Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On the Road

We are using the month of April for some much needed R&R with some food research sprinkled in. Here are some photos of my finds, some pre-panned and some spontaneous. 

In the Mission district, by far one of the best bakeries in the country. Not because they are fancy but because they do things right

My youngest drooling over the Eclair, knowing him he would just scrape off the chocolate and leave the rest. 

I really love tree tables!!

frangipane croissant 

pain au chocolat
Morning bun. Buttery, delicate with a hint of orange. 

An entire vacation can be spent in the mission alone. In SF there is such an abundance of interesting stores in every district.


Got to sample single source origin chocolates. I was amazed at the difference in flavor tastes. The Venezuelan chocolate actually has a little kick to it. I wonder where the spice flavor comes from. 
Pods for decoration

Instead of reading from a Menu...

Shortbread cookie with scrapes of chocolate and nibs (complimentary with coffee). My Decaf Coffee was made individually with a French Press. 

If you choose to have European Style Hot chocolate 

 More Mission….It is considered a hipster area. There are a lot of great parks in the area too.

Dolores Park
Police shirt from his police uncle :) 

This park is super fun for parents too :) 

 California loves their parks, it reminded me of when I lived in the Bronx as a child.  As people say Virginia is for lovers, California is for kids.

When little boys (including my own) weren't chasing after them screeming we were hand feeding them lucky charms.  
 Mission Playground
Red beads acquired at a Ceaser Chavez festival we found ourselves a part of. Native American dancing followed by an elementary school band followed by trolleys followed by low riders…Interesting stuff.

Craftsman and Wolves

Modern & Fresh

This one left an impression on me as it is such a clever dessert. I will be going back for this again. Jasmine infused Almond Panna Cotta. There is a blueberry sphere inside with a  white chocolate crunch element. The mix of textures and flavors was beyond perfect. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bonn Boni Creative Space

Every time I mention it I always change the name. I like calling it a pastry studio rather than cake studio. I also like calling it the cake space but these days I'm also leaning towards the lab. I will not be focusing on sweets only. My goal with this renovation is to be inspired in a creative space where there are no crayons on the walls or in my case chewed up gum, no toys on the floor (impossible I know) and everything is in its place, you know like my version of Fantasy Island. 

Now that 90% of the contractor work is finished it is my turn to put my personal touch. Just like a well executed cake, it's the details in a space that mater. This lead me down the DIY path for the beautification process. It really is quite nice to just take charge and handle things yourself even if it takes hours, days, weeks or months to complete. So just as I have been documenting my world of cakes I will also be including my projects & progression in the DIY world. I feel if you can handle the technicality's of a cake then it should translate into being a good DIY'er. Let's see if my hypothesis is right :) 

First project Custom Stair Risers

I saw this design over 5 years ago from Peacock Pavilions, it was instant LOVE. You should check out the other stenciling jobs done there, it is absolutely incredible. This one is another fav

I knew when I had the chance I would do it. That when is now. Some people do not have the luxury of painting the stencils before the risers are installed. I do not think I would have the patience to do it on the stair itself. 

I noticed in the photo that these ladies are painting on a thin veneer. That could be a good option to update your risers. All you would need to do is glue them on. 

So here is what I completed so far. I am really learning as I go along, reading online if I have any questions. The stair stencils were purchased from creative cutters. It has taken anywhere from 2-4hrs to complete a riser. It really depends if I am focused or getting busy in between.

Trial Run
Pattern #1; Fish Scales

Pattern #2. If the stencil has small details,
skip the roller brush. It will need 5-6 coats using a stencil brush.
13 steps, this pattern will start and end the stairs.

I love it!

I hope you guys enjoy. When all is said and done I will post more specific details such as sealing the acyclic paint, brushes used & fun stuff like that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Now that the holidays are just about over it's time to reflect and think about how I want my 2014 to look like. I have had long term and short term goals that sometimes get delayed or modified but I promise myself to keep on, as I know persistence always wins. One thing I learned in 2013 (better late than never) is that I need to make lists. If I do not write a task down it will be forgotten or delayed. Another thing I learned very late in the year is that Vacations are necessary and should not be put off. Why a vacation? Because rest and time; away from the distractions of Internet, cell phones and computers really puts things in perspective. I have also learned that I need to spend more free time with my kids doing activities or just chatting with them. Staying home now I am easily busied with all the tasks of maintaining a household and time flies more than I anticipated. I hope to have a healthy and positive 2014 for myself, family & friends. Whatever your barometer of success is I hope you all achieve it or at least work towards it.   

Friday, October 18, 2013

Humid & Rainy Fall Wedding and then some

Late last month I had a fall themed Destination Wedding at Lake Anna. It was an outdoor wedding and   unfortunately that particular fall day was warm, humid and drizzly. When I drove up to the venue all the gloominess and darkness disappeared. The views and setting were absolutely beautiful making it hard to notice the less than ideal weather. Being right on the lake in an intimate setting really set the mood for fun laughter and love. 

All that being said, this cake did come with it's challenge; very common in the baking world. Luckily the challenge this time did not come in the cake or structure, albeit the humidity is it's own beast and is mucho annoying to deal with "cake sweat". Unfortunately the custom toppers ordered online never made it to me. I was not satisfied, how could a cake have a whole tree on it without adorable birds on it. The awesomeness of a cake to me is not only in the taste but in the details as well. With only a couple of hours left before I delivered the cake I drove to hobby lobby looking for something I could throw together as a replacement. 

By pure luck I found something that could work.

I never have used rub on letters before but was relieved that I did not have to attempt cursive (something I am not so good at). I fortunate to find the wooden birds similar to what was ordered. I rushed back to my studio and took out my hot glue gun, markers and toothpicks. I gave the edges of the birds a distressed look, rubbed on the "We Do" and hot glued the toothpicks to the back. I think Martha  would have been proud.

Before Delivery  
When I arrived at the venue there were two tents, one for the chefs cooking and preparing the delicious dishes on site and the other for the guests and the party. The staff were so kind and helped me walk the cake under their umbrella to the party tent. I was so pleased to see the table set up so beautifully. I quickly dropped off the cake admired the setup enough to take a few shots and left. 

The cake was OUTSTANDING.  Loved by all.  Thank you so much for going out of your way to make sure we had the cake topper.  It really meant a lot.
Again, thank you so much for helping to make our day so special.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bonn Boni Introduces Manooshe to Fredericksburg

October 5th was the last Farmers Market of the season for Bonn Boni and I wanted to make it special. Not only did we bake up our normal customer favorites such as our marble loaves, baklava, scones, & paleo bars we also included some new creations such as our nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies, tomato tartletts and red velvet trifle. We baked up a storm and also introduced a brand new food item to the region. Manooshe was made fresh to order on an oven called a Saj. Mariam, the expert on manooshe rolled out the dough like a pro and added Zatar (wild thyme, sesame, sumac, olive oil mixture) mozzarella or both.

Manooshe is a Lebanese flatbread that is made on a Saj, an oven that dates back thousands of years and is common in the area of the Levant (Eastern turkey down to Israel). You can call it Lebanese fast food as people eat this every day for breakfast, lunch or really anytime. This is a very versatile and healthy meal or snack.

Here is a preview of how it is made.

This was such great fun as always. I loved seeing my usual customers as well as new faces. The use of the Saj with the Manooshe being made fresh to order really generated a buzz throughout the market!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Feliz Cumplianos a Mi, Tartine Bakery Style

A few months back on Netflix I was able to watch a Best Bakeries show. They were the top 10 in the country. One bakery in particular had me pausing to get a paper and pen so I could take notes. It was Tartine Bakery in San Fran. The cake was a Tres leches. Watching chef Prueitt assemble the cake on the show was magical. Layer after layer of cake, moistened with coconut milk, followed with cajeta and filled with a Bavarian cream. I was in awe &  I was inspired. What made it even better was the puff pastry she used for the bottom of the cake to give it not only support but a flaky crunchy element. This is what a dessert should be, different flavors and textures coming together. Not only did it look elegant it was delicious, and I decided that before I even had a bite. 
Look at this beauty (Image from Yelp)

Unfortunately my brief time in San Fran did not take me to Tartine and I do not have any plans for cross country travel in the immediate future so I had no choice but to make it myself. The elements consisted of;
  • Cajeta, a Mexican caramel made from goats milk. Thank goodness for Wegmans on that one. 
  • Chiffon cake
  • Coconut milk to drench the layers
  • Bavarian filling, but doing research online a lightened pastry cream is used. 
  • Crunchy element, puff pastry. I found that Tartine uses a flaky pie crust for the base. I may need to watch again because she said puff pastry on the show. The darkness of the crust indicates to me puff pastry. I decided to make Tartines flaky pie crust, recipe.
  • Whipped cream topping. Simply whipped cream and confectioners sugar. 
  • Time, Time, Time 
Cajeta: I started with this first a few weeks before I even made the cake. It is worth the effort. The taste from homemade caramel is like reading a book rather then watching the movie if that makes sense. 
The only issue I had was that I was simmering the milk sugar combo for about 5 hours before I got the color development. I used the recipe of trusted WETA personality Rick Bayless.  

Chiffon Cake: I just went with my trusted sponge.


Coconut Milk: Simply coconut milk sweetened with sugar. I used this recipe MINUS 1 Tablespoon of sugar. I'm highly sensitive to overly sugary sweets. 

Bavarian  Filling: I used a pastry cream I had on hand with whipped cream folded in. Thanks to Baketard on that one as well. I use beef gelatin if anyone is curious it can be found on amazon.

Pie Crust: 

The trick to flaky pie crust is keeping everything cold so the butter does not melt into the flour. Notice the marbling of the butter before it goes to rest in the fridge. This is what will create pockets in the crust making it flaky. I rolled it out and cut a 10" circle rather than a 9" assuming I would get shrinkage. The dough held up extremely well and there was minimal shrinking. Next time I will cut the dough to size. Recipe found online from Flour & Flowers.

And Now the Assembly 
Unless you start really early in the morning this cake is best when it's allowed to sit overnight. It gives the flavors time to combine and develop as well as allowing the gelatin to set in the pastry cream. 

I brush on the coconut milk rather than pour
Assembly Line Ready, spring form pan ready

Spreading it on thin
Gooey Caramel
Spread it thin
Pastry cream blob
And repeat up to the last layer, almost done!

At this point the cake gets sealed in plastic wrap and allowed to sit for 4 hours or overnight.....

Pie Crust Ready, I added some caramel for adhesion purposes

Whipped cream, the end is near.
Smooth it on

Caramel drizzle just for looks. I thought I was going to pipe some nice intricate design but the caramel had other plans.
Notice how caramel melts into cream

Notice how crust is slightly larger, Tartine would never let that happen.

Although I started this cake on my birthday it was enjoyed the following day. 

Kids asleep and totally enjoying a late night slice and a Japanese flick

This cake holds up extremely well in the fridge. It can be enjoyed for days.

Day 3 of Cake, It tastes as dreamy as it looks. 

  • My husband cut me a slice that was incredibly large. After I complained, his response was that the slice he cut was smaller than the cake. Could not respond to that.   
  • I found the crust difficult to easily cut through with a fork. Either it required more baking time or puff pastry is the way to go. 
  • Cajeta: some crystallization may occur in the fridge, simply reheat in the microwave and stir to dissolve any hardened sugar. 
  • Pastel de Tres Leches: Simply translated to a three milk cake in Spanish. This cake consisted of coconut milk, heavy cream and goats milk. I think traditionalists would argue that condensed milk would be required for it to officially be considered a tres leches. I have made a quatros leche cake in the past that included the condensed milk. It is much more sweeter and can only be enjoyed by people with a real sweet tooth. For the rest of us only a small slice would suffice.