Saturday, September 01, 2012

Cooking Demo from Chef Lori Baker, Banker & Baker

On Saturdays, along with shopping at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, I often attend cooking demos,  either at the Ferry Building, Macy's, or Williams-Sonoma.  Each venue has a different focus, but all host excellent local chefs, or chefs in town on book tours.

I don't often write up posts on the demos, but this one was particularly amazing, so it warranted a post!

This week, Williams-Sonoma hosted chef Lori Baker, the pastry chef from Baker & Banker.  I've been to the restaurant a number of times, once for an awesome dinner about 2 years ago, once for one of the best brunches of my life, once for a good, but not as amazing, brunch, and once for some pâté that I really can't stop thinking about.  I've also really enjoyed some treats from their adjoining bakery.

It should come as no surprise then that I was very excited for this demo, as I know chef Baker's work, and know that she makes incredible baked goods.  And ... the description of the item she' d be preparing sounded absolutely amazing (or, potentially horrible, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt!): Candied Bacon Doughnuts with Bourbon Cheesecake Filling and Maple Glaze Dipping Sauce.  ZOMG.

Chef Baker was a good speaker, and provided a number of tips naturally throughout her presentation.  I loved how adaptable the recipe was, as she encouraged that you could fill the donuts with whatever you wanted, or even use the cheesecake filling recipe to make a regular cheesecake, flavored however you wanted.  I've tried several varieties of her stuffed donuts at brunch in the restaurant, so I know she experiments with these adaptations herself.

I also had a few minutes to chat with her husband, the savory chef from the restaurant, as he was there in the audience.  He delivered some amazing news: since he can no longer serve his signature foie gras and shiitake sticky rice (which I greatly enjoyed on my first visit), he's replaced the foie gras with the next best thing, another passion of mine: uni!  I think that sounds potentially even better, as I could see the uni going really well with the cod that makes up the primary component of the dish.

I can't wait to get back to Baker & Banker.  I can't decide if my next visit will be for dinner for the new cod and uni dish, or if it will be for brunch, since they serve the best french toast I've ever had.  Decisions, decisions!
Candied Bacon Doughnut with Bourbon Cheesecake Filling and Maple Glaze Dipping Sauce.
Just reading the description of this causes the mind to race.  These are all amazing things - bacon!  doughnut! bourbon! cheesecake!  maple syrup!  But ... could they possibly all come together, into a single little magical bite?  Spoiler: Yes, yes they could.  And was this a breakfast item, or a dessert?

I was a little bit skeptical, as it sounded like too much awesomeness to pack into a donut hole, with too many competing strong flavors.  And bacon, while it can make everything better, can also just be a gimmick.  But, this totally worked.

The donut itself was studded with the chunks of candied bacon.  They added a crunch which I really enjoyed, but also some saltiness which balanced the entire dish.  The samples were given to us fresh out of the frier, so it was piping hot, and just downright amazing.  I liked this much more than the donut holes I'd tried at the restaurant, partially just because of how fresh it was.  There really is nothing like a donut fresh out of the frier.  It was also rolled in sugar, which of course, just makes a donut hole that much better :)

The filling was the bourbon cheesecake.  There was no guessing if there was liqueur in there!  There were some children in the row behind me, I'm curious if they liked this, as the flavor was intense.  I thought it went really well with all of the other flavors.  It didn't really taste like cheesecake however, more just like creamy bourbon filling.  But I'm not complaining.

And then, as if that wasn't enough, there was a maple syrup based glaze to dip the donut into.  It wasn't necessary, but just added to creating the perfect bite.  I've always dipped my bacon in maple syrup, so I found this pairing spot on.

I just saw that these are currently on the menu at the restaurant.  If these ingredients all sound awesome to you, I highly recommend checking them out!
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