Wednesday, April 9, 2014

This week in the bakery… spring is in the air

This week in the bakery we swapped our ski hats for bandanas (more normal for an artisan bakery. Read more about why we bake in ski gear here). As the weather changes from "jayyyysus what a horrible day!" to "bejaysus what a fine day!" 2 holidays are nipping at our heels - Passover and Easter.

Passover lands first this year. It goes by the Jewish, lunar calendar so won't fall on the same day each year. In brief, Passover is the Jewish holiday that remembers the slavery then exodus of the Hebrews in ancient Egypt. It is so famous that they made a film about it starring Charlton Heston. Learn more about Passover here.

To celebrate, we eat. There are however things we shouldn't eat for Passover including wheat, corn or anything leavened (this is to remember the Hebrews fleeing Egypt in such a rush that there was no time for the bread to rise). Passover cake recipes are therefore made using alternate ingredients. This recipe uses ground almonds, butter and melted chocolate for a gooey, chocolatey and gluten-free cake. This cake is Italian Jewish, and is the very cake I baked for RTÉ last week. 
Sunday at 5:30 on RTÉ One just got awkward

Chocolate Pudding Cake (Budino di Mandorle e Cioccolata)

280g Irish salted butter
260g 70% chocolate
300g ground almond
280g granulated or caster sugar
8 Irish Free Range Eggs, separated

Preheat your oven to 300 / 150 / Gas 2. Prepare a 12" lined baking tin (springform tins don't really work for this) and place the tin in a larger roasting tray. 
Whisk egg whites to a firm peak. Set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks and sugar until very pale. stream in your melted butter/chocolate mixture. 
Fold in your egg whites in 3 additions. 
Pour the batter into your lined baking tin. Pour water in your roasting tray (this creates a bain marie) and gently place your batter/tin/tray contraption in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Be very careful when removing the cake from the oven because that splashy water will a) be very hot, and b) will make your cake gross if you soak it.
Enjoy the cake hot or cold. 

And now for an Easter recipe, as recommended by This Week in AspicThank you. They were yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmy. The lemon juice balances perfectly with the lavender, preventing the cookies from tasting like potpourri. 

Lemon & Lavender Cookies
adapted from When Harry Met Salad

190g sugar + extra for sprinkling
zest of 1 lemon
4 sprigs / 2 teaspoons dried lavender 
30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
315g plain flour
pinch salt
180g Irish butter, salted. Chilled and cut into small cubes.
1 Free Range Irish egg yolk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

In a food processor, blitz the sugar, lemon zest, and lavender to release all the Springtime aromas (around 1 minute).

Sift the flour, and salt. Add to the food processor and blitz again to combine (a couple of pulses will do). Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mix looks like chunky bread crumbs. Add the lemon juice. Blitz. Add the vanilla. Blitz. Add the egg yolk. Blitz.

Turn your mixture out on to a lightly floured surface and form a sausage/log shape. Wrap in parchment paper and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Or you can continue tomorrow. 

When you're ready to make your cookies, preheat the oven to 375/190/gas 3. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice your cookie log into ¼" rounds and space about ½" apart. Bake about 15 minutes, just until the edges started to go golden colored. 


Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This week in the bakery…was insanely good

What's whirler than a whirlwind? This week was that. In a wonderful way
Sunday: 2 worlds collided and my delivery vehicle solved a crime
Corrina and Caryna, united at last. Corrina represents Lovin' from the Oven (West Coast) and I, Lovin' form the Oven (East Coast). Click on the picture to read about the strange set of coincidences that led to our meeting.
This is Raquel, the trusty Vespa I used to deliver cake at the very beginnings of Caryna's Cakes. This week Raquel was a pivotal piece of evidence, instrumental in the solving of a crime involving damage to 6 cars in an underground car park. Apparently the criminal attempted to hot-wire poor Raquel and after being subjected to fingerprint analysis by the Gardai, she identified the culprit. All in a day's work, ladies. 

Monday: I supply 3 out of 10 of the best cafés in the country and I fix myself a drink

The Irish Times named the top 10 cafés in Ireland (6 are in Dublin) and Caryna's Cakes proudly supports 3 of them. Coffee Together, Clement & Pekoe, and The Coffee Dispensary in Block T.

Mondays are taxing and Tuesdays are my day off. This Tuesday Slow Food Dublin had a cocktail making class, taught by the wonderful Paul Lambert of the Blind Pig speakeasy. I only spilled one cocktail on myself (those shakers are tricky buggers).

Tuesday:Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. And a hike

Wednesday: My face is HUGE in print and on camera
This wonderful article was published in the Irish Times regarding food businesses who start out in markets, with contributions by Caryna's Cakes.
Later that day RTE came by the bakery to film me making an Italian Jewish chocolate pudding cake (Italian Jewish chocolate pudding cake is part of my heritage)for a program about Passover (to be aired on April 13th I believe)
Thursday: I'm a Who's Who! 

To top off the week, the very respected John & Sally McKenna of McKenna's Guides (formerly Bridgestone Guides) named me in their "Who's Who" of Irish food. The notice went out in their megabits newsletter and the review it linked to was INCREDIBLE. John and Sally, I know you live far away from me but I will find you and I will hug you. Amazing.

Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This week in the bakery… I ate the Swedish thing

This week was my birthday. And St-Patrick's Day. And a long weekend. To celebrate, I spent a few days in Stockholm with friends and I made it my business to taste all the best Kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) in all the land. I mapped out bakery stops and with the help of my dear friend Ann, who is always there when I need her, and we tasted cake in each stop. We've done this before along with my dear friend Margie and cupcakes in NYC. The first few feel like fun, the middle few feel like work, by the last few it's back to fun because you are cake drunk. 

This bun from Drop Coffee was spiced with cardamom. It was delicious, but not the winner...

I'm kind of like a scientist.
See how portions of coffee beans are stored in corked sciencey tubes? Science. 

Long live the dessert buffet/ Smorgasbord! 

There were lots of bakeries everywhere. I love that in a city.

And the winner was…

The ABBA museum! Just kidding. there were no cinnamon buns there. But there should be. As well as "I Believe in Angels Food Cake," "Thank You for the Muesli," Knowing Meat(balls), Knowing You," "Cream of Mushroom Souper Trouper," "Poulet Vous," and "Onion Ring Rings." Collaborative credit owed to Don for this excellent work.  

It took some talented map reading by Ann to get us here but when we got here we were home. Home to the most delicious cinnamon bun of life. Cafe Saturnus, Eriksbergsgatan 6 Östermalm,
+46 8 6117700; 

Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This week in the bakery… we exchange recipes

I, along with my friend Aliki Courmanopoulos, of This week in aspics blog, have embarked in a recipe exchange. The idea is that we send each other a recipe to try to bake and eat, and return with comments and recommended adjustments. 

My assignment was what I am calling Chewy Almond Tea Cookies (because they are chewy, make with almond and go very nicely with a cup of tea). These cookies are incidentally Gluten-free. 

Here's my review and recipe for Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies (original recipe is from Joy the Baker

Ali said, "Here's my recipe I want you to trial run. I made these two years ago for my christmas baskets and they did not turn out...regardless they were everyone's favorites. Note, almond paste is not marzipan.... a fact I was unawares of when I made these." 

I was a tad nervous to try Joy the Baker’s Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies, because a) even just the name has so much going on that I suspected a lot of work would be involved, b) I have tried a few Joy the Baker recipes in the past and found them pretty hit or miss. In fairness to JTB this could have been due to a loss in translation between Cups (a North American recipe measurement) and grams (an Irish/UK recipe measurement), and c) if I could not help Ali in making these cookies a success then I have failed as a professional baker. Also, can we address the fact that this recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour, but there is no flour in the recipe? Suspicious…

Armed with Ali’s warning about Almond Paste not being the same as marzipan (which I knew but totally forgot), I trawled the Internet for a straight-forward recipe. As it turns out, almond paste has to cool before you can use it, so these cookies turned out to be a 2-day event.

I used homemade vanilla extract instead of vanilla seeds. Homemade vanilla is more concentrated than what you can buy in the store, so I’d recommend some vanilla bean paste. Using whole vanilla beans is so 2008. I used 1 large orange for the zest, not bothering to measure out how much it actually yielded. I figured while I was there, just keep zesting. I then ate the orange because it would be awhile yet until I could eat me some cookies. I finished off the cookies as the recipe instructed – “using the tips of three of your fingers, make indentations in each cookie.” I am not sure why King Arthur, Joy or I have done this, as the impact on the baked cookie is pretty insubstantial. Was the point to make them look like clouds? ‘Cause they don’t. I’d say flattening with a damp spoon, a fork or even pressing them out in one of those spritz press contraptions would be grand too. Whatever tickles your fancy.

Once baked and cooled, the cookies were DEVOURED. They were chewy, not too sweet and perfect with a cup of tea. I was teaching a gluten-free baking class that evening and, as these cookies are incidentally gluten-free I offered a taste to the students. The consensus was that these cookies are a YES.

Adapted recipe:

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies (Can we just call them Chewy Almond Tea Cookies?)

Almond Paste (makes 400g)
125g sugar
35g honey
50g water
250g ground almond

Directions: Heat the sugar, honey and water to a strong boil. Pour over the ground almonds and beat until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Wrap in cling film and flatten to a disk. Cool overnight

250g granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
1tsp vanilla bean paste
280g almond paste (which you prepared yesterday)
pinch of salt
2 large free range egg whites (or 60g), lightly beaten
¼ tsp almond extract
Icing sugar for dusting

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 150 degrees C.
In a small bowl or mixer, mix together granulated sugar, orange zest, and scraped vanilla seeds.  
Add the almond paste.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.
While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl with the salt.  Whisk until loose and frothy.  
With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.
Scoop batter by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet (an ice cream scooper works well for this). 
Sprinkle generously with icing sugar.  Gently press the cookies, either using a damp spoon, fork or by using the tips of three of your fingers, make indentations in each cookie.
Bake cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

This week in the bakery…the cakes are ready for their closeups

This week has passed like dog years. 4 weeks of work have happened in 7 human days. 

The week always starts with a rush on deliveries to coffee shops and restaurants. Everything is baked fresh and is delivered under the wire before lunch
This Hobart mixer is my favorite piece of kit in the bakery. She is a beast.
Once all of the Monday orders were done and delivered, I was able to start on decorating the display wedding cakes I had designed for an ad in the next issue of BASH wedding magazine. Working with fondant in a cold bakery calls for muscles, plans and forearms of steel. 
By the end of Wednesday, all of the display cakes were ready for their closeups. 
I can be pretty dopey when it comes to bothering to do the very important job of taking pictures of my cakes once they are decorated. I'm usually so delighted to have them done and eager to give them to their intended that it clouds my foresight. The cakes are not long gone before hindsight kicks in. 
So the wonderfully talented Mark Duggan came to the bakery to photograph the series of cakes. He is especially good at making things look stylish and delicious.

My degree in Communications Studies came to use in my role as photographer's assistant that day.  
Then there was more baking, a market, more baking and some more decorating. There was a Christening cake for Holly but I of course forgot to take a picture. I've really got to work on that... 
There was this Lego cake for a fan named Tom

and there was a Peppa Pig cake for an adorable fan named Alannah
This week has left me feeling like 'what just happened?' So much so that I keep writing and re-writing this final sentence and feel the most eloquent way to put it is to say, I'm a stunned banana. 

Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland

Saturday, February 22, 2014

This week in the bakery… I listen

I am the boss of me but I'm not always a very nice boss to me. In example, I often make myself work through lunch, forcing myself to consume my mid-day calories in liquified form from a takeaway mug (I moved on to soups. At least I've quit the baby food. That's progress...). On a Saturday morning, however, when the alarm goes off at 6am, I am thinking very kind thoughts to my employee self. "Snooze that there alarm. 20 more minutes' sleep is grand. You'll make up the time when you get there by working quicker." As if it's possible to work fast at that ungodly hour when you feel like the rest of the world is cozy under their warm duvets.  

It isn't the joy of baking that gets me out of bed so early on these occasions. It's not pride in my work or a feeling of responsibility to the customers awaiting their cake. It's the podcast. 

I strategically store up episodes of my favorite podcasts for tasks that I am less than enthusiastic about. Ginormous pile of dishes to wash? Joy the Baker podcast makes it fun! Tons of cake boxes to stamp and fold? This American Life makes it fascinating. Stirring butterscotch as it slowly changes from pale to golden brown? The Savage Lovecast makes it kinda crazy.

Here is a list of my favorite audio entertainment:

For when I feel like hanging out with my girlfriends - Joy the baker Podcast

For when I want to be inspired - This American Life

For a bit of smut, good advice and to feel like my life is very normal in comparison to some - Savage Lovecast

When I want to be transported by a good short story - The Moth Podcast

When I want to laugh - Uhh Yeah Dude

Audiobooks are more of a "making a wedding cake"-type time commitment - David Sedaris Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Tina Fey Bossypants

And now you can go forth and enjoy folding your laundry.

Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland

Monday, February 17, 2014

This week in the bakery… I find myself

This week in the bakery I was having an identity crisis. 
Nothing to do with Valentine's Day. I don't mind any occasion to wear festive socks

I was having an identity crisis, but then I found myself. Or an alternate version of me. In fairness, an entirely other person with enough in common with me to make me acknowledge, as I often do, that the world is funny. In a weird way. 

I had been toying with the idea of moving away from the bakery's trading name, Caryna's Cakes. People seem to struggle with the Caryna part. "Carnya?" "Carvna?" "Ca-rye-na?" It's the Y that throws people. To add to the confusion, there is another Carina in Cork making cakes, and goes by Carina's Cakes. What are the chances of that in a country as tiny as Ireland? Slim,  but there you have it. I have and she has

I thought I'd just go back to the registered name of the business, Lovin' from the Oven Ltd. Here is the odd sequence of events that followed:

  • was already acquired by one of those American domain collection companies who sell the website address from a massive profit. How much for $23,000.00!! Pfffttt...
  • wasn't an option either. It was taken (what??!!)This is odd in Ireland because unlike in America, you must have the company name before you can acquire the website name. 
  • I had a look at… It was a cake company (no shock there). Run by a girl named Corrina (wait, what??!!). 
  • My company is Lovin' from the Oven Ltd. so there could not be any other company in Ireland called Lovin' from the Oven. I searched the Company registration website and found that Corrina's company was indeed also registered as Lovin' from the Oven (hang on, what??!!).
  • How could this have happened? How could both companies be called Lovin' from the Oven? Before my company was processed as registered on the 11th March 2011, no company by that name came up on the search. Well as it turns out, Corrina's company registration was processed on the 10th March 2011, just ONE DAY before me (w-what??!!). This must have been the reason for the oversight at the Companies Registration Office.
  • I rang Corrina and explained this very odd collision of similarities. She was so nice, equally shocked and was like, "where is your accent from?" "Oh, I'm Canadian but I've been living here in Ireland for 10 ½ years…" "What??!! I'm Canadian too" (of course you are!)
  • So there you have it. Lovin' from the Oven is available on the East and West coast of Ireland, brought to you by 2 Canadian Caryna's/Corrina's who had the bright idea/s to call their bakery companies the same thing at the same time. We are organizing a meet up and pictures will follow, as long as we do not cause a tear in the time/space continuum. 

So the bakery shall remain Caryna's Cakes. Caryna may be a unique way to spell the name, but that's me.

Here is a picture of me earlier today, in all my individual weirdness 
Glasses: a Dublin Flea Market purchase. The lenses are glass. I have no reason to wear them other than for inspiration. Wearing glasses inspires me to do my accounting.
Jumper / Sweater: Sequence multi-coloured bows on angora. This was a gift from my sister. She has an OBSESSION with ugly sweaters. Like, intervention - level obsession. This one reminds me of Rose Nylund (aka Betty White) and so I love it.
E.T.: He is the bakery mascot. Isn't he cool in his teeny hoodie? He's usually the one sporting the hipster gasses.
In the snack cupboard over my left shoulder: Miso cup o' soup and chia seeds.
Also in the snack cupboard: A collection of stamps from letters received where An Post was less than thorough with the postmark, allowing me to recycle.
Laptop cover: Aquamarine. My birthstone color. Made in Hong Kong. Bought on eBay.

Twitter: @carynascakes
Facebook: Caryna's Cakes
Phone: 086 0703425
Address: Terenure Enterprise Centre, 
17 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, 
Dublin 6w, Ireland