Karen was one of my bakers at the very first DCF Party back in 2006. I’m thrilled to have her back for its 6th Anniversary Party.
I have a folder in my computer simply labeled “Karen.” In it are all the feature articles I’ve written about Karen Young plus photos I’ve taken of all – and I do mean ALL – of the desserts she makes. Scanning my archives, I think I may have more posts on Karen than any other baker I’ve featured on DCF. Here are some photos of Karen at my 1st DCF party, where she showcased a duo of dessert: her Xanadu and Mixed Cheesecake.
For DCF’s 6th Anniversary, Karen is serving some new things. Her Sticky Toffee Pudding (aka Date Toffee Cake) is something she began offering during Christmas 2009. This type of cake is not something I see often among home bakers’ repertoires, and I don’t see why not. It’s easy to love with its pillowy crumb just barely holding itself together amidst a smattering of chopped dates, and the fillip of a toffee cover threatening to drool and drip on spoon and lips.
Karen so firmly believes in the transformative tandem of her Sticky Toffee Pudding and vanilla ice cream that every order of this dessert has a short note recommending, “To enjoy, warm the cake … just until the toffee becomes soft. Must-try with vanilla ice cream!” (Exclamation point hers). When we were discussing the specifics of the party, she – in her usual soft-spoken and ever-so-polite demeanor asks, “Lori, do you think you could situate my table beside Selecta? Do you think they’d let me have some of their ice cream to serve with my cake?” Needless to say, her request has been more than granted.
One reason why I have photos of all of Karen’s products is because every time she perfects something new, she sends samples for me to try. “Don’t forget to give me your comments, too!” So ends her accompanying note, always. Her latest efforts surprise and elate me: breads. I’m quite excited since all manner of yeasty things do just that to me.
Her Chicken Cotton White Bread is quite a mouthful to say but is nothing more than a riff on the now-popular Floss Bread made popular by those boutique bakeries. Whole wheat flour lends an earthy hue to a soft dough that’s made powdery-fluffy by that tuft of chicken floss crowned with careless exuberance atop. But there’s more going on: bits of nori gambol with pine nuts and ooh, crunch! Sesame seeds.
Karen’s Craisin Bread, as you might guess, is a rather lean bread dough studded with dried cranberries. Biting into a bit of sweetness because of the berry is unexpected bliss, coupled with hits of cinnamon. It’s a round loaf shaped with individual balls of dough that when baked, puff up and fuse together creating quite a remarkable bubble loaf. This is one of those breads that I eat while drinking coffee and marvel at the tracks of rubies on white glistening in the morning sun.