Ame remix). “I thought almost everything about the song was sexy—from the title, to the beat, to some of the lyrics—and we took the title of the collection from the song’s chorus.”

Here’s a link to a youtube video for that “Howling” remix as well as links to the song’s he mentions in his ‘Share the Love’ profile:

Laurent Garnier’s “Jacques in the box” and
Loose Connection’s “Pusher”.



Cool City Chick Clutch
Refinery 29, one of our favorite fashion websites, recently ran a piece on the favorite handbags of five of their city editors. We were thrilled when we noticed that their London editor choose a DKNY clutch that is almost an exact match for the one created by Lisa Bugeja of Flour Confections in our March/April issue, just add the belted closure! Click through on the rest of the slide show to discover other handbags to use to add to your specialty cake repertoire.


Pick Your Palette
A fantastic slide show from New York magazine features key palettes from all the designers who presented last month. A great resource for putting together fashion-forward cake palettes for your clients. Click through on The Cut for additional fashion coverage from London, Paris and Milan. Just think of this as part of our ongoing fashion coverage from our own March/April fashion issue.

Your Bag and Your Body Language
The “Fashion’” theme of the March/April issue of ACD had us researching a lot of different aspects of fashion. We came across this post from
Refinery 29 about what how you hold your handbag and what it says about you. Because we have two different purse tutorials in the March/April issue, we thought we'd share this fun fashion-personality test! Image via Refinery 29. Adapted from body-laguage expert Patti Wood’s book Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma


The bitters assortment at Whisk in Brooklyn, via Robb Report.

More on artisinal bitters
The March/April issue of ACD has an article on artisinal bitters by Junita Bognanni. We didn’t have enough room to list all the many different suppliers you might want to try in your next baking experiments, so here are a few more.

The Bitter End
Bittercube
Brooklyn Bitters
Fee Brothers
A.B. Smeby Bitters
Urban Moonshine
Scrappy’s Bitters
The Bitter Truth
Bittermans

And for those of you interested in creating your own bitters, here's a recipe that attempts to recreate Abbott’s, a classic 19th c. bitter, developed by John Deragon, via Departures.

1/2 lb whole cloves
4 oz tonka beans, cracked
17 oz chopped ginger
1 1/2 oz whole cardamom
12 bay leaves
1 oz benzoin
22 tbsp ground nutmeg
2/3 oz cassia sticks
1/4 oz allspice berries
3 tsp dried gentian root
1 1/5 oz dried spearmint
1/10 oz whole star anise
1/10 oz dried lavender

Crush cardamom, allspice, and star anise. Add all ingredients to 4 1/2 cups of rye, like Rittenhouse. Seal in a Mason jar for ten days, shaking daily. Then pour through a cheesecloth to remove large solids and strain three times using a paper coffee filter, changing when clogged. Add 1 1/4 cups of water and reseal. Filter again after two days. Age the infusion for six months in a Mason jar with charred oak chips.



Photo by Amanda YC Lee, via I Am Playing With Food

Photo via Bad Joan


Multi-layered Flavors That “Pop”

Consumers are looking for bolder, gutsier flavors, according to flavoring company Comax Flavors, with a trend toward intensity and experimentation, boldness and clout. To get the impact consumers are seeking, flavors are being layered and combined in ever more intriguing ways. Following are some of their trending combinations that translate into a range of sweet options.

Herbal:
Peach Basil Black Tea--Check out Bad Joan's recipe for a peach and basil cobbler
Ginger Lime Chili
Cardamom Pear Berry----Check out Amanda YC Lee's recipe for a pear and cardamom bavarian cream cake.
Peppered Apple Bacon

Sweet & warm:
Butterscoth Coffee Crunch
Maple Bitters
Dulce de leche buttered rum
Flan de Neuz

Rich & smooth:
Pistachio Almond Cream
Pink Cherry Marshmallow
Black Russian Cappuccino
Dark Chocolate Bourbon Truffle

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The Latest on the Paris Pastry App

Over a year ago we first reported on the Paris Pastry App, a collaboration between former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz, who has lived in Paris since 2004, and Heather Stimmler-Hall, a U.S. travel journalist who launched secrets of Paris in 1999. The latest version has been completely updated with new maps, corrected text, and 25 new shops--all with reviews and photos by David. Available in both eBook and and iPhone app formats so you can read it on your computer desktop or any mobile device. Search by location or category to find listings, each with a full address and map link, closest Metro stop, phone number, opening hours, website link and, of course David’s review with photos. There's even a glossary of popular French pastry and baking terms so you'll never get your chausson aux pommes confused with your pain aux raisins again.
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retro cake

A Pinterest recipe find: Minny's Caramel Cake

If you've read 'The Help,' or seen the movie, you know Minny could whip up a Southern meal like no other. You may want to banish Minny's Chocolate Pie to the back burner or substitute an ingredient here or there, however. Instead, bake Minny's Caramel Cake for a delectable ending to any Southern meal.

Click for recipe

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retro cake

Cupcake customers bare all

Customers of a village shop and cafe in the United Kingdom have bared all for charity. Regular visitors to The Crafty Cupcake in Gamlingay decided to create their own Calendar Girls style calendar in aid of Parkinson’s UK.

Fay Boissieux, who runs the business, selected the charity because her father, Bev Keefe, suffers from the disease. She said: “Every year we try and do something for Parkinson’s. Earlier this year we arranged open gardens for the village and last year we had a burlesque. For 2013 we’ve done a calendar.

“In the calendar we are all girls – my staff that work for me and groups that come in and meet.”

These groups include a book group and the Crystal Cafe. Most of the associations that regularly stop by The Crafty Cupcake are represented.

Biggleswade photographer Darren Harbar donated his time and talent free of charge for the cause. Everyone spent an evening having their photos taken.

Fay added that although the women were a little nervous at first they were soon stripping off for the camera!

Scenes include reading naughty books, beating icing for a cake, looking into a crystal ball and using a sewing a machine.

And the models have already hit the limelight by being featured on The One Show on BBC1.

Click to read more

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retro cake

Introducing the CakeOmeter

So, you don't own the correct sized tin for your recipe? Maybe you've seen a recipe but wanted to make it on a smaller or larger scale? Or even bake a novelty cake?

Problem solved!! CakeBaker, the expert in Baking Apps has come up with a brand new, nifty little App...introducing THE CAKEOMETER now available from the AppStore. Download The CakeOmeter from the AppStore Now.

All you have to do is simply enter your recipe, the existing and new tin sizes and up pops your new recipe AND new cooking time!

Converting a 5" square to a 12" round? Simple - how about an 8" round to a Hello Kitty Head? Simple! You can even store and print your recipe off!

Over 92 tins in 26 shapes
We have data for 92 tins in the CakeOmeter in the following tin shapes: Round, Square, Bear, Butterfly, Cross, Flower, Heart, Hello Kitty Body, Hello Kitty Head, Hexagon, Horseshoe, Number 1 through to 9, Rectangle, Star, T Shirt, Teardrop, Triangle. Whatever tin you have a recipe for or want to convert to - we have the answers!

We will be releasing the iPhone and iPad version of The CakeOmeter in December 2012. Click here to preregister!

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retro cake

Simplify Pricing and Quoting with the new CakeUlator App

The folks at CakeBaker have been hearing from many cake bakers who were finding it a challenge to charge accurately for anything from a simple cupcake to an elaborate wedding cake. To address this, they wrote a web based pricing tool, with limited functionality, which is still widely used and receives great reviews.

They knew they needed to make enhancements by adding features –including saving recipes, multi-currency pricing and sending quotes. To achieve this, they have written a powerful iPhone app called the CakeUlator. The Android version is currently under development. Register here for 50% off the Android CakeUlator. The iPhone App is available now.

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Frost by Numbers - how to make frosting colors

We found a fabulous cake icing color chart online that we thought we'd share... Now you can make frosting in amazing, contemporary colors - with just a basic box of food coloring. annaandblue.blogspot.com



Now that you're going to want to start experimenting with frosting colors, we thought we'd include some basic decorating tips for getting your frosting the right consistency and selecting the correct tip... glorioustreats.blogspot.com

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