Baker & Co

It was surprisingly empty when we arrived.  Located on a suburban street in a neighbourhood strip of shops, we anticipated Baker & Co to be buzzing with locals late on a Saturday morning.  The quiet didn’t last—people came, ate and went as we wiled away an hour or so catching up over coffee and a scrumptious, freshly baked roast pumpkin, spinach and feta brioche.

The sun streamed in the big front window.  White walls, pastel dipped wooden furniture; pretty hanging plants in terracotta pots and a French country-style dresser brimming with packets of pale pink rocky road, create a light and airy space.  Set down off West Tamaki Road there’s plenty of parking; the local traffic goes by un-noticed.

Cute hanging plants

Cute hanging plants

Rocky road to go

Rocky road to go

The cabinet is crammed with enticing savoury brioches, sandwiches, pies and sliders, sweet and savoury tarts, cakes, donuts and slices. Every tasty morsel is made on the premises.  Excited to discover a twist on old favourites too: rhubarb and lime Louise slice and lemon meringue donuts, with afghans iced with chocolate and a walnut, just like our Mums used to make.

Afghans like Mum used to make

Afghans like Mum used to make

Lemon meringue dobuts

Lemon meringue dobuts

Baker & Co make tantalising flavoured whole cakes for special occasions from: chocolate and salted caramel to chocolate and raspberry, and raspberry and pistachio too. We spoke briefly to Tasmyn as she put the finishing touches on three delightfully decorated cakes for a 40th birthday party—you could almost feel the love that went into baking those beauties.

Whole cakes made to order

Whole cakes made to order

It might be short drive away but definitely worth jumping in the car.  Must remember next time to ask Tasmyn about why Baker & Co use disposable plates, cutlery and cups—not that I mind, just a random observation.

Open 7am until 3:30pm Tuesday to Friday and 8am until 2pm Saturdays.

235 West Tamaki Road, Glendowie

09 575 2420

Baker & Co

Enjoy your week.

Michelle

Cake and the Senses

Soft sweet rhubarb sandwiched between a crunchy nutty topping and a beautifully moist cake, served warm with thick unsweetened Greek yoghurt – the rhubarb crumble cake was my idea of the perfect dessert.

Successfully made twice before, yesterday fresh figs, feijoas and walnuts replaced rhubarb and almonds. The blush red flesh of the figs artfully arranged to provide a punch of colour on top of the pale creamy cake batter; the topping mix delicately placed rather than scattered so that the figs would burst through the crumble. 

A dusting of icing sugar covers the misshapen cake top

A dusting of icing sugar covers the misshapen cake top

Forty minutes in the oven and looking very photogenic, the cake tin was gently rotated to ensure even cooking.  Tested with a skewer and slightly undercooked the timer was set for another 10 minutes.

Taking the cake from the oven, total dismay to discover the batter had engulfed two thirds of the cake and the beautiful figs were hidden. The photo envisaged earlier disappeared but thankfully other senses kicked in. Cooling on the kitchen bench, the tempting wafts of fresh baking filled the house. Later, upon tasting that first mouthful all was forgiven – the fruit and nutty crumble reappeared as a delightful surprise in the centre.

A slice of Fig & Feijoa Crumble cake

A slice of Fig & Feijoa Crumble cake

Visually appetising food is crucial especially for selling recipe books but it’s the flavours, aromas and textures that ensures eating is an all round sensory experience. Remember the old wives’ (real estate agents) tale about brewing fresh coffee or baking a cake before having potential buyers through an open home, how often did you actually see the coffee or cake?  It’s the welcoming aroma that makes it feel like a home.  

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favourite recipe, you never know what mouth-watering dish you might create.

Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle

ps just checked original recipe – photo is taken before cooking... I wonder why!


Cookbook Review: Love & Food At Gran’s Table

Bright lattice picnic chairs surround a wobbly afternoon tea table beautifully decorated with real china cups, saucers and plates.  Squealing children play football underneath trees laden with late summer fruit. 

The fluorescent orange plastic ball is suddenly airborne.  It skims the top of Nana’s sponge taking with it the cream which lands squarely in Grandad’s lap. Aghast, his head tips backwards.  His mouth slowly broadens into a huge grin and raucous laughter escapes.  As tears start to roll down his unshaven face, the children release loud gasps of relief.

Laurel Aulick’s sponge recipe entitled, ‘Nana’s Foam Cake’ took me back nearly 40 years to a late summer afternoon under the plum trees in my grandparent’s garden, and kicking that ball. My Nana was the queen of sponges. Sandwiched together with raspberry jam, sometimes simply dusted with icing sugar, other times topped with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit slices.  Although I must admit despite being a passionate cook, creating the perfect sponge still continues to elude me.

Nana's Foam Cake -  Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Nana's Foam Cake - Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Love & Food At Gran’s Table captures wonderful memories and treasured recipes of 60 grandmothers from New Zealand and around the world. Generations of grandmothers who have influenced children growing up, encouraging time spent with family and friends. They have instilled in their offspring the importance of giving, receiving and sharing food as the perfect way to bring neighbourhoods and communities together.

This collection of 120 recipes covers both savoury and sweet, along with stories told straight from the heart and peppered with framed portraits that bring real characters to life. Recipes from: smoked ribs, chop suey, mussel fritters and bacon and egg pie to sherry trifle (a Christmas favourite), coconut slice, puftaloons and rhubarb crumble have been collated.  Homemade preserves and chutneys are injected; and one for mustard pickle, perfect for non-ripening green tomatoes.

All four of Natalie Oldfield’s best-selling international cookbooks encapsulate her Gran, Dulcie May Booker’s mantra.

“It is not what you do, but how much love you put into the doing.”

Photographer Todd Eyre captures the essence of each dish and its creator.  From the montage on the unusual half cover-slip to the muted background tones of the recipe images you can imagine yourself sitting in their kitchens.

Natalie Oldfield’s fifth book will touch the hearts and bellies of those with fond memories of precious time spent with their nanas, grandmas and grans. Avid readers of cookbooks will enjoy the contributors’ stories and anecdotes as much as the recipes themselves. With Mother’s Day only a month away, this really is an ideal gift.

Published by PQ Blackwell, Love & Food At Gran’s Table is now available from book shops or can be purchased direct from Natalie Oldfield - Love and Food. RRP $49.95.

Sophie's Cake Kitchen

Driving to Sophie’s family home in late January, I wondered how someone so young - Sophie’s in year 12 at Saint Kentigern College, could create such divine cakes.  It didn’t take me long to discover why.  Granny Sue, Sophie’s cooking inspiration, taught her to bake cakes and bread as a toddler, sitting her on the kitchen bench with the mixing bowl propped between her legs.

A freshly baked chocolate cake lovingly sandwiched together with chocolate ganache sat waiting on the kitchen work surface when I arrived, ready for Sophie to work her decorating magic.  As we chatted about Granny Sue and her cooking idol, Anna Olson of Food Network Canada’s Bake with Anna Olson, Sophie serenely decorated the cake.  Watching the cake evolve layer by layer, I was in awe of her talent and especially loved that Sophie grows the flowers that she delicately adds to the top as a finishing touch.  And sweet is definitely where Sophie’s heart lies, from cakes and cupcakes to tarts and complex French patisserie so I can understand why Anna Olson’s baking techniques are a perfect match for the direction Sophie is taking.

Sophie's decorating talent

Sophie's decorating talent

Sophie’s talent didn’t go unnoticed when she worked alongside Habby, the pastry chef at Soul Bar for two days last year.  Her biggest achievement to date and pretty impressive for a then 15 year old, it was an amazing opportunity for Sophie to spend time in the kitchen of a top restaurant, improving her pastry skills and techniques, understanding how a busy environment operates and being given specific tasks to deliver for the desserts.  And no doubt getting to meet Gareth Stewart from MKR and Head Chef at Soul Bar was a bonus too.

Cutting a slice for photography purposes only

Cutting a slice for photography purposes only

With a dream to one day own her own business (it already has a name too), Sophie has a very clear plan for her journey once she finishes school, having spent many hours researching the best places to develop her culinary talent as a pastry chef, including Johnson and Wales University in US.  Now that’s pretty impressive for someone so young.

Chocolate Cake with vanilla and chocolate icing

Chocolate Cake with vanilla and chocolate icing

If you're looking for a stunning and unique cake for your next celebration, get in touch with Sophie either via instagram @sophieskitchen1 or sophieskitchen12@gmail.com and don’t forget to mention The Foodie Inc. 

Now... I just need to find a good excuse to use Sophie’s Kitchen again myself!

Enjoy! 

Michelle

ps Don’t ask for the chocolate cake recipe. It’s a secret, developed over time and it’s kept in her head!