Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sugar, Spice And Everything Nice...

When I was a very young child, my mother could not wait to start her yearly holiday baking tradition.  Over the years, she had collected hundreds of different recipes from friends and family.  She meticulously copied them onto index cards or if she had clipped them from magazines carefully glued them onto the back of a card.  Over the years she had her "old standby" favorites and usually added one or two to the year's bake.

Since I grew up in the early 60's, strange things crept into some of her baked goods.  Example... an unbaked fruit cake made with crushed graham crackers, candied fruit and nuts, all stuck together with melted marshmallows, yeah, not my favorite.  Or the cookies made with those dry canned chow mein noodles, and melted chocolate chips. Actually my mother was a great cook and baker, so to be fair, there was only a few of these strange concoctions that she just "had to try".

Then there were the good ones... Spritz, Swedish Tea Cakes, Orange Gumdrop Cookies, Gingerbread Spice Cookies, and best of all FUDGE!!!

Even though mom has not been with us for years, every holiday season I remember us all getting together and spending a whole day baking (back when I lived in California) cookies and making candy.  Mom always had a big pot of soup ready for dinner after the baking was all finished.

That was many years ago, now that we just finished our 7th Holiday Market and baked thousands of cookies... 8,095 to be exact, we are ready for a bit of a break.

Happy New Year! Thanks
for the Sweet Memories

It's time to turn the page on the calendar and welcome a new year....hard to believe, isn't it? As we end our baking cycle for this year, we want to take this opportunity to say thanks forr the great support we've received from our wonderful (and loyal) customers. We've had a great year and we hope to repeat it in 2013. We'll be taking a short break from regular weekly baking, but we're available for special orders and projects.Got something in us at 360-720-1937 to see what we might do for you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking A Break From Baking....

We have been really crazy busy baking for our great customers here on Whidbey Island and the Bayview Farmers Market the past few weeks... weddings, anniversaries, birthdays not to mention the big end of the summer push last weekend for Labor Day.  Things have really not calmed down  yet, but for this post I felt like something totally different, so here it goes.... 


Roasted Rustic Tomato Sauce
  • 33 Lbs. Roma Tomatoes 
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 Lbs. Onions, Roughly Chopped       
  • 3 Bay leafs (Fresh if you have them)
  • 3 Sprigs Each, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme (left whole on the stems)
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 1 tsp.  Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 oz. Fresh Basil (Roughly Chopped)
  • 2 tsp. Salt (Or To Taste)
Yield: 9 Pints

September is the time of year tomatoes ripen and become affordable here in Washington.  While living in Western Washington, (Whidbey Island, specifically) is the land of green, we do not have the best climate for raising tomatoes.  Yes we have vine-ripe tomatoes just about the time apples begin to ripen, but we just don’t have the heat required to produce the massive quantities  needed for commercial use.  That said, just over the mountains lies the Yakima Valley — with  all the heat needed for tomatoes (and about anything else that can be grown in a warm climate.)

This summer (like most over the past six years), we are so busy baking for the Bayview Farmers Market, special functions... oh and lets not forget....weddings, we just don’t have the time to make the trip over to Yakima to pick up tomatoes (and other products) from the growers.  This year, thanks to Jan and Pete who went over to pick up tomatoes for themselves, they got us a lug of Roma style tomatoes. 

In the past, I have made this sauce using “regular” canning tomatoes, those great big round red orbs that you see this time of year.  When Jan asked “Roma or Caning”? I said “whatever.”  So, by chance, we got Romas and, guess what: I think they made the best sauce. 

The one thing we can grow here are fresh herbs, and in this recipe they are all fresh ones from our garden. I recommend you use fresh herbs, find them somewhere...your garden, a local farmers market of if need be the grocery store. Garlic... garlic is not just “garlic”.  I don’t have the space to grow garlic, but I am fortunate to have one of the best late summer supplies around.  Just check at your local farmers market and if you are lucky you will find a farmer that grows a full range of garlic...hard neck, soft neck, hot, mild, spicy and so much more. The type in your local grocery store is well.... boring.  

Regular canning tomatoes have more seeds and juice then the Roma, but the Roma have more “meat”.... more solids that is, and the sauce is much thicker (note the addition of water).

So here it goes.... Roasted Rustic Tomato Sauce

Your tomatoes need to be ripe (please not those funky things from the grocery store) ... and fresh.  I have found the best way to “slip” the skins (if you leave them on the skins just get tough) is to either fill a big pot with water and trough in a bunch (like for 2 minutes) and then toss them in the sink (and repeat) or as my mom did... fill the sink with the tomatoes and pour in the water... what ever works for you. 

My mom... she was raised in Iowa a second generation (an very proud of it) Danish woman who  love to can...and she’d can anything.  I remember way back when I was just a kid living in San Luis Obispo California, her telling me a story of a friend of hers who told her to hold each tomato over a gas flame and singe the skin so it would slip off.  She then would say that “my lord, Linda was a home economics teacher and she did it one tomato at a time...just fill the sink with boiling water and get the job done, who had the time to do what with 4 lugs of tomatoes”.  Lesson learned!

After the skins are off the tomatoes, cut them in half and place them in a single layer on a pan (not aluminum, or they will taste metallic),  sprinkle with a Kosher salt (not too much, you can always add more later) and drizzle with olive oil.  I use a shallow stainless steal steam table insert pan, but any shallow pan will work (I had to use four, but you can just do it twice).

Roasting the tomatoes... in a450 oven for 30-45 minutes or until they start to brown.

Stir and return to oven and roast for another 30-45 minutes.  The roasting time will depend on individual oven conditions. If you have a convection oven it will speed up the process.  Just look for specks of brown here and there. Depending on how many pans you have, this may take a while, but the roasting is the most important part.  You are concentrating the flavors and reducing the liquids... can you say flavor?           

As you roast the tomatoes, put them in a stockpot (stainless steel, please).  Once you have them all roasted and in the pot, add the water, chopped onions and everything else except the salt.

Once the tomatoes have come to a boil reduce to a simmer (no lid, please), and simmer string periodically for an hour.  What you are looking for is viable chunks of tomatoes in a semi thick sauce.

Once the sauce is to the thickness you like, you will need to decide on how to preserve it.  I canned this batch using USDA canning recommendations, but you can also freeze it.  What ever way you choose to preserve it I hope you find this a great sauce... plain on pasta, or as a base for another dish.


Meanwhile back at the bakery...

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Kringle Saturday

The last Saturday of the month is always "Kringle Saturday", 

and it's this week...

 Upside-Down Cakes (Italian Plum, Nectarine or Blueberry)

Tuscan Olive

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Week From Tree-Top Baking

Summer is "Busting Out". and Tree-Top Baking is pulling out all the stops.This week, we feature Apple Strudel, Sprouted Wheat Bread and those "oh so popular" Morning Buns.

 Sprouted Wheat Loaf

 Apple Strudel

 Tree-Top Baking...

 Morning Buns

 Sicilian Raisin

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's A Very Busy Weekend At Tree-Top Baking

This is one of those weekends when everything hits at once.  A very busy Saturday Farmers Market, one wedding cake (congratulations Krista and Joseph), a 50th wedding anniversary cake (way to to Carolyn and Tim), and a joint birthday party with a dessert buffet (Happy Birthday Marilee and Hal).

"Jill and Alex"


This Weeks' Dessert...Upside-Down Cakes


Spinach and "Pheta" Cheese Croissants


 Sonoma Fruit... the hit bread of the season.

For a full list of this week's offerings, check out our website.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Danish Kringle, French Almond Twists, Morning Buns...

The Crazy Days Of Summer At Tree-Top Baking

It's the last weekend of the month and that means it's Kringle time.  Flaky Danish pastry dough encases an irresistible almond filling (and raisins). Each Kringle is topped with sliced almonds and coarse suga.


For this weeks full offerings, check our website

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This week..... @ Tree-Top Baking

You've seen a picture of it for quite a while (above). Now's the time to order one: Our Currant/Raspberry Dessert Cake...available this week (and this week only). It's an incredibly great combination of pound cake, rasperry jam and fresh Whidbey Island currants. Pre-order by noon Thursday, July 19. And here's what else we'll be offering at this week's market:

Sicilian Raisin: Loaf with a Twist

Candied lemon peel adds an extra zing to Sicilian Raisin Bread. This nod to the Mediterranean is made with semolina and includes loads regular and golden raisins. Grilled cheese sandwich anyone?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upside-Down Cakes, Everyday Wheat, Five-Seed Multigrain & Light Rye Breads

Now that the "double holiday weekends" have passed, we can get back to a hopefully more normal schedule at Tree-Top Baking.  Having the 4th of July smack dab in the middle of the week created to very hectic baking weekends for us.  Here on Whidbey, we always say that summer begins with the 4th of July, and summer made it's 2012 debut just in time.
Now that we have all the "Red, White and Blue" behind us, we can get back to a more normal schedule (what ever that is).

 Upside-Down Cakes

This week, we bring back the  Dessert Cake selection of Upsided-Down Cakes. They come in three varieties... Classic Pineapple, Washington Nectarine  or Italian Plum.

Light Rye make great Rubens 

Haul out the cheese, corned beef and sauerkraut in preparation for a great Ruben sandwich. Our light rye loaf --- with traditional caraway seeds --- is just right for your fixings.

Tree-Top Fresh Pizza Dough

Available in traditional or cracked wheat. 

For a full list of this week's offerings, check our website.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Has Arrived on Whidbey Island

This week:   (1) You've asked for 'em...and we're bringing them back for one
 week only:  Rich, cinnamon swirl New York Crumb Cakes (top).
 (2) New  (below)...Morning Buns: Flaky croissant dough, swirled with sugar,
 a touch of cinnamon, and rolled in granulated sugar. Yum!


For a full list of this week's offerings, check out our website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tree-Top Baking... Getting Prepared For The Holiday Week

This Week At Tree-Top Baking...

It may be a few days before the big 4th of July holiday, but this year since the 4th is in the middle of the week we will be there for you which ever Saturday you plan on celebrating.  

This week we feature  Chocolate or White Holiday Decorated Cakes and Holiday Star Sugar Cookies. 

Also this is Kringle weekend... 

This flaky Danish Pastry comes around the last Saturday of the month, so make sure you get to the market early, they go very fast.

For this weeks full listing of Whidbey Favorites, check out our website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Time away from the ovens is a good thing for all bakers.  Our short trip to Oregon provided us with a bit of much needed rest and also a chance to check up on some bakeries we  have not visited "you can take the baker out of the bakery, but not the bakery out of the baker".

The first stop was not bakery at all, it was the pizza restaurant  Apizza Schollls in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Southeast Portland (this area deserves a much closer look, it is great!).  The restaurant has a high rating on Yelp, and reviews recommend getting there early unless you want to wait in the line that forms down the street as the evening progresses (they do not take reservations).

The starter... A great "full leaf" Caesar salad.  

 A very simple pizza...Apizza Margherita

Their take on the classic Margherita—tomato sauce, mozzarella (whole milk and fresh), peccorino romano/grana padano, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.

After spending the night in Forest Grove, and picking up candied fruit for baking we we headed to Milwaukee Oregon and Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods. We used a variety of their flours and whole grains, it was a great chance to see their full lineup of products.  

Now on to the bakery.... Baker & Spice.  Baker & Spice is located in southwest Portland in the thriving Hillsdale community. We arrived in time for the morning breakfast rush, the bakery was filled with young happy people, and the bakery production area is is full view, and from the look of it, t hey have a thriving business going on.

 It's "what's for breakfast...." bakery style

Bread Pudding (some of the best we have had yet), Maple Twist (Danish pasty drizzled with Vermont maple glaze), and Katie Bun (Danish pastry covered in brown sugar, cinnamon and golden raisins).

Mike's Ice Cream, Hood River Oregon


If you don't like ice cream, you have no business reading this review.  However if you do, YUMMY, you need to put Mikes on your quest for the best ice cream on this planet.  This is THE PLACE for honest, real flavors. 


Now For This Week @ Tree-Top Baking

 Apple Strudel

Flaky puff pastry encases luscious apples (and filling)....this week's feature. 

Portuguese Sweet Bread And Angel Food Cake Returns

For a full list of this week's offerings.... Read More

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tree-Top Baking... A Week Off

Tree-Top Is Taking This Saturday June 16 Off

 We will be back the following Saturday June 23 with our full lineup
of Whidbey Island Favorites.


While you are at the market this week...

Raffle tickets now on sale!
 For a framed copy of the 2012 market poster by Anne Belov. 
$1 each or six for $5. Drawing September 1.