austin bakes for bastrop

the austin bakes for bastrop
bake sale
notes from maggie's farm

We have the honor and good fortune to be baking for the Austin Bakes for Bastrop bake sale, to be held this Saturday, October 1, at locations around Austin.  Proceeds will assist victims of the Central Texas Wildfires, including Bastrop, which experienced the most devastating losses of the wildfires of Central Texas earlier this month. 

You can help!  The following locations around Austin will be participating this Saturday, October 1st, from 10am until 2pm-- 

Community Renaissance Market, 6800 Westgate Boulevard, 78745
The Flying Saucer at The Triangle, 815 W. 47th Street, 78751
Foreign & Domestic, 306 E. 53rd Street, 78751
Hotel San Jose, 1316 South Congress Avenue, 78704
Old Settler’s Park, 3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, 78665
Whole Foods Market Gateway, 9607 Research Boulevard #300, 78759
Whole Foods Market Lamar, 525 N. Lamar Boulevard, 78703

Stop by and pick up some home-baked goodness, (our goodies can be found at the 47th street location, but they all promise to have some delicious offerings) knowing that you've got something delicious to eat alone or share with another, accompanied by the joy that of helping those in need.  Not a sweet-eater?  Neither am I, so we'll be sending along savory treats as well to the Triangle location.  On a diet?  Not in the area?  You can still help.  Follow this link for information on giving from afar.  Thank you, in advance, for your generosity.

Today is National Coffee Day, and we're making goodies that go oh-so-lovely with a piping hot, deep, rich, cup of joe.  We'll be baking sweet cinnamon pastry twists with glaze, and sending along our from maggie's farm peach chipotle preserves with amaretto , which we've served, below, on an iced brownie, with a spoonful of creme fraiche.  Tomorrow, we'll share the savory goods we're sending to the bake sale benefit.  And you can bake along at home, too!

sweet cinnamon pastry twists
with glaze

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, or more, to taste
  • glaze 
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or buttered waxed paper.

    Unroll the puff pastry on a work surface. Brush the pastry generously with melted butter.
    In a small bowl, toss together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the pastry.
    Working lengthwise, cut the pastry in half and then cut each half into 6 even strips, each 3/4-inch wide. Twist the strips to make long twisted "straws".
    Transfer to the prepared pan, pushing the ends down with your thumb to help them stay in place on the pan and remain twisted. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
    Prepare glaze by combining milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat over low until warm. Sift confectioners' sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined. Remove the glaze from the heat and set over a bowl of warm water.  Drizzle over twists when removed from oven.  Allow to cool on a rack.

    iced espresso brownies       served with creme fraiche and from maggie's farm peach chipotle preserves with amaretto

    adapted from Saveur Magazine

     3/4 cup medium to fine ground chocolate covered espresso beans
    1/4 cup water
    2 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup light brown sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs (beaten)
    1/2 cup flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    4 tablespoons butter
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1/3 cup cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon
    vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a 8 or 9 inch square pan with tin foil. These brownies are gooey and hard to get out of the pan – so line the pan with foil so that it comes all the way up the sides of the pan. Once baked and cool, you can simply lift the whole big brownie out of the pan, flatten the foil, and cut as desired. I might try them in mini muffin pans next time. Try if you like.
    Grind your espresso beans in a food processor. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
    Bring 1/4 cup water to boil and whisk in instant espresso and dissolve. Pour into a medium sized bowl. Add the ground beans, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, oil and vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs and mix again, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly and bake for about 42-50 minutes. As usual check often and before. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes.
    In the meantime, make the icing. Bring the butter, milk, sugars, cocoa, vanilla and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Continue to stir and whisk as it comes to a boil.
    Pour the icing over the warm brownies.  Let cool to harden.  Slice into squares. 
    from maggie's farm
    peach chipotle preserves with amaretto

    Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, and from maggie's farm peach chipotle preserves with amaretto atop.  Enjoy! 

    The Golden Rules of Perfect Coffee

    When it's all said, making a good cup of coffee at home is not a complicated thing. In fact, you only need to remember a small number of fundamental rules to make good coffee. How many of those rules you adhere to is up to you. The more you adhere to, the better the cup of coffee you brew. Adhere to them all, and you make the perfect cup of coffee at home.

    It's key to your whole process of making great coffee at home to plan in advance so that you cover each of your bases.

    Golden Rule #1
    Ground coffee expires at a faster rate than whole coffee beans.
    What to do
    Further to the first Golden Rule, coffee goes stale for as long as it's not kept airtight. In addition ground coffee deteriorates at a different rate than whole coffee beans. Ground coffee deteriorates at a much faster rate. This even goes for grocery store-bought ground coffee which comes airtight in a vacuum-packed packaging or tin container, but begins to go stale as soon as you break the seal. Most North Americans seem satisfied with the quality of barely air-sealed ground coffee to get them up in the morning and get them through the day. But here, we're talking about good and fresh coffee. Keep coffee beans whole until you're ready to brew them. Then, grind only what you need to grind and brew it. Invest in whole coffee beans from a local retailer. They're worth having for that perfect cup of coffee at home.

    Golden Rule #2
    Air is the enemy of coffee.
    What to do
    Coffee is perishable, and anything perishable goes stale as much as it's in contact with air. Think about investing in containers designed to be airtight, most commonly ceramic containers with latch-closes and a rubber band squeezed between the lid and container. "Tupperware" containers and sandwich bags are better than leaving coffee in open air, but don't do the same job of keeping air out and keeping coffee from going stale as a container designed to be airtight. Contrary to what many believe, freezing your coffee beans doesn't keep them from going stale. In fact, the humidity from the freshness of coffee beans will congeal and once thawed, evaporate quicker from the beans.

    Golden Rule #3
    Coffee is mostly water.
    What to do
    In fact, it's 99% water. If you don't get the water right, you might still make a decent cup of coffee, but why take chances with such an important ingredient? If you take precautions with drinking water, remember those precautions with coffee water. Purified water makes good coffee. At a minimum, keep a Brita water pitcher full in the fridge.

    Golden Rule #4
    Heat is the enemy of brewed coffee.
    What to do
    We like our coffee hot. It's a drink served hot. But, heat burns anything liquid the more that liquid is exposed to the heat. After 20 minutes of your coffee sitting on the coffee machine's heat plate, consider that coffee to be beginning to burn. After 40 minutes, the difference in taste should be noticeable. And, burnt coffee is not distinguished like blackened chicken or tuna. Burnt coffee is not good coffee.
    A Solution
    Some coffee machines have heat settings for the plate to resolve the very problem of burnt coffee. If you have such a machine, just leave the heat setting on Low and never touch it again. Even better machines have a switch to identify that a small amount of coffee is being made, say 2-4 cups. After all, the heat required for a full pot is a lot of heat to apply to only a quarter or half of a pot. The less expensive coffee machines don't tend to have these bells and whistles. They normally just have an on/off switch. As with most quality, you get what you pay for.

    Golden Rule #5
    Clean everything that comes in the coffee's path.
    What to do
    The compartment of the coffee machine that holds the grinds. Want proof? Wipe yours right now with a paper towel. You should notice coffee residue on the paper towel from multiple brewings. Your coffee pot. Your mug. Your spoon. Your spoon-holder. All of these things come into contact with brewed coffee, and like any liquid, it leaves its mark unless entirely cleaned. Most people wouldn't consider that this coffee residue is as perishable as coffee, and begins to go stale over a short period. In fact, there is a natural oil in coffee that makes its residue extra 'sticky'. Soap and water is the easiest way to clean anything.

    Golden Rule #6
    Plan for making coffee.
    Planning and Preparation
    If there's one theme connecting all of the previous five Golden Rules, it's that it takes planning and preparation to make good coffee.
    To make the perfect cup of coffee, it starts with the coffee machine. Buy a coffee machine with heat settings for the plate, a switch to identify that a small pot is being made, and a tone that sounds or beeps to identify that the coffee is finished brewing. That way, you can pour a cup as quickly as it's brewed.
    Now, you need ceramic containers designed to be airtight. These are available from kitchen stores for spices, beans, and many cooking ingredients. That have a metal latch that creates the airtight seal, which should consist of a rubber hand underneath the lid in place to seal with the container when the latch is closed.
    Whole Beans
    Next, the main event. The coffee beans themselves. Buy them whole. You should have a nearby retailer that sells whole coffee beans, and I don't mean the grocery store. The beans that most grocery stores sell in addition to ground coffee is whole, but there's no accounting for how a grocery store takes care of its coffee beans. Ideally, you want a cafe. Starbucks sells quality coffee beans, in my humble opinion, but the price premium is hard to justify. The freshest and widest variety of coffee is available online.
    When you are preparing to make a pot of coffee, make sure all the tools are clean. Measure out as many whole coffee beans as you intend to grind for this pot. After they're ground, get them in the coffee machine along with some fresh, purified water. As soon as the brewing is complete, begin serving your coffee. If your guests or yourself are having more than one cup of coffee, you might even consider making multiple pots, one for each "round" of coffee that you'll be serving.
    Those steps taken together make up the Golden Rules of Good Coffee. Follow them all, and it will be the best cup of coffee you can make. See how easy it is to turn your kitchen into a coffeehouse? 

    Join us tomorrow for our Savory Treats for
    Austin Bakes for Bastrop. 

    Have a great day!

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