Wendy Smith Born and James Barrett, while working as the manager and pastry chef of The White Dog Cafe, would frequently discuss how much they missed the quality artisanal breads they enjoyed in Paris. This sparked the beginnings of what is now the cherished Philadelphia institution known as Metropolitan Bakery. Barrett's years of culinary training and knowledge of Old World bread-making, combined with the business know-how from Smith Born, churned out a Philadelphia bakery unlike any other before it. Their European-style crusty breads and pastries are the result of quality ingredients, perfected techniques, and above all, patience. "Friday Arts" also looks into Metropolitan's charitable side, such as how they give back to the city with their training and employment of underprivileged citizens to work in their production facility.
The Art of Bread Making
Metropolitan Bakery co-owner and Pastry Chef James Barrett, demonstrates the full process of his artisan bread making technique.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
When James was the pastry chef at the White Dog Cafe, he experimented with every kind of chocolate chip cookie — thin and crispy, thick and chewy, nuts, no nuts — until he came up with the perfect cookie. The secret is grinding the oats into flour, which adds a slight nuttiness and crunch that is absolutely addicting.
- 3/4 cups (2-1/2 ounces) old-fashioned oats
- 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (2-3/4 ounces) milk chocolate chunks
- 3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cups (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups (5-3/8 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups (7-1/4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chunks
- 3/4 cups (2-3/4 ounces) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped before measuring
- 3/4 cups (2-3/4 ounces) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped before measuring
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick baking sheets.
- In food processor, grind the oats until they become a fine flour. In a large bowl, combine the ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using the small holes of a box grater, grate the milk chocolate; stir into the flour mixture. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed, stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks, pecans and walnuts.
- Drop the dough by 2-tablespoon portions (use 2 teaspoons for smaller cookies), 2" apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, rotating between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking, until light golden brown. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Makes 3 dozen cookies
Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Metropolitan Bakery
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1-1/8 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/8 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, fresh or canned (see "Preparing Pumpkin Puree" below)
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/3 cups chopped walnuts, toasted (see "Toasting Nuts" below)
- Preheat the oven to 375*F. Butter twelve 2-1/2" (1/2-cup) muffin-pan cups.
- In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir in the granulated and brown sugars. Add the butter with the flour mixture and toss. With a paddle attachment at low speed, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs; stir into the flour mixture. Stir in the pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla, just until blended. With a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts.
- Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin-pan cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, rotating the muffin pans between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
PREPARING PUMPKIN PUREE
To prepare pumpkin puree, preheat the oven to 375*F. Cut 1 sugar pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup water to the pan and bake 45 minutes or until the skin wrinkles. Remove the pumpkin from the pan. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh. Press the flesh through affine sieve set over a bowl. Clean the sieve, then line it with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over another bowl. Spoon the puree into the sieve and drain in the refrigerator overnight.
Toasting nuts releases their natural oils. If toasted too long, nuts become bitter, so it's best to toast lightly to bring out a robust nutty flavor. To toast, preheat oven to 325*F. Spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet. Bake on the center oven rack for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted. Cool.