Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blueberry Jammers

This past January I went to Portland, Oregan for a wedding.  As is the case anytime I travel, I decided to visit a few bakeries.  One of the bakeries that I visited was actually a bakery that I had been following on Facebook.  

It’s called Grand Central Bakery and they have several locations in Portland.  One of my favorite items was the “Jammer.”  I’m not sure if this is an invention of Grand Central Bakery or something that is indigenous to the area, but when something is this delicious, I’m just glad it exists!  

What’s a “Jammer” you ask?  It’s a buttermilk biscuit with jam baked inside!  It’s really a simple concept, but sooo delicious. 

“Where can I get a Jammer in Houston” you ask?  Well, recently I had the pleasure of visiting a new bakery in Tomball called Jane and John Dough Bakery.  They have absolutely delicious pastries that are Influenced by time-tested traditions of the East Coast and the imagination and ingenuity of the Pacific Northwest.”  And they have Jammers!

As part of our Blueberry Festival, we are also offering Blueberry Jammers!  If you don’t happen to be near Portland or Tomball, give ours a try!  You won’t be disappointed!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

It's Blueberry Season!

Welcome to our first ever “Blueberry Festival!”  Like so many other special events at the bakery, this one was part planned and part happenstance.  

This event began last fall when we introduced the “Karma Apple Tart” which was a huge success.  Our Guests loved the flaky pastry crust with apple and dulce de leche filling.  Our Pastry Team was also excited to stretch their culinary endeavors beyond cookies!  

As a result of that success, I wanted to offer similarly styled tarts for the summer, but made with seasonal berries.  Like so many other projects, I put it on the back burner until early this year.  I was teaching one of my baking classes and a long time student (she has been in several of my classes as well as being a regular customer) revealed to me that her family has a blueberry farm (Moorhead's Blueberry Farm in Conroe) and they would be delighted if I could come up with a cookie that used their berries.  I could barely contain my excitement!  I told her I’d do more than make a cookie with their blueberries, I’d have a festival and offer a plethora of blueberry pastry delights!!

Typically blueberries are available from Memorial Day until the 4th of July.  However, our heavy rain delayed everything and blueberry picking did not start until the second week of June.  No worries!  When we’re working with Mother Nature, we hope that all our Guests know that they’re getting the very best, even if they have to wait a little longer.  

When we did get out to the farm, my Team and I picked nearly 60 lbs of berries.  The great thing about blueberries is that after you wash and dry them, they keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and in the freezer for several weeks.  This is very helpful to allow us to minimize the number of trips we need to take to the farm.  Did I mention that the Festival is four weeks long (06/09 - 07/03)?

The fun of this event is that we get to stretch our culinary wings again.  Because blueberries are very wet, it's a bit of a challenge to make a cookie with them, so we came up with a menu that makes the best use of this precious fruit.  Our first question was how to get blueberries into a cookie?  We decided to make jam out of the berries to maximize the flavor and then use it as a filling for our linzer cookies.  The result was a deliciously sweet and delicate cookie!  This cookie, as well as our Blueberry Banana Bread are offered throughout the festival.

Then, we are having weekly specials.  At the time of this writing, we will be offering Blueberry Tarts (fashioned after last year’s Karma Apple Tart) for the week of June 15th.  The following week we’ll have a gluten free blueberry cheesecake bar.  Not “into” gluten free?  No worries, if I didn’t tell you it was gluten free, you wouldn’t even know!  And finally, the last week we’ll have mini blueberry pies and throughout the festival, we’re taking pre-orders for 9” blueberries pies for the 4th of July weekend.  We’ll also have some other surprise pastries, so stay in touch via our Facebook page or sign up to receive weekly emails.