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Bakers in Paso’s Wine Country

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Editor's note: It's a wonderful season to be baking.

Jennifer Bravo has brought some personality profiles of women working  and around the wine industry in California's Paso Robles Wine Country.

 

By Jennifer Bravo

 

Jeanice Reyes

Client Services Manager, Wineshipping

What sparked your passion for baking?  Well, when I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother lived next door to us, she was the best baker I know, with very limited ingredients, her baking was the best….it’s always better if it’s made by grandma. 

Paso Baking tart Picmonkey  

What’s your favorite thing to bake and why?  I love pie, my kids were raised on fruit pies so those are my favorite, however, my husband was raised on cream pies, so every once in a while, I’ll sneak one of those in.

Do you have any easy tips for us non-bakers?  Baking is a formula, so you need to follow the directions thoroughly.

Do you have any unusual ingredients or utensils you like to bake with?  Not really, I do have a collection of bundt pans and I love my Smithy cast iron skillet for making a pineapple upside-down cake, nothing better than a good seasoned cast iron skillet.

What is your perfect Paso Wine pairing with one of your baked goods?  I love my chocolate cake with a good Paso Cab, nothing pleases me more than chocolate and red wine from Paso.

 

 

 

Pamela Martin

Owner, Seven Angels Cellars 

What sparked your passion for baking?   I grew up in the kitchen, following my mother around, enlisted as her small sous chef.  I was never discouraged and was allowed to make a mess, because messes can be cleaned up, a philosophy I still embrace with my own kids and grandkids.  I fell in love with everything kitchen, from the old school electric mixer, (no Cuisinarts or fancy Vita-mixes) the wooden utensils, multiple sized bowls and the myriad of sweet, spicy and savory ingredients mom carefully measured into her recipes.  Both my grandmothers were old fashioned mid-western grown home cooks. I often made Christmas cookies with them, and still use the same recipes from my childhood. 

Paso Baking Pamela M Picmonkey

What’s your favorite thing to bake and why?   My passion is baking sourdough bread. I was born in Alaska, where sourdough has a long tradition.  A “sourdough” is an old-time Alaskan – someone who has learned the ways of this beautiful and at times harsh land.  The name comes from the fact that the first trappers and then miners would carry sourdough starters against their bodies wherever they went. Keeping the delicate culture alive in the harsh winter landscapes.  I obtained my sourdough starter from my son-in-law about 10 years ago. It’s still alive and thriving! I bake about once or twice a week and give away a good amount of my bread as gifts.

Do you have any easy tips for us non-bakers?   At one point I lived in Illinois while I attended The Art Institute of Chicago, where sourdough bread was practically unknown, so I relied on either baking my own or having some mailed to me.  I am a bit of an addict. The problem I found in Chicago was the climate did not have the proper humidity to make a good, California-style sourdough.

Do you have any unusual ingredients or utensils you like to bake with?   I have experimented with many vessels for baking my bread.  I find the best results come from baking in good old cast iron.  I have several old ones that were either passed down to me from my grandmothers or I have picked up in antique stores.  I can’t pass up a beautiful, cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. It’s important to pre-heat the Dutch oven, so when the dough is placed inside it begins to bake immediately.  Keeping the lid on for half the baking time creates a humid environment inside the pan. The second half I take the lid off so the loaf gets that beautiful crispy, crusty crust.

What is your perfect Paso Wine pairing with one of your baked goods?  I love to eat the bread warm from the oven, smeared with soft, unsalted butter or with a piece of soft Fontina cheese and some uncured salami.  What wine pairs with sourdough bread? Pretty much anything. On a summer afternoon, I would have a glass of our chilled Seven Angels 2017 Grenache Blanc. The bright notes of crisp green apple and soft peach pair beautifully with tangy sourdough bread.  If you’re a red wine lover, our Seven Angels Confession, a Sangiovese blend, with flavors of fig, cherry, and delicate botanical spice, pairs wonderfully with sourdough adding balance to the tart, savory bread.

 

 

Lisa Pretty

Owner, Pretty Media Creations 

What sparked your passion for baking?  I’ve enjoyed cooking ever since I was a little girl. Making food for people tends to make them very happy and nothing brings a smile to a person’s face like a home-baked treat. When I was a teenager, I baked a cheesecake for my boyfriend and he was so excited and bragged to all his friends. After that whenever I had a new boy/man in my life I always asked what their favorite dessert was and surprised them with it often (although one told me I should get his mother’s recipe, so I didn’t bother baking for him).

Paso Baking CherryChocolateCupcakes Picmonkey

What’s your favorite thing to bake and why?   I enjoy baking so many different things, but since you asked for just one, I’m going to go with cookies. They don’t take a lot of effort and the combinations of flavors and textures are almost endless. I like to be creative and experiment with different ingredients. 

Do you have any easy tips for us non-bakers?  If you are a non-baker, become friends with someone who likes to bake. On a serious note, if you are not a baker, it is really important to follow a recipe and measure everything. Unlike savory cooking, baking is a bit more of a science. You’ll want to make sure your ingredients, like butter and eggs, are at the recommended temperature and be careful not to over mix/beat your ingredients.

Do you have any unusual ingredients or utensils you like to bake with?  I’m a bit addicted to kitchen gadgets and utensils and none seem unusual to me. I do tend to bake treats to pair with wine, so instead of leaning towards the sweet side, I often go more savory and use lots of herbs and spices. One of my favorite savory cookies is a shortbread made with black truffles and fresh rosemary.

What is your perfect Paso Wine pairing with one of your baked goods? I really enjoy a glass of Paso Merlot (or Grenache) with my ginger snaps. The ginger snaps are made with lots of fresh ginger, black pepper, cardamom and cloves that really compliment the wine’s fruit characteristics. Pairing my Pretty Eats line of wine-inspired treats for Paso wineries is one of my favorite things to do.

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