Beach Town Baking

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.

Until next time,

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Welcome to Beach Town Baking

Baking in a place where summer never ends.

Baking in a place where summer never ends.

Everywhere around the world, there are beautiful beaches that beckon us to come and experience all the amazing treasures they have to offer.  Lei Shishak is blessed to live and work in Southern California, a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean.  She can see the water from her loft’s second floor windows and the view is nothing short of inspiring.  It was here that Beach Town Baking was born just these few steps from the waves.

Lei wanted to offer her simple yet creative recipes for wonderful baked goods to anyone yearning to get away to the beach.  Beach Town Baking was conceived as a way to provide every baker an opportunity to escape to a beautiful place by the beach just by opening her blog and forthcoming book.

Inspired by her beach town location and her love of that lifestyle, Chef Lei creates high quality, made-from-scratch desserts that transport you to islands and beaches you’ve always hoped to visit. Get ready to hit the beach through recipes like Cocoa Island, Red Velvet Riviera, Piña Colada Highway, Windswept Cherry Pie and the Malibu Shimmer ice cream sandwich.  Her recipes are designed to take you to any number of wonderful places, turning the task of baking into a virtual journey to a beachside paradise, filled with the sounds and aromas of a place where you can just get away from it all. Take Bali for example, the inspiration for her Modern Snickerdoodle recipe. The double dose of Indonesian cinnamon in this cookie releases an intoxicating aroma that rivals the experience of an authentic Bali beachside cinnamon scrub. No passport required; just some baking tools, a vivid imagination and a fun attitude.

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