Category Archives: Beer and Vino

Montage of My Year

Dear reader,

Here’s what I’m going to do. Instead of apologizing for my lack of posts these past fifteen months, I’m just going to provide an overview of what I’ve been up to all this time. You see, I never felt all that guilty about neglecting this blog because I was enjoying being busy, working, baking, eating, and having a grand old time. However, now that Scafuri Bakery is closer than ever to opening, (Finally? Hopefully? Why am I even tempting fate by saying so?), I’ve left my previous bakery jobs and have been focused on doing everything possible to prepare for opening day. But until then I’ve got a bit more time on my hands. So I’ve returned here to catch the blog up on my adventures this past year. So without further ado…

My Year in Pictures

Let’s back up to last October. One of my best friends got married and I had the double honor of bridesmaid and cake maker. Hence, the curlers.

I also fostered this cutie for six months — Moose! I miss that little bugger.

I organized my spice cabinet.

I discovered canning, pickling, jamming, and cheese making.

And continued to try my hand at growing things.

I learned archery and took up swing dancing.

Oh, and of course, not only have I been making bread…

But also beer…

I hosted a roaring 20’s murder mystery dinner party, with great success.

Besides these fun hobbies I also worked, a lot.  At the first bakery, I earned a ton of burn scars from the ovens and made a bunch of these:

At the second bakery, where I worked for most of this past year, I made some great friends and a LOT of cakes.

And somewhere beyond the early mornings and long hours I found time to make cakes of my own.

I also made several cupcake bouquets, which will probably get their own post.

It’s been a good year.

I ran around the woods of Wisconsin.

In Flagstaff, AZ, I skied on a mountain for the first time in my life.  Suffice it to say, it did not go quite as well as I would have hoped. Then again, all of the easy hills were closed that day.

And in southern Utah I struggled to remember everything I ever learned and apparently forgot from my geology class in college.  It was still amazing.

So there you have it.  I don’t really know what else to say, other than I hope that my year continues with more adventures, that the bakery will open soon, and that it won’t take me fifteen months to post again.




1 Comment

Filed under Bakery, Beer and Vino, Cake, DIY, Travel

Meat madness, airplanes, and a new restaurant

Wowsers. What a week. Actually the past two or three weeks have all been a bit crazy, but in a good way. On my last day staging at the Italian restaurant, I helped the pastry chef make 150 or so desserts for a book signing with none other than food blogger/cookbook author extraordinaire David Lebovitz. It was a long day but overall a great first experience with making and plating large quantities of desserts. At the end of the day, I left the restaurant, took the train to the airport, then boarded a plane for Arizona. Just in time too, because Chicago had been hit with MORE snow. Sheesh.

Keep reading…

1 Comment

Filed under Beer and Vino, Bread, Restaurants, Travel

Pine nuts, cannoli, and figs, oh my!

A couple weeks ago, I held a taste testing party for my cousin and some of his friends. I made Italian cookies to practice and test out recipes for the bakery, and they ate said cookies and provided feedback. Wine was also part of the deal, naturally.

But first, let’s rewind to 48 hours earlier when I began this adventure in the kitchen. It started at my favorite grocery store which has almost any ingredient I could ever need, Italian or otherwise, and so inexpensive! It is a horrible enabler to my grocery shopping addiction.

In any case, I made my mother’s almond biscotti recipe, which I cannot seem to make without getting extremely frustrated. I cannot begin to fathom why this recipe just doesn’t cooperate with me. It’s not that anything goes wrong either, they just aren’t perfect. Grr. The pine nut cookies on the other hand, those were fun, if not very, very sticky. The cookies themselves are a chewy macaroon made with almond paste. Delicious. I skimped a little on the pine nuts, but those little buggers are expensive!

And oh the fig cookies.

These were big winners.

Then of course, there were cannoli. You can buy pre-made shells if you’re short on time, and then you just mix ricotta and powdered sugar until creamy, then add in your flavor, in my case, orange and cinnamon. Easy peasy.

Of course, even with all this baking I had three pounds of leftover ricotta cheese. So later that week I made ricotta and polenta cake full of honey and ricotta muffins, which were barely sweet but fascinatingly good. I think I was photographed out by this point because I documented neither item. However, ricotta is such a wonderously versatile cheese that I have a long list of ricotta desserts to try out, so this will not be the last you hear of it.

Of all the treats I made for the evening, I was most proud of my rosemary bread. It turned out better than ever before.

It was just divine. Most especially with butter. (Obviously). Unfortunately, I have since let my rosemary plant die. Oops! I don’t know how I will ever start and keep a garden.


Filed under Bakery, Beer and Vino, Bread, Cookies, Fruit, Italian, Pastries

Blizzard Baking: Part Five

I can’t spend a full day baking and NOT make bread.

In class last week our teacher raved about this bread she once had that used the spent mash (grains) leftover from the beer making process. As luck would have it, one of the girls in my class visited a brewery last weekend and went home with a gigantic tub of the stuff. She quickly became everyone’s friend when she brought it to class to share.

So those of us who wanted to got to bring home some of the pungent, (in a good, beer-y kind of way), soggy grains. You use them as you would a regular soaker, where you soak whole grains of all sorts in water before mixing into your dough so you don’t have little crunchies in your bread.

They say beer is liquid bread, and probably for many reasons, but it makes sense since both are just fermented grain. The carbon dioxide and alcohol dispelled by the yeast give beer its bubbles and fun-factor and bread its rise and flavor. And when you combine the two? Well, you get really dark, flavorful bread that will make the most excellent breakfast tomorrow.


Filed under Beer and Vino, Blizzard, Bread, Whole Grains

Blizzard Baking: Part One

Oh man oh man. Chicago and pretty much the entire midsection of the country, you know what I’m talking about. They’re calling it the snowpocalypse. Classes are cancelled and everyone is freaking out. I am just excited. This is an opportunity for me to embrace being stuck inside and spend the day cooking and baking. And watch the violent wind have a snow fight with itself. It is seriously crazy out there.

I decided to catch up this blog by chronicling my culinary experiences in the next 48 hours. It’ll be more fun to write than going back and remembering all the things I’ve been making these past couple of weeks.

Thing is, I was supposed to be in class this evening. Last night we started our laminates, or puff pastry and croissant doughs, with butter folded into the dough in the most delicious way. We were supposed to bake them up tonight, but seeing as that isn’t going to happen, I’m going to make some here at home, and bake them up tomorrow. I’m hoping this experience will be much better than my last attempt.

So here we are so far:


I will fold in the butter soon. Then it rests, then I fold, then it rests, then I fold, and on and on and on. Besides this I’ve got a long list of things to make, so grab a beer and get cozy. We’ve got a long blizzard ahead of us.

I might be biased but this is the best brewery name ever! Also, this milk stout is delicious!

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer and Vino, Blizzard, Chocolate

Old men and the bakery

I visited my new neighborhood again. Usually when I come to Taylor Street it’s just to check on the building, meet with an oven or insurance guy, or eat somewhere nearby to size up the competition. Since I haven’t moved in yet, I don’t quite feel like I’m part of the neighborhood, more like a lurking tourist or something. This day wasn’t supposed to be any different. I was there picking up the mail and checking out our new paint job.

We’re really excited about this since it’s our first notice to the public that Scafuri Bakery will indeed be returning. So after marveling and snapping some photos, I made my way down the block to the hardware store for a couple things. While the kind old man helped me find what I needed and made copies of my keys, I noticed a sign above the window that read “Wine Making Supplies”. I knew I was in the right place.

Keep reading…

1 Comment

Filed under Bakery, Beer and Vino, Italian

The Great Outdoors

I spent a couple days in Northern Wisconsin with my wonderful friend Kaitlin.  This area, called the Northwoods, has over 1,000 lakes!  Every time we drove past one over the course of our trip, we’d yell “Lake!”, though, that may have just been me.

Keep reading…

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer and Vino, Chocolate, Fruit, Travel