Baked in the City is a happy network of homebakers like us, out to embrace more of our own. Our group is about celebrating home-baked treats and the absolute joy that goes into making them! Members look forward to sampling each other’s baked goods, learning new baking techniques together, sharing information on ingredients, trading sources or suppliers and even trying out new recipes from those who are willing to share.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MIRIELLE'S Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

by Jen Ramirez

photo by Kit Langit

There were SEVEN pies on the table, and the first one I reached for was Mirielle’s Blueberry Cheesecake. I’m an absolute cheesecake fan and was happy to learn that because Mirielle uses eggs in her recipe and actually bakes the cheesecake, this was technically a pie!

The pie’s cheesecake filling had that perfect argument between cheesy and tangy going on. The blueberry topping provided just the right tartness to balance the creamy layer underneath.

photo by Kit Langit

Cradling Mirielle’s creation was a very thin, neutral crust. I heard the other homebakers complement Mirielle on this, because apparently such a thin and very even (profile-worthy) crust is one hallmark of a truly skilled baker.

I thought that size-wise, the pie was just the right thickness because one fork-full gave me a good proportion of everything without any one element lording it over. That’s probably why I ended up finishing the entire half-slice before going for a taste of the others.

photo by Kit Langit

Mirielle says this cheesecake isn’t on the product list of her home-baked offerings. After the rave reviews from last Saturday though, she might want to change her mind. Be it bars or pies, apparently, baker Mirielle can do no wrong!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Go ahead, make PIE day!

By Jen Ramirez

Invite to the 2nd Pastry Exchange

I had butterflies in my tummy on the way to our second Pastry Exchange. Our theme was “Scrumptious Pies & Tarts”, and I couldn’t help but think that I’d gotten in over my head this time. I barely survived 'bars and brownies' last month, to think they were actually mix-dump-bake affairs. A pie however is a more delicate creature. There’s a science to the crust, a harmony in the right filling, and a ‘daintiness’ to the over-all look of the pastry. I wasn’t sure my novice baking skills had what it took to bake pies. I’d never really tried to make one before, and here I was, bringing my first ‘experiments’ to the pastry exchange!

photo by Kit Langit

My Buttermilk Pies were definitely not what one would call dainty, but they were my ticket in to what would surely by a delicious afternoon (filled with other peoples’ pies -- haha!). Mine were securely covered by foil in their pans, and I was anxious about unveiling them for the world to see beside everyone else’s beautiful creations. I tried my best (twice in fact), but they didn’t come out as pretty as the pie pictured on the recipe. The least I was hoping for was that they’d taste like they’re supposed to, so I could at least say they were legitimately Baked In The City quality!

At exactly 2pm I entered Casa Castrillo. I saw the cake stands laid out on the table and three really pretty pies already on display. I learned from Yumi that three more were on the way. We had great variety that afternoon. There was sweet, cheesy, chocolatey, fruity, nutty, rich and creamy. Yum! We hadn’t even started yet and my senses were already in the sampling stage.

Ros putting on the last touches on her Sweet Potato Pie, photo by Kit Langit

It was great to see the old friendly faces from last months’ pastry exchange. I was also happy to meet Ros and Addie who were joining us for the first time. Ros went straight from the front door into the kitchen, to whip up some creme chantilly as the crowning glory of her sweet-potato pie. We all fell easily into the happy banter that comes with proudly talking about our ‘babies’ (which for that day, meant our pies).

photo by Kit Langit

Tasting time was heavenly. Since everyone was seated comfortably around the table, with the pies just laid out there before us, no one was in a hurry to get up. Our sampling size was quite big too, half a slice of pie per variety. With seven half-slices to taste (not counting seconds!) per baker, we easily ate about half a pie each!

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Now, packing our loot boxes was a belated challenge we may not have anticipated. It was hard to get neat slices of pie from the pan to the box, then to have each slice behave well with the other slices in there. One pie needed a serving spoon and take-out ramekins for the job, just to emphasize even more how gooey-delicious it was. You’ll have to wait for the individual features to find out which pie I'm talking about.

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Well, challenging or not, you can bet all of us were diligently filling the boxes with our share of the loot. Those pies were just too good to pass up for a second round at home. Somehow a pastry exchange isn’t really complete until you get back home, to the delight of eager loved ones waiting for you. In fact one of the best parts of every exchange is opening that lootbox on your dinner table, this time with family and friends to share in the bliss.

LOOTBOX! photo by Yumi Castrillo

Monday, October 1, 2007

Marga's Smores Bars

by Yumi Castrillo

photo by Michelle yulo

I am big on comfort food. Steaming arroz caldo on a rainy day, large, thin slices of cheese pizza while watching Sex and the City, extra buttered popcorn at the movies, and a sweet thick brownie with my café latte. Marga Marquez’ smores bars hit the spot on my coffee break.

The bars leave the taste of caramel and toffee rolling in your tongue. Its not quite chocolate, but I can taste the dark brown sugar, like it was cooked perfectly, just before burn-point. I can just see it, dark and amber colored. It’s very soft and moist, with large chunks of graham scattered on top. Reminiscent camping days and childhood; backyard picnics and slumber parties. Oh, the memories it brings!

photo by Kit Langit

What I love about it: It’s a homey dessert, with uncomplicated flavors that is downright good. Its not pretentious, doesn’t boast of imported or special ingredients –which I personally tend to be with in MY own creations (!). But Marga’s bars are simple and perfect at every level.

And it is precisely Marga’s quest for perfection that brought her to create this delightful concoction. After trying dozens of recipes, she finally found the best brownie. It was then that she decided to jazz it up a bit and began playing around and creating variations. A true artist indeed! Aside from her brownie variations, she also makes all kinds of Cheesecakes (Oreo, New York, etc), Triple Chocolate Mousse, Velvet Chocolate Cake, Mocha Magic, Mango Shortbread Tart, Strawberry Tart, French Apple Pie, Chocolate Pie, and beautiful colorful party cupcakes.

Email Marga and get the low-down on her goods!

photo by Camille Bautista