Beach Town Baking

Beach Town Living: Nautical Chic Homes

Living in Southern California, I’m blessed to always be within driving—most of the time even walking!—distance from beautiful beaches. You’d think that we Californians would get sick of the sea, but honestly, I don’t think we can get enough of it! I love incorporating the beach into everything in my life (can’t you tell from this blog?), and one of my favorite things to do is look at beach-inspired homes. For those of you who don’t live near the coast, you can still easily bring a nautical vibe into your home with the right décor. Here are some easy ways to add a little maritime spirit to your abode:

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What’s more nautical than navy-and-white stripes? The best part of this look is that it’s so simple to achieve– just paint thick stripes on your wall! For those who are non-committal, try looking for bold blue-and-white striped patterned fabric and hanging it up like a tapestry instead. Or, invest in a navy-and-white striped duvet cover.

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Image courtesy of Decorating Magazine.

Red always pairs perfectly with navy and white in nautical themes, but the trick is to use the color sparingly. Throw in a few red accents to break up the navy and white color scheme, but be careful not to overdo it.

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Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Scour flea markets and thrift stores to find vintage ship figurines to place around your home.

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The rugged look of rope goes great with the nautical theme. A simple DIY project is to buy rope and then layer it in glass jars or bowls. Place these pieces on coffee or end tables, and add in a couple seashells to complete the look.

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I love this distressed wood fixture! It adds the right amount of shabbiness to an otherwise very chic setting, and reminds me of an old lighthouse.

You can choose to be as drastic or as subtle as you want with this theme. If you’re simply looking to temporarily change up your home for the upcoming warmer months, adding maritime-themed decorative pieces and swapping out your sheets for nautical-themed bedding are easy and affordable ways to embrace the nautical trend without having to fully commit to anything.

Will you be trying out this look for your home?

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Beach Town Baking’s Top 10 Food Finds in Los Angeles

My most favorite thing about living in Southern California—aside from the beaches and lovely weather—is experiencing its diversity. One day I’ll be baking in the small beach town of San Clemente, and the next day I can be wandering the labyrinth of the vast LA streets.

I venture out to Los Angeles nearly every week because it’s a quick one-hour drive from Orange County and it gives me a chance to get away after a busy week at my bake shop. There’s so much history and culture in LA, and the food—oh, the food! There’s nothing like spending a day in LA exploring new eateries. There are so many good places at which to dine in LA, but I wanted to share some of my favorite food finds so far:

Top 10 Food Finds in Los Angeles

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Beach Town Baking’s Guinness Cupcake

 

SugarBlossom-49Fun fact: Did you know that Saint Patrick was a real person? He lived from c. AD 385 to AD 461, and was the most celebrated patron Saint of Ireland.

Guinness, on the other hand, is one of Ireland’s most celebrated alcoholic beverages. The characteristically black stout is known throughout the world for its distinctly rich, malty flavor, and anything remotely resembling chocolate would taste great in a cupcake, right?

To celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I’m making one of my favorite cupcakes (which just so happens to fit in with the theme) : the Beach Town Guinness Cupcake, made with—you guessed it—Guinness stout.  And not only do I use Guinness in the cake recipe, I also douse it in the meringue topping, too, because really, you can never have too much Guinness!

I pipe and torch a tall mound of meringue over the cupcake to resemble the frosty head of a pint, and then top it off with a shamrock sugar charm from LUCKS.

Only one bottle of Guinness is used for each batch (but I always have another one in hand just in case 🙂 ) It’s the perfect boozy treat for St. Patrick’s Day, and I know I’ll be enjoying some of these this Sunday!

Come on into my beach town bakery, Sugar Blossom Bake Shop, and grab one of these for the weekend. As for the recipe, well, you’ll have to stay tuned for my cookbook for this one  😉

 

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Beach Town Baking’s Oreo-Inspired Gourmet Cookie

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I decided to spend this past Monday morning at my loft testing out new recipes for my upcoming cookbook. Rummaging through my files, I found an old “Fudge Cookie Sandwich” recipe that I had scribbled on a scrap piece of paper. It sounded decent, but I couldn’t recall ever making it.

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Blueberry Scones

 

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Scones are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast treat.

Most beach town folks are early birds; we rise with the sun and wind the day down as the sun sets.

My mornings begin as the sun’s rays shine through my loft windows and the smell of freshly brewed coffee (pre-set the night before, of course) makes its way from the kitchen and into my bedroom.

It usually takes me a while to physically get out of bed, so I don’t leave myself much time for breakfast. Luckily, I’ve devised a system where I can laze around in bed and have breakfast, all while being on time! My secret? Having breakfast treats ready to go on my way out the door and to the beach.

I like to make blueberry scones the day before and enjoy them the next morning. These scones are buttery, sweet and moist, and the middle layer of fruit ensures that every bite is bursting with blueberry flavor.

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Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, my baking team and I baked over 2000 chocolate chip cookies for one of our corporate clients, AAA. I thought it was fitting, too, being President’s Day weekend and all, since what is more patriotic than our beloved, traditional chocolate chip cookie?

Over the course of two days, we made, scooped, baked and individually wrapped each cookie. Lots of work that at times led to moments of silliness (hey, we bakers need to have some fun, too!)

I developed my chocolate chip cookie recipe at the request of my brother, who for years asked me for a chocolate chip cookie that was flat, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. Oh, and that had chocolate in every bite too, of course. Sound impossible? I was up for the challenge!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes and Cherry Mint Sparklers

At my bakery, Red Velvet cupcakes are not only a staple, they’re also our most popular dessert during this time of year.  People love Red Velvet cupcakes (you can see my Red Velvet cupcakes featured in Bebe Birds‘ special Valentine’s Day blog here!) and it’s not hard to see why: the rich, decadent chocolate cake infused with a romantic crimson hue makes the Red Velvet cupcake the quintessential dessert for Valentine’s Day.  And to celebrate this holiday, I wanted to share with you my favorite Red Velvet recipe so you can bake them for your loved ones, too!

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Tangerine (Cutie) Cream Pie

I always thought it was funny how citrus fruits peak in the wintertime.  To me, the thought of citrus fruits conjures up summery images like lemonade stands propped up on the corner of neighborhood streets during the sweltering heat, or glasses of freshly squeezed OJ for brunch on a warm Sunday afternoon.  But I’m not complaining—I love how citrus fruits are so full of life and vibrancy during the coldest times of the year.  Maybe they serve as nature’s reminders that not all things are dismal and bleak during the winter seasons, and that, before we know it, summer will be right around the corner.

I was craving tangerines the other day and I went to the store to hunt for some, but could only find Cuties, which, in my opinion, are just as good. Cuties, known officially as Californian Clementines, are hybrids of two types of mandarin clementines. Playfully small and charmingly bright, Cuties definitely live up to their name. And, a three pound bag has 20 Cuties. 20! Which means enough Cuties for both snacking and baking… sweet!

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Lemon Mango Bars

One of the many perks of owning a bakery is that I receive lots of yummy samples from vendors all around the world, so I always have a supply of unique ingredients to experiment with.

Albert Uster, a distributor of gourmet food products and ingredients, recently sent me a generous sample of Frutta Prima Mango Paste.  Frutta Prima is a line of premium fruit pastes made in Switzerland.  The pastes come in a  variety of fruit flavors, and can be added to virtually anything—from buttercreams to cake batters to even mayonnaise (their suggestion, not mine!)—so you can imagine how excited I was to have some in my arsenal of baking goods.

While working on a lemon bar recipe for my upcoming Beach Town Baking cookbook, an epiphany struck me: why not try incorporating the mango paste into the bars? I thought of luscious mango flavors paired with the zest of the lemon, and the layers of vibrant colors perfectly mimicking a tequila sunrise.  I gave it a try and the results were fantastic– sweet!

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Beach Hiking: Solstice Canyon Trail, Malibu

Hello readers! It’s been a hectic season to say the least. In between ramping up for my new cookbook —Beach Town Baking—while also juggling Sugar Blossom Bake Shop (the original Beach Town bakery!), I have to remind myself to find time to breathe. So, I finally broke away from the kitchen last weekend to take advantage of the holiday. My getaway of choice? Naturally, I wanted to do something at or near a beach, so I settled upon a hike at Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu.

Malibu, California

 

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The Solstice Canyon Education Center.

Solstice Canyon is one of my favorite local hiking destinations. It is incredibly picturesque, offering gorgeous ocean and canyon views and other treasures like rock outcroppings, the old Roberts Family Ranch ruins (more on this later) and even a waterfall and some waterholes, making it a great hike for kids and families. Remember to bring plenty of water though, as there’s an exposed dirt trail in the beginning with a pretty steep incline.

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Awesome rock formations and outcroppings

Once you arrive at the trailhead, you can choose from two paths: the flat paved road, or the stone steps climbing up the canyon. I prefer the latter, so I can get the hard stuff out of the way first. Kinda like saving the dessert for last, just sayin’!

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The TRW loop trail (what I hiked) is 3 miles long total and includes the Rising Sun trail (.3 miles) and the longer Solstice Canyon Trail.

After a good mile into the trail you will run into the Roberts Family mansion ruins. Fred Roberts, a grocery store magnate, built his family’s home in Solstice Canyon in the 1950s and called it “Tropical Terrace.”  Sadly, the stone and wood mansion succumbed to a fire in 1982, and in 1988 the National Park Service declared what was left of the house, along with Solstice Canyon, a public park. It’s really neat to hike along the ridgeline above the canyon and then all of sudden see the ruins down below, which, from an aerial point of view, look like a life-sized blueprint of the original mansion!

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The Roberts Family Mansion ruins.

From here, take the flat paved fire road back to the trailhead. It’s a peaceful walk back along a small creek, and on any given day you are bound to run into a lot of dogs and their owners.

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That’s me, enjoying the view of Malibu!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend for a hike.  I feel so lucky to be in proximity to so many beautiful beach cities where I can escape to and find solace virtually whenever I need. What a blessing! Through my beach-inspired confections, I hope to share with my readers all around the world that same feeling of escapism that I love so much.

Want to read more about some awesome hikes? Check out this fabulous and comprehensive article on Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The USA put together by the good folks at Boot Bomb.

Until next time,

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