matchbox kitchen


(Above photo by Laure Joliet, shown with Triangle Coctail Napkins)

My friend Erin, who has a home goods company called Cotton & Flax, recently asked me to make some gingerbread cookies for her Fall/Winter photoshoot. I thought it would be fun to share the recipe with all of you, just in time for holiday baking.

(White Plus Tea Towel)

Perfectly paired with spiced cider, recipe coming soon! (Triangle Cocktail Napkins)

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ c dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ c molasses
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until smooth.
  2. Beat in molasses and egg. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients. Place doughplastic wrap; pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap well; chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to ⅛" thick, occasionally moving around dough to prevent sticking, only adding flour as much as you need it. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once your baking sheet is full, place in freezer for 5-10 minutes until stiff.
  5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until firm and edges begin to darken. Let cool completely then decorate or store in airtight container.

 

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Ji of Blooms In The Air and I have paired up again to create a special holiday gift box!
For this winter edition, Ji has created mistletoe, hand cut from high quality European crepe paper with hand made silver or red berries coated in German glass glitter. The other half of the gift box is my s’mores kit, similar to what I used to offer a few years ago. Both the marshmallows and graham crackers are house made with organic or sustainably sourced ingredients. The gift box also includes a holiday post card by Clap Clap that can include a personalized hand written message if you like. Lastly, everything is tied up with Italian cotton ribbon and securely packaged in a wooden basket.

We put a lot of work and careful thought into putting these boxes together. Everything from the product itself to how the shipping box opens has been carefully examined. For the holiday season we are offering two separate shipping dates to best suit your schedule. For more information and to purchase, visit our shop here: mkbita.bigcartel.com.

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Hooray! I just got the photos from my class photographer, Amanda Crew. Amanda and I met when she shot my desserts for the Spring issue of Zooey Magazine. It was so great working with her, and I’m so glad she reached out to me to photograph my cake class! She is so sweet and fun to be around. I can’t thank you enough for these photos, Amanda. Thank you!!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the class was loosely broken up in two parts. The first portion covered how to make a vanilla butter cake and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. For the second portion everyone learned how to torte, assemble, crumb coat, and decorate their own cake. Students had varying experience in baking, but everyone went home with a beautiful cake as you’ll see at the end of this post.  A lot of questions were asked that I was happy to answer, including where I source my ingredients and supplies. A big part of my class is to encourage using organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, not only because it creates a better product, but for the treatment of workers, animals (such as pasture raised eggs), and the environment.

Everyone went home with their own 6″ cake as well as a small goodie bag that included a booklet of recipes and resources. I let the class flow naturally, but before I knew it, four hours had passed! There was so much more I could have covered but it’s too much to pack into one class. I might have to add a supplementary course that will go more in depth on how to decorate cakes. (Let me know if you’re interested!)

Anyway, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Hope to see you at a future class!


Cake pinatas! I made these with an Oh Happy Day! tutorial.

Demonstrating how to make a vanilla butter cake.


Demonstrating how to make Swiss meringue buttercream.



Assembling the layered cake.



Adding the final coat of buttercream.


How to add a rustic finish to the cake.

Finishing touches.

The final product!

The next cake basics class is being planned for January. I’m also planning a class on wholesome baking with alternative ingredients, such as gluten free flours and dairy and egg replacements. Feel free to email me or comment if you are interested!

All photos in this post are credited to Amanda Crew. 

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This past weekend I taught my first, official Cake Basics Class. I say official because I taught a couple mini classes over the summer as a trial run. This most recent class, however, had eight students and was held at event space LittlemeatsLA in Lincoln Heights.

I was pretty nervous the weeks building up to the class so I tried not to think about it too much. I tried not to stress about the details and instead kind of hoped for the best. Instead of writing out a strict lesson plan, I let the class go with the flow, mostly because I knew sticking to a schedule would just freak me out more! Thankfully everything turned out wonderfully in the end. Of course, there are a few things here and there that I would change, but I couldn’t have asked for a better venue or students! Especially when I totally forgot egg whites to make buttercream, and Johanna (of LittlemeatsLA) ran out to get me a dozen eggs.

In the first half of the class, I demonstrated how to make a classic vanilla butter cake, then swiss meringue buttercream. In the second portion, everyone got to torte their cakes (that I baked in advance) and assemble a four layered cake. In the photo above everyone is putting on their finishing touches. I love how different they all came out!

The lovely Amanda Crew came by to take photos of the class, and at the end took cake portraits of every student’s creation! You can see her little photo booth set up in the background. Unfortunately right now all I have are these iphone shots, but as soon as I get my “official” photos I’ll share a more in depth post on my class.

For a bit of decor I made these pinatas from an Oh Happy Day! tutorial. I’m so happy I made them even when I thought I should be dedicating that time to something else, haha. They added just the right amount of personality to the class.

Thank you again to LittlemeatsLA for the great venue and for all your help setting up, cleaning up, getting eggs, and all the other details like refilling water and snacks for me. Such a lifesaver!

If you’re interested in taking this class (or anything else you’d like me to teach!) please leave a comment or email me and let me know! I am thinking of teaching another one in January once the holidays are over.

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As I mentioned on Instagram recently, I’ve been stuck in a baking rut. I’ve taken off the months of July and August to hone in on Matchbox Kitchen’s signature style. I want to explore different ways to decorate cakes and experiment with different ingredients and flavors. But sometimes with all the options in the world (especially with so much gorgeous fruit in the summer!) suddenly I’m paralyzed with too many options.

Thankfully, I received lots of flavor pairing ideas that kicked my brain back into motion. I started off roasting some plums with the intention to make ice cream. This ice cream to be exact. Ever since Adrianna blogged about it a year ago I’ve been wanting to make it! But of course, it’s almost my birthday and I’m trying to reduce the amount of sugar I consume before indulging in lots of desserts to drown my fears and sorrows of turning 28 (just kidding, kind of.)

Anyway, back to those roasted plums. Though they came out incredibly sweet and aromatic, I decided not to make the ice cream because I knew I’d eat the whole batch by myself, which would be me essentially downing a bottle of heavy cream. Here I had these gorgeous roasted plums with no where to go. Maybe a cake filling? Folded into scones? Nothing sounded too enticing. And then! (and I promise there is an end to this roundabout story) I came across this blueberry muffin from Honestly Yum. I have to mention that am not a muffin person at all. I mean, I’d rather just eat cake then! But this muffin was beautiful. That gorgeous blue. That fine crumbled topping. Those plump domes. Wait, am I still talking about blueberry muffins?

Then it all came together. Roasted plums instead of blueberries. Cardamom because I will add it to about every unsuspecting baked good to come out of my kitchen. A bit of hazelnut flour for extra depth and flavor. Oh, and since I recently went to Rainbow Grocery (aka bulk mecca/my idea of heaven) recently and picked up some whole grain spelt flour, throw some of that in too. You know, for good measure. I like to to make sure every ingredient I use has it’s own flavor.I am personally no longer a fan of plain, clean, perfectly polished pastries. Give me sourdough, give me tang, give me rye, kamut, buckwheat. Give me molasses and brown butter and let every ingredient stand its ground, declaring their well deserved spot in a well deserved dessert!

And that’s how these muffins came to be. How were they, you ask? Well, I’m pretty sure that once I open a bakery this is going to be on the menu. Plush, light, tender. Slightly sweet and nutty crumb interior. Bursts of jammy plum throughout. A hint of cardamom lingering in the background. The slightest crisp crumble. A beautiful, plump red dome. All my loves in one perfectly portioned muffin.

Now for some baking notes to help you along the way, because I love the technical aspect of baking, too.

NOTES

1. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT over mix your batter. Just like how lumps in pancakes are okay (yes, they are!), you need to see lumps in your muffin batter. Mixing until smooth will kick that gluten into high gear and give you tough and chewy muffins. Less mixing = light and fluffy muffins!

2. You can roast the plums a few days in advance and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. Simply cut plums in half, remove pit, place them in a baking pan and roast for 20 minutes at 400 F.

3. Browned butter is not necessary but highly encouraged. I also don’t blame you for skipping it because this is quite a number of steps for a muffin.

4. If you don’t have hazelnut or spelt flour, you can also replace them with all purpose flour. Of course, the final outcome will taste different than intended, but delicious nonetheless.

Have a question? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!

Roasted Plum, Cardamom and Hazelnut Streusel Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes 12 standard sized muffins
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • ½ c hazelnut flour
  • ¾ c cane sugar
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp browned butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 c buttermilk OR ½ c milk + ½ c yogurt
  • 1 c roasted plums
  • Streusel:
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut flour
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Whisk together flours, salt, cardamom, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar together until smooth and thickened. Add butter and oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add buttermilk/yogurt mixture and mix.
  3. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and gently mix until just barely combined. It is okay to see lumps. Do not overmix as this leads to a tougher/chewy muffin. Let batter rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  4. While the batter is resting, preheat oven to 425 F.
  5. Mix together streusel ingredients until a crumble forms. Set aside.
  6. With an immersion blender, puree half of the roasted plums until smooth and liquid. In a separate bowl, mash the rest with a fork, being sure to keep a few chunks here and there.
  7. Prepare standard sized muffin tin with liners. Fill each liner one third full, then dollop some mashed plums inside. Top off liners with more batter. Each muffin should be almost filled completely.
  8. Top each muffin with a teaspoon of plum puree. Using a skewer, stir the puree until it reaches the edges. Top off muffins with a generous sprinkling of streusel.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve with any remaining roasted plums.

 

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Last year I was on instagram and discovered Blooms In The Air, a line of flowers that looked unbelievably natural yet were made out of crepe paper. It wasn’t before long that I emailed owner/maker Ji to see if we could somehow work on a project together. She was welcoming to the idea I initially pitched to her and suggested we work on a special collaboration. From our first meeting we hit it off instantly. It’s was so funny how many similarities we had, and a great sign that our project would work out just fine.

I’m excited to share MK/BITA, a cookie gram gift box! The idea is based off of candy grams we used to send and receive in grade school. Our first gift box is made especially for Mother’s Day. You can choose between an ombre pink or fuchsia crepe paper peony by Blooms In The Air, and lavender almond or cardamom rose shortbread by myself, Matchbox Kitchen.

Each flower is skillfully made by Ji’s own two hands. They are truly beautiful and a work of art in which many hours have been poured into!

Each box of cookies contains one dozen shortbread in your flavor of choice, and as always, are made with organic and locally sourced ingredients. They are tender, not too sweet, and just the right amount of butteriness you expect from a shortbread cookie.

As a special treat, we are offering Free Shipping for all orders placed by this Sunday, April 20, until midnight PST.

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About a year ago my friend Ami was working on a personal project that featured entrepreneurs and asked to include me. She came over to take photos at my old apartment kitchen and ask me a few questions. While she decided not to go through with the project, Ami just recently sent me the photos and I thought I’d share them here, as well as the interview. It’s been interesting to look back at where I was almost exactly one year ago. Thank you Ami for the great photos and for the opportunity to capture this time capsule of my little business!

Why Matchbox Kitchen?
Matchbox Kitchen originally started as a blog to be shared between my boyfriend, Gary, and myself. He went to culinary school and cooks more savory foods while I was baked mostly as a hobby. I wanted something gender neutral and though we hadn’t moved out yet, we were planning to in the next few months and knew our first apartment would be very small. Hence, Matchbox Kitchen! We have since moved out and indeed, our kitchen is rather small.

Can you talk a little about your background and how you got into baking? Did you always know you wanted to be a baker?
Around 2009 I had been reading several blogs that would keep on mentioning a book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. These weren’t food blogs, but they’d always crank out beautiful loaves of bread, bagels, brioche, donuts, pretzels, all from the same cookbook! The next year I made it my New Year’s resolution to purchase the book and learn how to make bread. After having some success it snowballed from there. It was so exciting to make something look so professional, yet came so naturally. I loved learning the hows and whys behind baking and just kept practicing.

I don’t think I ever thought I’d become a baker. I actually went to college for graphic design, and if you asked any of my friends they would’ve said the same thing. Back then I still baked cakes and cookies from boxes (which now makes me cringe).

What was the biggest factor that made you make the leap into making baking a business?
I always knew I’d want to create something with my hands and started off selling stationery on etsy, but I wasn’t making any progress and kept it as a hobby. After baking for fun for a year or so and when I remembered that Unique LA was coming up and I thought I’d try applying for it.  I was tired of not taking risks and not doing anything with my life. My friend helped design packaging for me and I took some photos and created a website. It was actually all fake for the application! I told myself that if I got in then I’d have to go through with it, and even if it was a a horrible experience I wouldn’t have to continue. Thankfully I had an amazing time and I’ve stuck with it since.

Currently you work part-time while running your business. What is it like juggling a part-time job and your business simultaneously? Is it harder/easier than you imagined?
In the first half of 2012 I worked part-time at a bookstore while my own business was starting to pick up. My day job hours were not very flexible and it was a struggle to balance both At the end of May I decided to quit that job and work on Matchbox Kitchen full time. It was exhilarating to be able to be on my own, but after six months it started to wear down on me. There stress of having to make a certain amount of money was too much to bear, and being alone to my thoughts all day was not helpful! Thankfully I found another part time job, this time at a bakery. I truly have the best coworkers that are all supportive of my business and I have a much more flexible schedule. At this moment, working part time takes a lot of pressure off of me and allows the business to grow at my own pace. I work better when my time is filled up, so having another job gives my days more structure as I can get into a bad habit of procrastinating!

What is a day in your life like?
Most days I wake up around 8 and check my email/instagram/twitter from bed. I usually make a to do list on my phone the night before so I go through that. If I have any cake or cookie orders I start working on them so they’ll be ready to be shipped out. If not, I will try to work on the other side of the business, such as updating my website, get my paperwork and taxes organized, order supplies, etc. Some days I’ll experiment in the kitchen and take photos for my blog. Unfortunately I get sidetracked easily and will take breaks cleaning the apartment, play with my cats, or read blogs. I try to go to the gym twice a week and I work part time three times a week. Other than that, any free time is spent either baking or on the computer!

You wrote an insightful blog post on celebrating the one-year mark of running your business and the struggle that you felt during that time. Can you elaborate on that? What keeps you motivated during tough times? For you, what have been those tough times?
At the time I wrote that blog post I was under a lot of stress to push my business forward. My savings account was dwindling and I wasn’t sure how to use my last pennies to keep myself afloat. I had a few big baking jobs that went horribly (at least in my eyes). Not only were they large orders, they were bigger clients that could potentially give me my “big break,” which put a lot of pressure on me to make sure everything was perfect! Unfortunately things didn’t go swimmingly and I really wanted to give up at that point. I had lost motivation to bake and holed myself in my apartment. It was a tough couple of months, but I still had some online cookie orders and cake orders coming in and kept going even though I wasn’t enjoying it. I can’t say that I was very motivated during this time, other than feeling an obligation to my customers to keep baking.

One of the biggest concerns for new businesses is how to grow and reach clients. Do you do a lot of in-person or online networking with people one-on-one? You’re also fairly active on social media, have you found that it’s helped in the growth of your business? What do you think has been your biggest contributing factor to your growth?
I am the worst at promoting my own business, especially in person! My blog and Instagram have been tremendous help in promoting my business as they allow my photos to speak for me. The biggest factors to my growth have been working on my food photography as well as surrounding myself with a group of fellow small business owners. My friend Erin Dollar (of Cotton & Flax) started a small business group that meets up monthly to discuss our goals to help us stay accountable. Not only that but because we’re all in different stages of ownership they’ve given me so much valuable advice!

What are your ultimate goal and hopes for Matchbox Kitchen? What would mean success for you?
My ultimate goal for Matchbox Kitchen is to open up a shop/cafe/studio space. Although I mostly make desserts right now, my goal for Matchbox Kitchen is to promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I want to serve healthy options as well as indulgent ones, using only locally grown, organic ingredients. For the shop portion I’d offer sustainably produced home goods such as reusable bags, wooden cutting boards, and tea towels. As for the studio space, I would love to host classes and partner with other local businesses, such as teaching a container gardening class.

As cheesy as it sounds, success to me would be to leave a positive impact on the world, knowing that I made it a better place.

What is your advice for other who want to pursue owning their own bake shop or other creative venture?
Don’t compare yourself to others, just keep working hard in pursuit of what you love.

What is your favorite item in your shop to make/eat?
My favorite thing to make and eat are cakes! I love carefully assembling each layer, smoothing out delicious frosting, and combining different flavors and textures.

All photos by Ami Martin.

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In honor of reaching 5000 followers on Instagram I’ve decided to do a giveaway for one of my cakes! The winner will be chosen at random and will win one 6″ round cake. You get to choose the flavor! Cake must be picked up in Los Angeles and be redeemed by August 23, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I am excited to announce that I will soon be offering cake classes! The idea has been mulling in my head for the past year now, but it is only now that I’ve mustered up the courage to host them.

My first class will teach you cake baking and decorating basics. First, we will go over how to make a classic butter cake–properly measuring and preparing ingredients, how the cake batter is supposed to look like at each step, and how to know when your cake is finished baking. Next, everyone will get to assemble and decorate their own 6″ layered cake. This includes learning how to torte layers, crumb coating, decorating with buttercream, and adding final embellishments like flowers. You’ll learn helpful tips and tricks to make your cakes look and taste like they are straight from your favorite bakery. All materials and supplies will be provided and everyone will go home with their very own 6″ cake!

I am still finalizing the venue (if you know of somewhere in the Los Angeles area with access to a fridge, let me know!) but if you’d like to get the latest updates please sign up for my mailing list. I promise I won’t spam you :)

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Take the nontraditional route and have a set of bundt cakes for your wedding reception. Simple, unfussy, and can easily accommodate several different flavors to please all your guests.

Beautiful photos by Twah Dougherty.

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