Favorite Things: Michael Seidel of Troubadour Baker, Tin Table
"Right now I’m obsessed with sumac and fenugreek. I love Middle Eastern food."
Michael Seidel is keeping pretty busy these days. If he isn't prepping desserts at the Tin Table or making custom cakes for Century Ballroom, he's bopping about town for his homegrown business, The Troubadour Baker, an innovative baked goods delivery service that riffs on the CSA model.
Still, a man must take moments for himself. And when those (presumably rare) moments arrive, Seidel prefers a zumba session ("I started practically every day for a year, now it’s three times a week") or thumbing through a tattered copy of Dune. And maybe some Chipotle.
Here, a few of Michael Seidel's favorite things:
Favorite pastry to wake up to: My multigrain pancakes with real maple syrup. Or, if it’s around, a slice of apple pie.
First pastry ever made: In life? Probably chocolate chip cookies. At pastry school it was pie.
Favorite ingredient: Butter aside, right now I’m obsessed with sumac and fenugreek. I love Middle Eastern food, so I always have a stash of sumac on hand to sprinkle—it adds a sour brightness that is different than just lemon juice. I love fenugreek for it’s maple-meets-butterscotch, deep sweetness.
The hardest thing about making a cake is: Cakes that don’t come out of the oven level. Ugh!
Guilty pleasure: For food? Cheez-Its!
Hangover remedy: I’m not that exciting to ever have needed one.
Place to drink on a day off: Anywhere that will keep my iced tea full before I ask for more.
Place to eat on a day off: Gyro Hut in Northgate for my “chicken shawarma plate a little bit spicy”. And not just on days off...
Secret technique: Floating an egg in sorbet base to find the proper sugar density. Yeah, I have a hydrometer, but I have found that the egg is always right (and less messy). It also makes it easy for folks to make sorbet at home without a recipe. What you do is purée your fruit (if it’s a really thick purée add some water to thin it down), then stir in simple syrup until an egg (in the shell!) floats so a quarter-sized portion of the egg floats above the surface. Adjust the flavor with lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and you’re ready to spin it.
On the wish list: A dedicated kitchen space for the Troubadour Baker. And when I have that, it will be a commercial ice cream maker.
Dessert: Pie and/or ice cream.
Lunch spot: Chipotle way too often. I also like Baguette Box a lot.
People or person I'd like to bake with: Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine in San Francisco; also Claudia Rodin, Marcus Samuelsson, Lidia Bastianich, and, if she was still alive, MFK Fisher.
Can't live without: My Farscape DVDs and ratty, yellowed copy of Dune. Everything else is negotiable.