Category: philly bakers challenge

Secret ingredient: Squash—Philly Bakers Challenge second meetup

October Bakers Meetup

Clockwise from the top left: my cupcakes, cupcakes from Emily, and cupcakes from Jamie

On Sunday, I got together with a few of the ladies from our Philly Bakers Challenge group for a fall meetup. Originally planned for August, the event needed to shift to a new hostess and location, and then another location, but in the end I think it was a great success.

Though we only had 3 cupcakes to try, it was still nice to get out and chat about technique and flavors, as well as get in some Philly food gossip. I was really impressed with Emily’s swiss meringue buttercream, which was lighter than air, and the pecans on Jamie’s cupcake really brought it altogether. And I got to learn about German buttercream—how fun!

The Bakers present for the second Philly Bakers Challenge in October 2013 were:

  • Emily of Watts for Dessert: Sage and brown butter graham cracker crust, ginger-butternut squash cake with brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream and more graham cracker sprinkled on top.
  • Jamie of Luscious Bakery: Brown butter sage cake with a roasted pumpkin german buttercream topped with spiced pecan brittle
  • Melissa T., Cupcake Smash Coordinator: Melissa didn’t have time to bake for this meetup, but she joined us and gave great feedback on what was shared.
  • Mel (that’s me!): Butternut squash Chinese 5 spice cake, cinnamon pear balsamic buttercream and toasted butternut squash seeds.

As always, if you’re a baker, live in the Philly metro area and would like to participate, drop me a line and I’ll add you to the Google Group! We might try to do a holiday meetup before the end of the year.

Secret ingredient: Lavender—Philly Bakers Challenge first meetup

Bakers Challenge Lavender

Leading up to Cupcake Smash back in April, I began to touch base with area bakers–both pro and amateur–to see who would like to get together semi-regularly to socialize, talk shop, and of course, bake.

A fair number of bakers were interested, thus Philly Bakers Challenge was born amid Google Group postings and meeting wizard widgets. I offered to host the first meeting, and as host, selected the secret ingredient and theme for the night. I chose lavender and the theme of the farmers market … leaving it open-ended for participants. Would they get their ingredients from the market? Would they create a farm market-like display? Anything goes, and it certainly did.

Between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. last night, 5 talented Baker Ladies descended upon my townhouse, arms laden with mini cupcakes, beverages and more. I had prepared some light snacks for the evening to keep the sugar crashes to a minimum, but with the exception of my homemade bagel chips, most things were left untouched. We were focused on the cupcakes.

Aside from the wonderful conversations that ranged from some light-hearted chatter to talk of business plans and opinions about boundary-pushing flavors, one of the things that stuck out in my mind the most was that not a single cupcake was like the next. Sitting on our plates were 6 completely different cupcakes, all with different flavors and different techniques for integrating the lavender into the mini desserts.

And that, my friends, is why I wanted to create this group in the first place. To be in a room of such talented, warm, and friendly individuals; to be able to have meaningful discussions about what we do in our kitchens; to connect across our love of things made with butter and flour.

A plate of lavender cupcakes

The Bakers present for the very first Philly Bakers Challenge in June 2013 were:

  • Audrey of Batter Up!: Lavender cake filled with white chocolate ganache topped with a lemon swiss meringue buttercream and a small candy garnish
  • Emily of Watts for Dessert: Blueberry and lavender cake with an almond butter and lavender mousse frosting
  • Jamie of Luscious Bakery: Matcha sponge cake filled with lavender cream frosted with chocolate miso ganache sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds (lovingly called “Kyoto Cakes”)
  • Melissa T., Cupcake Smash Coordinator: Cinnamon cake, mango-lavender curd filling, Earl Grey cream cheese frosting, toasted almonds and lavender caramel drizzle
  • Mel (that’s me!): Almond cardamom cake with local lavender honey buttercream and lavender honey almond praline
  • Stephanie of My Tiny Philadelphia Kitchen: Lemon pound cake with honey lavender whipped chocolate ganache frosting

I plan on sharing my recipe next week. If you’re a baker, live in the Philly metro area and would like to participate, drop me a line and I’ll add you to the Google Group! We’re looking at August for our next meetup.

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