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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Whisk together flours, salt, cardamom, and baking powder. Set aside.
Beat eggs and sugar together until smooth and thickened. Add butter and oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add buttermilk/yogurt mixture and mix.
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.
While the batter is resting, preheat oven to 425 F.
Mix together streusel ingredients until a crumble forms. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve with any remaining roasted plums.
Liquid sweetener of choice, to taste (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.)
In a small bowl, smash together diced strawberries and 1 tbsp sweetener to draw out juices. Set aside.
In a separate medium sized bowl, mix together coconut milk and sweetener to taste. For reference, I used about 3-4 tbsp honey.
Add strawberries, including liquid, to the coconut milk mixture and whisk until combined and tinted pink. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
To make crunchy topping, toast pecan flour and oat flour together on a stove top and set aside. Alternately, you may use ready made granola (just take out any dried fruit), corn flake cereal, or rice crispy cereal. Pulse together in a food processor with whole nuts and transfer to a medium bowl.
Once popsicles are frozen, remove from mold and roll in granola/nut mixture. Enjoy immediately or place back into freezer.
A few weeks ago I was asked to make some cupcakes for an intimate wedding ceremony. They wanted something light and fresh, so we decided on half strawberry and half vegan lemon cupcakes. The bride and groom relayed that vegans and non vegans alike enjoyed the desserts, which is always a compliment! After a few requests on instagram I thought I’d share the recipe here.
Now, this is not a traditional lemon curd but instead a thickened, sweet and tart lemon spread, but delicious nonetheless. Everything is a breeze to whip up and the only specialty ingredient is a vegan butter. I used soy free Earth Balance.
Vegan frosting: I don’t have a recipe but instead just go by flavor. I start off with how much frosting I might need, like, “2 sticks worth of earth balance sounds about right,” and then add powdered sugar until it’s sweet enough. For this batch I added a bit of the vegan lemon curd for some more lemony flavor. If you need a recipe, here’s one to start off with.
Making filled cupcakes: Just scoop a bit of the cupcake out in the middle and fill it with whatever you want. I use a small paring knife and cut a little wedge out. Just make sure you don’t cut too wide that the frosting doesn’t cover up the hole! Make sure your cupcakes and your filling are room temperature so the filling doesn’t melt into the cupcake.
A couple weekends ago Gary and I took a day trip out to Santa Barbara. Work has been all over the place lately and I thought a change of scenery would be nice. While my timing wasn’t so great (I had to bake almost every cookie for our MK/BITA cookie gram the next day), the trip was surprisingly refreshing and restorative.
We started off our trip at the new Santa Barbara Public Market. I’ve been eager to try Enjoy Cupcakes ever since I discovered them on instagram and their cupcake flight did not disappoint. Gary had yet to drink his morning coffee so after a circle around the rest of the market we went to The French Press. I didn’t order anything so I can’t speak on flavor, but the service was very friendly and welcoming! A nice change from certain hipster coffee shops in Los Angeles.
After coffee we walked down State Street. I had no clue it was the street to be on and that most businesses I bookmarked would be on or nearby State. After some window shopping we ended up eating lunch at Cajun Kitchen Cafe. I didn’t have a spot bookmarked for lunch so this was a last minute decision, but we both quite enjoyed it! It was a typical greasy spoon/diner but with Southern/Creole food. Gary and I shared their breakfast gumbo and some plain beignets.
Our next stop was the Santa Barbara Mission. We didn’t take a tour so I don’t have photos, but the weather was nice and the quick drive over was through a nice neighborhood with pretty houses.
After that we headed to the beach. Natalie suggested I visit the one directly across from the Four Seasons, Butterfly Beach. It was seriously beautiful, relaxing, calming, and overall so enjoyable. I’ve really never been a beach person. I think it’s because growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, my two most frequented beaches were Santa Monica and Venice, which aren’t exactly the cleanest. I’m also pretty terrible at relaxing/laying out (I could doing something!) but the small beach was the perfect distance for a short, leisurely walk. And we saw a bunch of dolphins! We looped back around then walked into The Four Seasons. Wow! Was that a gorgeous hotel or what. It was nice to feel fancy, even if for just 20 minutes.
(can you see me?)
Next it was time for something sweet. My friend Michelle proclaimed Rori’s as the best ice cream she’s ever had, so of course we had to try. I ordered their lemon curd ice cream which had lemon curd swirled throughout and Gary ordered a chocolate mint patty. Both were absolutely delicious. Knowing we still had other place we wanted to try, we both ordered an “itty bitty” scoop that was the perfect size. It even came with an adorable matching mini waffle cone! Seriously, all ice cream places need to offer this size!
It was too early for dinner so I suggested that we visit a grocery store. Not a common destination while on vacation, but after finding it on Zero Waste Home’s Bulk Food app, I wanted to visit, hoping it would be similar to Rainbow Grocery in SF. The Isla Vista Food Co-op was right by UC Santa Barbara and it made me a little jealous of those college students having a store like this so accessible. They sold Fat Uncle Farms almonds in bulk so we got a couple treats for the drive home. While much smaller than Rainbow, it was such a great little market for the community. I really wish there was something similar in my neighborhood.
Dinner was eaten at Sama Sama Kitchen. The space was so clean and crisp, our server was nice, and the food was good. Ultimately we were expecting something else and left slightly disappointed.
To finish off the trip we went to McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. Gary introduced me to McConnell’s by bringing home a pint of their peppermint ice cream a couple years ago. We tried a bunch of different flavors but I ultimately chose blueberries and cream. It had whole, fresh blueberries inside! Gary went with cookies and cream, which I also liked, but I really loved my choice.
All in all, it was so great to get away from LA for the day. Of course, we couldn’t wait to get home and missed our cats (and hoped they didn’t get into any tussles while we were gone). I haven’t taken day trips since I was a kid and you know, didn’t really have anything to get away from, but now I feel like I need to schedule one every month!
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.
I recently had a request to make egg free, dairy free carrot cupcakes and they were a hit with vegans and non vegans alike. Many were requesting the recipe on my instagram (make sure you’re following me there as I update that more often) which I am happy to share.
Now, this isn’t your typical carrot cake. A lot of the fat is replaced with applesauce and there isn’t a lot of sugar in them. They are more like carrot muffins than a cake. But it doesn’t mean that they’re not good! Also, once they’re frosted you don’t really want them too sweet anyway. I frosted these with a vanilla buttercream made with earth balance, powdered sugar, a bit of almond milk, and vanilla extract. No recipe, just kept whipping until I got to a flavor and consistency I liked.
It’s very important that you let these cupcakes cool completely. I’ve had them straight out of the oven and they’re sort of a gummy mess. Letting them cool the crumb dry out a bit to have a nicer texture. I’ve even left them overnight in the fridge and on the counter and they’ve both been delicious.
Lastly, feel free to add any additional spices you like. Cloves, more cinnamon, vanilla extract. You can also replace some of the liquid with crushed pineapple, if that’s your thing. Let me know what you think!
When it comes to development for future Matchbox Kitchen offerings, I’ve been trying to relax a bit and experiment with new flavors and decorating techniques. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone when you know certain things work together, but to be honest I’ve been pretty bored with the usual combinations. This cake was no exception. The combination might sound strange, or even off putting, but I quite liked it. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with the cake. Did I want something soft and pillowy with a slightly spiced accent, or did I want something more dense and hefty with a chunks of strawberries simmered with balsamic vinegar? Instead of being paralyzed with all the options in front of me, I dove in before I could over think it.
The result is a very soft cake, thanks to the use of spelt flour, lightly hinted with ground cardamom and a swirl of strawberry balsamic sauce throughout. Diced strawberries are folded in for added bursts of flavor. It also happens to be dairy free. I finished off the cake with sliced strawberries and a random assortment from the pantry: dried rose petals, chia seeds, and crumbled shortbread. These were added mostly for visual and textural aspect and did not add flavor.
The cake was also fine without all the stuff on top so you can see the strawberry balsamic swirl. Here, I added a light sprinkling of turbinado sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 6 inch round baking pan.
In a small saucepan, simmer strawberry jam and balsamic vinegar together. Alternately, you can dice fresh strawberries and cook them down with a bit of sugar if you do not have jam. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together spelt flour, salt, cardamom, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whip egg white until soft peaks form, then add 2 tbsp sugar and whip until firm, glossy peaks form. Set aside.
In another separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk, oil, remaining 2 tbsp sugar, and grated apple until combined. Add mixture to dry ingredients and mix together just until there is no more patches of flour. Fold in a third of the whipped egg whites until mixture has loosened up, then fold remaining egg whites in 2 more batches. Be careful not to overwork and deflate batter. Fold in diced strawberries.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until done.
A few weeks ago I made friands for the LA cake club meeting. Admittedly, I needed something quick, easy, and low maintenance to bring since I was running around doing last minute errands for the club. Somehow I settled on making these almond berry friands even though I’ve never made them before!
Friands are very similar to French financiers. They’re both made with egg whites and melted/browned butter, and the process is very much the same. In Australia friands are common and can be found in most cafes and bakeries, but pretty much unheard of in the US. My mom is in Australia at the moment so I asked her to bring me back a friand baking pan. I have to say I’m pretty excited about that. One day, when I open my own store front, maybe I can popularize friands over here
The recipe is really a cinch to put together. You don’t even have to brown the butter, but it does add a lot of flavor. Best of all, you can make the batter ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready. My version is slightly more healthful, using wholesome ingredients like almond meal, oat flour, and only maple syrup as a sweetener.