A Dancer, Some Starfish, And Apple Cakes With Oat Streusel

cakebox apple cakes

My dad has told a story basically my whole life that I never really got as a kid. It's called "The Dancer And The Starfish". Maybe you've heard it, maybe you hate it, and maybe your dad has told it to you dozens of times, so it means something to you no matter what. The abridged story by Loren Eiseley goes like this:

Hundreds of starfish were washed up on a beach. Early in the morning, the sun was rising and the tide was receding. A man who walked along the beach every morning saw a guy further down the beach, looked like he was dancing. When the man got closer, he saw that this guy was actually throwing starfish into the water. "What are you doing?" the man asked. "Throwing the starfish back in the ocean. They'll die if they stay on the beach." Man says, "But there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish - there's no way you'll get to all of them. You can't possibly make a difference." "No," said the guy, as he threw in another starfish, "but I made a difference to that one."

It is pretty sappy motivational stuff, but I like it. And I love hearing my dad tell the story. My nephew's baptism was this weekend - and he became my lil' godson! Someone at the service told this story. I guess we can get our motivation from anywhere, even if it's the generic places. I love baking for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the happiness it gives to people seems almost tangible. Smiles, gushes, licking fingers, sighs... it makes people so happy. And for a fraction of a second, I get to see that I made a difference in someone's day. Is that selfish? It's probably okay to be happy from making other people happy, even if it is selfish. I can't really make a difference to the whole world, but I can bake you sweets - and arm you with the recipes to make sweets for others. Trust me, you'll make a difference in their days.

cakebox boots

I got to take warm lil' apple cakes to some people last week. Threw them in my CakeBox (the absolute best kitchen/baking purchase I've made in AGES) and, although I was already loving that box more than anything ever, I learned that hot things don't get soggy in it! Because, duh, wood is porous. Also, there is a killer streusel on these cakes. Reminder: streusel is the crumbly stuff, strudel is a pastry with lots of layers of dough and a fruit filling.

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Without any more of my blabbing on and on, the details you actually want.

Cake Recipe

1 1/2 c chopped apples

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c butter

1 c white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Peel and core your apples (I used Granny Smith), cut into eight wedges and then into thin slices. Add the cinnamon and let them sit while you do the rest.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add in all dry ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in apples! Portion the batter into the 12 muffin tins. Make oat streusel recipe (below) and pile it on top! Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and your house smells like heaven itself.

Streusel Recipe

1/2 c butter

1 c brown sugar

1 c oats

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c flour (more if the mixture is too wet

2 tsp cinnamon

Cut the butter into tiny chunks and add in the rest of the ingredients. You can mix this with your fingers, a spoon, or in the bowl of a mixer. It should all come together, but not be super gloopy or incredibly dry. Add a bit of flour or more butter if needed either way. This is a great all-purpose streusel recipe for cakes, pies, coffee cakes, ANYTHING!


Planning Your Wedding Cake: The Extras!

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You really should just have all of the answers now for planning your wedding desserts! If not, at least you can make it look pretty, right? There are always more things to cover, so here’s a quick Q & A to answer everything that didn’t fit in the other weeks. As always, be sure to connect with me and ask anything you want – I’d love to help! Mostly just wish I could make all of your wedding cakes/s'more bites/waffles/truffles/snow cones. Until then...

 Q: How much dessert should I plan to have?

 A: You are going to need much less dessert than you think you need, unless you want a lot of leftovers! I definitely ate the most cake out of anyone at our wedding (I think I downed four or five pieces of cake). A lot of people just don't get to the desserts. Don't plan a lot of extra. Make sure you have one piece of something for each person, but you don't need to go overboard.

 Q: How should the cake be cut?

 A: Here's a great diagram that will get the most cake for your buck/slicing. Your caterer will likely know what to do, but some relatives, if that's who's cutting, might have more questions. Send the diagram to them ahead of time.

 Q: How much should I expect to spend?

 A: This will vary based on where you live, and who you hire. The latest info said the U.S. average is about $6/per slice of cake. Some states/cities will be lower, some will be higher. Some individual desserts can be a bit lower. For 200 people, I tell customers to average $1,000 for wedding desserts. This is, of course, variable. 

 Q: What’s the timing of the cake-cutting? Does it matter?

 A: Cut your cake before everyone leaves! Don't wait too long! We did this right after speeches, which was right after dinner. Some people had already left, unfortunately, but we caught most of them. If you aren't cutting a cake, you might still want to each a little piece of fudge/caramel/cotton candy/cupcake as a fun ceremonial thing for pictures. By the way, can you imagine sharing cotton candy instead of bites of cake at a wedding?!

 Q: Do you ever recommend sheet cakes?

 A: If you have more than 250 people, I highly recommend sheet cakes. You can still have a tiered cake, but you don't need to pay to have a giant one. Do a four-tiered cake, then fill in with sheet cakes for the rest. Your guests never have to see those, but they will love them just as much a the tiered option.

Visit my introduction post to learn all about this series. FYI: I use the term “wedding cake” very loosely here and believe that it covers the whole range or your options.

Photos by: Beautiful Day Images

Grilled Plum And Almond Turnovers

My best friend sent me a picture of challah she was grilling this weekend. Camped out at a cabin in Maine, their power was out, so what did she do? She frickin' grilled challah. Love that lady.

The absolute cutest plum-harvester ever. Only problem was, she just wanted to eat everything she harvested! <3

The absolute cutest plum-harvester ever. Only problem was, she just wanted to eat everything she harvested! <3

So then I'm thinking, wondering, why I wasn't grilling pastries. As luck would have it, our awesome buddies invited us to pick plums from the tree in their front yard. This is one thing I love about Nebraska - we just find fruit trees in our front yards! Happened to me last year, when my girlfriend noticed I had peaches growing in my yard. Shows you how intimate I am with our property... We picked so many plums. The plum-tree owners ended up with five gallons, we took a full shopping bag, another friend was there picking, and the tree was still full when we were done. Awesome plum bounty, y'all. 

With the combo of fresh plums, and wanting to grill something, the world was my dang oyster. I ended up doing little turnovers with almond cream and plums. Pretty lush! I wanted them to taste kind of charcoal-y, but they didn't - not this time. Wondering about smoking some sweets next time, which I know is not a new thing, but I need to try it out on my Nebraska frontier.

Newbie Tips For Grilling Pastries:

  • Don't put the pastry directly on the grill - unless you want it to get charred and you watch it really carefully. Put a brick on the grate, then the pan you're cooking on. This is a tip from my challah-grilling BFF.
  • If there's sugar in what you're cookin', grease the pan or whatever you're cookin' on! The sugar is going to seep out and and it's going to caramelize. God forbid your pastries get stuck!
  • Put the lid on. You want 'em to cook all the way around, so let 'em cook! Stay close, though, and check them often.
  • It's not the end of the world if you have to finish whatever you're making in the oven. 

Hints For Making These Cutie Turnovers:

  • Use the pastry dough recipe and the almond cream from this recipe. But add 1 tsp cinnamon to the dough.
  • Roll the dough to about 1/8" thick and cut 3" x 3" squares.
  • Spread almond cream across the square, leaving about 1/2" around the edges. Brush that space with egg wash.
  • Pile in a few plums or peaches or cherries, whatever you have! Sprinkle the fruit with turbinado sugar. Fold the dough diagonally over the fruit, makin' a little triangle. 
  • Brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle with more turbinado sugar. Throw them on a foil-lined pan and put that on top of the brick of your grill that's ready to go. Cover them and check back every five minutes until golden brown and bubbly!
  • P.S. You can also bake these in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes.

Dairy-Free 7-Grain Muffins And Pancakes

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Good morning, everyone!

I'll keep this short, because you have Sunday morning baking to do. Seems like a lot of people love to have their weekend tradition of getting up and making something really special for their people. With this recipe, you have the option of either muffins or pancakes! Backstory: I made them as muffins and decided they would make awesome pancakes. And they do!

Be warned, this is hearty fare. The recipe is heavy on the grain, light on the sugar. The outsides of either muffin or pancake version get really crispy and wonderful. Coconut oil on the muffins, maple syrup on the pancakes!

This is a dairy-free recipe as is, but I'm sure you could make it vegan with a little flax egg.

Recipe

1 1/3 c non-dairy milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 egg

1/4 cup veg or coconut oil

1/4 c brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c 7-grain cereal blend

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp turbinado sugar

fruit

Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit to curdle. Mix in the egg, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla with the milk. Mix all dry ingredients together, minus the turbinado sugar and fruit. Mix everything together with a whisk until just combined.

For Muffins: Pre-heat the oven to 420F. I used a cast iron pan for some, and a muffin tin for others. For the cast iron pan, preheat it in the oven for ten minutes, then grease it. Put 2 Tbsp batter in the bottom of the pan, then some fruit with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar, then put more batter on top. For muffin tins, line 'em, fill the cups half full, do the same with the sugar, and more batter on top. Bake until brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 10 minutes.

For Pancakes: Add about 2 Tbsp extra flour to the mix. Heat up a griddle and grease it. This batter makes about ten pancakes. I sliced a banana over the pancakes once they were on the griddle, before you flip them. Top with walnuts and maple syrup.

Enjoy these sweet treats! I know we have.

 

Community Supported Pastries!!

// This is SO exciting!! //

One of my main life goals is to increase the number of pastries in your life! Not because I simply want to drum up business for myself, but because I believe it greatly contributes to a person’s quality of life. Pastries help me come up with reasons to celebrate events and people that I wouldn’t normally celebrate. They help me apologize for small things - yes a little something sweet can go a very long way! And I can make someone’s day just a little better by dropping off a slice of cake or a cookie on their porch, desk, etc.  And it’s so easy to thank someone for everything they’ve done for you by sharing a brownie.

My friend Steve brought over slices of dairy-free strawberry cake a couple of weeks ago and it totally made my heart melt. To have someone take time out of their busy life to package up a sweet for me and bring it over is amazing. It felt so unusual and special! This wasn’t just any cake, though - his wife and 2-year-old daughter made it. And it was all strawberry. And it was pink. AND DAIRY-FREE.

In the hopes of spreading the love like my friends did for me, and to get sweets in the hands of more people, I’m starting a Community Supported Pastry (CSP) program!! If that term seems really bonkers to you, it’s based on the idea of Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. Community members buy into a farm and receive a share of farm goods on a weekly basis. Because I have yet to figure out the logistics of a pastry farm (working on this), Community Shared Pastries will work a little differently than the traditional CSA program.

If you are new to Goldenrod Pastries and wonder what in the hell I even bake, poke around the site a bit, and be sure to visit my Instagram and Facebook pages. I post much more frequently about what I'm making to social media, so take a peek around!

Here are the details for the Goldenrod Pastries CSP Program:

August is the first month of the program. For now, I am accepting one person per week. Dates are based on a first come, first serve basis.

Please send an e-mail to angela.garbacz@gmail.com to place your order!

  • Your order will get you a pastry to serve at least six people one time per month on a predetermined date.
    • Want the perk of choosing? You pay $48/month.
    • Open to some flexibility? I'll choose the date and you pay $40/month.
  • You can register for two months at a time - they do not need to be consecutive months, but the months must be selected upon registration.
  • Got allergies? Please specify all allergies upon registration.
  • All allergy notifications will be taken into account, but otherwise I choose the pastry! You can be sure this will be seasonal in the ingredients and technique - and will include locally produced products whenever possible.
  • Payment is accepted as cash or check, and must be received one week before you are scheduled to receive your pastry.
  • For now, this is only being offered to people in the Lincoln and Omaha area.

  • Pick-up will be at my home in South Lincoln. Want your pastry delivered to Omaha? Add a $15 delivery charge.

I am so incredibly excited to offer this to you! I cannot wait for you to receive pastries and share them with your friends (or sit in your bed and treat yourself)!

Planning Your Wedding Cake: Setting Up Your Dessert Display

Now you’ve decided what you want to serve and chosen your vendor based on consultations and a tasting. Now the goal is to make all of your beautiful desserts mesh with your style and the design choices you’ve made for the rest of your day.

Cookie bowls from last weekend's wedding with Lovestru.ck.

Cookie bowls from last weekend's wedding with Lovestru.ck.

If you haven’t already done this, start a Pinterest board for your wedding. This board doesn’t have to include only wedding pictures, but should draw from all areas of inspiration. I love gold so much, and was completely obsessed with having gold and other sparkly and shiny things everywhere. We had also made an effort to feature local farmers and their food, which should have more of an earthy feel. Our wedding designer, Candace of Lovestru.ck Weddings + Events, figured out how to make it all work. But everything started with mood boards, based on my Pinterest boards. I took inspiration from sites like 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty, and Rock n Roll Bride.

Elements that can make your dessert table POP!

·      Beautiful linens. This can be anything from oatmeal-colored linen, to blinding gold sparkles. You don’t have to use what your venue provides – take a tour around your fabric store to see what’s there! You can order or rent from local vendors, or make your own! Just be sure you know the correct dimensions of your dessert table.

·      Assorted plates and cake stands. Visit places like antique stores, Ikea, Target, TJ Maxx, or check with rental companies in your area. They are all bound to have a wide variety of options. Having more than one type of plates and stands for your desserts or cakes gives people something to look at.

·      Varied textures and colors. Choose linens and dishware that give the eye something to enjoy. Wood has become more and more popular lately – I did a wedding cake last year where we used a cross section of a tree for the cake stand. Look at marbles and granites, wood, porcelain, clear glass, opaque, and in any color that fits with your wedding.

·      Different heights and weights. We cannot choose favorites here! I love varying the heights of cake stands and plates. If you only have access to trays, make it work! Stack books or anything with height, then cover with some cloth before putting the tray on top. Look for tall stands if you can, and items that are closer to the tabletop.

·      Flowers and foliage. Work with your florist to choose some special blooms to work with your display. He or she might suggest twigs, berries, bouquets, single flowers – let the professional do what they do best. Make sure to clue in this person to your Pinterest and mood boards.

 

Now that you’ve put so much work into this awesome display, be sure that your photographer knows to take amazing photos. You will want to remember it forever!

Visit my introduction post to learn all about this series. FYI: I use the term “wedding cake” very loosely here and believe that it covers the whole range or your options.


Birthdays And The Creative Process! Dairy-Free Zucchini Cake With Cashews

The process for creating is often really pieced together and loose. You take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, throw in a bit of your personal style, personal taste, and see what happens. My creative process and personal style and taste is always evolving. Going from baking at a clubhouse where desserts had to be large and fit the median taste of everyone, to my town's first French bakery where I laminated dough for days on end, to NYC where I was trained in the ultimate classic French sweets - and working on the edge of new culinary technology. I've done a lot of jumping around. This means I get to pull from everywhere for my inspiration and use a myriad of techniques.

What is really special about this process now, I think, is that I decide to take a regional, seasonal classic, like zucchini cake, and zuzz it up. I get to execute the techniques as well as I know how and mix together unusual flavors. There is no such thing as a simple pastry. Everything can be heightened and made to be just as close to ideal as possible.

My friend's birthday cake had to be all of these things. She owns Branched Oak Farm and is an incredibly accomplished cheesemaker and businesswoman. She and her team are focused on staying connected to the land they farm, while implementing the best technology for personal and agricultural sustainability. Russell and I both made cheese with Krista for extended periods of time. It's amazing to hear how she has worked to streamline her process, both in the cheese plant, and with the business. 

I wanted her cake to have a strong connection to the land, but also be very fresh and modern. This is a zucchini cake with cashew meal, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger - and cashew praline. Seriously to die for. The zucchini and eggs came from local farmers, as did the little thistles I used for the middle. 

This cake speaks well to my current aesthetic, and one that I think is very fun and relevant. Plus, it'll be so fun for you to make to show off to your friends! Zucchini cake can get a bad reputation, but you can't taste the stuff, really, but you end up with green flecks all throughout the cake - which I personally think is frickin' rad.

Note: I did use a quark cheese icing for this cake, but you can very easily make an icing with powdered sugar, vanilla, and non-dairy milk. I used quark because it was made by Krista and an important homage for her.

Zucchini Cake 

3 eggs

1 3/4 c sugar

1 cup oil - I used half olive oil, half vegetable

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c nut flour - I used cashew, but feel free to use what's on hand

2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground ginger

2 1/2 c grated zucchini

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan with, dust with sugar, and tap out any excess. Be sure you grease the pan very well. If the sugar doesn't stick in some spots, you'll know it isn't greased well. Go back and get those missed spots!

Add the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well with a whisk attachment for 3 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Drizzle in the oil with the mixer still running, until completely combined. This does need to be a homogenous mixture, so take your time. 

Whisk together all dry ingredients and add into the wet. Mix well. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the nuts and the zucchini. Pour into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 30-40 mins, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Flip onto a cooling rack after two minutes to cool completely.

Candied Cashews

1/2 c roasted, whole cashews

1/2 c light brown sugar

1/2 c granulated sugar

1 Tbsp non-dairy butter

1 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine the brown sugar and the granulated sugar, plus 1/3 c water in a saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 270F. Add in the nondairy butter (remove from heat) and stir 'til melted. Add in the cashews and stir around. This will crystallize, and that is good! I love the mouthfeel. Pour onto a greased sheet pan, or a silicon mat. Sprinkle with the spices while still warm.

Assembly

Cake + any kind of icing you like (I used 1/4 c quark, 3 Tbsp non-dairy milk, beet food coloring) + crumbled up candied cashews on top! Enjoy this spread love!