Elizabeth Chambers Hammer is the CEO and founder of San Antonio, Texas–based Bird Bakery, which specializes in crafting decadent culinary classics with a Texan twist. If you're on the hunt for the perfect pecan pie or blueberry cobbler, Hammer's down-home recipes will summon the taste of your childhood favorites. Here she gives us a peek at four of Bird Bakery's most popular items that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth this season.
If summer is meant for entertaining, then summer gatherings are meant to end with a great dessert. If you're new to baking, you'll want to make sure you've got the basics covered first. There's nothing guests love more than topping off the night with rich, warm brownies or the subtle sweetness of carrot cake. Here, I put together four of the most popular offerings at Bird Bakery—because the classics never go out of style. Try your hand at the favorites guests just can't resist.
3 cups unsalted butter
3 cups white granulated sugar
3 cups self-rising flour
3 cups whole milk, room temperature
2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups fresh peaches, halved lengthwise, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup equal parts sugar and ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a glass bowl, melt butter; set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine sugar-and-cinnamon mixture with peaches and blueberries, and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and butter. Slowly add flour and milk. Incorporate well, without overmixing. Batter can be slightly undermixed, as any lumps will bake out. Add almond extract.
4. Pour mixture in a large, 9-inch round ceramic dish. Add peaches and blueberries to the middle of the dish. Sprinkle fruit with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Fruit should not touch the sides.
5. Bake cobbler on top rack for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown around the edges and the fruit is bubbling. Transfer dish to a wire rack, and let cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and enjoy!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 heaping tsp. kosher salt, heaping
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup butter, cold or frozen, cut into 1/4-inch squares
4 tbsp. ice water
1. In an electric mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add shortening, and process until mixture is the texture of coarse sand (roughly 10 seconds).
2. Scatter butter pieces evenly over flour mixture and pulse 6 times, until consistency is that of coarse crumbs.
3. Remove to large bowl. Sprinkle with ice water, and knead until mixture becomes sticky, adding a few extra drops of water as needed to help it hold together.
4. Roll into a ball, wrap in parchment then plastic wrap, and place in a plastic storage bag. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days before rolling out.
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
2 3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup organic honey
4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.
2. Chop pecans and spread evenly over a prebaked half-sheet crust.
3. Incorporate heavy cream to the creamed butter mixture on high heat until temperature reaches 240°F. Immediately pour creamed butter mixture over pecans in the crust.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating pan after the first 15 minutes.
1 cup Plugrá butter, softened
1 1/2 cups cream cheese, softened
5 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 small orange, juiced and zested
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and then add cream cheese. Be sure to scrape the bowl before adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
2. Fully incorporate the powdered sugar before adding liquids and zest.
3. Beat for three minutes, until fluffy. Cover and refrigerate.
1 cup flour
1/2 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine salt
3 organic brown eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 3/4 cups fine sugar
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pineapple, chopped and drained
1 1/4 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs while adding the oil, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla, one at a time. Mix until well incorporated.
3. Slowly add the flour mixture into the large bowl to combine. Stir in the pineapple, carrots, coconut, raisins, and walnuts.
4. Scoop the batter into lined cupcake pans, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Let the cupcakes completely cool before frosting them with cream cheese frosting.
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups almond flour
8 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/4 tbsp. baking powder
Powdered sugar or chocolate ganache, for topping
Sliced, blanched almond, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in center position. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and then remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and half of the sugar, slowly adding in the egg yolks. Once well incorporated, add flour and baking powder.
4. Place remaining sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed—about 4 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
5. Slowly add the melted chocolate to the large bowl. Fold in the egg white mixture until all the ingredients are well incorporated, and then pour batter into pan.
6. Bake for 60 minutes at 300°F. Rotate halfway through, bringingtemperature down to 275°F. Bake until center is firm, being careful not to crisp the edges.
7. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift brownies out of pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
8. Drizzle with chocolate ganache, or dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with one blanched, sliced almond.
What is your favorite go-to treat to whip up for guests?