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Curious Confections

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Michael and Gemma and Matherne of Curious Confections. Image from heyjess.com

 

Traditional English scones and New Orleans style king cakes might seem like strange bedfellows, but the two dishes live in delicious harmony on the menu of Curious Confections. The baking duo of Gemma and Michael Matherne sprinkle their menu with flavors from their very different upbringings.

Gemma’s English heritage shines through in delights like the Earl Grey cupcakes, Welsh cakes and tea loaves and sticky toffee pudding while Michael’s deep southern roots are evident in the red velvet and pineapple upside down cake as well as New Orleans style king cakes.

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Curious Confections New Orleans Style King Cake

 

Gemma moved to Austin from Wales to finish her training as a pastry chef and when the Texas Cottage Food law was amended in 2013 to allow the sale of home baked goods, she and Michael seized the opportunity grow Curious Confections. This update was a huge hurdle allowing them to sell their products at farmers markets, reaching a broader audience. In addition to custom orders, they are now regulars at the Sunday HOPE Farmers Market at Plaza Saltillo, selling their traditional pastries as well as vegan options and even dog treats.

“It is really encouraging to get repeat customers,” says Gemma of their market regulars. “Its really nice to not only make someone happy but make them so happy that they want to come back for more. ”

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Custom Beatles Birthday Cake, Ringo Starr’s bass drum

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Welsh Cakes, similar ingredients to a scone but cooked in a griddle like pancakes.

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Crawfish sugar cookies

 

With a focus on high quality ingredients, it’s no wonder the pastries are in high demand. Curious Confections uses local ingredients from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Texas citrus and Austin Honey. Whether it is a human scaled zombie cake, a delicate eggnog snowflake cookie or a flaky croissant, the couple’s attention to detail and artistry is impressive.

Gemma and Michael are genuine people who want to make people happy with food. From the taste of things, they are off to a great start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town & He’s Bringing a Taste of Austin

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SPOILER ALERT: If you are a family member or friend living outside of Austin with whom I normally exchange holiday gifts, STOP READING THIS POST NOW OR YOU’LL KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING FOR CHRISTMAS!  For this reason, I have posted no pictures this time.

For the last several years, I have given my friends and family a cookbook for the holidays of my favorite recipes from that year. This year, inspired by a gift from a friend in Denver of their local farmers market goodies, I decided that I should accompany the cookbook with some of my favorite locally produced items and have made baskets for everyone.

I was particularly interested in this idea because I don’t like malls and will do just about anything to avoid a big box store during the holidays.  For these presents, I could shop places I already like to go.  SCORE!

Even though I shop local most of time, I was surprised how easy it was to pull the baskets together.  I visited the Junior League Christmas Affair, the Downtown Austin Farmers Market, the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, St. David’s Coffee Shop and Central Market to gather these items.  I even picked up some great note cards at the East Austin Studio Tour featuring photos from the farmers market by local photographer Irene Tobis.

Here are the goodies I gathered:

Blue Avocado Pod Bags (online or Whole Foods)
Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolates – nibs and beans (Downtown Austin Farmers Market)

Coop Coffee (Sunset Valley Farmers Market)
Delysia Chocolatier – chocolate samplers: wine and gentleman’s selection; the cigar is amazing even though it sounds odd (bought mine at Junior League Christmas Affair, but you can order online)
Farmers Market Postcards from Irene Tobis (bought mine at East Austin Studio Tour, you can buy online)

Harvest Time Jams (Downtown Austin or Triangle Farmers Market)

Jake’s Granola Biscotti (Downtown Austin Farmers Market and Better Bites member)
Kala’s Kuisine Salsa (Downtown Austin or Triangle Farmers Market)

Kerbey Lane pancake mixes (Central Market)
Lights Out Candles (bought mine at the Junior League Christmas Affair, but you can buy online)
Love Puppies Brownies (St. David’s Episcopal Church Coffee Shop – they carry lots of cool local products – and online)

Texas Olive Ranch Samplers – olive oil and vinegar (Downtown Austin Farmers Market)

Zhi Tea Samplers (bought mine at the Junior League Christmas Affair, but you can buy at Zhi Tea)

Phew!  All of those goodies produced 8 nice sized baskets, the most expensive of which was $40 and most averaged $20-$30.

If you are interested in creating your own baskets and can’t make it to the markets, you have lucked out because Edible Austin is hosting a Holiday Gift Fair as part of Eat Local Week with Better Bites of Austin from 4:00 to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, December 9th at City Hall.  You can buy all kinds of local gift baskets goodies there.

Some other great places you can buy local goodies include:

Blue Genie Art Bazaar: December 3rd through December 24th at the Monarch Events Center starting at 10 am each day.  They feature gifts from local artists that run the gamut from coffee mugs to major art works.  It’s one of my favorite places to by gifts.

Austin Flea:  Saturday December 5th, 11 am to 6 pm at The Ghost Room.  I haven’t been to this event before, but my friend Stephanie, the Cosmic Cowgirl, will have baked goods and her delicious jams.  I’m going for the jams!

Let me know your favorite local place to buy gifts.  The more the merrier!

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