Yearly Archives: 2014

Popovers at Jordan Pond House, Acadia National Park, Maine

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Popovers hot from the oven at this historic restaurant are light, airy, fluffy, and oh so good with butter and jam.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

For weeks before going to coastal Maine, I’d been looking forward to eating warm popovers at Jordan Pond House on Mount Desert Island. You might say I’d been looking forward to it for years, ever since I first went there three decades ago and came to appreciate the restaurant’s signature item.

Popovers, for the uninitiated, are uniquely light, airy, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth rolls that, on a bread-and-pastry scale, lie somewhere between egg bread and cream puffs. The key ingredients are eggs, milk, flour and, well, air. (I’ll include a recipe in a separate post). Whatever they are, I always want more, no matter how many I eat.

Jordan Pond House is ground zero in the world of popovers, the place that sets the high mark by which all other popovers are measured.

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Recipe—Popovers Like at Jordan Pond House

Make popovers at home and enjoy your own tasty Jordan Pond House moment

Make popovers at home and enjoy your own tasty Jordan Pond House moment

When you can’t get to Seal Harbor, Maine, to eat the famous popovers at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, try making them at home instead.

photo by Bakery Boy

Popover Ingredients

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk (skim or 2% won’t do)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a medium bowl, whip eggs briskly by hand with a whisk (or in a mixer set on high) for three minutes

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Morning Glory Bakery, Bar Harbor, ME

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Start your Acadia National Park day by stopping at this Bar Harbor bastion of great baked goods.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

On the first morning of a recent visit to Bar Harbor, Maine, I ate an egg sandwich at Morning Glory Bakery. Stunned, I immediately ate another.

Each involved a fresh-baked bagel with an organic egg, spicy sausage, and white cheddar layered inside plus poppy seeds and sesame seeds baked on top. They were sublime. And they did a fine job of getting me going for a long and happy day of hiking rocky trails in Acadia National Park, the beginning of a vacation that would also include kayaking offshore from Mount Desert Island and bicycling on old-fashioned “carriage roads” where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed.

So I made the egg-bagel breakfast at Morning Glory Bakery a daily ritual the whole time I was there, once substituting a bacon-scallion-cream-cheese bagel instead just for variety. I never had a bad one, and none of the other baked goods I tried failed to impress either.

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Honey Crème Donuts, New Albany, IN

Remember cream horns?  Rediscover them at Honey Crème Donuts

Remember cream horns? Rediscover them at Honey Crème Donuts

Honey Crème sits at the corner of Vincennes Street and aptly named Donut Alley

Honey Crème sits at the corner of Vincennes Street and aptly named Donut Alley

Honey Creme_Donut Alley 2_Bakery Boy Photo

Glazed apple fritters the size of your fist feature bits of real apple

Glazed apple fritters the size of your fist feature bits of real apple

Take your pick of “doublaro twists” glazed with either chocolate or maple

Take your pick of “doublaro twists” glazed with either chocolate or maple

Chopped peanuts stuck to maple or white icing entirely cover these square donuts

Chopped peanuts stuck to maple or white icing entirely cover these square donuts

A short-term sugar buzz and some lifelong memories await these three

A short-term sugar buzz and some lifelong memories await these three

Honey Creme_Donut Alley 3_Bakery Boy Photo

Alongside “Donut Alley” in this town across the Ohio River from Louisville there’s an old-fashioned donut shop where I reignited my love of cream horns.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

How could I have forgotten about cream horns? Cream horns are awesome, but you just don’t see them very often anymore. I made them by the thousands in the bakery where I grew up, but somehow I’d gone years without eating one or thinking about one, much less making any. Then I stumbled upon Honey Crème Donuts in New Albany, Indiana, and fond cream horn memories came rushing back.

Honey Crème Donuts is a classic little old-fashioned donut shop that just happens to sit at the corner of Donut Alley and Vincennes Street in downtown New Albany. Well, not “just happens to,” exactly. Four generations of loyal customers have patronized this long-operating shop, often parking in a narrow side street while running inside to grab some snacks, and people usually referred to that street as Donut Alley. Eventually, the city went ahead and made the designation official, with signs and all, since everyone called it that anyway.

Now about the cream horns at Honey Crème: Each one is a small cornucopia-shaped “horn” made from a single long strip of puff pastry dough wrapped in an overlapping spiral around a removable metal tube and baked until it’s a flaky, hollow tunnel about the size of a hot dog bun. Once cooled, the hole left by the metal tube gets filled with fluffy whipped cream, and then the top is sprinkled with powdered sugar. At Honey Crème, they dip the ends in shredded coconut that sticks to the whipped cream, providing a little extra flavor and a nice visual touch too. The result is simple and elegant, and I’d forgotten how much I liked them until I bit in.

Once I recovered from my slightly delirious reintroduction to the cream horn, I explored the rest of the showcases at Honey Crème. The glazed apple fritters caught my eye because of the obvious bits of real apple (not the mushy canned stuff) peeking out from the lumpy, brown, amorphous masses about the size of my fist. There was also an interesting variation called an apple nibbler (just 55¢) comprised of a small puff pastry square baked with more of the same apple bits on top.

I also ate a cream-cheese-and-cherry Danish. And a square-ish donut completely covered on top with chopped peanuts held in place by a smear of either maple or white icing, take your pick. And a slice of coconut cream pie, perhaps because the small amount of coconut highlighting the ends of my cream horn left me wanting more. And, for old time’s sake because they’ve long been my favorite and because I’ve learned to gauge a donut shop’s overall quality by how well they handle something so basic, a got a chocolate-covered cake donut. The verdict? Honey Crème passes, with honors.

One woman working behind the counter (who wouldn’t let me photograph her) said her boyfriend is the current donut maker. “I told him I’d go out with him but he needed to bring me one of these apple fritter every day,” she said, tapping the counter above a tray full of them. “He did, and he still does, and now I work here too.”

After she saw what all I’d ordered — I consumed about half immediately and tucked the rest away for later — she insisted I try what has become a Honey Crème signature item, the doublaro twist. A doublaro twist is two long strips of donut twisted together like a loose braid and folded back around itself, forming a roughly oblong “double twist,” which is then generously coated in either chocolate or maple glaze. It’s a sticky mess requiring a napkin or (better yet) some serious finger licking, but given the opportunity I wouldn’t pass up the chance to eat another right now.

While we were talking and while I was snacking, three small kids came tearing in, trailed by their grandmother who was keeping them for the day while the parents worked. The kids immediately got noses-close to the showcase glass, talking fast and loudly and all at once, their fingers pointing at what they wanted, which was just about everything in sight, and their eyes wide. I don’t think they blinked for at least five frenetic minutes. If they ate all the sweets their grandma bought for them, I imagine the drop-off back at home later was a wild scene. But hey, don’t a lot of us have fond memories of times like that, reveling in a trip to a donut shop?

Honey Crème is a good little donut shop in a squat, unassuming, white-brick-and-red-roof building beside an alley just off the main drag in downtown New Albany. Those three kids will probably remember it as a palace of wonder. I’ll remember my visit to “Donut Alley” for several reasons, but mostly because it reintroduced me to the simple glory of cream horns. Thanks, Honey Crème.

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Honey Crème Donuts

514 Vincennes Street

New Albany, IN 47150

812-945-2150

Hours: Sun-Thu 5 a.m. – 1 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.

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For more about the New Albany area: http://www.cityofnewalbany.com or http://sunnysideoflouisville.org

For more about the greater Louisville area: Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gotolouisville.com

Blue Dog Bakery, Louisville, KY

The more I heard about Blue Dog Bakery — from a waiter, a shopkeeper, a pastry chef, a far-away friend — the more curious I became about the home of Louisville’s best breads.

Gingerbread_Man_Logostory & photos by Bakery Boy

 

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Baguettes by the basketful at Blue Dog Bakery & Café in Louisville

I’d been in Louisville for only a couple of days, and everywhere I went I heard about Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.

When I ate dinner at The Blind Pig, a European-comfort-food “gastropub” in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, and raved about my sandwich, the waiter said without hesitation that the crusty-outside, chewy inside roll holding together my Ivory Bacon Sandwich (boudin blanc sausage, bacon, muenster cheese, and aioli) is a “pug,” short for pugliese, a style of bread from Southern Italy.  He added,  it came from Blue Dog Bakery.

Blue Dog Bakery anchors the rebounding Crescent Hill neighborhood

The next morning, during my second bakery visit of the day gathering material for future Bakery Boy Blog articles, the pastry chef I was interviewing said that if I’m a bread man (and I absolutely am), then I shouldn’t miss Blue Dog Bakery in Crescent Hill.

Later I was at Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Market on Bardstown Road in Louisville’s Highlands area when an employee stocking shelves saw me inspecting the bread and volunteered that it was all good and all from Blue Dog Bakery.

Blue Dog’s levain gets its slight tang from a well-nurtured sourdough starter

Blue Dog’s levain gets its slight tang from a well-nurtured sourdough starter

Then she spoke, more to herself than to me, about needing to get back there soon for some poached free-range eggs, Serrano ham, spinach, and Parmesan on French sourdough levain, a brunch special she recited so perfectly it’s clearly a memorable favorite for her.

Intrigued by three recommendations from such different sources in such short order, a called my friend Wanda two states away in Alabama.  She is, as I am, a longtime (though now former) travel writer for Southern Living.  During the 20 good years of my writing life I spent at that magazine, Kentucky was nearly always Wanda’s “beat,” and she knows Louisville well.

With nine grains kneaded in and rolled on, this bread has got to be good for you

“Oh, yes, I remember that place,” she said, glad to reminisce about a favorite city.  “That’s the bakery facing the railroad tracks in a part of town that used to be really run down but has come back nicely.  Wood-fired oven, fresh local ingredients if they can get them, no preservatives, and I think the owners even raise their own hogs for the meat they serve.  Artisanal everything, especially the breads.  If you’re still doing your Bakery Boy Blog, you’re going to love Blue Dog Bakery.”

With now four recommendations in less than a day, I knew I was on to something.  So I headed to Crescent Hill (indeed come-back-story neighborhood strung along a rail line east of downtown), found Blue Dog Bakery, and was blown away by how good it is.

A classy sign that you’re in bread heaven

Tables outside and inside were filled with patrons visibly pleased to be there.  Everything was photogenic and, I soon learned, tasty too:  Crusty breads in wicker baskets, big cookies in neat rows, fruit tarts gleaming on chilled trays, muffins stacked on tiered platters, and on and on.

Raspberry chocolate ganache tarts at Blue Dog Bakery

Raspberry chocolate ganache tarts at Blue Dog Bakery

I ate an entire baguette immediately while taking it all in, then bought for later a plump round miche and a dark cranberry-walnut levain.  And a half-dozen flour-dusted white Italian “pug” rolls like the one I’d enjoyed at The Blind Pig the night before.  And a half-dozen densely multi-seeded “flute” rolls (see photo).

Even with all that, I nearly ran out before getting home the following day.  No, I didn’t eat all of it myself.  My two hungry teenagers, who were in town for concerts at the Forecastle music and art festival in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, ate their share during the drive home.  Yes, my car floor is perpetually crumb-covered!  In retrospect, I wish I’d also gotten a loaf each of Blue Dog’s pecan raisin, kalamata olive, and harvest nine-grain breads.  Printed on Blue Dog’s bread bags are handy instructions for freezing and defrosting any such oversupply.

From left: peanut butter, chocolate chip, and oatmeal molasses cookies

On the advice of customers who graciously let me squeeze in between them to photograph things, I ordered a chilled raspberry chocolate ganache tart and a warmed morning glory muffin for immediate consumptions, plus two each of the  peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal molasses cookies, also for on-the-road snacking.

Crusty outside/chewy inside “pug” rolls are small versions of Italian pugliese loaves

A table opened up, so I took a seat and ordered that poached free-range egg on levain item the Rainbow Blossom woman had mentioned.  It was a fine but difficult choice, considering the options included exotic sounding “octopus tartine with potato, chorizo, tapenade, and smoked paprika oil,” and “bacon, Tillamook cheddar, cheese curds, cider vinegar onions, and spicy mayo,” and “pastrami Reuben, gruyere, kraut, and thousand island,” among other temptations, each on a wide choice of breads.  Next time.

I see poppy, sesame, and fennel seeds on the “flute” rolls (there might be others too)

I am now officially a fan of Blue Dog Bakery.  My one regret is that I never met the owners, Bob Hancock (who does, indeed, pasture-raise Red Wattle hogs, hormone-free and antibiotics-free, as a sideline) and Kit Garrett.  That’s poor planning on my part for not scheduling an interview, even on short notice after hearing so much about the place.  Add in bad luck as well, for not running into either of them during three stops over the course a long weekend.  Next time.

For now, I’ll let my photos tell the rest of the story.  Enjoy the slideshow, and if you get to the Blue Dog Bakery on my recommendation, let me know what you tried.  Together, apparently with a lot of word-of-mouth help from others, we’ll spread the news.

Blue Dog Bakery is frequently teeming with satisfied customers

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A tasty “blue” island in a leafy green neighborhood

Blue Dog Bakery

2868 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, KY 40206

502-899-9800

www.bluedogbakeryandcafe.com

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For more about Louisville: Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau  www.gotolouisville.com

For more about Kentucky: Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism www.kentuckytourism.com

 

Allergy-friendly Annie May’s Sweet Café, Louisville, KY

Allergen-free treats dominate Annie May’s menu because Annie May is on a mission.

Gingerbread_Man_Logostory & photos by Bakery Boy

 

“I’m allergic to corn gluten and about 50 other things,” says Annie May McGill, the founder, namesake, head baker, allergen-free-ingredients missionary, and generally smiling owner of Annie May’s Sweet Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Annie May McGill develops allergen-free baked goods at Annie May's Sweet Cafe in Louisville.

Annie May McGill develops allergen-free baked goods at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe in Louisville.

You might think her multiple allergies got Annie May started in allergen-free baking, but the way she tells it, her motivation first grew from baking for someone else.

“I have a nephew who is allergic to nuts and eggs and wheat, three common ingredients in a lot of baked goods,” she says.  “To make him a birthday cake, I had to find things he could eat.”

So Annie May studied up on substitutes for various ingredients, eventually discovering useful things like brown rice flour, tapioca starch, rice milk, palm fruit oil that works like a soy-free shortening, and other gluten-free, allergen-free, and non-dairy items good for replacing traditional foodstuffs.  Through experimentation, she eventually converted a neighbor’s basic cake and icing recipes into allergen-free versions for her nephew’s birthday cake, no doubt earning favorite-aunt status as a welcomed side effect.

But she didn’t stop there.  Repeating that same basic process of converting recipes in order to avoid ingredients many people are allergic to, she added more and more goodies to her baking repertoire.  The hobby grew into a career track that blossomed when she opened Annie May’s Sweet Café, billed as “Louisville’s only dedicated gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free bakery,” on Frankfort Avenue east of downtown Louisville.

Annie May's Window_Bakery Boy photo“I’m a totally self-taught baker,” Annie May says.  “I like figuring out ways to make treats people with allergies can enjoy.”  Her lineup now includes a wide variety of cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, bars, cheesecakes, banana bread, pizza crust, crescent rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, blueberry muffins, and by the time you read this most likely a few more as well.

Building on her original success with her nephew’s birthday cake, Annie May’s features about a dozen different kinds of cakes and about twice that many kinds of icing, nearly all of them featuring allergen-free and vegan ingredients.  Consider her carrot cake:  It includes brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, carrots, carrot juice, palm fruit oil, eggs, cinnamon, baking soda, cream of tartar, xanthan gum, and sea salt.  Only the eggs present a potential allergy problem, so she also developed a second version, a vegan carrot cake, by substituting flax seed for eggs.

Other cakes, some with vegan versions and some made only seasonally, include pumpkin, red velvet, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, mocha, lemon, and spiced beer cake.  For the spiced beer cake, the title ingredient is gluten-free beer that contains only sorghum, buckwheat, honey, water, and yeast.  Between layers and atop these cakes, she spreads her host of icings, each one built around butter cream (using palm fruit oil for shortening), cream cheese (with rice milk), or whipped agave nectar.

Among Annie May’s assortment of allergen-free cookies, which range from chocolate chips and snicker-doodles to pumpkin spice, lemon, and oatmeal, one version has risen to become this bakery’s signature item.  Annie May calls them Allergen Free Supercookies (see photo).

Allergen Free Supercookies are a signature treat at Annie May's Sweet Cafe.

Allergen Free Supercookies are a signature treat at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.

An Allergen Free Supercookie involves dairy-free chocolate cream cheese filling smashed between two thick chocolate chip cookies that are vegan and allergen-free, with no eggs, no gluten, and no dairy, Annie May explains.  After a Supercookie is assembled, one end is dipped in a vegan chocolate coating for accent.

As a service to her allergy-prone customers, who are intensely interested in every detail about what’s in their food, Annie May posts ingredient lists online for all of her baked goods.  Here is a breakdown of what’s in the Supercookies:

  • Cookie: brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, palm fruit oil, brown sugar, chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liqueur, non-dairy cocoa butter), egg replacer (potato starch, tapioca flour, calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, citric acid, cellulose gum, modified cellulose), water, vanilla, salt, xanthan gum
  • Filling: powdered sugar, palm fruit oil, agave nectar, salt
  • Coating: chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liqueur, non-dairy cocoa butter), palm fruit oil, agave nectar, salt

Annie May's exterior_Bakery Boy photoAnnie May McGill has followed her baking muse from that early interest in making a birthday cake for her allergic nephew to making all kinds sweet treats for all kinds of people with all kinds of allergies.  Her constant quest to develop new allergen-free items even leads to creations such as spiced beer cupcakes, which she fills with a homemade caramel that includes a dose of beer from the nearby Apocalypse Brew Works, an enterprise that must be like-minded because it offers a gluten-free beer among its craft-brewed selection.

“It’s fun coming up with new things,” Annie May says.  “All of our desserts are made fresh, from scratch.  We never use wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, or soy in our recipes.  We also segregate other allergen ingredients and use different baking areas, different utensils, and different cooking devices to avoid cross-contamination in our vegan and allergen-free items.”

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Annie May sign_Bakery Boy photoAnnie May’s Sweet Café

3110 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, KY 40206

502-384-2667

www.anniemayssweetcafe.com

store hours: Tue-Friday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

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For more about Louisville: Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau  www.gotolouisville.com

For more about Kentucky: Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism www.kentuckytourism.com