Foodie Chap: Mission Beach Cafe, San Francisco
By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
The Alan Carter road to success in the kitchen was not a conventional one but the road he traveled brought him to the Bay Area and joyfully brought us the gift of his baking. Alan decided to pursue his lifelong passion for baking after years in the financial services industry working for Merrill Lynch. A hobby since he was a child cooking alongside his grandmother on their rural Mississippi farm, Alan made the leap into a professional baking career when he entered the California Culinary Academy pastry program in 2002. Upon graduating from CCA, Alan joined Chow restaurant in San Francisco to gain the experience necessary to one day fulfill his dream of opening his own bakery. He soon became head pastry chef for all three Chow restaurants, rewriting and creating recipes for their pastry and dessert program. His affinity for the science of baking is essential to his ability as a baker.
“Cooking to me is: Don’t master your ingredients,
…LISTEN to them.”
– Alan Carter, Executive Pastry Chef of Mission Beach Cafe
After three years at Chow, Alan left for Paris in 2005 to immerse himself in the pastry capital of the world. He wanted to know proper flavor, not from recipes, but by experiencing the work of the master pastry chefs in their own patisseries. Returning to San Francisco, Alan spent several months developing and refining his recipes, using the flavors of Paris as a taking off point, guiding the quality he was trying to achieve. After painstaking experimentation, he felt ready to finally realize his dream.
Mission Beach Cafe opened in early 2007 and featured Alan’s pastries and desserts while also highlighting his talent as a savory chef. Within months Carter had won a devoted following for his handmade, artisan creations featuring his unique cannels, blueberry ginger muffins, chocolate almond croissants, chocolate truffle cookies, signature angel food cake, classic pies, and noteworthy Californian, New American cuisine.
He has won critical acclaim from San Francisco and 7 x 7 Magazines for the best cannel, best turnover, best pie, and best brunch in San Francisco. Adding to the baking lexicon and demystifying the baking process drive Alan to innovate and share his knowledge. His engaging demonstrations and community involvement are vital components of Alan’s dedication to his craft. Recent engagements include Bloomingdale’s flagship San Francisco store, Macy’s Cellar, and the Inside the Kitchen program at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. He also teaches baking interns, and works with Jeffrey Smith’s From the Garden to the Table program for healthy food choices for inner city youth.
Alan Carter, rock star pastry chef invited me into his San Francisco home for our Foodie Chap chat. We laughed, we baked, we shared stories and we devoured his Grandma’s famous Brooklyn Blackout Cake.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Alan Carter
1. What dish reminds you of Momma?
Biscuits and chicken!
2. It’s midnight and you want a midnight snack, what is always in your fridge?
Milk and pound cake.
3. In the soundtrack of your life, pick a song that defines your culinary journey?
I have to say it; I’ve heard it a million times, but “Don’t Stop Believing” (Journey).
4. If you were to come back and have a second life, what might you be?
I would be an attorney. I don’t know why, I just want to be a lawyer.
5. At your last super, you can have a few guests from the past or present, who would they be and what would you eat?
Chef: Probably Julia Child, Bobby Flay, my mom, we’re best friends, and there’s so many people to include…
Liam: Can I come?
Liam: What about Delia Smith?
Chef: Delia Smith, yes, definitely.
Liam: And you’ll eat what?
Chef: I would probably have lobster in a dish and tripe. I love tripe!
Liam: Five tasty answers, Alan Carter, thank you!
Brooklyn Blackout Cake
3 cups Sugar
4 eggs + ¼ cup egg whites
1 ½ cups Milk
1 cup Cocoa powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoons Vanilla
3 1/3 cups All purpose Flour
2 teaspoon Baking powder
3/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/3 cup Heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks form
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Dress two 9” cake pans with cooking spray and place a parchment circle at the bottom of each pan.
All dry ingredients together set aside, in a separate bowl put milk, cocoa, salt, sour cream, vanilla and mix together. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until fluffy (about 4 minutes), then add two eggs one at a time. Then add egg whites and the last two eggs, beat mixture until fluffy again, another 1 min at high speed. Now add 1/3 of the flour mixture on low speed, add ½ chocolate mixture, another 1/3 of flour, ½ chocolate and the last of flour but do not mix completely, you should still see flour not fully incorporated. Remove batter from mixer and fold in the whipped cream and divide into the prepared 2 cake pans. Bake until toothpick comes out clean: 1 hour.
Using a long, thin, sharp knife, cut the cakes into 4 layers (2 rounds for each cake), measure from the bottom 1 ½ inches, then cut off the top from each layer. Now cut each of the two 1 ½ inch layers in half to equal 4 – ¾ inch layers. Put one of the cut layers in the food processor to make even cake crumbs.
To assemble the cake, brush each layer with simple syrup and cover with pudding icing (will be a 3-layer cake). Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the crumbs.
9 cups Milk
3 1/3 cups Sugar
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
1 cup Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Vanilla
18 oz Bittersweet Chocolate
1 ½ teaspoon Gelatin, mix with 2 tablespoons of cold water
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Bring milk close to a boil, then pour a small amount into the dry ingredients then beat with a whisk until smooth. Add mixture back into the hot milk and cook until it reaches a full boil, remove from heat then add bloomed gelatin.
4 cups Water
6 cups sugar
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