Bake a Cake!
There's nothing like a baking project to remind you of all that is good in the world. Perhaps it's time to get out your cookbooks and peruse the recipes with greatest number of butter and flour smears?
This weekend, we are definitely going to bake a cake. So, this issue is brimming with our favorite recipes and products.
So, let's begin with the best ingredients. Because we all know that good ingredients make a huge difference in the quality and consistency of your baked goods. Here are our staff picks for everything you will need for great results!
We cannot overemphasize how wonderful
King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
is for baking. It is consistent and dependable. And, for our gluten-free friends (and guests) you can't go wrong with
Cup Multipurpose Flour
. All you need to do is substitute it directly in a recipe, and it really works!
Spectrum Culinary Non-Stick Cooking Spray
Spectrum Culinary Non-Stick Cooking Spray brings fresh aroma and clean flavor to you favorite baking projects we carry both their Coconut and Canola Oils.
Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter
is a silky-smooth butter that is churned to 86% butterfat. It creates flakier pie crusts and a finer cake crumb. And, try it on toast! The culture adds a wonderfully tangy flavor.
Petaluma Pastures Organic Pasture Raised Eggs taste better! Feeding on wild grass, seeds and bugs, these hens enjoy an incredibly natural diet and produce eggs rich in vitamins and minerals. And, if you are looking for a vegan egg substitute for baking, we recommend
Neat Egg, an egg-replacement that is made with superfoods.
Organic Chocolate Chips in Bittersweet, Semi-Sweet, and Milk Chocolate are bold chocolates that are ideal for baking, ice cream making, and confectionery applications. They are the ones that we use when we want out goodies to come out just so. And, we love their Cocoa Rouge, red Dutch-process cocoa powder for both baking and drinking.
And we always use
in our baking. But, have you tried their other extracts? Their Pure Chocolate Extract is amazingly delicious as are the Almond and Orange Extracts, and the Rose Water.
If you are thinking about coconut,
Baker's makes the best Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut and for unsweetened, we always reach for
Let's Do Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut for the best flavor.
To top things off (or for a lovely filling)
Strauss Organic Heavy Whipping Cream is our staff pick. The Strauss Family Creamery is located right here in Marin County and their milk and cream comes in a charming returnable glass bottle.
If time is of the essence, we have a few products that help you cut corners without substituting flavor.
If you need to frost a cake in a jiffy, try
Miss Jones Baking Company Frosting. Whipped to perfection, this sweet, creamy, vegan-friendly frosting tastes like it was made from scratch… except it’s ready-to-eat (and so delicious)!
Bird's Custard Powder is a classic! Established in 1837, this egg-free custard powder is perfect for filling layer cakes and fruit tarts. It is imported from England.
And for the ultimate speedy bake,
Foodstirs Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake makes a delicious single-serving of cake in your microwave in one minute. It satisfies your sweet tooth with organic, sustainable, clean ingredients, and amazing flavor.
A Staff Favorite
Crazy good all-natural tea concentrate made with organic ingredients.
Thaiwalla is the first Thai tea concentrate on the market. But that’s not all that makes it special. The recipe is obsessively perfect and because it is a concentrate, it's super-simple to prepare. Thaiwala Thai tea gets its deliciousness from bee-endorsed tea, organic caramel, pure cocoa, cane sugar, and vanilla with the addition of fresh-cut organic Thai herbs.
Thaiwala is the latest in drinkable euphoria from Heather Howitt, the high priestess who brought us Oregon Chai. She has done it again… this time with a Thai tea that's sourced from a small tea farm in northern Thailand whose cred is backed by mobs of ecstatic honeybees.
You can enjoy it either hot or cold. And it mixes beautifully with any dairy or non-dairy alternative. We’ve found that for optimum bliss, the richer the better!
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
My life for the past week has been bourbon-infused. During a random Sunday search of TV listings to veg out on, I came across a program devoted to Kentucky Bourbon. I have always been a fan of good bourbon and after watching 30 seconds of the show, I was hooked. By the end of it, I was way more educated and informed. And also, rather thirsty.
Though I do have a thing for bourbon, it is not something I drink often. This is mostly because to really enjoy a good bourbon, you need to take your time and savor it. It’s rare that I have the time to do it right. And, this week is no different. But still, I haven’t been able to get bourbon off my mind.
On top of that, Mardi Gras is this coming Tuesday. So, I have been thinking of a way to combine the two. What should I make? Is the classic Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce, a New Orleans staple, too obvious a choice? And, there are plenty of bourbon BBQ recipes to choose from. But, that doesn't scream Bourbon street to me…
Ultimately, I couldn’t find anything better to celebrate both Mardi Gras and bourbon than the bread pudding. Not that it is exactly a hardship to eat it. Bread pudding is one of life’s greatest indulgences.
A Staff Favorite
Their name says it all—Honey Tangerines are sweet as honey! Honey tangerines are deliciously sweet with notes of honey and spice. Easy to peel and segment for snacks, these sweet treats are only available in mid-February through March, so stop by the store and grab some. They won’t last long!
Honey Tangerines are most often eaten fresh or used for their juice and zest in beverages and smoothies or frozen desserts. Add fresh segments to breakfast dishes and green salads. And, their juice is great for baking whenever orange juice is called for. Honey tangerines will keep at room temperature for up to a week and can be refrigerated for extended storage.
The Honey Tangerine was originally developed by H.B. Frost at the University of California’s Citrus Research Center in Riverside. Frost bred the King Tangor and the Willowleaf Mandarin to produce the Honey Tangerine in 1915.
A Cookbook Recommendation
by America's Test Kitchen
Cakes are the all-occasion dessert—the center of attention at birthdays, holiday celebrations, and dinner parties, and the most welcome brunch, after-school, or teatime snack. America's Test Kitchen's first all-cake book is the definitive guide to any cake you crave from Classic Pound Cake to enjoy anytime to a stunning and impressive Blueberry Jam Cake with brilliant jam stripes and ombré frosting.
In addition to foolproof recipes are features that make towering 24-layer Hazelnut- Chocolate Crêpe Cake as approachable as Applesauce Snack Cake. Sidebars include step-by-step photography for cakes with more advanced techniques like piping the ribbons of frosting that help give beautiful Rhubarb Ribbon Cake its name. Our years of test kitchen knowledge on the art and science of baking cakes provide all the tips and tricks you need for executing perfect cakes every time.
America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for its top-rated television shows with more than 4 million weekly public television viewers, bestselling cookbooks and magazines. The highly reputable and recognizable brands of America’s Test Kitchen is the work of over 60 passionate chefs who put ingredients, cookware, equipment, and recipes through objective, rigorous testing to identify the very best.
A Staff Favorite
Gelataria Naia started crafting original, unique, and always delicious gelato in 2002 in a little shop on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley—soon opening stores in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. Now you can get their gelato and sorbetto in stores!
Their ingredients are almost exclusively grown or made in Northern California. For Gelataria Naia, local isn’t just a marketing gimmick. they work directly with people who also craft their own product. Lance and Dave at St George Spirits taught them how to better incorporate alcohol into gelato. Brad at TCHO Chocolate taught them about source ingredients. Michael Recchiuti encouraged creativity. James at Blue Bottle inspired them to create a new process for making coffee gelato and ice cream. Tom and Mike at Semifreddi’s gave them confidence in our business. And the list of local partners continues to grow.
Flavors that we have in the store include Recchiuti Burnt Caramel,
Madagascar Vanilla, Guittard Dark Chocolate Sorbetto, and Pistachio
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
This year on Valentines day, things were a little bit different. This year Valentine’s Day did not only contain chocolate and conversation hearts but also a prom-posal. Here's the story from earlier this month…
About a week or so ago my son brought up the fact that his girlfriend who is a junior (he’s a sophomore) definitely wants to go to prom. They have already discussed this, but she would kinda like to actually be asked. She doesn’t want anything big—no flash mobs or skywriting. She just wants something that requires minimal effort but still shows he understands that, to her, it’s a big deal. I am all for this. I feel my son needs to learn to be better at showing his appreciation. I also know that I will be involved with this caper because, sigh, he’s a fifteen-year-old dude.
To be fair, he came up with the whole plan on his own but needs my help executing it. She loves cake so he wants to make her a heart-shaped cake that he can decorate with little heart signs on sticks asking her to the prom. Totally cute. The issue is that while he can make a mean quesadilla, his baking skills are lacking. So, that’s where I come in.
After a lengthy discussion, we decided on a chocolate cake with a raspberry filling topped with a shiny chocolate glaze. It might sound complicated, but it’s not. The cake we are making is my go-to for whenever I am craving chocolaty cakeyness. It has all of the moistness of a box cake mix but with much better flavor. The trick is to use good quality cocoa. Do not go for the Hersheys. Splurge on some Valhrona or Scharffen Berger cocoa for this one.
Although I will be using heart-shaped pans this time around, normally I make this cake in a bundt pan for easy slicing and consumption. Sprinkled with some powdered sugar or topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream it’s the perfect dessert for any dinner. Isn’t too bad for breakfast either…
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
The Ramos Gin Fizz may just be the city of New Orlean's biggest contribution to classic cocktails. This gin-based cocktail was created in the late 19th century by Henry C. Ramos and is a staple at the brunch table (and considered by some to be a hangover cure).
The Ramos Gin Fizz showcases the impressive qualities of egg whites in a fluffy concoction that is flavored with a hint of orange flower water.
News & Events
The Alameda Point Antiques Faire is the largest antique show in Northern California.
Held on the 1st Sunday of every month, the Alameda Point Antiques Faire boasts over 800 Dealer booths. All items are 20 years old or older. This is the ultimate place to shop for vintage and antique home decorations, clothing, furniture, jewelry, art, pottery, books & collectibles.
6:00 to 7:30 AM $15.00
7:30 to 9:00 AM $10.00
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM $5.00
No admittance after 3:00 PM
Free admission for children under 15.
A Staff Favorite
KOYO Asian Udon Noodles are expertly crafted in the traditional roll-and-cut manner from freshly-milled, organically-grown, heirloom wheat. This special process yields Japanese style noodles with a smooth, silky texture perfect for your favorite Asian recipes, or for use in place of traditional Italian pasta.
Udon noodles are often the centerpiece for hot soups, brothy Asian "casseroles," or the base of a large bowl with toppings of meat and vegetables with a light soy sauce. They are usually round and most varieties are about 12-inches long.
KOYO Udon noodles have a dense and chewy texture and take about 7 to 8 minutes to cook. They are both vegan and non-GMO.
We currently carry KOYO Udon, Wide Udon, and Round Udon varieties in the store.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Oscar The Grouch
The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday…and I am not sure if I am excited about it or not. My plan to see all of the nominated movies fizzled. I’ve only seen one, though I might try to sneak one or two more in during the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes!
I just have this overall feeling of indifference. Maybe it’s political fatigue. Maybe it’s the hangover from the Super Bowl loss. Or maybe I just need my blanket and a nap.
In my opinion there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hype for the Oscars this year. So, it’s possible I’m not the only one feeling this way. It might be that our attention is elsewhere (considering everything that’s been going on here and abroad). It makes a night of big dresses, big diamonds, and big winners seem somewhat trivial even if, for some, it’s the biggest night of their careers. Or perhaps a night of silliness, heavy satin, and escape is just what the doctor ordered.
So what does one eat for a night of escapism? Good question. You could follow the lead of the Hollywood Foreign press as well as the Academy and go all plant-based. Or you could take one for the team of attendees who didn’t eat anything so they could fit in their dress and go the cheeseburger route. It’s always one of my favorite plays.
After last weekend, I’m burned out on finger foods. I’m thinking the best thing to do is combine everything I am feeling into one satisfying dish. So here goes…
Lobster Mac and Cheese is the perfect solution! It has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to. Plus it goes well with some lovely champagne and bubbles will always lift your spirits…
Favorite Cake Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
We take our cakes seriously, and it is really hard to pick favorite recipes to showcase in this newsletter. So, we are doing our best to keep the list short but sweet!
There is nothing like a lemon pound cake to welcome spring—and we promise spring will get here! This cake is dense and most and full of lemon flavor.
This is a recipe from her grandmother that Amy always loved growing up. The chocolate in this bundt cake recipe makes it popular with the young as well as the old while the apples keep it nice and moist. It’s a delicious addition to a lunch box or as a snack for the PTA meeting.
This fluffy, white cloud of a cake is perfect as the season changes to spring. Covered with shredded coconut, it is perfect for a celebration.
While not technically a cake, This Cracker Jack Ice Cream Cake is fairly easy to make, especially if you use a springform pan, But, it does require freeze time. So, be sure to plan ahead if you are making this for a special occasion…but who really needs a special occasion?
This traditional spiced apple cake recipe is dearly loved and makes a lasting impression. The warming spicy flavors are delicious on a winter's day and the fresh taste of apples shines through.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
KAIYō Whisky is a really fine Japanese whisky made with a unique process.
Kaiyō Means Ocean
Kaiyō whisky is matured in the finest Japanese Mizunara oak casks. These casks are handmade due to Mizunara oak’s delicate wood grain. They are among the rarest casks in the world and are considered the finest in which to mature whisky. After years of maturing our casks go on a final maturation at sea voyage for up to 3 months, leaving from Osaka Japan.
What makes mizunara oak distinct from European oak and White oak is that it enjoys a unique sweet and spicy flavor profile which can be attributed to the oak lactones ratio and high level of vanilla. Aromas evoked from the mizunara oak are kara, a type of oriental incense, sandalwood, and coconut.
During the sea voyage maturation, factors including the motion of the seas’ waves, temperature changes, and variations of weather and air pressure all contribute to the whisky’s aging effect. This produces an intricately exquisite finish to Kaiyō whisky.
Kaiyō 43% Delicate nose with vanilla, ripe dried fruit, and hints of cherry, with a long lingering finish.
Kaiyō Mizunara oak will change your world.
—Gary Clark, Japanese Whisky Handbook
From our blog, The Butcher's Block
If you are looking for something memorable for dinner either for a special event or for a romantic dinner for two, a beautiful duck breast can be an elegant alternative to a filet mignon.
Most of the duck available in the American market comes from the Pekin (also known as Long Island) breed which is a small fatty duck with a reasonable price tag. However, in recent years, the Muscovy duck, which is a larger more lean variety, has become more readily available and popular despite its higher price tag.
While you can find whole ducks on the market, it is more common to find them broken down into pieces like legs and breasts because of the versatility of using smaller pieces.
Duck meat is unique from other poultry in that duck only has dark meat. This means that the duck breasts should be treated more like a steak. It can be cooked to a lower internal temperature than other birds like chicken and duck is ideally served rare to medium-rare. Unlike other red meats, duck breasts are leaner and have less saturated fat.
Duck breasts are best prepared sautéed over medium heat, starting with the scored skin side down, so that the fat has time to render making the meat deliciously moist and the skin becomes wonderfully crispy.
Vendor of the Month
L’Amourette Chocolatier is a San Francisco based chocolatier that makes excellent bars with single-origin cacao beans. In fact, few other bars match their perfection! Their collection is made from 72% dark chocolate and they have a personal relationship with the source of their cocoa. In fact, they are in the process of becoming both fair trade certified and certified Kosher.
These are the delicious flavors that we have in stock in our store:
Flavorful Marzipan originated long ago, simultaneously in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas where almonds commonly grew. L’Amourette’s dreamy signature chocolate covers delicious Marzipan made from California grown almonds.
A blend of Rio-Caribe and Carenero Trinitario Cocoa beans infused with naturally candied orange peel.
Shredded coconut, lightly toasted in honey and later enrobed in smooth dark chocolate made from Trinitario Venezuelan Cocoa beans, makes this bar an unforgettable experience.
Toffee and L’Amourette signature chocolate is a great pairing—the perfect balance of salty and sweet.
There’s an old rumor that Madame Du Barry, the mistress of King Louis XV, would give a decoction of ginger to drink to all her lovers, including the King. With such a rich tradition, why not use it in chocolate?
L’Amourette dark chocolate made from a vintage of Rio Caribe and Carenero beans infused with locally harvested Pistachios.
L’Amourette signature dark chocolate is infused with gently-roasted, salted almonds.
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4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.