Welcome to the New Year with Locke Store’s blog! Our resolution for 2015 is to connect with our community through monthly posts here. My name is Hannah, also known as Deli Queen, and I’ll be working with my friends at the store to keep you updated about what we’ve been up to and how we work. For the next few posts, we want to shed some light on each member of our team. In such a small store, we all do a little bit of everything, filling in each other’s spaces and working together like pieces of a puzzle. So if you’ve ever visited our store and wondered who’s who and what we do, read along and get to know us a little better!
Valentine’s Day may have passed, but in the coldest days of winter, it’s the time for chocolates & sweets to give your loved ones and keep their hearts warm. What better time to put a spotlight on Katie Kopsick, our pastry chef? So I sat down with her over the weekend and asked her a few questions about her niche here at Locke Store.
It’s thanks to Katie that we have such lovely breads, pastries, and cakes to offer. She creates and produces them all, continuing Locke Store classics, like our delicious cookies, and constantly adding new desserts to our repertoire. Katie’s favorite item on her menu: her fresh breads. She can make anything from cinnamon buns to cranberry walnut bread, an all-around staff favorite. There’s nothing better than walking through the kitchen and smelling that bread baking in the oven, especially if there are a few scraps left over to taste! When I asked her why breads are so special, Katie pointed out how it’s almost magical to take ingredients that don’t taste so great on their own – yeast and flour – and combine them to create something very nourishing. If you see Katie’s sourdough starter in our kitchen, you’ll understand what she means! What starts out as a yeasty blob becomes a dense yet fluffy loaf that makes the perfect toast! And the more time the starter has to develop, the tastier the bread. As Katie says, “Bread dough is a living thing; it doesn’t like to be rushed, and I like that.” In a busy kitchen, taking time to really work with our ingredients to make them taste their greatest is important, and Katie’s bread certainly puts its best foot forward.
Katie always makes sure to keep our bakery case stocked with special goodies. Last weekend marked Katie’s “almost-two-year anniversary” with us at Locke Store, and she went all out with extra sweets for Valentine’s Day. One such treat is her orange craquelin, a sugar-cube-filled brioche bun that has its own romantic significance for Katie. When she brought these scrumptious buns out of the kitchen the other day, I asked her about the history of this bread. She told me that craquelin is most traditionally made with lemon zest, but she wanted to make hers with orange flower water and orange zest, instead. In each bun there are two or three little sugar cubes, made in-house, to impart a subtle orange flavor. “When my husband and I were on our honeymoon,” Katie said, “we spent some time in the commune of Laguiole in the Aveyron region of France. There is a bakery in Laguiole called Roux et Fils that is famous for a regional specialty, Fouace. It’s essentially a sweet brioche bread scented with orange flower water. When you walk around town in the mornings and they’re baking the fouace, it perfumes the whole downtown. As soon as I got back to the States, I sought to recreate that amazing aroma and thought, what better way to do it than by creating a craquelin and incorporating those flavors?” So she set to work, testing different sizes of sugar cubes: Too big, and the bread would collapse. Too small, and they just melt into the dough. Upon finding the right size, the rest is simple – mixing sugar with the orange flower water and zest and drying it overnight in a low oven. Then, it’s just a matter of popping them into the brioche dough right before proofing – that’s pastry chef talk for letting the dough rise before baking. As Katie says, “Memories are strongly tied to scents, and when the craquelins for Locke Store are in the oven, it always brings back memories of strolling the streets of Laguiole in the morning.” So even when she was hard at work on Valentine’s Day, she could still have her husband in mind!
Beyond keeping us well fed with brownie corners, Katie is an integral part to our Locke Store community. She cites our staff as her favorite part of Locke Store: we can have fun and joke together while also creating a lot of great food and a comfortable gathering place in our little town. And one of Katie’s greatest joys is being able to show our local farmers how their produce is put to use so they can taste the transformation from raw ingredients to delicious dessert.
All the craquelin may be gone, but come in and see what Katie has in store for us next!
Until next time….
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