I’ve been tinkering with some recipes since I was last here, and I’m elated to announce 2 new additions to the market selection:
Seville Orange and Chocolate Tart: Shortbread tart base with a layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache, a punchy orange curd made with the legendary Seville oranges, finished with lightly toasted, melt-in-your-mouth meringue tubes.
Gingerbread Pudding with Honey Caramel Persimmons (gluten free): A dense, sticky pud made with a custom blend of alternative flours, topped with a crown of ooey, gooey persimmons in honey caramel sauce. Perfect served warm with a dollop of double cream.
Well here’s the rest of the line up.
Lime Yoghurt Cake: The sell out, often tied with the brownies. Made with full-cream, organic yoghurt from Schulz Organic, they’re so good we have people coming to the market just for them!
Dark Chocolate Brownies: Version 2011. A dense, fudgy dark chocolate brownies dusted with double dutch cocoa powder and a mixture of spices. A sprinkle of vanilla salt really sets it apart!
Quince Puff Tart: Home-made puff pastry base, spiced frangipane filling, slow-poached quinces. Also, I’ve used up the last of my quinces for the year, so this will be the last time you’ll get this treat until next Fall. Better hurry!
I thought that I have not made enough of an appearance here of late, and so decided that I should post my Sunday Selection here instead of Twitter. It’s only the beginning of the night for me, so you have to forgive me if this is, again, only a short one. But stop by the stall tomorrow, and we’ll chat!!
Tomorrow’s lineup at Melbourne Showgrounds Farmers Market:
Lime and yoghurt cake—-I made more this week, hopefully we won’t run out of them by 1030 again for the 3rd time!!
Dark Chocolate Brownies
Apple Caramel Cake with Spiced and Salted Caramel Sauce——mmmm..(psst, I ate 4 pieces already!)
Lemonade Cake with Lemon Cream
Quince and Spiced Frangipane Tart—-made using the last of the season’s quinces. Get them while they last!!
See you tomorrow??
"Quinces are ripe…when they are the yellow of canary wings in midflight. They are ripe when their scent teases you with the snap of green apples and the perfumed embrace of coral roses. but even then quinces remain a fruit, hard and obstinate—useless…until they are simmered, coddled for hours above a low, steady flame. Add honey and water and watch their dry, bone-colored flesh soak-up the heat, coating itself in an opulent orange, not of the sunrises that you never see but of the insides of tree-ripened papayas, a color you can taste. To answer your question—-love is not a bowl of quinces yellowing in a blue and white china bowl, seen but untouched."
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt
Those of you who know me well would know that, in another life, I used to aspire to be a fashion designer. I enrolled my 18 year old self in one of the toughest fashion design schools without knowing what’s in store for me. As a result, when I graduated, I immediately decided to do something else. Which leads me to my current aspiration.
White Peach Moscato Tart
I used to think that it was such a pity to let all those 3 years of blood (literal), sweat, and tears (also literal) go to waste; doing what I do now, my patternmaking, sewing and tailoring skills rarely come in handy, with the exception of sewing on a couple of buttons or hemming a tablecloth for the market table. But the deeper I delve into creating my own signature treats, the more all those lessons about design made sense.
I remember having to set up our spaces for the much dreaded assessment day, where you’d go in and present a semester’s worth of work to a panel of assessors. They would critique things like how the space is laid out; how your paper patterns, toiles and development work are presented etc. And to be honest I never used to understand why I had to go through such troubles—-the work is what matters, no?
This lasted until I had to think about my stall at the market. Yes, the treats are good, but we needed something more to draw the eye in, to create a space that is our own to welcome customers into—- something that, given the layout of the market, wasn’t that obvious to me at first. And so now we bring our marquee, and hang our decorations and branding stuff on it.
Apricot Jasmine Cake
Another thing that I used to be told all the time in the course is that everything you place on the garment—-a stitch, a button, a fastening——has to serve a purpose. It was one of those things that did not click until I started creating and designing desserts.
With the multitude of options available, I had to streamline. Sticking to local and seasonal produce is a good start, and so is making sure that everything is good to be stored at room temperature. A pleasing aesthetic is a must for all my treats, and so is texture and flavour harmony. But the point is, everything I put on my treats is there for a reason. Funny how things that appear as challenges often end up defining what you do.
And so, knife and spatula in hand, I am off to do what I now do best, and leave the clothes making to someone else. I’ll see you again soon!
Summer Berries Cake
This week’s selection:
Hello. How have you been? It has been a few weeks since I last posted anything here, and before you go on about how I said that moving the blog to Tumblr was MY idea so that I could post more often, I would like to offer a truce in the form of treats. Yes, treats, plural.
I have had the intention of putting these photos on the blog since about a month ago. I had a few orders from the Feb seasonal range the week before Valentine’s Day, and thought that I should take the opportunity to show the range off as a whole. But also, I wanted to visually show you all what sort of treats I specialise in, especially those who, ahem, have not come to see me at the Showgrounds market yet.
Summer berries cake with all-natural raspberry frosting
Gravenstein apple tart with blueberry and basil
But the main reason as to why I am doing this is the dilemma I encounter whenever people ask what sort of cakes I do. I tend to hesitate a little before answering. Not that I am unsure; on the contrary, I am very certain as to what I want to achieve with my products. However, how do you sum up your entire philosophy in just one word? Usually I answer by saying ‘tea cakes’ when I want to be brief, but somehow I don’t feel that ‘tea cakes’ really cut it. But neither do I want to bore people with a detailed description of the idea behind Treehouse. Also, the words ‘seasonal cakes and tarts’ tend to carry rustic undertones, and while some of the range does look rustic (which I do not mind in the very least), I like to think that some of them would not look out of place in a setting which calls for a touch of formality.
Buttermilk cake, greengage plum jam, with rose and blackberry sugar
Dark chocolate mousse with strawberries
Hence, I am putting out these photos as visual assurance. I don’t know about you, but I definitely I think that these treats are gorgeous enough for a fancy wedding or afternoon tea, no? And oh, they’re all yummy too!!
So, get envious much?
PS. please do not pass judgment on the photos here. It was really cloudy the day I took these shots, and I was lucky enough to be able to get this much light into them
This week, I celebrated being a small scale artisan producer by bringing out 2 new products into the range. People who read the blog would know that I scored some Gravenstein apples and Green Gage plums last Sunday. But what you don’t know, is that most of the time, I have more than 1 week to figure out what to do with them. This is when I’d start mapping out the possible flavours in my head.
Next comes recipe testing. Please do not be fooled by the deceptive simplicity of the last two words. Nothing frustrates me more than a result that does not live up to how I imagined it to be. To give you a better picture of what I’m talking about, let me cite an example. When white nectarines came into season, I saw it partnered with the refreshing, slightly earthy taste of Alpine green tea. I put this on a yogurt cake base, in 2 layers so you get a good dose of nectarines. Turns out the nectarines got too heavy for the cake and sank in the middle. Then, I discovered that the yogurt cake base, which I thought would be a good, light base for the delicate nectarines and green tea, upstages the stars of the show. Add to that the fact that the green tea flavour was way out of balance in the cake, and you get one unhappy baker. I’ve since came up with another solution, which I shall test out soon, but that’s another post.
What I really came here to talk about is one recipe testing that came out just right. Those who follow me on Twitter would’ve seen a photo of it. It is the Gravenstein and blueberry apple tart. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with the apples, and decided that I wanted the bright, clean flavours to show through. I want anyone who eats it to remember that those slices on the tart base are gutsy Gravenstein apples, not limp, lifeless shadows of what their original selves. But I also wanted to mellow down their acidity, which can turn some people away from enjoying them. So after much frustration and pacing around, I decided to keep it very simple. A shortcrust base, thin apple slices very lightly poached——long enough to bring down the acidity, but quick enough to still retain that lovely crispness when bitten into. I added an organic Moondarra blueberry for some interest, and tied it together with a baby basil leaf. I decided to not place any filling in the tart because it would interfere with the clean flavours that I wanted.
I know that this tart isn’t for everyone; some may think it’s too plain, or they prefer it with a filling or bigger, bolder flavours. But I’m not aiming to please everyone here. I just wanted to do those beautiful Gravenstieins some justice.
I designed and made this Valentine’s Day cake last year. A flourless white chocolate cake, french rosewater buttercream, and roses and pistachios. The 2011 version includes a layer of tangy lemon curd to cut through all that sweetness.
They are 8cm in diameter; perfect for 2 to share. Or if you are like me, you might want to get 2.
I’m taking orders for them from now until Valentine’s Day. The cake does not travel well by post, so I’m only doing pick ups from Melbourne CBD. Hit me up if interested, but please provide 48 hours notice, as we bake everything to order.
I never used to appreciate the shortness of a fruit’s season. Apples, to me were apples, and plums were plums. Doesn’t matter the difference when you don’t know that there is a difference.The turning point for me was when I start going to the farmers market about 2 years ago. No, there wasn’t a single ‘aha!’ moment—-to learn the subtlety of the changing seasons, and the fruit varieties that come and go with it requires time, and knowing your producers.
I found these plums and the first of the new season apples this morning when I went over to John Howell’s stall looking for the last of the first flush of figs. I saw the plums first, green and hard as though unripe. On reading the name, I very nearly squealed in delight to find that they are the heirloom green gage plums that I’ve been reading about. Also called Reine Claude, they are a small, firm variety which are exceptional in jams. I started shovelling them into my paper bag, and I asked John if he’ll have more next week. He said he only has one tree, and this is the first and only harvest. I shovel more in.
Right as I was about to pay, I saw 2 crates of apples, different from the rest. There is something dazzlingly vibrant about apples that come into season in the summer season—-their colours are strikingly beautiful, and they are so fleeting in nature that they are impossible to resist. He had two of the earliest varieties with him: Boy’s Delight, which is a sweet eating apple, and the legendary Gravenstein, a heritage variety supremely suited for pies, with a distinctive apple scent that does not fade even after cooking. My own resistance crumbled after an hour, upon which I
elbowed my way rushed back into the crowd of people in front of the crates, and grabbed the last kilo of Gravensteins.
With the temperatures soaring fast, the number of people dwindled and I went over to John’s stall again to get some lemons. We chatted about the heat and the crazy kids at the Big Day Out event at Flemington, and the conversation led to, as always, produce. I commented on how most summer produce are so fleeting, and that you literally have to take your chances with them because they may not be there again next week.
Early this year I made a resolution to be even more seasonal in my approach to baking, which means a greater commitment to understanding the different varieties of produce, and their unique traits. It is something that will make my job 10 times harder, but to me, this is seasonal eating.
So expect to see more one-off products at the markets, starting this Sunday.
I’ve been pondering this for a very long time. I feel like the contents of my writing, which for the past year or so has been of Treehouse, no longer belong in the old blog. I hardly feel motivated anymore to write anything on the blog, even though I have so many things to say. Maybe this move will help me, maybe not. It’s still worth a shot.
Finally, I’d like to wish you a Happy 2011. 2010 has seen the launch of Treehouse Artisan Sweets at the Melbourne Showgrounds Farmers Market, and with it, the forming of many invaluable friendships. I have so many people to thank for their support—-other stallholders, fellow business owners, regulars, and friends met over Twitter/blogosphere, who have now become indispensable in my life. I hope to see more of all of you in 2011, and am looking forward to meeting even more people in the new year!
To finish, I have a couple of photos of my Xmas treats. A bit late, I know, but better that than never, right? My twitter followers may already know this, but Katie Quinn Davies of What Katie Ate created and published the first ever issue of her online magazine, and if you haven’t seen it, get there now!! Below’s some of the Treehouse spread in the magazine.
All photos are by Katie Quinn Davies.