Pay no attention to that sign. Yes, it says Jubilee Cupcakes, but visitors to the South Hill bakery will find an evolving pastry lineup well beyond cupcakes.
A year after opening, the bakery has slowly and quietly evolved into something more of a full dessert bakery. Jubilee aims at what Pioneer Bakery in downtown Puyallup offered before its closure earlier this month.
The prettied-up bakery case is the result of owner Patti Frank hiring Sirpa Singh, a recent pastry school graduate with an interesting background. With Singh at the helm of the kitchen, the bakery offers close to a dozen different desserts with an ever-changing menu – fresh-baked cookies, cake balls, coffee cakes, danish, turnovers, cinnamon rolls and even gluten-free pumpkin bars. But the neatest addition as of late has got to be galettes – those rustic, free-form pastries that cooking magazines in the last year have declared the new cupcake. They’re Singh’s specialty, along with a broad range of European-style pastries that have been rotating through Jubilee’s bakery case.
What makes galettes so appealing to home bakers is that they’re easily assembled and they’re supposed to look messy, which means you can tell your friends and co-workers that the rustic tart is intentionally “slightly misshapen.”
The best part of a galette is that ingredients can come together in minutes. Except for chilling time for the dough, a galette can be assembled in 20 minutes and ingredients can be anything you have in your fridge. Leftover curry, apples with ugly brown spots, leftover pastry cream – think of a galette as an empty vessel waiting for your castoffs.
True to her professional pastry background, Singh’s galettes and tarts look far better than anything that might come out of my kitchen. The apple-plum galette she baked last week looked like a Christmas package with a perfectly tucked crust. Next to the galette, a buttery tart with an orange filling was a glossy masterpiece.
Expect to see more fanciful and exotic pastry flavors from Singh, who grew up in Finland, married an Indian man and spent 30 years traveling the country and world while holding an accounting job that she left after the buyout of Washington Mutual. Singh enrolled in Seattle Central Community College’s culinary program and graduated in March 2012.
Singh calls her switch to pastry a “natural evolution,” even if the line from accounting to baking doesn’t seem linear.
“The change was very easy for me,” said Singh by phone last week while taking a break from baking tarts. “I’ve baked all my life. In Finland, where I’m from, every Saturday is baking day. I learned pastry, buns and breads early on. My mother had culinary training; I have a whole family of bakers.”
She did have one advantage over classmates – she’s a whiz with numbers, fractions, portion calculations and figuring out ratios.
Her baking philosophy, she says, is very European – turning pastry into fetching desserts using fresh ingredients at their prime. That means she’s making lots of apple galettes and tarts these days. “I use a lot of apples because they’re Washington’s number one crop. And pears.” Said Singh, “My method is more sustainable and working with the seasons.”
With harvest season here, Singh offered readers a recipe for an apple galette that could easily be amended to accommodate any lingering summer blackberries still hanging out in the back of your fridge, plums from a backyard tree or a fresh pumpkin puree. The recipe can include any combination of fruits. Singh suggested using liqueurs, nuts and spices to add more flavor.
With Fall here and the fruit season dwindling, what’s next for the bakery? Savory samplings. Last week, Singh concocted a savory curried vegetable galette. “They were delicious. They were more hors d’oeuvres size. They would go great with a Washington riesling,” she said.Sue Kidd can be reached at 253-597-8270 or email@example.com