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What's Cooking? - Posted April 28, 2017 noon
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Photos by Shannon Richardson

Mother’s Day Treats

With Mother’s Day approaching, celebratory lunch menus are in the planning stages – hopefully without requiring anything from Mom. The highlight of a meal is always the dessert, and the most memorable desserts tend to match the season. For this issue, we relied upon the baking genius of Nicole Fleetwood and McKinzie Hodges of Scratch Made Bakery & Cafe to introduce us to their favorite sweet treats for Mother’s Day.

French macarons make for an attractive dessert. “These are the perfect sweet treat, especially if you’re having a large number of people.” says Fleetwood. “They look wonderful displayed in a tower, in a bowl, or flat.” Hodges hand-painted the macarons shown here.

Fleetwood says the naked lemon cake offers the perfect spring or summer flavor, tangy and sweet at the same time. The un-iced sides keep the flavors balanced and simple. “Less is more,” says Fleetwood.


French Macarons
2/3 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
Buttercream or jam filling of your choice

Heat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in lower third. Combine almond flour and confectioners' sugar; whisk. Pass almond mixture through fine-mesh sieve, leaving any large pieces behind. Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar in stand mixer on medium-high speed. Beat on medium speed (setting 4 on a KitchenAid) for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (setting 6) and beat 2 minutes. Then beat on high (setting 8) 2 minutes more. Beaten egg whites will hold stiff, glossy peaks when whisk is lifted out of bowl. Add flavoring and food coloring, if desired, and beat on highest speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to whipped egg whites and fold together with spatula. Add remaining dry ingredients and fold with spatula from bottom of bowl upward, then press flat side of spatula firmly through middle of mixture. Repeat just until batter flows like lava, 35 to 40 complete strokes. Put pastry bag fitted with 3/8-inch round tip inside a glass. Transfer batter to bag; secure top. Dab some batter remaining in bowl onto corners of 2 heavy baking sheets lined with parchment. With piping tip ½ inch above sheet, pipe batter into ¾-inch round, then swirl tip off to one side. Repeat, spacing rounds 1 inch apart. Tap sheets firmly against counter 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until risen and just set, 12 to 18 minutes. You'll know they're done when the macaron shell comes off parchment paper with ease. Pipe filling on flat sides of half of cookies; top with remaining half. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Makes 18 macarons


Naked Lemon Cake
¾ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
¾ cup cake flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray 3, 6-inch cake pans with floured nonstick spray. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. This should take about 10 minutes. In medium bowl whisk together remaining dry ingredients. Add eggs one at a time at low speed, being certain not to overbeat eggs and butter, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add lemon juice to milk and stir gently; allow to sit for 5 minutes. Beginning with flour, alternately add flour and lemon-milk mixture to mixing bowl in 3 parts flour and 2 parts milk, beginning and ending with flour. Evenly distribute batter among prepared cake pans. Bake approximately 20 minutes, checking at 10-minute mark. Cake is finished when it is no longer soggy in middle and bounces back when pressed. Set cakes aside to cool completely before removing from pan.

Buttercream Frosting
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup heavy cream
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add all ingredients and beat to combine. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue beating until light and fluffy.

Makes 1 three-layer, 6-inch cake

Meet the Cooks: Nicole Fleetwood and McKinzie Hodges of Scratch Made Bakery and Cafe

“You know how sometimes you just find something that you’re good at?” Nicole Fleetwood asks. “Some people are athletically inclined. Some people can run 26 miles. They’re just built for it. This is what I’m good at.”

While living in New Bern, North Carolina, Fleetwood began baking cupcakes and selling them at the local farmer’s market. By the summer of 2012, she found herself competing in the second episode of season 7 of the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” (at the time, her name was Nicole Costa). She won the intense competition and was in the process of establishing a storefront in New Bern when her ex-husband’s job transfer brought them to Texas.

Once in Amarillo, Fleetwood opened the always-from-scratch The Wild Cupcake downtown near the Chase Building. In late 2015, she began collaborating with McKinzie Hodges, who had been operating an at-home bakery called A Spoonful of Sugar. Fleetwood had become discouraged at the task of trying to grow a business on her own. “I was ready to never do this again,” she says. “McKinzie had wanted to open a bakery for a long time. We met, hit it off really well, and she said, ‘Don’t close. I’m ready to take the next step.’” They decided to merge their existing bakeries.

In early January of 2016, Hodges and Fleetwood rebranded The Wild Cupcake into Scratch Made Bakery and Cafe. “McKinzie is a phenomenal cake decorator,” Fleetwood says. But beyond cakes and cupcakes, the duo have carved out a popular local niche for their Saturday brunches, available from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. – or until they sell out. That happens more and more frequently, and it’s a big reason the bakery is about to expand into a new space a few blocks away.

At some point this summer – hopefully sooner than later – Scratch Made Bakery and Cafe will move into the newly remodeled Levine’s Department Store building at 800 S. Polk St., west of the Paramount Building and across from Courtyard Amarillo. Sharing the space with The 806, which will operate a coffee bar, the new Scratch Made Bakery and Brunchery will offer twice the dining space and a daily brunch. “We’ll still have bottomless mimosas on the house, plus a full menu and a wider variety of baked goods,” Fleetwood says. “It’s what we have right now, just bigger and better.”

by Jason Boyett

Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.
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