Category Archives: Useful Stuff

RECIPE Cherry Crisp from Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia

It’s a fact: Baking with cherries you picked yourself makes them taste better. Harvest some at this western Virginia orchard, and you’ll understand.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

Click here to see a separate post about Cherry Picking Time at Levering Orchard

Click here to see a separate post with a recipe for Cherry Pie from Levering Orchard

Cherry Crisp

This recipe for Cherry Crisp went over very well at my house. My family quickly finished off the initial batch and clamored for more. I’d brought back plenty of cherries from my visit to the you-pick operation at Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia—more than we were likely to eat as raw snacks before they began to rot—so I gladly started in making a double batch. The second time around I had enough to satisfy the home front and share some with a neighbor.

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RECIPE Cherry Pie from Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia

With delicious cherries in season, I head to Levering Orchard in western Virginia for pick-your-own fruit, a lovely outing in a beautiful setting, and cherry recipes to bake when I get home.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

Click here to see a separate post about Cherry Picking Time at Levering Orchard

Click here to see a separate post with a recipe for Cherry Crisp from Levering Orchard

A day before I made this pie, the tart cherries I picked for it were still hanging on trees.

I picked the cherries that went into the pie I’m eating as I write this. There’s a sense of accomplishment—and a certain smug pleasure—in this fact. Besides reveling in buckets full of fresh cherries to snack on raw and to bake into various treats, I also have fresh memories of spending a lovely day in a century-old orchard perched on a verdant slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains just off the road-trip-worthy Blue Ridge Parkway.

Ready for picking

At Levering Orchard in western Virginia, the southernmost cherry orchard in the eastern United States, people can drive up, borrow plastic pales, climb wooden ladders already placed in ripe locations, and harvest as much fruit as they want (paying $2.49 per pound as they leave). Red and purple fingers belie the effort, and red and purple tongues offer evidence that sampling while picking is not only common but also encouraged.

A sweet slice of homemade cherry pie, loaded with fruit as well as memories of a fine day of cherry picking.

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Open House at Artisan Bakeries

Loaves at Artisan Baking Company, Fort Worth, Texas

Taste exceptional breads and show your support for artisan bakers during this widespread June 25 event.

by Bakery Boy

If you enjoy fresh-from-the-oven breads—crusty, aromatic, well-fermented, and hearth-baked by bakers who care dearly about making perfect loaves—then mark June 25 as a high holiday on your calendar.

The International Bakery Open House is one of many Breadville USA events planned this year by the Bread Bakers Guild of America

That’s the day the Bread Bakers Guild of America—an organization that fervently supports the artisan baking community everywhere—presents a massive International Bakery Open House involving 55 bakeries in 26 states, 2 Canadian provinces, and Ireland.

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International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, TN

Celebration puts the humble biscuit on a pedestal May 27-28, 2011

by Bakery Boy

The Fat Elvis Biscuit, one of many versions of the tasty art form tempting visitors during the International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville. Photos courtesy of the Biscuit Festival

I’d like to say I’ve never met a biscuit I didn’t like. I’ve eaten plenty of them, making my own on many a Sunday morning and seeking them out in my travels. True, a few needed a tad more jam to make them palatable, but even the driest and toughest variations mellow over time into something at least close to fond memories. Most of them time, biscuits rank among the glories that make life worth living. Call them simple fare, the perfect food, everyone’s favorite, or just too good to pass up—just be sure to call me when they’re done.

The International Biscuit Festival celebrates all things biscuits in Knoxville, Tennessee, this weekend (May 27-28, 2011). Held downtown in the Market Square District, the event designed to “celebrate the heritage of home cooking and southern culture” spares no effort in making biscuits the topic on everyone’s mind and the taste on everyone’s tongue.

Among the activities scheduled:

Biscuit Bake Off — Biscuit bakers submit their best recipes for traditional biscuits, dessert biscuits, most creative biscuits, and kids’ biscuits to a panel of expert judges. [Note: Surely a bakery blogger with a name like Bakery Boy (hint, hint) should be invited to judge this competition one of these years!] Finalists prepare their versions fresh on location for the decisive last round of tasting. Yes, you can taste samples, for a small fee.

Biscuit Songwriting Competition — Clever lyrics (mostly about biscuits) and a good beat go a long way toward pleasing this particular audience, but you might say they’ve already been buttered up for the occasion. Categories include rock, country, gospel, folk, hip hop and others.

Miss Biscuit and Mister Biscuit Pageant — To earn these crowns contestants need: Poise, defined as the ability to walk a runway while balancing a stack of biscuits on the head. A talent of some kind, any kind really, but think singing about biscuits or perhaps juggling them. A sense of fashion if you consider apron-modeling fashionable.

Biscuit Art Competition — Artwork portraying biscuits in all their multifaceted glory dominate this show. Clear some wall space at home for your must-have choices of paintings, pen-and-ink drawings, photographs, ceramic or fiber sculpture and more.

Throughout the two-day festival, opportunities to eat biscuits abound, so come hungry. If you’re like me, after a weekend of biscuit-based inspiration you’ll be vowing to whip up batches of biscuits at home more often.


More about the International Biscuit Festival:

More about visiting Knoxville:

More about visiting Tennessee:


RECIPES Cornbread Recipes from the National Cornbread Festival

Here are three popular recipes shared during past National Cornbread Cook-offs, part of the National Cornbread Festival held the last weekend in April in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post about the National Cornbread Festival.



Submitted by Boy Scout Troop 63

1 cup flour

¾ cup cornmeal

½ cup sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

1 (8 oz) container strawberry yogurt

¼ cup butter, melted

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl gently toss strawberries in ½ cup of flour mixture. Whisk together yogurt, butter, and egg. Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture just to moisten. Fold in strawberries. Spoon batter into prepared cast-iron pan. Bake 25 minutes.



Submitted by Richard Hardy Memorial School Athletic Club

1 cup Martha White Yellow Self-Rising Cornmeal

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup Mayfield sour cream

1 (8 oz) can cream-style corn

2 eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers, drained

Heat oven to 375°. Grease an 8- or 9-inch skillet; place over medium heat while preparing cornbread batter. Stir melted butter into cornmeal and add sour cream, corn, and eggs, blending well. Spoon half of the batter into the greased hot cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle batter with cheese and chile peppers; cover with remaining batter. Bake for 35 minutes, until nicely browned.



Submitted by the Christian Women’s Job Corp

1 cup unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups Martha White Yellow Cornmeal

2 cups Martha White All Purpose Flour

2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 cups Mayfield milk

4 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9 x 4½ loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together yellow cornmeal and flour. Heat butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat just until melted and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in milk and then eggs. Pour into dry mixture, stirring just until blended, and divide evenly between prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until loaves are golden and cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.


Recipes reprinted with permission from the National Cornbread Festival and Lodge Cast Iron.



April 30–May 1, 2011

Festival details:

Lodge Cast Iron details:

South Pittsburg details:

For more about traveling in Tennessee:


Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post about the National Cornbread Festival.


BOOK REVIEW Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

These Nordic recipes rooted in Scandinavia remind me of my own winters in Minnesota, where the author developed them.

reviewed by Bakery Boy

I’ve long had a warm place in my heart for Minnesota. It might have been my only warm part during the long cold winters I spent visiting my sister there and getting involved in Great Frozen North activities such as ice fishing, cross country skiing, sled dog racing, pond hockey, and trying to keep my car—a native Southerner like myself—in running condition.

Author Pat Sinclair

Those Nordic experiences are partly why I’m drawn to Pat Sinclair’s book, Scandinavian Classic Baking (from Pelican Publishing Company, $16.95). Based in Edina, Minnesota, this author, food consultant, and recipe developer’s baked goods remind me of coming indoors from arctic winter weather, being pleasantly surprised to find something delicious baking in the oven, and looking forward to that first still-steaming bite.

Given the Upper Midwest’s abundance of Scandinavian descendants—all of them more accustomed to extreme cold that I am—those goodies fresh from the oven usually reflected the cuisines of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. The aromas of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peels dominate baking days, often accented by the yeasty smell of rising breads, by colorful tarts loaded with berries, and by pastries bristling with nuts.

Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars. See the recipe in a separate post. Photo by Joel Butkowski.

At first the names of some of the recipes threw me. But under Pat’s guidance I soon learned that aebleskiver means pancake balls, fattigman is poor man’s cake, and pepparkakor translates to spicy cookies. Also, lefse is a sort of sweetened and fried potato crepe served with butter and sugar, toscakake involves a top layer of sliced almonds covered with buttery caramel, and sandbakkels are butter cookies whose dough gets pressed into fluted tins before being baked and are later filled with whipped cream, jam, lemon curd, or chocolate ganache.

Pat got my attention with 42 recipes ranging from coffee breads (especially the Danish Almond Tea Ring shown on the cover), cakes (the Norwegian Toscakake stands out), cookies (I tried the Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars recipe first and it won’t be the last time I make them), tarts (from blueberry to rhubarb), and pastries (such as Swedish Kringle made from a paste similar to that used in making éclairs).

Photographer Joel Butkowski

Stunning food photography by a fellow Minnesotan Joel Butkowski, whose shots illustrate every recipe, kept me focused and occasionally salivating. (See Joel’s work at

An intriguing addition to the format is Pat’s sprinkling of sidebar-style vignettes that elaborate, like a travelogue, on Scandinavian culture, traditions, celebrations, foods, and popular destinations. One brief entry explains the importance of cardamom, a member of the ginger family, in Scandinavian baking and recommends splitting the pods and grinding the seeds with a mortar and pestle right before use in order to release fragrant oils for the most flavorful results. Another encapsulates 700 years of Viking shipbuilding and exploration starting in the 5th Century.

Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies. See the recipe in a separate post. Photo by Joel Butkowski.

Still more of these side notes expound upon reindeer, the candle-filled Feast of St. Lucia, the joy of eating Shrove Tuesday Buns the day before the Lent starts, the Land of the Midnight Sun effect north of the Arctic Circle (lots of daylight in summer but long dark winters too), Norway’s fjords and 11th-century Stave Church construction, Denmark’s ornate Amalienborg Palace and famous Tivoli Gardens, Sweden’s ancient city streets and modern architecture, Finland’s saunas, and more.

So besides offering goodies to bake and eat, Scandinavian Classic Baking provides quick lessons in foreign culture too.

Once I tried baking a few of these recipes, the at-first strange terms quickly became familiar, joining the lexicon and the baking rotation at my house. Tonight, with spring coming on strong here in Alabama and with what most likely will be the last snowstorm of the season blowing across the northern tier states, I think I’ll bake Meringue with Peaches and Raspberries, the book’s most summery recipe. I remember bone-chilling Minnesota winters vividly, but a summer dessert like this seems just the thing to serve as a farewell to the cold and a harbinger of warmer days ahead.


Find Scandinavian Classic Baking in bookstores or order it from Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, LA; 504-368-1175 or

See author, food consultant, and recipe developer Pat Sinclair’s blog at

Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a recipe for Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars from Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a recipe for Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies from Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Click here to see a brief video of Pat Sinclair demonstrating her Finnish Brown Butter Teaspoon Cookies recipe during an appearance on Minneapolis-St. Paul television station KARE-11.


RECIPE Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies from Scandinavian Classic Baking

Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking (from Pelican Publishing Company) includes this excellent recipe for Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies. Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a review of the book.

Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies. Photo by Joel Butkowski.

(Makes 24 sandwich cookies)

1 cup                     butter

2 cups                   all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon         baking soda

¾ cup                   sugar

1 tablespoon        vanilla

1/3 cup                 raspberry or strawberry jam

—                           confectioners’ sugar

Brown the butter by melting in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When butter begins to foam up, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. Watch carefully because at this point, the color changes quickly. It takes about 7 minutes to brown the butter. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 325° F.

Mix the flour and baking soda together.

Combine the cooled butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Add the flour and mix to form dough.

Shape the cookies by placing about 1 teaspoon of dough into the bowl of a teaspoon and pressing against the side of the bowl, leveling the top. Press out cookie, flat side down, onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and remove to a wire cooling rock.

Pat Sinclair

When cookies are cool, spread a scant ½ teaspoon of jam on the flat side of one cookie. Make a sandwich by pressing the flat side of a second cookie onto the jam. Sprinkle the sandwiches with confectioners’ sugar.

PAT’S BAKING TIPS: Buttery and tangy, these cookies are always popular on buffets or cookie trays during the holidays. Experiment on the easiest way to press out the cookies using the bowl of a teaspoon and forming the delicate oval shape. The dough is easy to shape because it’s slightly dry.


Excerpted with permission from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair, published in 2011 by Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, LA; 504-368-1175, Review copy provided by the publisher.


Click here to see the Bakery Boy Blog review of Pat Sinclair’s book.

Click here for a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a recipe for Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars from Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Click here to see a brief video of Pat Sinclair demonstrating her Finnish Brown Butter Teaspoon Cookies recipe during an appearance on Minneapolis-St. Paul television station KARE-11.

For more resources and inspiration, see


RECIPE Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars from Scandinavian Classic Baking

Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking (from Pelican Publishing Company) includes this excellent recipe for Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars. Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a review of Pat’s book.

Scandinavian Apricot Almond Bars. Photo by Joel Butkowski.

(Makes 24 to 30 bars)


2 cups                all-purpose flour

1 cup                  confectioners’ sugar

¾ cup               butter


¾ cup               apricot preserves

2                         egg whites

1 cup                  confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon        almond extract

½ cup               slivered almonds, toasted

Heat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 13” x 9” baking pan with aluminum foil, extending the foil over the long sides of the pan. Lightly spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar and butter for the crust in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into the baking pan, pressing about ½” up the sides.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

While the crust is baking, toast the almonds. Place the almonds on a small baking dish and bake about 8 minutes.

Beat the egg whites with a whisk until foamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and almond extract.

Spread the apricot preserves over the crust. Spoon the egg whites over the preserves without covering the preserved completely. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until the topping is a golden brown. Run a metal spatula along the short sides of the pan to loosen the pastry. Cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Using the foil, lift the pastry from the pan and cut into 24 bars.

Pat Sinclair

To cut diamonds, cut lengthwise into 6 strips. Make parallel diagonal cuts on each strip to form diamonds.

PAT’S BAKING TIPS: A pastry blender makes it easy to combine flour and butter for the crust and results in flaky layers. You can also use two knives and a scissor-like motion to get the same results. Don’t leave large pieces of butter, or holes will form when they melt.


Excerpted with permission from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair, published in 2011 by Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, LA; 504-368-1175, Review copy provided by the publisher.


Click here to see a Bakery Boy Blog review of Pat Sinclair’s book.

Click here for a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with a recipe for Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies from Pat Sinclair’s Scandinavian Classic Baking.


Braiding Challah at Crème Patisserie, Asheville, NC

SLIDESHOW: See Asheville baker Jennifer Jacobs braid beautiful loaves of challah. Story & photos by Bakery Boy

Braiding bread can be fun once you get the hang of it. T he gorgeous results never fail to attract compliments. When I dropped in on Crème Patisserie & Confectionery recently in Asheville, North Carolina, (click here to see a separate article about Crème Patisserie) the bread dough was already mixed and rising. During the course of an interview, I watched baker and co-owner Jennifer Jacobs braid traditional Jewish challah loaves. Take a look at the slide show, be inspired, and try this yourself sometime with any yeast-risen dough you prefer. Getting beautiful bread like this takes practice, but it’s well worth the effort.

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Crème Patisserie & Confectionery

640 Merrimon Avenue, Suite 201

Asheville, NC 28804

828-350-9839 or


Cupcake Cuties, Pasadena, CA

In cupcake couture, looks count. Theresa Deliberto finds winning looks with Cupcake Cuties, her themed kits for dressing up any cupcakes.

by Bakery Boy

There’s a cupcake under all that.

It started with turned heads, double takes, and comments like “Oh, how cute” and “They’re almost too pretty to eat.” As anyone who brings treats to share at parties will tell you, those are welcome reactions. Theresa Deliberto saw those kinds of positive responses to the cupcakes a friend dressed up with festive paper wrappers—to make them look like, say, red-striped movie popcorn boxes sprouting tiny marshmallows as faux popcorn—and was inspired to launch Cupcake Cuties.

Theresa Deliberto in her home kitchen.

The Pasadena, California, resident—herself a veteran of many cupcake-making sessions with her two children—oversees a growing line of Cupcake Cuties decorating kits (32 designs and counting). The business, at just over a year old, has expanded from her home to a nearby warehouse, introduced the kits at retail shops, and created buzz at trade shows in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago. All while garnering appreciative oohs and aahs for the attention-getting products.


Each Cupcake Cuties kit comes with 24 self-adhesive paper sleeves to wrap around cupcakes, plus toppings appropriate to a chosen theme. Actual cupcakes and frosting are not included. Whether you bake your own, pick some up at a supermarket, or ask a cooperative neighborhood bakery to put cupcakes and a kit together for you, the end result is a visual treat. Either way, you don’t have to be an accomplished pastry chef to pull it off.

“The quirkier themes sell best,” Theresa says. “Cupcakes made to look like fireworks with a flag and streamers on top (great for the Fourth of July) or hamburgers (when you’re cooking out) or little boxes of movie popcorn (for movie-themed parties) are popular.”

Holiday themes sell well seasonally: Santa heads for Christmas, champagne bottles for New Year’s, hearts for Valentine’s, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter baskets for Easter, jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and more. Others suit special interests such as baseball, football, and basketball, or evergreen subjects like weddings (topped by matching rings), birthdays (confetti and candles), baby showers (tiny strollers), a jungle theme (toy lions and gorillas), and sushi (I’m fairly sure those are gummy candies standing in for seafood and coconut flakes simulating rice).

“Part of the fun is finding materials to fit each theme,” Theresa says. “That’s shoe-string licorice for edible hair on the baby-face cupcakes. The ‘olives’ in the martini-glass theme are disguised chocolate-covered almonds.”

The kits sell for $16.95, $19.95, or $23.99 each, depending on how involved the decorations. A Cupcake Cutie of the Month Club promises regular deliveries.


So far nobody has accidentally baked the decorative wrappers and toppings. “The instructions are very clear,” Theresa says. “You bake or buy the cupcakes first, then use these kits to decorate. Some people measure and tape the wrappers first and then plop a cupcake down into each. Others wrap the paper around the cupcakes and apply the tape. Either way works. Not much can go wrong.”

Cupcake Cuties isn’t Theresa’s first commercial venture. She was in the printing business for many years and helped launch and run a senior care services company known as Just Like Family Care. “In those businesses, I learned to surround myself with a good team and incredible friends,” she says. “That philosophy has worked well for Cupcake Cuties too.”

Inspiration for this enterprise is rooted in motherhood. “Making these with my son and daughter was a fun family project we could do together,” she says. “They’re teenagers now and help with every aspect—creating new designs, setting up photo shoots, helping with packaging and marketing, and doing whatever else needs to be done.”

Turns out plenty of busy people appreciate quick-and-easy Cupcake Cuties. “I’ve always been a working mom. With this I just connected the dots and found a niche to fill. These kits simplify the process and get a good reaction.”


Theresa supports the breast cancer fighting organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure by partnering with its Komen Los Angeles County affiliate for all kinds of events, including an annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. “Five percent of proceeds from the sale of Cuties for the Cure, a design we make plenty of, goes to the organization,” she says. “My mom is a breast cancer survivor, I lost a good friend to the disease, and I know at least 30 people battling it, so it was the first organization I thought to support with this new business.”


Cupcake Cuties are available via mail order from Early ventures into retail stores include:

A Store for Cooks, Laguna Niguel, CA (near Los Angeles),

B. Candy, Costa Mesa, CA (near Los Angeles),

Carmody & Company, Pasadena, CA (near Los Angeles),

Cookin Stuff, Torrance, CA (near Los Angeles),

The Copper Pig, Dunwoody, GA (near Atlanta),

Gabby’s Gifts, Galena, IL (near Dubuque, Iowa),

Lets Get Cookin, Westlake Village, CA (near Los Angeles),

Lulu’s on Main, Morton, IL (near Peoria),

M2 Boutique, Chicago, IL,

My Sister Kate, Hinsdale, IL (near Chicago),

Pink Ribbon Shop, Porter, TX (near Houston),

Theresa recently showcased her creations at the Chicago Merchandise Mart (sharing display space with Patti White & Co.); the Dallas Market Center (sharing space with J. Brandes, Inc.); and the L.A. Mart Gift & Home Market in Los Angeles (sharing space with Kitchen Concepts. “We made a lot of new connections at those big shows and expect a lot more stores will be wanting to stock these kits soon,” Theresa says.


“People ask me all the time if I have fun doing this,” Theresa says. “Like any business, it’s hard work and sometimes you get overwhelmed by day-to-day details, but yes, I’m having a great time.”



North Hollywood, CA 91605 /

877-622-8843 or 626-793-6997 Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-5 p.m. PST


Click here to see a video of Theresa Deliberto demonstrating her Cupcake Cuties on Good Day LA, the morning show on KTTV Fox 11