Key Lime & Kumquat Curd

Look at that! We’re all shiny–hot pink and green! Huzzah. How about an awesome new recipe to celebrate. Yes?

You see that cake back there, with the Kumquats? It’s hiding behind the Prickly Pear Margarita cupcakes. Cupcakes are cool, but that cake was special.  A Mango cake with Key Lime/Kumquat Curd and Key Lime Swiss Meringue buttercream. It was epic. And because I love you, I’m sharing the curd recipe. If you don’t have Kumquats or Key Limes, substitute your favorite citrus fruit. I think what makes this recipe special is the pureed rind. It really adds essence to the recipe. A more bitter citrus- like a grapefruit probably wouldn’t work here. But kumquats, which can be eaten whole are perfect.

Kumquat & Key Lime Curd

Copyright Hilary Browning

6 Large Eggs, (organic preferred)

6 Large Egg Yolks (organic preferred)

1 1/2 cups Granulated Cane Sugar (or Fine grain evaporated cane juice)

1/2 cup Kumquat Juice (1 Pint of Kumquats)

1/2 cup  fresh Key Lime Juice (About 9-12 Key Limes)

1/4 cup pureed Kumquat rinds

1 cup butter, cubed

(1) Combine the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large, heat proof bowl. Set aside.

(2) Decapitate the kumquats, and squeeze out the juice. Don’t try to cut the kumquats in half- instead, cut off a piece at the tip. You’ll have an easier time getting the juice out. Reserve the rinds of the kumquats. Squeeze out the juice from the key limes and combine it with the kumquat juice so that you have 1 cup of juice total.

(3) Place the kumquat rinds in a food processor. Puree the rinds to make a thick pulp. Pick out any seeds.

(4) Add the pulp and juice to the heatproof bowl with the eggs and sugar. Whisk to combine. Bring a saucepan with three inches of water to simmer.  Place the heatproof bowl over the water and cook the mixture for twenty minutes total, or until thickened. I like to whisk vigorously every four or five minutes to prevent the eggs from clumping. Whisking too often will prevent the mixture from thickening properly; whisking too little will give you scrambled eggs. It’s a delicate balance, but I have every confidence that you can do it!

(5) When the mixture is thickened, use a large metal sieve to strain out the kumquat pulp.

(6) Start adding the butter to the strained mixture, a little bit at a time, while whisking vigorously. When all the butter is combined, whisk for one minute more. Pour the prepared curd into jars with seals if you are not going to use it within a day or two. Store in the fridge for up to a week. If you plan on using it within 48 hours,  place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and place the whole bowl in the fridge. It needs at least 8 hours to chill and firm up before it is ready for use.

**Use the curd to make a killer Kumquat & Key Lime Pie. Or just eat as pudding (which is what I do–I’m naughty, I admit it!). Use it as cake filling, or as a spread for muffins or scones.


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Looks Like We’ve Made It

A very brief post about Thistle’s opening at the PNC Second Street Market last Saturday . Our opening went very well, many thanks to those who stopped in to see us.

Our jazzy new logo & sign at the 2nd Street Market


Our side display at the 2nd Street Market

Our booth


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How Small Business Ownership Ate My Life and Other Musings

Hi there. It’s been a while and I’ve really missed you. Starting up my bakeshop turned out to be exponentially more difficult than I imagined, involving very little sleep, lots of scrubbing, painting, moving and much more. I’d say I wasn’t prepared, but I was. It was time to move Thistle to the next level. I want to be successful. But until you do it, you cannot know what to expect. And I underestimated the time, money and labor that would be necessary. But I think a lot of businesses do. You just have to power through. So that’s what I’m doing. It helps to be surrounded by tons of sugar and caffeine. It also helps to be in with the pizza guy and drink lots of beer.

One of Mr. Radar's first homebrews, Chestnut Ale (with real chestnuts, of course)

Recently, several Dayton media outlets have had some nice things to say about me. So I thought I’d share:

Over at the Dayton Daily: “Dayton Baker Scores National Recognition
And the Dayton Online Magazine, Cook’s Spotlight:

I’ve also made a number of cakes, and I can only post a few, so here are some highlights.

Vegan Strawberries and Cream cake

Puppy & hearts cake

sparkly rainbow unicorn cake with rainbow swirl vanilla cake (and lots of sprinkles per client request)

I’ll be back on Thursday to share with you our opening day menu. Opening day is Saturday, February 11. And we’ll be coming in with a bang- with enough red, pink and hearts to make Valentine’s Day extra special.


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Green Power Smoothie

Another day, another battle about Mr. Radar’s breakfast. He still prefers his breakfast in liquid form–often drinking flavored Kefir from Trader Joe’s. I have no problem with this, per se, but I’d rather make him a homemade smoothie. I wanted to incorporate kale, but I still wanted it to taste like a creamy smoothie.  So I threw in a banana, an apple, along with the soy milk and almond butter that I always put in smoothie.  The resultant smoothie has a gentle banana flavor, with a hint of almond and vanilla.

Green Power Smoothie

Inspired by Joy the Baker and  The Kitchn

Yields two small smoothies


1 apple, peeled and cored

1 banana, frozen is best, fresh is fine too

1 cup chopped kale (about a large handful or two large leaves)

1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk (I use Unsweetened Vanilla by WestSoy)

1 tablespoon Almond Butter

1 teaspoon of Raw Honey

Handful of Ice

(1) Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pulse for a few moments to mix everything up, then blend on high for 20-30 seconds.


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Oatmeal Porridge: Three Ways

I know what you are thinking. It’s January and I must be one of those resolutionists.  Thus posting three annoying recipes about oatmeal. But the truth is this: I am a baker that LOVES oatmeal. In all things. I eat oatmeal nearly every morning. I grind it up, to be used in my housemade multi-grain flour. Which I use in nearly all my products.  Nobody complains that I’m stashing wholegrains in their tasty baked goods. Because they are TASTY. Porridge can be tasty, especially if it is homemade and gently simmered over the stove-top with delicious spices, honey and milk.

All of my recipes call for steel cut oats (alternately known as pin head oats, Scottish Oats or Irish Oats).  I recommend using a *milk that you like. But I have found that rice milk and coconut milk perform poorly in oatmeal- often separating or burning before the oatmeal is fully cooked.  I mostly use unsweetened soy milk (I like Organic Original WestSoy or Trader Joe’s Organic Unsweetened) or Organic 2% milk to make my oatmeal.  Unsweetened almond milk would also be a nice, healthful choice too.    All the recipes serve two and can easily be halved or doubled. If doubling, make sure to use a large enough saucepan- it will bubble up!

Banana and Almond Porridge

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup steel cut oats

2 tablespoons Raw Honey

1 heaping tablespoon Crunchy Almond Butter

1 very ripe banana, diced

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

(1) Combine the milk and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

(2) Add the oats, honey, almond butter, banana and cinnamon. Stir well, breaking up the chunks of almond butter.

(3) Simmer on the stove for five minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The porridge is done when it is very thick and the oats are tender.

Coconut and Flax

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1 tablespoonn crunchy almond butter

1 tablespoon coconut mana* or 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tablespoons raw honey

2 teaspoons toasted flax seeds

(1) Combine the milk and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

(2) Add the oats, almond butter, coconut, and honey. Simmer on the stove for five minutes, stirring frequently.

(3) Reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The porridge is done when it is very thick and the oats are tender.

(4) Stir in the toasted flax seeds and serve immediately.

**Coconut Mana is found in the health food section. It is NOT coconut oil- it is actually compressed coconut flesh, so it is a very moist coconut spread with a wonderful flavor. If you cannot find it, use unsweetened coconut flakes.

London Porridge

(When you order porridge in London, you will frequently get a version like this, with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, raisins and dried apple.)

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup finely diced dried apples (unsweetened)

1/2 cup steel cut oats

2 tablespoons crunchy almond butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

scant 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, hulled (pepitas)

1 teaspoon toasted flax seeds

(1) Bring the milk, water, raisins and dried apples to a simmer.

(2) Add the oats, almond butter, and maple syrup. Simmer, stirring frequently, for five minutes.

(3) Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.  The porridge is done when it is very thick and the oats are tender.

(4) Turn the heat off, but keeping the pan on the stove, add the pumpkin seeds and flax. Stir so that they are warmed and well incorporated.

Serve immediately.


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A Thistle Confections Christmas

Looking for a last minute gift? We’ve got just the thing. Like last Christmas, Thistle Confections is offering a limited Christmas Catalog of baked goods and delightful gifts. Some of these items will be available for purchase  at Ghostlight Coffee– but if you’d like a few more options, special delivery or custom wrapping- we’ve got it here for you!

Here’s what we’re offering. Everything is limited availability! When we’re out, we’re really out! My sincerest apologies to national (and international!) readers, but these gifts are only available to Dayton-area customers. Our Etsy shop has closed for the season, and the last of our Christmas orders will be shipped on Tuesday, December 13.

Special Gifts

1 Quart of Shortbread Snowflakes                                                   $10

Assorted Flavors: Orange Cardamom, Cocoa &Sea Salt and Toffee Crunch


Jam Trio                                                                                      $15

Three Housemade Jams: Mango Butter, Hot Pepper Jelly, Crabapple & Damson

Limited Edition Preserve: Bourbon Peach                                        $9

1 pint of peaches from Downing Fruit Farm paired with Woodford Reserve. Limited Availability.

1 Quart of Mini Biscotti                                                                 $10

Our classic Biscotti, miniaturized and packaged in a wide-mouth Mason Jar.

Mini Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake                                              2 for $8

Personal loaf of lemony goodness in a giftable earthenware dish.  Great with Greek yogurt and fresh berries!

There’s Always Room for Pie!

Classic Double Crust Pie                                                              $16

Cherry Cranberry: Tart Cherries and Cranberries with crystallized ginger and orange zest

Winter Fruit: Local Apples, Pears and Cranberries with cinnamon and cardamom

We will stop taking orders on Friday, December 16, so get your order in as soon as possible. We’ve got a great little form for you to fill out here on our website or come talk to us at Ghostlight Coffee!

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Snapshots and Applesauce

It’s the holiday season…and..I’m really busy. Lots of great things are swirling around me and I couldn’t feel more grateful. I’m super excited that Ghostlight Coffee is doing excellently. Thistle stocks freshly baked goods every day.  We try to bring at least one new product in along with the old favorites. I couldn’t be happier about the selection of baked goods or the reception. If you follow our Facebook page, you’ll know that we will be opening a retail shop at the PNC Second Street Market in late January 2012, in time for Valentine’s Day. I am BEYOND excited about this. Living the dream and it is absolutely incredible. I couldn’t be more happy or grateful.

Did I mention the delicious drinks at Ghostlight Coffee? No? Oh here you go. S’Mores Mocha. And sock monkeys. It pretty much doesn’t get much better.

I’ve also been working hard on custom orders and a few events, like this one:

And this one:

Last weekend, Mr. Radar and I were determined to spend the whole weekend together. He helped me package and clean when I had to bake, and in our moments off we had a lot of fun! We (okay, Mr. Radar did all the hard work) cut down a Christmas Tree at Country Pines farm in New Lebanon, Ohio. While we were in the neighborhood, we stopped by Mile Creek Farm for some eggs, vegetables and a good chat with our friend Emily. We traipsed along the farm in her wake. She weaved in between all the fields, despite the fact that she is in her last month of pregnancy. She wouldn’t let us harvest the vegetables.  But we had a great time and we couldn’t be happier for Ben & Emily, their son Evan and their newest addition! We can’t wait to meet her.

We bought bubble lights for our tree and made homemade salt dough ornaments. That exploded because we accidentally used self-rising flour. (Oops!!) We also made a huge pot of applesauce with the help of Steve the Weather Watcher.

It’s not as Charlie Brown as it looks, I swear!

Vanilla Bean Applesauce

3 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 to 1 1/2 cups Apple Cider

1/4 cup Bottled Lemon Juice*

1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds removed

(1) If you are planning to can the applesauce, fill your water bath canner, set out your jars, rings and lids; sanitize everything.

(2) Combine all ingredients in a big stock pot or jam pan. Set oven to medium heat, and stir occasionally. Cook for twenty minutes. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook for another ten minutes. The mixture will start to boil and the apples will break apart. You can continue to cook the mixture until the apples break down, or you can use a stick blender to blend everything together. Make sure to remove the vanilla beans before blending. You want to save the pieces to put in the jars!

(3) When the applesauce has obtained a thick consistency and starts to bubble in a lugubrious fashion, it is ready. Ladle into sterilized jars** and process for ten minutes. Turn off the boil and let sit in the water for another five. Check seals in the morning to ensure that the seal is safe.

*I used bottled lemon juice for safety in this recipe. The acid is necessary to get rid of any germs, so please don’t use fresh this time! There is no added sugar here, so there is no room to play around with acid.

**I like to use bigger quart jars with a wide rim because I think it is easier to get the applesauce out. For gifts, make pints or half pints.

PS: If you live in Ohio, pick up a copy of today’s (Thursday, December 1) Columbus Dispatch. My Meyer Lemon Pizzelle recipe is featured!


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