Monday, 4 July 2011

An Outsider Tart Cooking Class...and a Giveaway Winner!

On Saturday we spent an amazing morning at Divertmenti Cookery School in Marylebone with none other than David and David, the owners of Outsider Tart Bakery on Chiswick High Rd.

You may recall I visited them once on one of my cupcake hunts, and whilst I didn't try one of their cupcakes I did try lots of their other baked goods which were all delicious! and after many of the mediocre cupcake bakeries I have visited recently in London I have decided Outsider Tart has to be up there as one of my favourite London bakeries so I feel pretty sad I've only visited them the once! Chiswick is pretty far out from us, I know it's a poor excuse, especially since I'm living in London now so I have made it a goal to visit them very very soon...if not just to experience one of their Thursday night cookie bar's! 

Let me introduce you to David no 1, David Muniz...this picture, and awesome facial expression just about sums him up completely! He is completely passionate about baking and his enthusiasm just shines through, as does his sense of humour! There was a number of lovely little anecdotes to do with their personalities and baking styles and the way they balance chores at home! David likes to be a little less accurate than most with his following of recipes and he tends to deviate alot, like deciding to make the Kunegunda cake with strawberries and raspberries rather than apple which is what was stated on our recipe file! and he likes to throw caution to the wind and walk on the baking wild side by breaking his eggs straight into the mixing bowl (rather than into a seperate bowl first incase of any accidents!) all the while instructing us to do the opposite.  Yes, he may not practice what he preaches but since he's the pro and I'm the ammateur I'm inclined to follow his example nonetheless!

That brings me onto David no.2, David Lesniak - an altogether more serious character with a more dry witted sense of humour than David no.1 but the Davids' contrasting personalities set them up perfectly as a little comedy duo! He doesn't seem to appreciate the big messes David no.1 creates in the kitchen at home as he is always the one who has to clean them up! and he is rather obsessive about things being orderly...even to the point of having to methodically measure out the portions in the tray bakes they make for their bakery to ensure every slice is of equal size!

We were taken through 3 recipes with them in the 2 hour slot that we were there for.  All of the recipes come from their book, Baked in America, which is due for release on August 4th but we've already pre ordered our copy from Amazon because we're just that eager! (and you get a great discount on the price!) We got given copies of the recipes to take home so I will definitely be sharing some of them with you over the next few weeks (we already whipped up a batch of those delicious looking cookies above last night but we ate them so fast that no pictures were taken!) and we got to browse through a copy of the book which only cemented our excitement for the book because everything in it sounds and looks so tasty!

I love the story that accompanies these cookies! At Outsider Tart they are known as XXX rated chocolate chip cookies, but they hail from a cookie the Davids fell in love with when they lived in New York.  There was a bakery right across the street from them that sold cookies called 'Chubby Hubbies' - don't you just love the name! and they were David no.1's favourite treat.  When they moved to England and wanted to start up their bakery they got in touch with Mary, the Cuban lady who had owned the bakery, and they found out it had closed down and she had gone down a completely different career path.  So they asked whether she might like to share her recipe, but they were met with a resounding no, so they set to try and recreate the chubby hubbies the best they could. 

They told us their version comes close, but they have never been able to successfully incorporate the mini marshmallows that were in the original cookie so it's not quite perfect yet, although after sampling some bite size versions we thought it tasted pretty delicious to us! and we even got to try some of the gooey melty ones that were fresh out of the oven! as did David no.1, sneakily shovelling in mouthfuls of the cookie behind David no.2's back - it was quite amusing to watch and I wish I had caught it on camera!

The next recipe they showcased was called 'Kunegunda's cake'.  We had been wondering for weeks leading up to the class what would be in this cake! We had even tried googling it and were rather confused when we couldn't find out any information! but we've since found out Kunegunda was in fact the name of David no.2's grandma so that would explain why google was of no help to us!

The 'cake' infact starts life as a pie because you begin by making dough, yet somewhere in between the baking stages it turns cake like and so it's a very intriguing dessert indeed! It can be made with any kind of fruit you desire! The one we sampled on the day was made with strawberries and raspberries which paired perfectly with the lovely summer's day it was, the original recipe calls for apples, and David and David gave many more recommendations of combos like strawberry & lemon, mango & blueberry or raspberry and peach...all tasty alternatives.

David and David have alot of baking wisdom between the two of them and I picked up alot of tips on the day that I furiously scribbled down on my recipe file.  One of the things they said that I liked the most was that their book, and recipes in it, are not concrete and you don't have to follow them exactly - in fact they want you to experiment and add your own touches to each recipe.  Alot of the baking they do comes down to how they feel on the day, and to do with what feels right when you are baking, use your intuition to help you create the yummiest treat possible, and it's all down to personal preference.

The treat we ended the day with, and indeed the treat we began with (because it took quite a long time to make!) was the rather lovely looking crowd pleaser: The Apple Stack Cake.

This is definitely a special occasion cake.  It's not something you can just whip up in one evening and it can, and should, be made over the course of several days because by assembling the cake the day before you give the apple filling time to really soak into the cake.

Here they are dishing us up a very generous slice of the cake to take on our way as we left! I was sad that the time flew by so quickly but glad that I was able to attend and went away armed with new tips and baking enthusiasm...and anticipation of their books arrival!

I'll leave you with a few of the Davids' top tips:

1. Melt your chocolate in a saucepan...straight on the hob! (yes, despite getting many looks of horror coming his way from the French men at Valrhona it is the way that David no.1 always does it) it is quicker and if you melt your butter first and then add the chocolate the butter acts as a protective layer so your chocolate won't burn.  Also, leave a few morsels of chocolate unmelted and then once you take your pan off the heat they will melt into your mix anyway.
2. Use the paddle of your KitchenAid to scrape down the sides of your bowl, this process also ensures any unmixed flour/sugar that is stuck to the paddle will be dislodged in the process...and it creates less washing up than using a separate spatulat (which pleases David no.2 greatly!)
3. When it comes to chocolate only the best will do - Valrhona all the way.  When it comes to Salt - go Kosher, it distributes better through your cake than regular table salt which can sometimes sink to the bottom. 
4. Don't ever prick your cakes in the middle with a cake tester/knife to see if they're done.  It scars their surface! and a simple old fashioned prod with two of your fingers will do the same job, if the cake bounces back then it's done and there's been no stabbing involved!

and before I forget! the winner of my cheesecake giveaway was...

Comment no. 10 - The More Than Occasional Baker!

Your wish of receiving a salted caramel cheesecake has come true, just let me know your email address so I can contact you to arrange delivery! Thanks to all who entered.


  1. I've always wanted to go to the cookery school at Divertimenti- I always gaze with longing at the demonstrations when I'm in the shop- and after reading your wonderful descriptions of your class I'm more determined than ever to go along! What a great day out you must have had!

  2. Wow what a cool experience! :) I would love to go to something like this :) ps: your job sounds friken awesome. I'm incredibly jealous!


  3. What a great cooking class!
    The Kunegunda's Cake sounds intriguing and the Apple Stack Cake looks really intriguing! Hope I can try tip no. 2 one day... now let me buy a KitchenAid first, definitely no.1 on my wishlist ;-)

  4. Looks like a wonderful experience. That apple stack cake looks fabulous - so tall and so many apple layers - yum!
    Would love to try the fruity bake too.

  5. The layer cake looks so delish. They sound like a right laugh! I was going to apply for the giveaway but didn't know if the t&c didn't allow family to enter! :(

  6. The class looks like such fun! It's on my wishlist so maybe after my birthday or xmas I'll get to go! I'm so surprised that I won - I never win anything! Thank you so much :) My email address is



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