New tea subscription service, citywide bake sale to benefit Harvey relief efforts

Sept 12, 2017
American-Statesman Staff
Crema Bakery & Cafe has been a frequent host of Austin Bakes bake sales, which often take place after a major international, national or local disaster. The organization’s Harvey fundraiser will be Sept. 16 at nine sites around the Austin area. Contributed by Austin Bakes.


Citywide bake sale on Sept. 16 could be biggest yet for Austin Bakes

The citywide bake sale organization Austin Bakes has hosted numerous fundraising events since it launched after the tsunami in Japan in 2011. Its upcoming sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 16 is looking to be its largest yet.

Organizers have already confirmed nine sale sites — Stiles Switch, Crema Bakery & Cafe, Springdale Farm, Whole Foods Bee Caves and at the Domain, Jo’s Coffee downtown and on South Congress, Whole Foods 365 in Cedar Park and Nate’s in Buda — and more than 100 bakers have signed up to contribute baked goods. You’ll find both sweet and savory treats at all the locations, and all proceeds will go to Americares. You can find out more at

If you can’t be here on Sept. 16, you can support the organization’s fundraising efforts through buying merchandise, including shirts and tote bags. Each bake sale site also will collect emergency supplies for local relief organizations.

Jessica Forkner, one of the organizers and the owner of Crema Bakery & Cafe, shared a few of the recipes for treats she’ll be donating for the sale this weekend.

Banana Nut Muffins

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup milk

1 large egg

1 cup unsalted walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups. Sift first 4 ingredients into large bowl. Combine bananas, both sugars, butter, milk and egg in medium bowl. Mix into dry ingredients. Fold in half of nuts. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining nuts. Bake until muffins are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack and cool.

— Jessica Forkner, Crema Bakery & Cafe

Crema Bakery’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 cups cake flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Super Red gel food coloring

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and a generous squirt of red gel food coloring to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk and cider vinegar. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour mixture. With each addition, beat on low until the ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Scoop into lined cupcake tins and bake 14 to 18 minutes until toothpick tests clean. Let cool completely and ice with cream cheese or vanilla buttercream frosting. Makes 18 cupcakes.

— Jessica Forkner, Crema Bakery & Cafe


Sips By offers customized tea subscription service 

When Staci Brinkman set out to develop a subscription tea service, she knew she wanted the help of a sommelier to develop an algorithm to identify a customer’s flavor preferences. In January, she launched Sips By (, which ships boxes of curated, personalized tea based around not only taste but also how to steep the tea and its origin.

Four teas from among more than 50 different international tea brands arrive in the mail each month, and then you can rate what came in your box to help the Sips By algorithm pick even better matches for you in the next delivery. At $15 per month, the box costs about $1 per fresh cup of tea, but you can resteep just about every tea at least a few times. If you get loose leaf tea samples, they include disposable tea bags, which I never seem to have on hand. The company is donating proceeds from its Texas box to Hurricane Harvey relief if you use the code “Texas” at checkout.


Houston-based Chilesquiles will save you step ahead of Sunday brunch

Enchilada sauce just won’t cut it for chilaquiles in the Houston-area home of Romina Cervantes and Octavio Orozco. These food entrepreneurs have always made chilaquiles, especially on Sunday mornings, and a few years ago, they realized there were no commercial chilaquiles sauces available, despite hundreds of other Mexican salsas and cooking sauces in the grocery aisle.

They created a line of thick, spicy sauces called Chilesquiles — the spelling change is due to the fact that you can’t trademark the name of a dish — that you can buy online and, with any luck, in grocery stores soon. The founders were among the 25 finalists for the H-E-B Quest for Texas Best contest last month, and though they were among my top picks, they didn’t win any of the prize money.

It’s still possible that they’ll get picked up by the grocer for distribution in the Austin area, but for now, you’ll have to check them out online or swing by a Houston farmers market. They currently make four varieties: roasted green sauce, homemade chipotle, signature red and a spicy grill brava, which cost $7 and $10 a jar, depending on the size. On each jar, they offer serving suggestions for the thicker-than-salsa sauce, such as adding the tomatillo-based green sauce to pasta or fish or the chipotle sauce to fish tacos.


Meet the goats at Bee Tree Farm in Addie’s livestream

Each Wednesday, I host a livestream video on Facebook, sometimes from my desk in the newsroom, sometimes far from it. I’ve streamed from Oregon and Sweden, from the Cook’s Nook in East Austin and my own kitchen in South Austin, but this week, I’ve scheduled a visit with Jenna Kelly-Landes, the owner of Bee Tree Farm, a goat dairy and cheesemaking farm outside Manor. She raises a few dozen goats and milks them to make feta, chevre and halloumi to sell at local farmers markets and to area restaurants.

This mother of twins is the subject of a profile in a special edition food magazine that Statesman subscribers will be getting in their Sunday newspaper this weekend. You can hear a little bit of her story early if you go to around 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13. We’ll talk about her upcoming goat walk this weekend and why the country life lured her away from a high-paying career path in Austin.