Bouchon Bakery

 

Photo of image by Jones, Deborah. “Bouchon Bakery”, 2012, Front Cover.

As I’ve said before, baking is my happy place! Over the years I have baked everything from brownies to cream puffs.  I started out baking small birthday cakes for family and before I knew it I was decorating large wedding cakes for the local bakery. I have always enjoyed developing my baking skills and rarely felt intimidated trying new recipes and techniques.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never been good at baking bread. I’m not talking quick breads, I’m talking REAL bread. The kind that uses yeast, and bakes up with a beautiful crust, and tastes delicious. This confession is shocking, I know. It’s not that I’ve never tried, because over the years I actually have made several wholehearted attempts at baking bread. But inevitably, it just never works out.

Several years ago I took a fun little weekend getaway with my husband to Portland, Oregon. One of the things that we did while we were there was go to Powell’s book store, or more formally known as Powell’s City of Books. Now if you have never been to Powell’s, you have really missed out. Powell’s is the largest independently owned new and used book store in the WORLD and they have been in business for 50 years. The Burnside location covers an entire city block and is estimated to have approximately one million books. The books are a wonderful mix of both used and new books, all intermingled together in what must be thousands of shelves. The organized by subjects within nine color-coded rooms that are connected by odd stairways and passages. In fact, Powell’s even provides maps at the front counter so that you can figure out where to locate your book. It’s extremely easy to get lost in this book store, which is exactly why you need to go.

Photo of image by Jones, Deborah. “Bouchon Bakery”, 2012, p. 289.

Anyway, while wandering through stacks and stacks of books, I happened upon a beautiful book by the name of Bouchon Bakery, written by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxe. Bouchon Bakery was founded in 2003 by renowned chef Thomas Keller in Yountville, California. It was originally opened to provide artisanal breads for Chef Keller’s nearby restaurants. However, the bakery became a popular location to visit in it’s own right. This is absolutely no surprise given the exquisite breads and desserts shown in the many gorgeous photographs in the book.

I had every intention to start baking my way through that book right away, but one commitment after another kept taking priority. Before I knew it the book was being packed away for a long-distance move and then it remained in storage for nearly a year. I kept thinking about improving my bread baking, and of course the Bouchon Bakery book is what I knew I needed to use. I’m happy to say that I have finally managed to procure my book. I have begun my bread baking journey and I’m excited to start sharing my adventures with you.

 

References:

Powell’s City of Books. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.travelportland.com/attractions/powells/

About Bouchon Bakery, Yountville, CA. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.thomaskeller.com/bouchonbakeryyountville

Powell’s City of Books. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.powells.com/locations/powells-city-of-books

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Chocolate Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Butter Cupcake

I just finished baking my first assigned recipe from an awesome cookbook called Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.  I have joined a group of internet bakers who are all baking the same recipe each week and blogging about their experience.  The recipe this week was Chocolate Butter Cupcakes.  I was grateful that I was starting out on a somewhat easier recipe because this week has turned into a bit of a challenge for me which resulted in having to cook in a kitchen that is not my own. My husband has Alpha One and needs a liver transplant.  This week he was unexpectedly hospitalized for an infection and I have been staying at the Transplant House near the hospital since it is several hours from our home.  I was a little worried about having everything I needed and since I left home rather hurriedly, I didn’t have time to bring baking things.  I was so happy to see that they had a KitchenAid and they also had muffin pans.  The kitchen actually was beautiful and more spacious than my own, but I felt like a fish out of water not being able to find things when I wanted them.

Preparing to bake

So there were a few “firsts” in cooking this recipe.  I don’t know if I am strange or what, but I have never sprayed and floured my cupcake liners before.  Most of the time they come right off without a problem but I have had a few times that they didn’t so I figured I’d better follow the instructions  and sprayed and floured the liners.  I noticed when I was icing the cupcakes later on that the papers pulled away very easily.  Another first was using King Arthur cake flour.  When I was in the grocery store I saw the King Arthur flour and since I had never used it before I thought I would give it a try (after all, it cost more than the other brand so it must be better, right?)  Lastly, since I wasn’t at home with all my decorating equipment, I ended up decorating with some products I have never used before.

I was very impressed with how detailed Rose was about each step of the recipe.  I mixed the cocoa in the hot water and let it cool.  I mixed the liquid ingredients.  Then  I combined it all for the batter.  The recipe was really quite easy to make.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my usual scoop for filling the cupcake liners so I just scooped them in using a regular spoon.  Into the oven they went.  The first time I checked them they weren’t quite done.  You will see a big dent in one of the cupcakes in the photo where I pressed in a little heavily when I checked.  I gave them a few more minutes and they were done and looked beautiful.

For the icing I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do so I used one of the recipes recommended by Rose in the introduction  to the cupcake section.  I started out thinking I would make the Egg White Chocolate Buttercream but somehow got confused and did the shopping for the  Golden Neoclassic Buttercream and didn’t realize until I was in the midst of making it that I had switched.  I was intrigued with the golden syrup that Rose talks about but wasn’t sure what it was.  I’m not sure if it is karo syrup that is golden versus the light or dark syrup or of it is some other brand of syrup, but I couldn’t find any so I went with the light karo.  The Golden Neoclassic was very different than any icing I had made before.  The only thing that went a bit different than the instructions was that when I had the corn syrup and sugar in the pan over medium high heat, I was supposed to watch for bubbles at the edge of the pan and let it cook a few more minutes until there were bubbles all over.  Mine went from bubbles on the outer edge to bubbling all over and bubbling out of control in a matter of seconds so I pulled it off right away.  I think this was probably due to the fact that I was working on a stove that I wasn’t familiar with and it was probably cooking a little hotter than indicated.  I was a little worried that it wasn’t going to be the right consistency since we didn’t use a thermometer,  but I went ahead and added it to the eggs.  I whipped it until the bowl had cooled, about 7 minutes, and then added the butter and vanilla.  I then added some chocolate.    Normally I would pipe the frosting onto the cupcake with a large tip, but I didn’t have my equipment and I’m not sure that this icing would have held up well with that.  It seems to be an icing that does better for just spreading .  The cupcakes would have been fine without any decoration but I decided that as long as I had all these cupcakes made I would take them to the hospital to give to the nurses as a thank you.  So I tried some nifty little squeeze bottles of Wilton icing I got from the grocery store and some plastic decorating tips. (This made me laugh because only a few months ago I got mad at a friend of mine for using these instead of the regular bags and tips.)   I was much more limited on what I could do, but for a little bit of quick decorating they were fine.

The cupcakes were very good.  The texture was more dense than a typical cupcake and they were very chocolatey.  My husband really liked the buttercream as it had a little bit of caramel undertone to the flavor.   I enjoyed the unique flavor of the buttercream as well.  All in all I consider this project a success.

I’m really exited about next week’s assignment – Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake.  And I’m really looking forward to being home in my own kitchen.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone.  Today is the first day of 2012!   I wonder what this year will hold for me and my family.  I’m trying not to have any preconceived expectations because this year will inevitably be a year of change.  But as Price Pritchett said, “Change always comes bearing gifts” and I do believe that to be true. After all, last year was full of changes and I received so many blessings I would never have expected.  I start this year with a new job and I am getting settled into a new routine which feels good.  I am excited to have the time to start blogging again and am already planning a few things I want to try.

For a while now I’ve been wanting to make a gingerbread centerpiece.  I had plans to make them and give them as gifts to a few people. So I shopped and shopped to find small candles.  I made the dough and baked the cookies.  And then life got a bit out of control and I had to work all through Christmas.  Needless to say, the centerpieces didn’t get made.   This weekend I looked at my gingerbread cookies and decided that rather than throw it all away, I would try to make them into New Year’s centerpieces.  They aren’t what I would have made if the circumstances were different, but I was happy with them all the same.

I wish you all a happy new year and hope that each of  you can find peace and happiness in your lives.

 

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Curtis Stone’s Low Cal Cupcakes

This past year has been a little stressful for me.   And when I saw a “little” stressful, I mean that sarcastically.  In reality, this past year has been MASSIVELY stressful.  Which is not good for an emotional eater.  What’s crazy is that I didn’t even realize until last month how much emotional eating I had been doing.  I mean I knew my clothes were a fitting a little tighter and alL — but when I  stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office I just about had a heart attack right there.  That was it.

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Spring Has Sprung

With the first day of spring behind us, I have officially survived another midwest winter.  Rochester had record amounts of snow this year (of course) and the snow was piled about 4 feet high in our front yard.  Most of the mailboxes down are street were barely peaking above the snowline for several months.  But after about a week of temperatures in the 40’s (yay!) the snow melted surprisingly quickly.  Even with a surprise snow storm that laid down a couple of inches earlier this week, we can now see almost all of the front lawn.

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How Sweet It is

I am so lucky to have spent the last 25 years married to my best friend.  Through those years we have experienced so much in life.  We have raised a family, pursued our dreams, struggled and succeeded, enjoyed life together and had a lot of fun.   So it’s been difficult for me to adjust to living with hubby’s chronic illness and the uncertainty that our future holds.  The empty nest years have hardly been what we planned and dreamed of  — at least not yet.

These days I try to focus on the many blessings we have and the little things we enjoy each day.  Yesterday I had an especially sweet moment and I wanted to share it.  I was at the hospital visiting hubby who has been there for the past week. Late in the afternoon I started to feel a headache coming on so I took some pain reliever and waited.  Before long my headache turned into a full blown migraine.  My head felt like it was going to explode into a million pieces and I actually welcomed the idea of that happening if it would stop the pain.  Hubby knew that I really needed to lay down and so he suggested that I lay down next to him.   The pain continued to rage and before I knew it Marshall left the room and returned with an ice pack for me.  Not only that, but he walked down to the patient lounge and bought me a soda and pretzels.  Now how many women are lucky to have a husband who is that thoughtful and caring at any time but especially when he is in the hospital and needing to be cared for himself?  Yes,  I consider myself one of the luckiest girls in the world and I am so grateful for a husband who makes my life so sweet.

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