A Bun in the Oven

27_20130902_PalaceHello Tartnation.

Wondering what sort of baking madness we’ve been up to for the last several months? Cakes, baby. Cakes.

This fall, Two Tarts proudly welcomed a little sister to the fold, in the form of Palace Cakes.

Palace Cakes was born from a simple craving for yellow cake with chocolate icing. (Seriously. This is how these things get started!) A dear friend and I racked our brains as to where we might grab a slice, and came up with nothing more than a shoulder shrug. “What the heck?” we thought, “Why isn’t there more cake to be found in Stumptown?”

We decided to take matters into our own hands, testing recipes and formulating a plan. On October 1st, we launched a line of home-spun, buttercream-laden, deeply satisfying cakes under the Palace Cakes label.

For the time being, Palace Cakes are available by special order only. We hope to find our very own digs this spring, but as of today, we are baking our cakes at Two Tarts.

Until then, you’ll have to settle for a whole cake rather than a slice. Unless you plan to share.

Here’s a sweet article from Portland Monthly about the launch of Palace Cakes.

For mouth-gapingly beautiful photos and information about ordering a cake, visit the  Palace Cakes website. Sign up for our mailing list while you are there,  so you can stay abreast of the latest flavors and our search for our very own space.

Same Love

We love Love!

We have to admit that we’re a bit on the softy side. We cry more at happy endings than sad, we’re suckers for a feel-good video post, and we’re prone to get sappy when we sit down with a couple to help them decide on cookies for their nuptials. Yep, we’re a bit sentimental.

Speaking of nuptials, did anyone else catch that SCOTUS ruling last month? The  one that guaranteed that citizens in 13 states would know true equality regardless of who they love? Yeah, that one. So did we. And lo and behold, it made us a bit misty-eyed. Then we started considering the wider-reaching possibilities. What if citizens in every state could share the same joy and security of knowing they could marry their Love too? Sounds pretty damned good to us.

So, in honor of “no mo’ DOMA” and in an effort to support the continued work of HRC, we’re introducing Same Love shortbread (yes, the name is an homage to the Macklemore song, check it out here). Same Loves are chocolate and vanilla hearts nestled inside of each other. They’re cute as can be and we will have them through the end of August. And once we’re done selling them we’ll total up all the profits and send them to the HRC. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be sitting down with even more happy couples in the future.

Just the thought of it warms our hearts.

Who’s the man?

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A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the painfully uncomfortable but equally hilarious sitcom “Girls.” Now as reluctant as I am to cop to it, young women do some stupid things. Loads of them. Truly idiotic, woefully thoughtless, embarrassing, mind-numbingly ridiculous things.

I know, I know. You can’t expect folks in their 20′s to take complete responsibility, can you? I mean, until our brains are fully formed (27 or 28 years of age, I’m told,) we apparently cannot control our impulses – at least the idiotic ones, it seems.

For a brief moment or two, I wondered why there wasn’t an equally mortifying show about boys – you know, a chronicle of all the eye-rollingly assanine events that occur in the life of a 20-something-year-old man? Then I realized, “there is!” It’s called “Jackass.”

OK, so kids are not always the smartest of creatures. That’s why society dictates that we should live with our parents until we are 18. Why that suggestion is not extended until the age of 28 is beyond me – oh wait, maybe it has something to do with the sanity of the parents?

Ah, the parents. The ones who receive the late-night calls, bail us out of unsavory situations, keep us financially afloat, and put up with our drama despite the temptation to ask for a paternity test. I mean, how hard is it to watch someone with half of your very own DNA bungle critical life choices?

Next Sunday is Fathers’ Day. If you’re past the age of reason, give the old man a hug. If you’re under 28, please do something really, really nice for him. You probably have no clue just how much he deserves it.

 

Two Seasons

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In Oregon, the notion of “springtime” is a bit of a fallacy. What we really have here are two, distinct seasons – wet and dry.

We’ve still a bit (ok, six weeks historically) of the wet one left to endure, but it hasn’t put a damper on the beautiful spring produce appearing at market. Strawberries and rhubarb are in full swing, and along with mint and basil, are making their way into a variety of cookies at the bakery.

At Two Tarts, the mention of artificial coloring is met with furrowed brow and grimace, so the advent of “springtime” brings color to the bakery as well. Pink and green dramatically insert themselves into our year-long palette of chocolate, coffee, and lemon hues. Rhubarb buttercream, strawberry preserves, and fresh basil macarons bring sweet smiles to farmers market patrons, and beautiful fragrance to our tiny storefront.

The dry season may be a ways away, but we can deal for now.

Ma Belle

As those who have been pregnant know, at every turn and trimester you will encounter a world of well-wishers. Your growing belly inspires and delights those around you. It also makes you the target of strangers who are desperate to offer you any manner of what they consider sage, profound advice.

Because each of us is alive, we are all experts at life, it seems.

As the parent of a darling baby, yours is a world of oohs, aahs and smiles. Outsiders view your life as a charmed – that irresistible new baby smell clings to your very essence. Strangers on the streetcar make goofy faces at your baby, ask his or her name, and age. And because you carry that baby with you – you are, by extension, magic. You are a mother.

Then suddenly it ends. The helpful advice, the adoring glances, and the smiles. Come toddler time, you are on your own, Mama! Your seatmate on the bus just moved to the back.

It’s easy to celebrate all that is good and beautiful about motherhood. Not so evident, nor celebrated, are all the childhood moments you didn’t see – the words that you didn’t hear, because your mother knew better. As a mom, I like to console myself with my very own maxim, “If it doesn’t come out of your mouth, it doesn’t count.” (This is handy for situations other than parenting, by the way.)

So thank your mother for all the things she kept to herself – in her head and in her heart. Sometimes that pursed mouth and exasperated look was just another way of saying “I love you.”  Or maybe it meant, “If I could justify sending you to boarding school right now, I would.” Either way, it was definitely a look of love.

Vote for Mom.

For Mothers’ Day 2013, Two Tarts is pairing up with Steven Smith Teamakers for another round of tea and cookie love.

A sweet little package of cookies and tea, this year’s shipment will include Bon Bon, a custom herbal tisane available only at Steven Smith’s shop on NW Thurman.

We’ll ship 4 ounces of this minty, fruity, vanilla-scented gem of a tea along with a bakers’ dozen of four of our favorite flavors.*

$30, including shipping within the continental United States.

To order, send an email to Emily, or call the bakery at 503.312.9522.

Orders must be placed
by Sunday, May 5th.

*cappuccino creams, rhubarb hubba hubbas, snickerdoodles, and a special Smith Teamaker Lord Bergamot shortbread

The Devil is in the Details.

Baking is not rocket science.

As the daughter of a real, live rocket scientist, I can happily confirm the truth of the aforementioned statement. And although I’ve no point of reference, I don’t think it’s brain surgery either. Or something requiring a PhD. Or a Magnum Opus.

Nope – the sweet thing about baking is the sheer simplicity of it all. (Now running a business, on the other hand…)Ever wondered why our cookies taste so darned delicious? Sure, there are some finely tuned recipes behind it all, but the fact of the matter is, it’s all about ingredients.

This post is dedicated to to every farmer, producer, and artisan who is passionate about what they grow, make or sell. Thank you for believing in the value of honest, simple food.Here’s an introduction to a few of our suppliers. We hope you enjoy their stories, and products, as much as we do.

Cremerie Classique Butter 

OK, since we live in a region teeming with dairy farms, here’s a simple question for you – how many ingredients should quality butter contain?

Answer: one.
Yup, just one – sweet, fresh cream.

Larsen’s Creamery gives us just that, and nothing more, in their top-of-the-line Cremerie Classique butter. Larsen’s has been at it for a while (nearly 90 years,) so it’s no surprise they make an amazing product. And as an added bonus, if you search Google Images for Cremerie Classique, you get this.

Shepherd’s Grain Flour 

Once upon a time, a couple of local wheat farmers decided to buck the industry trend and farm in a method that was friendly to both the Earth and to their customers. That must have been a tough row to hoe.

I first met Karl and Fred at Portland Farmers Market seven or eight years ago, when they were first marketing their flours. And though their ultra-fresh, consistent product won me over in a heartbeat, it is their business and farming philosophies that have kept me on board ever since.

Provenance Farms  

It took ever so long to find an egg producer who could meet our demands. Small egg farmers often don’t produce enough eggs to fuel the workings of a retail bakery.But a few years ago, Rachel walked in. She wasn’t trying to sell us eggs – she was just enjoying a few cookies with a friend. A recent graduate of OSU, Rachel had started her own farm in Philomath. She provides us with the loveliest of pasture-raised eggs. High in beta-carotene, the yolks are a vibrant orange and the whites are thick and lustrous.Every Thursday, without fail, Rachel arrives in her truck, bearing a week’s worth of precious eggs for our bakery

Freddy Guys Hazelnuts 

Please tell me you’ve already met Barb and Fritz Foulke. Two of PSU Farmer’s Market‘s most vibrant personalities, I lovingly refer to Barb as the “nut lady.” We stumbled on Barb and Fritz at market when we first started peddling our wares, and were dumbfounded by the freshly-roasted flavor of the hazelnuts they grow and process. Truly, there is no comparison.

Over the years, we’ve watched Freddy Guys grow and flourish, enjoying national press, acquiring a new orchard,  a larger roaster, and eventually everything they needed to shepherd their nuts from catkin to market. They are an amazing success story here in Oregon. And you can still find them at market most Saturdays.

Leaning into Spring

Come on, put your shoulder into it. Maybe if we all work together, we’ll force a high pressure region over the Greater Portland Metro area. A day without sweaters and jackets is so close, we can taste it.
As the weather begins to morph, so also does the selection of cookies at Two Tarts. Here’s a preview of spring flavors in the making.

20120420TwoTarts-9Rhubarb Crumble Tassies

Fresh Winters Farm rhubarb compote baked in a flaky pastry crust, complete with a cinnamon streusel topping.

Sunflower Macarons

Inspired by Sahagun’s long-gone, but not forgotten “sundrops,” our newest addition to the Parisian macaron family is filled with dark chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of fleur-de-sel.

Rhubarb Gemsapple gems
Vanilla bean shortbread filled with fresh rhubarb compote and a hint of star anise. Fragrant and elegant, these lovelies are especially delicious when consumed warm.
Peanut Butter Brownies

An old favorite returns for a guest appearance this spring. Deep chocolate brownies topped with a layer of crumbly peanut butter streusel.

Bid farewell to cocoa nib stars and passionfruit creams as we make way for additional spring flavors in April.

The Rhubarb Report

Asking Marven Winters about spring rhubarb is like asking an Oscar nominated actress about her favorite designer.Image

He doesn’t mind talking about it. Not one bit. In fact, he’s sure to throw in some juicy details about the crop, the weather and the timing. A dignified cliff-hanger of a conversation, if you ask me.

Us? We’re more childlike about the subject. While the conversation surrounding the impeding arrival of this spring star might appear casual, it’s all a show. We have to work hard to achieve that nonchalance. On the inside, we’re jumping up and down, shouting “WHEN can we get our HANDS on some rhubarb?”

Oregon winters do strange things to a baker.

We’re ready for rhubarb. We’re ready for spring. Marven says he may deliver some rhubarb as early as mid-March. Lord help him if he doesn’t.

Love, American Style

ImageLet’s do it. Let’s get this heart-shaped, luv-n-stuff holiday rolling. Let’s wrap it up with a tasty hot beverage and call it a day. The 900 heart-shaped cookie cutters we own are dusted off and ready for action.

Let’s put ‘em to work!Our neighbors at Smith Teamaker and Sterling Coffee Roasters are helping to spread the love (and fuel our cookie baking.) Give your sweetie a box of heart-shaped goodness and a steaming cup of high-test love.

The Sweet Tea

One dozen assorted heart-shaped Two Tarts cookies, plus a lovely assortment of five tea sachets from Smith Teamaker
$14 (plus shipping ) Image

The Cup’a Cup’a Burning Love

One dozen assorted heart-shaped Two Tarts cookies, plus 500 grams of whole bean java from Sterling Coffee Roasters
$24 (plus shipping)

To ensure we’ve got enough heart-shaped goodness to go around, please place your order by Saturday, February 9th.

Local delivery is available for a small fee.

To order, call the shop at 503.312.9522 or email Emily.

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