Bloom Bakery: Social Enterprise meets urban bakery

Rise and thrive.  One year in to their existence, Bloom Bakery, with locations in Campus Distsrict and Publich Square, is ready to take on more.

The artisan bakery helps those with barriers to employment, through their connection with Towards Employment.  Since opening they’ve been making beautiful pastries and breads for the breakfast and lunch crowd near CSU and Public Square.  To celebrate their anniversary and grow the establishment, the world renown artisan baker who helped get them off the ground, returned to develop new products.


Maurice Chaplais came initially to teach Bloom’s 15 employees European artisan bakery techniques.  Now they can make top-of-the-line products, and a living.  I had the privilege to spend the morning with Chaplais, watching in awe, and participating when I felt like I wouldn’t get in the way. It was like watching a maestro!  His croissants take 2 days to make! (And about two minutes to devour). 


The melt-in-your-mouth difference maker, he says, is the wild yeast he uses instead of factory yeast.  He’s been developing this culture, that actually comes from Indian mangos, for more than 10 years! He totes it around the world and shares it with other bakeries where he trains staff and jump starts their techniques.  Like a pet, he has to feed it every day!  Wild, huh?  This product, however, has a longer turnaround time.  It’s slow and retro, Chaplias says, dating back to Roman times.  Now THAT’S retro.   To learn more about Maurice’s methods, and his fascinating life, check out his website:  www.chaplais.com


One quarter of croissants are butter.  No wonder they taste so good.  And Chaplais favors European style butter because it has less water.  After the dough sits for 12 hours, it’s run through a mechanical rolling pin until it’s less than 1/4 inch thick. Then Chaplain hand rolls it the rest of the way, cuts them into triangles, and masterfully rolls them into the iconic shape. Once they proof for an hour, they’re brushed with egg wash and baked for 15 minutes.  The water in the butter provides the steam to make them rise and the butter itself provides those beautiful crispy layers.


We cut into the perfectly crafted croissants stuffed with frangipane or bake-stable Belgian chocolate, to reveal the honeycomb pattern all bakers are after.  


He also showed me his techniques for preparing baguettes, wrapping them in a couche to rest, and the bannetons (made of cane and lined with rice flour) used to shape sour dough loaves. 


This visit, Chaplais worked with the bakery staff on several new menu items, including scones, a Tuscan baguette, crepes, semolina bread, thin crust pizza dough made with sourdough, and English sausage rolls. Yum!

Recidivism exists, but at Bloom none of its employees have returned to incarceration since inception. Instead of repeat offenders, they’re focused on repeat customers. 

Bloom Bakery is planning its one-year anniversary with a big party and making plans to expand its menu with help from Maurice Chaplais, an internationally known European baker. The celebration is March 30 from 6 to 9pm at 200 Public Square. Go to Eventbrite to register. Cost per ticket is $35. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blooms-1-year-anniversary-celebration-tickets-31757137453?aff=eac2

Cake Decorating Class at Urban Farmer

Come Valentines Day, sweets are on the brain.  Chocolate to be more specific.  I was invited to Urban Farmer to attend a pastry class, conducted by their pastry chef.  I didn’t know what to expect…baking pies, kneading dough, etc.  When we arrived at the conference room turned classroom, we found three layers of decadent chocolate cakes, a pastry bag full of Italian butter cream, and another one nearby stuffed with chocolate mousse filling.  Jackpot.  This was a cake decorating class!

My friend Amanda and I inspected all the tools placed in front on us and thought…this will be equal parts fun and disastrous.  After all, neither of us claim to be bakers.  That’s the whole reason we were attending this class in the first place.  But we both fancy ourselves pretty savvy in the kitchen.  Adventurous, at least.  But we were still glad to see the tasks of actually baking the cakes and preparing the frosting and filling were left to the professionals. We were just left to do the fun creative stuff.

We were given instructions on how to best cut, stack and prep a layer cake  (along with the recipe for it), and let in on an industry secret…of brushing the layers of cake with flavored simple syrup, to add flavor and keep it moist.  For this cake we used a coffee flavored simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until dissolved and 2 oz. brewed coffee to roughly 2 cups of syrup.  Game.  Changer.

We piped a “barrier layer” of frosting on the outer edge of each layer, then filled in the rest with the chocolate mousse filling. Ideally you’d throw the cake in the freezer after each step, but in this instance…no time.  Next came the crumb coat.  That luscious Italian butter cream.


We were also invited to to sample and taste the difference between store bought frosting (generic and organic), the grocery store variety used by bakeries like Giant Eagle and Costco, and the house Italian butter cream used by Urban Farmer in the restaurant and attached Westin Hotel.  To me the last was clearly the best. Rich, creamy, velvety.  The kind of frosting you do extra time on treadmill for.

The next part got a little tricky.  We frosted the top and the side, then were tasked with make the cakes smooth, real smooth…with the offset spatula and a painters tool.  I nearly broke my arm patting myself on the back after I conquered this step.  Ironically, all the time and attention I spent on it wasn’t totally necessary, as I covered most of the surfaces with decorative frosting, sprinkles and Oreo crumbs.  Yep…those came next.

When it was time to move on to the REALLY fun part (also the most challenging) we were like kids in a candy store.  We had cake pops, tubs of every color sprinkle in the rainbow, merengue “eyes,” swirls, and dots, pretzel and almond crumbs, Oreos, and gallons and gallons of frosting.  My trouble shooting takeaway? Frosting fixes everything. Recognizing my frosting shortfalls, I went wacky instead of precise…and went for a “Love Bug” theme for my little girls. Others made “monsters” or flowers with frosting.  It was cute to see everyone’s imagination run wild!

love-bug-cake

At the end of the fun afternoon, we were sent off with our cakes, and a gift bag with four recipes used by the Urban Farmer pastry chefs, and several baking tools.  Best part for me…is I’ll be back for more classes at Urban Farmer. They’ve scheduled a series of butcher classes from April to October.  You can sign up for one, or all of them.  I’ll see you there!

urban-farmer-butcher-classes

Old World bakery meets the modern kitchen

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a baker.  Yeast intimidates me.  And I don’t own a KitchenAid stand mixer.  I sincerely appreciate those who are good with dough, batters and the like.  So I value good family-run businesses, like Orlando Baking Company, which cranks out quality breads and dough for remedial bakers like myself to cook with (and sometimes pass off as my own).

For this Cheftovers installment, I’ve teamed up with Orlando Baking Company (http://www.orlandobaking.com/) to review two of their newest offerings.  This is not a paid endorsement, I’m simply taking them up on no-obligation invitation to try out a couple of things they’ve just introduced to the market.

You can find both of their latest products in the freezer section.  They now sell frozen ciabatta dough (a variety of bread they’re known for) and frozen pepperoni rolls.

orlando pepporini bread box

I was pleased to discover upon opening the box of pepperoni rolls, that they are packaged in four separate rolls.  (This Cheftovers queen just hates wasting half a loaf of garlic bread because I have to cook the whole thing for just a couple of us.)  This allowed me to pop one or two in the oven at a time to test them out.  I also saw that they were fully cooked, so if you want to take one of these on the go, they’ll thaw nicely and you can eat it cold. However, I wanted mine hot. So I popped a pair in the oven and baked them according to the directions on the box.

orlando pepperoni bread sliced

For me, that wasn’t nearly enough time.  If you’re looking for melty cheese on the inside, you’ll probably want to leave them in at least three more minutes than the box suggests.  But that’s a matter of preference.  Same goes for a little marinara sauce.  I would love to the see the box come with a container of marinara sauce to dip it in.  Adding pepperoncini might be a nice touch too, but those aren’t for everybody.

more pepperoni rolls

For the sake of variety, I tried one in the toaster oven. (especially since it wasn’t a whole loaf and I didn’t need to fire up the big oven)  It was nice and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, just as it should be.

Overall, I think this is a quality product.  They’re the perfect size and shape for my little Italian-at-heart daughters to nibble on when dinner isn’t quite done yet.  And I would proudly serve these to guests an appetizer or a party snack.

orlando frozen ciabatta dough

For the ciabatta dough, I took it out of the oven and brought it up to room temperature, per instructions on the packaging.  I certainly want to respect the artisan dough that it is!  Once it was room temp, I also brushed it with oil as recommended.  However, I don’t have a pizza pan to bake it in like the instructions suggested, only a pizza stone (which to be effective should be heated in the oven first…and I couldn’t work the dough and add the toppings that way) so I chose to work on a standard cookie sheet.

ciabatta pizzs

I worked the dough out into the size and shape I wanted, which wasn’t hard at all (don’t know why I’m so scared to work with dough sometimes–fear I’m going to screw it up I guess) Then I topped it with a layer of pizza sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, and onion, along with some spices and plenty of mozzarella cheese.

I made sure the crust had a nice coating of olive oil on it along with a light sprinkle of garlic salt.  I baked it as suggested and it turned out beautifully.

orlando ciabatta pizza

Nice and golden brown around the crust.  The outside was lightly crispy and the inside was chewy, just like I like my pizza and my ciabatta bread.  If you’re not too familiar with ciabatta, know that it isn’t going to be as light as other pizza dough.  I find it a little more dense, but I like it that way!

The frozen dough will run you about $2…a steal for the time and grief it will save you making your own, and less than other varieties of prepared pizza dough or crusts.  I bought the pepperoni rolls for about $6, which is also an inexpensive way out of a “I forgot we were supposed to bring something to the party” jam.

Both products are available at Heinen’s.  And the pepperoni rolls are also sold at Dave’s, Discount Drug Mart, Marc’s, and Zagara’s.

Double Dipping

When I had some girlfriends over for a little red wine and red carpet reviews during this awards season, I made a few of snacks for us to nibble on.  After all…we weren’t the ones who had to squeeze into one of a kind gowns that fit like a glove.  Among the apps we passed around while sharing thoughts that were equal part admiration and jealousy, was a creamy shrimp dip.  Knowing it wouldn’t keep if it sat out as long as these awards shows last, I put half of the recipe I made in the fridge.  And I had about two cups leftover.  Better make use of it…there was good shrimp in that!  

leftover shrimp dip

At least once a week, I find ways to use tortillas.  And taking a look in my fridge, I also spotted the rest of that salsa verde I was looking to use up (See previous post-Freezer Games)  I thought about using this creamy shrimp dip as the base sauce for some enchiladas!  Besides the shrimp, It had cream cheese, sour cream and mayo in it, plus some celery, green onion and cocktail onions (which I used instead of the pearl onions the recipe called for) I didn’t know if it would work, but you won’t know unless you try.

First step was to grill up the single defrosted chicken breast I had in the fridge (also something I needed to use before it spoiled).  I seasoned it with salt and pepper, cumin, and chili powder, then cooked it on a grill pan.  My husband, who by now could smell what was developing in the kitchen, wisely suggested I shred the meat.  It was a good call.

shredded chicken

Having the chicken in that form made for a better filling and, I think, stretched that one breast a little bit further.  Gradually, I added spoonfuls of the shrimp dip until the filling was the consistency I was going for.

chicken enchilad filling

I put about 3-4 tablespoons of the filling near one end of a tortilla, tucked that end underneath the filling and rolled it tightly.  Then I put them seam side down in a greased casserole dish.  I repeated the process until the filling was gone (had enough for four, perfect!)

salsa verde on enchilada

I also had just enough salsa verde left over to pour over the four enchiladas.  I topped them with a shredded Mexican cheese blend, covered it with foil and baked my “double dip delight” at 350* until it was warmed through and the top was bubbling.

chicken and shrimp enchiladas

I was really pleased with the way these creamy chicken and shrimp enchiladas turned out, and it was all inspired by a little leftovers from a little girl time.

This weekend is the Academy Awards.  What are you making for your watch party?  More importantly, what do you hope you have leftover?

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

I can’t believe I’m going to say this…but I’m almost “pumpkin pie-d out.”  It is my favorite dessert, period.  I gobble up anything pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice flavored beginning October 1st, and usually don’t stop until the end of Thanksgiving weekend.   So by now, I’m usually ready to move on.

After Thankgiving I still had so much excess pumpkin pie filling from a double recipe, combined with apparently small pie plates, that I cranked one more out over the weekend.   But this morning there was still about a third of that pie left, staring at me.  I don’t like throwing food away ever, but I certainly don’t like throwing away my favorite dessert.  It seems sacrilegious.

pumpkin pie leftover

I usually get my “Cheftovers” ideas in the morning, when I crack open the refridgerator for the first time that day.  And today was no different.  That pie was lingering, and I was hungry for breakfast.  Why not pumpkin pie pancakes?  Sure sounds tasty, and I think it just might work.  I read a quote from radio and TV critic Harriet van Horne recently that inspired me:

“Cooking is like love-it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” 

So I ran with the idea.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I waste some pie that I really didn’t want anyway?

pumpkin pie pancake batter

The rest is pretty simple.  I grabbed the pancake mix I keep in the pantry and prepared that as usual, according to the directions. (2 cups of mix, and a cup and a half of water)  Then I cut a generous piece of pie and scooped out the filling.  I added it to the pancake batter and blended it until it was smooth again.  Once that was added, the batter was pretty thick, as you might imagine.  So I added about a half a cup more water and the consistency was back to where it should be.

pumpkin pie pancake on the griddle

Then I fired up the griddle pan, and cranked out my pumpkin pie pancakes just like I would a standard stack of ’em.  My preschooler still wanted butter and syrup like normal, and she practically licked her plate clean.  I am not a big fan of maple syrup in general, so I topped mine with a bit of butter and some whipped cream.

Duuuuuude, these were tasty!  They didn’t have the same consistency as regular pancakes, which was fine with me.  I find regular pancakes kinda bland and dry anyway.  These were far more moist and flavorful.  I will do this again…might even scoop out the rest of the leftover filling and freeze it for future breakfasts this month.

What do you still have lingering in your fridge that you’re trying to find a creative way to use?

Black Friday Breakfast- Overnight French Toast

Since I work with leftovers, Thanksgiving is pretty much my Super Bowl.  (see previous posts on The Pilgrim Pocket, and 5 Better Things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers) And I know, I know….the last thing you want to do on the day after Thanksgiving is cook.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I hate wasting food…especially food that I, or someone from my family, have put so much time and love into.

I also have the unfortunate luck of working on Black Friday (no, I’m not in retail!) So I whipped together an overnight French Toast with some of the Thanksgiving Day remnants to help me get out the door quicker, fuller and help out my husband who has a special “daddy day” planned with his daughters.

My inspiration was a Ziploc bag full of leftover “Monkey Bread” we were sent home with after stop one on Thanksgiving.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a bundt pan of guilty pleasure made with biscuit dough, butter and sugar.  A friend of mine challenged me to make French Toast with it.  I recalled an overnight recipe I’d made before from the The Yummy Mummy Kitchen by Marina Delio.  Of course she uses fresh French bread, but I didn’t see why this couldn’t be adjusted.

I pulled apart the “monkey balls” and placed them in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Then, I took some blackberries from my produce drawer and the remainder of the homemade cranberry sauce from the day’s feast and filled in the gaps.

making black friday breakfast

I whisked together a couple of eggs, some vanilla and added whole milk.  But here is where you could use some of the massive amount of half and half you bought for the coffee you served with pumpkin pie, or the rest of the heavy cream you purchased for your potato recipe.  Use what you’ve got!  (I also left out the syrup that the original recipe calls for, as there’s already so much sugar on the monkey bread) I poured the mixture over the bread/berries then covered it with plastic wrap and left it in the fridge overnight.  (if you’re in a hurry, try doing it without the “overnight” element…and let me know how it turns out! I’m curious myself)

Black Friday morning, I melted some butter, added brown sugar and some crushed walnuts and sprinkled that mixture on top.  Here’s another good place to use leftovers, like pecans you have from the pecan pie you made.  I placed in a 375 oven for about 40 minutes.  Top it with syrup, and enjoy!

What do you have leftover from Thanksgiving? I am looking for inspiration and another challenge!!

The Pilgrim Pocket: Post-Friendsgiving

Half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is thinking about the leftovers.  There’s hardly another meal on the planet that reheats and tastes just as good in the days after as this original, American feast.  But this year, I wanted to think beyond turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey soup.  And I had an idea…the Pilgrim Pocket.

Friendsgiving guests

This weekend I hosted a “Friendsgiving” to celebrate the bountiful blessings and the company of my family and of a couple others.  We watched football, snacked while enticing smells filled the house, then sat down and piled our plates high with turkey and all the traditional trimmings.  The Cabernet and the gravy flowed.  It was a warm, fun evening.

Friendsgiving dinner plate

I took a quick assessment after the table was cleared and the guests had left.   About four portions of the 13 lb turkey, one helping of stuffing, LOTS of mashed potatoes and gravy, half a casserole dish of green beans, a few cups each of corn and fresh cranberry sauce and a couple items in the fridge (a pie crust, and crescent rolls) that I never used.

Since we only get to eat this combination of delectable dishes once a year, I didn’t think it was wise to completely change the flavor profile…best to just repackage it into something a little more exciting than luke warm leftovers.  Enter the Pilgrim Pocket, a thanksgiving calzone of sorts.

pilgrim pocket crust

I pulled out the remaining pie crust I had in the fridge (from the two pack I bought for the pumpkin pie I made) and unrolled it, then sliced in half.  I took a cup full of turkey (chopped) a cup full of green bean casserole and the rest of the stuffing and mixed it all together.  I added some gravy to keep it moist on day two.  I put the Thanksgiving mixture on one half of each of the semi-circles then folded the other half over, and pinched the sides to seal it in.

pilgrim pocket egg wash

I brushed the outside with egg wash and cut a couple of slits in the top to vent.  Then I popped my Pilgrim Pockets in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  The result was a Thanksgiving redux that would have made the pilgrims proud!

pilgrim pocket sliced

Stay tuned…I have plans for that cranberry sauce.  What have you done with leftovers from Thanksgiving?