caramel apple butter galette

October 17, 2018

Grand Forks, ND, USA

This recipe is sponsored by Stonewall Kitchen, who provided the compensation and ingredients to make it happen! I've been fortunate to work with Stonewall Kitchen for a couple of years now as I genuinely believe that they make some of the best jams and jellies in the market. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the companies that help keep Hummingbird High alive!

By the time you read this, I'll likely be on a plane crossing the heartland en route to Louisville, Kentucky... or maybe just sitting in the Minneapolis airport eating junk food while waiting for my flight (which is far less romantic, lol). I'm heading to Louisville to take a quick tour of the General Electric factory (more fun stuff on that soon, I promise!), but in any case, I just spent the last few days with my friend Molly on her North Dakotan/Minnesotan farm in Grand Forks, where we were also joined by Alana and Lily, doing all sorts of fun things like picking apples in Molly's yard, baking strawberry chocolate brownies, and getting irrationally excited over slushies at Sonic Drive-Thru!

One of the best things about being a professional blogger is that you get to meet and become really good friends with a lot of people around the country and even the world; unfortunately, that also means there are few opportunities for you and your friends to hang out since you end up being spread out across the globe. In place, we have a lot of fun iMessage threads and hilarious Instagram DMs, as well as the occasional (and usually work-related) trip to Los Angeles, Portland, or New York that grants us the chance to have a meal with one or two (but never all) of the group. It's rare that the four of us are all in the same place at the same time, so I'm very grateful for the last few days!

While we were in Grand Forks, fall hit me in full force; it's much colder up there than in Portland, so I didn't really get into the mood for everything autumn-related until now. In particular, this time of the year always produces such beautiful, tasty apples: always juicy, never mealy, with varieties that range in color, flavor, and more. One of my favorites is the Mountain Rose apple, which looks boring and green on the outside but is actually a beautiful pink on the inside. Unfortunately, Mountain Rose apples are a little tart on their own, and tend to get even more so when baked in the oven — to offset this, I used a generous slathering of Stonewall Kitchen's Caramel Apple Butter in the galette, which tastes like caramel apples in liquid form. I then drizzled the entire thing with a generous portion of Stonewall Kitchen's Sea Salt Caramel Sauce. It was absolutely delicious!

also featured:

Some baker's notes:
  • Let's talk about these apples! The pink flesh is all natural and is a variety specific to the Portland region called Mountain Rose; you can read all about its history in this funny Portland Monthly article. If you don't live in Portland, you can substitute them for the more commonly found and ubiquitous Pink Pearl apple — just be sure to snag 'em when you see them because they're only in season for such a short window of time! 

  • A galette is a free-form pie, which means you can basically form it into any shape you want. I opted for a rectangular design, but the dough will easily make a 9-inch circular galette. Whatever form you decide on, bake it on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper for minimal stickage.

  • Finally, a note on assembly: be sure to buy and use more apples in the galette than you think you'll need, since fruit tends to shrink in the oven. When assembling them, be sure the pieces overlap a fair amount to prevent the bottom crust from showing (as you can see, I wasn't the best at this myself ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). If you're looking for even slices, it's worth using a mandoline slicer for the apples — in a pinch though, you can always just use your trusty chef's knife. You don't want them sliced too thinly; doing so leads to a dry galette. Aim for slices that are around 1/8-inch thick.

pumpkin tonka bundt cake

October 10, 2018

Portland, OR, USA

This recipe is sponsored by Vermont Farm Table, who provided the compensation to make it happen as well as the beautiful maple cake platter you see in all the photos! Their Hundred Year Birthday Board is perfect for birthdays and anything that requires celebratory candles, since it has pegs for almost 100 of them. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Hummingbird High keep running!

I've never been the best at settling back into routine after a vacation; I suffer from what's known as "post-vacation blues" in which I spend the first few days back home mopey that I don't live in whatever city I just visited, bitter that I'm back to eating salads for meals, and annoyed at all the mundane and trivial chores I have to do. It's ironic that I get that way because towards the end of my vacation, I'm usually complaining about how all the tasty delicious food I've eaten has made me fat and how I'm in desperate need of a workout and how I just want to do laundry and sleep in my own bed and blah blah blah. I have to remind myself that, the truth is, as much as I loved London and Paris, I really like being at home in Portland too.

Fall in Portland is an especially wonderful time; the rain and the cold hasn't truly settled in yet, and we get blessed with some perfect sunny days to show off the pretty golden, yellow, and red foliage of the trees. In the past, I've always seen the month of October as the quiet time where things settle down after the whirlwind of summer trips and travel. And there's something to be said for that —I should stop being wistful for the long, hot days where I was on the go all the time and instead celebrate the peaceful calm of October. So what does that mean exactly? To me, that means embracing all things hygge: lighting candles, drinking mugs of steaming hot beverages, cozying up in thick wool sweaters, and eating slices of this pumpkin tonka bundt cake.

For this recipe, I've swapped out most of the ordinary spices found in pumpkin bakes and replaced it with tonka bean shavings. If you've never heard of tonka beans before, I'm not surprised — tonka beans have been illegal in the United States since the 1950s because the beans contain a large amount of coumarin, which can cause liver damage. However, a quick Google search informed me that the ban was mostly unfounded: you'd need to eat at least 30 beans to reach those toxic levels (which is roughly around the same amount at which the perfect legal nutmeg starts to become poisonous too). And one bean goes a long way — a few shavings of the stuff will turn your desserts otherworldly, imparting a delicious, woody vanilla flavor and smell somewhere reminiscent of freshly cooked caramel, magnolias, and the forest after it's rained (lol, I'm not joking). Tonka beans work wonderfully as a substitution for vanilla beans or as an addition to anything with chocolate, which is why you'll see a generous amount of mini chocolate chips studded throughout this cake. Be sure to read the baker's notes below for more information, sources, and substitutions for the tonka beans in this recipe!


Some baker's notes:
  • If you're interested in learning more about tonka beans, I particularly enjoyed this article from the BBC, this one from the Atlantic, and this one from Taste. While I purchased my tin of tonka beans in Galleries Lafayette in Paris (after a particularly inspiring chocolate tonka tart from Hugo & Victor at Fou de Patisserie), you can actually buy tonka beans fairly easily online on Amazon! However, if you're still scared/weirded out by the whole tonka bean thing, no worries. You can use a vanilla bean pod in its place! Simply split the pod lengthwise and scrape all the vanilla beans out into the batter. 

  • Let's talk about the other ingredients in this cake besides tonka beans. This cake uses four egg yolks, which I know is an annoying amount of egg yolks but trust me — it leads to an incredibly moist crumb and is somehow more orange than normal. In a pinch, you can use three eggs plus one egg yolk, but know that your cake won't be as orange or as moist as mine. And finally, it's important to shell out for mini chocolate chips for this recipe: they suspend really well in the batter and disperse more evenly throughout the batter, and they're less prone to sticking to the bundt pan like regular chips. 

  • And finally, a note about my bundt pan: this recipe makes a crazy ton of batter, so it's important that you use a pan with a 12-cup capacity over a 10-cup one. Although a 10-cup pan (like the Nordicware Jubilee pan I used for this recipe) can hold the amount of batter, I definitely had some batter rising up and spilling down the center of bundt hole, which left a bunch of burnt cake at the bottom of my oven that I've yet to clean up. Other bundt cake tips — if you're using an elaborate bundt pan like mine with lots of sharp, tricky crevices, opt for cooking spray instead of butter and flour and be sure to use an uncomfortable amount of cooking spray to coat the pan before filling with batter. The more you use, the less likely you'll have any cake sticking to the pan; you want all the crevices and edges wet with oil. Finally, the cake will unmold best 15 to 20 minutes after it's been pulled out of the oven, when all the edges and outsides are set but the cake and pan are still warm. 

yuzu and blackcurrant cakelets

October 3, 2018

Portland, OR, USA

I'm finally back from my two weeks abroad in Europe! I spent the first week in France with one of my sponsors, Staub, and the second week in England to visit friends and old stomping grounds. If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you'll know that I have ties to England: in high school, I spent summers in the university town of Cambridge, and, later, my parents lived in London when I was in college in Portland. It was a pretty sweet deal: I'd spend school breaks and summers hanging out in their amazing apartment in Belgravia, a neighborhood pretty centrally located in London that is home to Dominque Ansel's Bakery in London (where we had tea service one afternoon, check out Instagram Stories for the cute bites we had!) and that super Instagram-famous pink bakery with the flower archway. I don't know if its because of my parents' short time there, but to me, London always feels like a second home — I love everything about it, including the gloomy weather (that was miraculously perfect during my time there), its seemingly unconquerable hugeness, and the tireless hustle and bustle.

Erlend joined me for the first half of the week and we ran around the city, eating to our heart's content with my Whole30 sadness long forgotten. Think: Turkish manti at Kyseri; bacon sandwiches at St. John Bread and Wine; Sri Lankan hoppers and curry at Hoppers; vegetables at Rovi, Ottolenghi's new fire and fermentation focused restaurant; dope cocktails and the best biryani at Brigadiers; and many, many donuts from Bread Ahead Bakery in Borough Market. I then took a train down to Brighton to see Kiron, one of my oldest remaining friends from college, where we had Keralite fish curry at The Chili Pickle and super tasty Venetian food at Polpo. It's funny to me that British food has historically been derided as some of the worst in the world; all I know is that a lot must have changed since then because everything we ate was incredible (but not necessarily British, so maybe that's it? idk tho).

I also spent some of my time in both France and England prowling around grocery stores and searching for interesting ingredients to bake with. My haul in England was particularly stunning — one of my friends told me that The Great British Bake-Off had caused a massive revival in baking, so basic British grocery stores like Asda, Sainsbury's, and Waitrose had all sorts of awesome baking ingredients that you usually have to buy at a specialty store or online in America. Think: pots of mirror glazes for cakes that you can just heat up and pour, sheets of edible gold leaf, and all sorts of sprinkles made of pastel colors you can't get in the US and chocolate-covered popping candy.

Which brings us to these mini cakes — these cakelets were made with yuzu zest I bought at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and blackcurrant powder from Borough Market and white chocolate star sprinkles from Waitrose in London. It's a modified and fancified recipe from a much underrated recipe of mine from yesteryear, in which I made these mini cakes but with lemon and beets. This time around, the blackcurrant powder gives a beautiful, all-natural deep color in the glaze, as well as a tartness that complements the aromatic yuzu zest. Be sure to read the baker's notes if you're looking for substitutions for these ingredients!!!


Some baker's notes:
  • Okay, I don't expect you to fly to Paris for yuzu zest and London for blackcurrant powder. In a pinch, you can use ingredients that are more readily available at home! You can substitute the yuzu zest with fresh lemon zest, but note that the fresh stuff is more flavorful and you can get away with using 1 to 2 teaspoons as opposed to the 1 tablespoon in the recipe. For blackcurrant powder, you can buy a number of freeze-dried berries like strawberries, blueberries, and more at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods; simply dump the freeze-dried fruit in a food processor and pulverize until you get a fine powder. For a stronger yuzu flavor, you can find usually find fresh yuzu fruit or juice at an Asian supermarket — or you can just use regular lemon juice like I did.

  • I made these cakelets using this mini cake pan that produces six 5-inch cakes. If you don't want to buy a mini cake pan, you can also use a jumbo muffin pan or a regular muffin pan — just note that a regular muffin pan will produce twice as many cakes. The recipe below instructs you to fill the mini cake pan with a specific quantity of batter; if using a muffin pan, simply fill each cavity two-thirds of the way up with cake batter.

chocolate babka morning buns

September 19, 2018

Lille, France

Hello from France! I am currently here with one of my sponsors and all-time favorite cookware companies, Staub, to spend the next few days celebrating their new cookbook and touring their factory in Lille to learn all about how their beautiful castiron is made. So far it has been a whirlwind of unseasonably warm weather, pink sunrises over the Paris skyline, and an obscene amount of croissants and pastries.

We spent our first night in the fancy Park Hyatt hotel in the ritzy 1st arrondissement of Paris, just a stone's throw away from the Place Vendôme, Tuileries Garden, and the Louvre. After an epic wine and cheese pairing class from Le Foodist, I got up early the next day to do a HIIT workout in my massive hotel room and a quick jog down the Seine and promptly inhaled three croissants, a mini beignet, the best pain perdu I've ever had, and a cheese and salami plate at the hotel's breakfast buffet (I know, I'm so gross). Then, Alana, Amanda, Jenn, and I did a mini pastry crawl and ate a chocolate and pistachio escargot at Du Pain Et Des Idees and eclair shopping at L'eclair de Genie at Galerie Lafayette Gourmet.

Today, we are in Lille staying in a chateau and heading out to do our tour of the Staub factory! I am beyond excited — I first started working with Staub in 2015, and have and use almost their entire collection of cookware in my kitchen. It's incredibly beautiful, but also functional and durable: you can use their pots and pans on the stovetop AND the oven, and their signature dark surface doesn't stain and instead seasons really well over time. Plus, their pots and pans are dishwasherable. I die.

Staub recently came out with a cookbook that features a ton of great recipes by the talented Amanda Fredrickson, as well as contributor recipes from chefs, bloggers, and more. My contribution were these chocolate babka morning rolls, which is basically the answer to the question of what happens when two of my favorite breakfast pastries, the babka and the cinnamon roll, get together and have a bun in the oven (ha! see what I did there?). The chocolate filling has a slight crispy, crunchy texture from chocolate and sugar filling, and the buns are drenched in a sticky simple syrup to give them extra softness — it's a study of different textures and one of my all-time favorite recipes I've ever developed.

As a special treat for my followers, I'm giving away a copy of The Staub Cookbook and a set of Staub cookware (think: a cocotte, a petite cocotte, and a frying pan) in my current favorite color, La Mer, which is exclusive to Williams-Sonoma and is inspired by the ever-changing colors of the sea. To enter the giveaway, be sure to follow me on Instagram and watch for this babka post on my feed for more details on how to win!

pan || book || knife

Some baker's notes:
  • Because this recipe requires multiple components, you can break it up over the course of several days. First, proof the dough overnight in the fridge as opposed to letting it rise at room temperature. Second, you can make the syrup and filling up to 1 week in advance of the dough itself — simply store both in an airtight container until ready to use. 

  • When working with yeast, it's important to remember that yeast is a living thing and you can easily kill it by mixing it in a liquid that's too hot — you want the temperature to be similar to that of a warm bath and no more. Instant yeast, which is used in this recipe, also requires a higher activation temperature than active dry yeast since you don't directly mix the yeast into a liquid. Be sure to use an egg that's at room temperature rather than straight from the fridge; an egg straight from the fridge will be too cold and lower the temperature of the overall mixture, risking dropping it to a point where the yeast won't activate properly. 

  • The recipe instructs you to roll out the dough into a fairly long 10 by 20-inch rectangle. It'll seem overkill, but I promise that long rectangles are the secret to the most attractive spirals in your cinnamon rolls and morning buns. 

cherry lambic spoke pie

September 12, 2018

Portland, OR, USA

In a few days, I'll be teaching my first pie workshop ever with Lauren Ko of @lokokitchen Instagram fame at Feast Portland! I'm beyond excited; we are teaching one of her classic spoke* pie designs and I've spent the last few weeks practicing her original design and variations to make it my own. Although I'm still #teamcake (and will be, forever and ever), there's something very therapeutic and absorbing about making one of these high-design pies — it makes me think I should get into macrame or knitting, two activities I've always doubted I have the patience for.

*A lot of you thought the spoke hole looked like something else. Genuinely surprised by how many of you have your mind in the gutter, tsk tsk.

Our class kicks off the start of a crazy next few weeks for me — in addition to the class, I'll be celebrating the end of my Whole30 diet with various plates from famed chefs at Feast, Portland's food festival thrown in partnership with Bon Appetit Magazine. I'm especially excited to sample dishes from Sean Brock of Husk in Charlston, SC; Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, CA; Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin TX; Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu's in San Francisco, CA; Edouardo Jordan of Junebaby in Seattle, WA, and more. I've attended every Feast since the festival first started, and it's been really cool to see it grow and evolve into the massive event that it is today. Never would have I thought that I'd be part of such an impressive lineup. Very cool.

After the festival, I'm heading straight to Paris to spend a few days touring the Staub factory with some of my favorite food people. Then I'm heading to London to eat my weight in Indian and Turkish food and gain back the 15 or so pounds I lost on the Hell30. I am into this plan, although I can feel my mom wagging her finger at me now in reproach.

I wish all y'all could join me for the class and my travels, but for now, we'll have to do with this blog post for cherry lambic spoke pie. I'm not going to go into extensive detail on how to do the spoke design — you can get all the tips and tricks you need from this Tasty video — but I did share some tips and tricks below to make the process go by easier; be sure not to miss out the baker's notes. As for the filling, I used the last of the extended summer season's cherries and cooked them with cherry lambic beer to give them a sweeter, boozy flavor. Delicious.


Some baker's notes:
  • As mentioned in the blog post, you can see the spoke pie technique I used to make these pies by watching this Tasty video. However, Lauren rolls her dough out and slices everything by hand; while this is probably the easier way to go, I'm super anal and actually used my Kitchenaid's pasta machine attachment to create my lattice strands. Doing so easily created long, even, thin pieces that were perfect to work with — I first used the pasta roller on setting 1 to roll the dough into a thin, even slab, before using the fettuccine cutter to slice the slab into strands. 

  • For me, the hardest part about baking pie is making sure that the crust keeps its shape in the oven. With spoke pies, in addition to worrying about the crust, you also need to worry about the filling bubbling up and being too runny, potentially ruining the spoke pie design you worked so hard on. To help prevent this, you can pre-cook the fruit beforehand to encourage it to release its juices and thicken significantly before being filled in the pie. After filling and assembling the pie, you'll need to freeze the entire thing, loosely covered in plastic wrap, for at least 24 hours — but I usually go beyond that and make it a full 72 hours to make sure that it's icy hard. To help keep its shape, it needs to be as frozen as possible when it enters the oven. And finally, baking the pie at a lower temperature for longer also helps keep its shape in the oven. The recipes below reflect these tips and work wonderfully for any design beyond the spoke pie.

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