Since my camera is still in ICU, I am excited to be able to use someone else's gorgeous photos on my site. All photos are courtesy of Peter Doyle.
This past week, I was lucky enough to attend a baking a blogging event for Dede Wilson's newest book "Unforgettable Desserts" held by the good people at The Baddish Group. If you are not familiar with Dede Wilson, then it's time to familiarize yourself.
Dede is the author of Unforgettable Desserts, The Birthday Cake Book: 75 Recipes for Candle Worthy Creations, Truffles: 50 Deliciously Decadent Homemade Treats; A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes: Deliciously Decorated Crowd Pleasers for All Parties and Holidays; A Baker's Field Guide to Holiday and Candy Confections: Sweet Treats all Year Long; A Baker's Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies; A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies; Entremeses, Pabocas/Quick Snacks, Appetizers for Dummies, Christmas Cookies for Dummies, Bake it to the Limit: Easy-to-Prepare Desserts with Showstopping Variations for Special Occasions; and the Wedding Cake Book... just to name a few. Click here for a full list of her books.
She also needs to write a Field Guide to Being Awesome, because she is. When I walked into the room, she immediately walked over to me, hand extended with a warm smile. She greeted each person who walked in the room this way, geniunely eager to meet each of her baking companions.
The event was sponsored by Driscoll's Berries, and we were going to make the perfect dessert to highlight some of their deliciously ripe blackberries: A Brown Sugar-Buttermilk Snack Cake with Blackberries and Caramel Walnut Drizzle.
Yes. Yes you did read that correctly. And yes, your mouth should be watering right about now.
My fellow bloggers who attended the event were my baking partner for the day Christo of Chez What?, Jordan of Non Society, Robert of Halogen Life, and Evie of Product Pasha. Some of us were experienced in the kitchen, some were not, but we all had two things in common: we wanted coffee and we wanted cake.
Dede was great at walking us through each of the steps, explaining why she used cake flour as opposed to AP flour in this particular recipe, or why she used dark brown sugar as opposed to light brown sugar and how beautifully it paired with fresh blackberries... I could go on and on, but I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.
Our mise en place.
Dede, breakin' it down.
We all look on in awe.
The only thing that is bad about baking in front of a group of people is that you can't eat the batter. Seriously. Don't do it. You will be judged.
Dede shows us the right way to make her glaze. Don't let it get too cool or else it will become too firm. Then you will have a pot o' glaze that you can't use and you'll be forced to eat the whole thing by yourself and then cry in a corner about your lack of willpower. It won't be pretty.
Interesting thing I learned. See the two cakes? The cake on the left is slightly domed and cracked. The cake on the right is flat and even. Same makers of the pans (Wilton), but the cake on the right is a higher quality cake pan. Looks like I have a new excuse to buy more cake pans.
The representatives from Driscoll's Berries inform us a little bit about how it is done on their farms. And you can even find out a bit about where the berries that you just bought were grown and who was growing them using their Online Berry Tracker. It's not called that, but that is what I just named it. I'll even trademark it... Online Berry Tracker(TM). Done.
Our first finished cake. Tell me you are not drooling right now. You're lying.
Laura from the Baddish Group looks like a proud mama!
It's not that the croissants were bad, but we had three of those amazing cakes sitting in front of us. The croissants didn't stand a chance.
When I left the event, I couldn't wait to see what desserts awaited me in the pages of the book. Here are some that really stood out to me:
Almond Mounds of Joy Cake
Matcha Tea Leaf Shortbreads
Cacao Nib and Caramelized Almond Biscotti
Butterscotch-Pecan Brownies with Boozy Raisins
Almond-Apricot Brownies with Tart Cherry Ganache
Ginger Shortcakes with Caramelized Nectarines and Sour Cream
Mango, Banana, and Pineapple Chocolate Crisp
Thousand Leaves with Blackberry Pastry Cream
Banana-Walnut Baklava with Honey-Cinnamon Syrup
Six Fruit Gazpacho with Crystallized Mint
Clementine-Chocolate Almond Torte with Chocolate Lace, Candied Zest, and Caramelized Fruit (cover)
Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake with Blueberries and Cream
Latticed Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Pear Pie
Deep Dish Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Lemon Cardamom Streusel
Frozen Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Frozen Peanut Butter-Honey Cheesecake with Warm Chocolate Honey Sauce
OK I need to stop. I am getting weak in the knees... and stomach. And I swear, no one told me to shill for this book. I am shilling it all on my own. Because it is AMAZING. The recipes are creative with original flavor combinations, interesting back stories, and clear directions, which is vital in a baking book. Dede, like Dorie Greenspan, another favorite baking author of mine, often lets you know what the ingredients should look like at each step so you are not worried that you are doing something wrong. I just made her Bliss Bites - firm, ripe raspberries ensconced in dark chocolate, and have never had more success tempering chocolate in my life, thanks to her fantastic directions.
The book is fantastic, the breakfast cake was AMAZING (like, seriously. Who knew brown sugar glaze and blueberries went so well together?), and I have a lot of baking ahead of me.
Thanks to Laura and Chris of the Baddish Group, the people at Driscoll's Berries for providing us with some great inspiration, my fellow bloggers and bakers, and of course, Dede!