Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baking with Zingerman's and a Meeting a Blogger!

Many foodies nationwide are familiar with Zingerman's deli in Ann Arbor. It has a far-reaching catalogue and has been featured on more than one Food Network TV show. They are known for delicious meats, cheeses and baked goods as well as the specialty items in the shop.

And they also offer baking classes!

That was my destination recently, thanks to a birthday gift from Rick back last summer. He got hooked after taking his baguette class (which created a bread-making monster, thank goodness!) I signed up for Tea Cakes and my time to bake had finally arrived!

Ann Arbor is about an hour from my house and the class started at one. I knew I'd need lunch first so I contacted blogger Mae, one of my favorite foodie bloggers, to see if she was available. We'd never met in person and had "talked" about it for years. Finally it happened at Ann Arbor's Cafe Zola.

Those of you who have had face-to-face time with a fellow blogger know what I'm going to say -- it was great! Mae was the same warm, engaging and authentic Mae she is on Mae Food -- and we had plenty to talk about! Our conversations ranged from birds (Mae and her husband Len are avid bird watchers and show some great photos!), food, travel and yes, even Agatha Christie mysteries, the subject of some of her latest food posts.

All that, plus Cafe Zola's wonderful crepes made for a four-star start to my day!

I had the champignon (mushroom) crepe. Yum!

Then came class!

Our instructor, Nikki, was lively, well informed, fun and a good teacher. She took us through the recipes of three different tea time cakes. We began by making the yeast dough for an Icelandic coffee cake so that it would have time to rise while we worked on other things.

Then we dug into an aromatic "New Deli Crumb Cake" which was heavy on the brown sugar and butter, two of my favorite ingredients along with spices that included cardamon, cinnamon and ginger! The topping -- with coconut, pistachio and spices was to die for!

The classroom layout allowed the nine of us students plenty of room to work while the overhead mirror let us see Nikki's mixing from all angles.

The third treat was a raspberry ricotta cake. This was an extremely delicate cake using ricotta cheese and frozen raspberries. Nikki's tip -- when folding in fruit to a cake, frozen is often best because it doesn't break down the way fresh does, changing the color of your batter. If you are using fresh fruit, be careful when folding in!

We returned to our yeasty Scandinavian cake, rolling out the soft dough and making a mixture heavy on the almond paste and piping it inside.

With a soft dough like the Icelandic ring, Nikki recommended using a pastry bag to distribute the filling as the pastry was more likely to break when the filling was spread with an offset spatula.

Then it was rolled up like a jelly roll or pumpkin roll and the two ends joined together on parchment to make a circle. At this point, we cut into the circle with scissors every few inches and then twisted the cuts toward the outside and center alternately. An egg wash, a little more rising and baking and it was ready for its glaze.

You can see how Nikki made cuts in her ring and then twisted the sections toward the center and outside. I had a little trouble with this but am eager to try again.

This was one of my favorite tips! Nikki made a large bowl of glaze (enough to cover all our cakes, the only part of the day we didn't do ourselves). She mixes it with her hand, lifting it up to check consistency. Then she drizzles the glaze with her hand, the fingers making perfect, non-lumpy spots as she moves her hand over the cake.

Nikki basically just moved her dripping hand over the warm cake and let the icing dribble on in several streams from her fingers. This was much more successful than the uneven, clumpy look I get when using a spoon.

We ended the day with tasting the three and then received our own baked cakes ready to take home.

As you can see, my Icelandic ring got a little off kilter when I was doing the twist but it didn't change the taste one bit. It was fabulous!

That night and the next day I shared with Rick and friends. My two favorites are the Icelandic ring and New Deli cakes. I will definitely make both these again, though I might substitute pecans for pistachio in the New Deli. Jan was Icelandic ring all the way. I think Mark and Rick went with New Deli first and the ring being second. Same with Kate.

The three cakes -- raspberry ricotta, New Deli Crumb Cake (front on blue plate) and Icelandic ring in the background.

For me the most disappointing of the three is the raspberry ricotta. This might be because it is more delicate and when you are tasting them all together it doesn't have the flair. I also think it could have used a lot more raspberries and some lemon zest. I'll try this again with those adjustments and maybe with blueberries. It would also be delicious with a coulis or a side of fruit.

I was the only person in our class who was there for the first time an some came from at least 100 miles away. The workshops aren't inexpensive -- the four hour class (we got our cakes, instruction, supplies, a beverage and coupons for Zingermann's creamery and bakeshop) was $100. Many classes are more. Some are full day or even weekend.

But for me it was worth every penny and I would gladly return again, messy hands and all! What's next? Appetizers? Cookies? Pretzels? French or Italian dinners? Pizza? The possibilities are endless!


Mae Travels said...

Thank you a million times for being so nice to me! I loved meeting you, too.

The class sounds like a lot of fun, and the results sound delicious. I should really try one of those classes since I live only a few miles from the bakehouse. Problem is, I live only a few miles from the bakehouse where they sell all those delicious goodies all ready to eat.

love you!!!... mae at

Esme said...

I just read her post about your meeting. It is funny to see photos of people. You get a photo in your head and think they look one way. I expected her to have long flowing hair-almost like a child from the 60's given all her travels. Do not ask me where this impression came from. Looks like the ladies had a very fun day. Happy New Year. PS your hair reminds me of mine.

Mary said...

What fun and how delicious! Lunch out and the class. Plus now I want to try one of those mushroom crepes! :)

Tammie Lee said...

it sounds like you had a wonderful time. a unique thing to do.

your crepe sounds so good. i am more of a savory person than sweet.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I believe one of your goals for the year was to meet more bloggers so you are already chipping away at that - way to go! This class sounds like so much fun. It's nice to get tips from a pro and they have it set up great with that mirror over the instructor. I would like to take a cooking class sometime. I took a knife skills class once and it was so helpful but I haven't looked into any other classes since then. I should ask for a cooking class from Phil for my birthday as I know he is always struggling to come up with something. The challenge for me is finding one that is a gluten free class as it would be shame to learn how to make something I can't eat! But I am sure there are classes out there for me since more and more people are gluten intolerant these days it seems!

Vagabonde said...

I read your post about the FCC auction – you packed a lot of information there. It upsets me that whenever there is any type of problem here it usually involves money. You certainly did read many books in 2015 – there are some titles that I will check as they really look interesting.
I saw on Mae’s blog that she had met you. It is always so much fun to meet blogging friends. Your baking class resulted in wonderful goodies – they sounded quite tasty, and they look very appetizing.

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

What a great class and to make all those wonderful yummy treats, W O W!!!!
They sounded really tasty. So glad that you met with Mae. IT is always so much fun to meet other bloggers and hopefully I will be able to met more this year.
Have a great week.

Privet and Holly said...

What a great way to
start the New Year,
with food and friends
and cooking class!
I love taking those
with friends, for the
camaraderie AND
for the inspiration : )

Happy 2016!

xo Suzanne

Barb said...

Oh my gosh - these look fabulous! Is that the Deli Crumb in the middle? I'm reluctant to bake with yeast at altitude. Does the crumb one have yeast? Wish I lived closer - not to take a class but to eat yours!

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Oh the baker inside of me is cheering you on and drooling all at the same time!
What a day, this was for you and then the opportunity to meet a dear blogger friend as well.
I am looking forward to Friday where I will be meeting up with 2 Texas bloggers for lunch!
Looks like 2016 is off to a good start for both of us:)

Joyful said...

The class looks fun. It's always nice to meet a fellow blogger too!

Jenny Woolf said...

It is always nice meeting other bloggers - I have done it a few times and it's always been fun. And Jeanie, you can come to bake for me any time! (like - NOW!)

Victoria Zigler said...

Getting to meet bloggy buddies is a great thing, but getting to do so on the day wyu made those delicious cakes... Well, you can't ask for a better day than that!

Oh, and now you've made me want cake...

I need orange said...

So glad you had such a good day! :-)

Nikki taught the crackers class I took. She does a great job, doesn't she?

I'd say your present was a smashing success!

The French Hutch said...

Jeanie you are beginning the new year with a bang girl! Good for you, doing what you enjoy and what a fun class. Plus, you got a few goodies to boot. What a great thrill it is to meet blog friends. I've had that experience a few times and you are right, it's a special feeling!
Have a happy week...

Jennifer Richardson said...

I. am. SO. hungry.
Oh my extraordinarily written and pictured:)
Geesh, my breakfast just became a drab thing.
Bravo on following your foodie heart and making it art!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Enjoy this wonderful life of yours:)

House-elf said...

How special that you met another blogger. The class looked challenging! I'm not much of a cook, but I know the Deli's spice combination would be delicious! Have you tried cardamom in coffee?

~*~Patty S said...

Your lovely post made me hungry
and made me smile!
What a fun fun time made all the more special by meeting up with a blog friend.
It is an easy and special connection to make after getting to know someone virtually isn't it.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good afternoon Jeanie! Meeting up with blogger friends is always a magical moment, finally putting a face to the emails. And to take a baking class to boot! FUN!!!!!!!

I hope you are well and have started off 2016 with health, happiness and love.

Lynda Shoup said...

Tea cakes!!!! I love a good cup of tea in a porcelain tea cup with a tea cake or finger sandwich. Usually I make scones. I have a really nice recipe and always fall back on it. From time to time the cook books are opened and flipped through in search of something new and different only ending in baking another batch of scones. I really should be more adventurous. You have given me something to think about. Cookies, tarts or something else? I raise my Royal Albert to you.

shoreacres said...

What fun. I made the mistake of going to the deli site, where I found the mail order link, and then found the chocoate cherry bread. Maybe for Valentine's day! And it was nice to see cardamon as an ingredient, though I was surprised to see it in a New Delhi cake and not the Swedish ring. I always associate cardamon with the Swedish side of my family.

Now I'm hungry - darn it!

Joanne Huffman said...

Sounds like a great experience. In an interesting piece of timing, I just got a gift of half a loaf of limpa bread (absolutely delicious) made from a Zingerman's class recipe. And, she included a class list with the recipe. This must mean I should check out the classes.

CatieAn said...

What wonderful gifts....the baking class and meeting your friend. Those goodies looked so yummy and now you have new stuff to bake for friends and family.
I love gifts that give in so many ways. A good start to the new year.

Marilyn Miller said...

I would have taken this with you. How fun and delicious! The ricotta cake sounded fascinating to me.

Lynne said...

Now that sounds like a fun twist FOR ME on CREATING . . .
Goes along with my 2015 acrylic painting discovery . . .
New and creative brings about the BEST TIMES for me . . .
I am not the best with baking . . . but would find this enjoyable and a learning experience.
I have a dear friend who is premo in the baked goods department . . .
We may need to think about signing up for a class . . .
Thank you Jeanie for this wonderful post . . .

Wandering Wren said...

It has always been one of the highlights of my trip meeting fellow Bloggers, as you say there is something familiar yet terribly exciting to finally catch up in person. I would have loved the cake course, especially the bit about taking three cakes home, I guess you were really popular that week with all those cakes in the home! Hope we meet one day!
Wren x

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