“Oh, hi!” Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith exclaimed, swiftly turning away from the ice cream machine at MGFD. I had just stumbled into the kitchen to surprise Hedy and Trew Sterling at the bustling pastry station. Hedy was finishing a meticulous cleaning of the ice cream machine, as Trew carefully shuffled between the oven and the cooling rack, transferring a batch of warm chocolate chunk cookies.
“I wanted to talk homemade jams this week,” I explained, taking a peak around, attempting to keep my composure among the sweet surroundings. On the small green chalkboard to the far left were listed the day’s ice cream flavors, including Hedy’s famous buttered popcorn, and a guava creation too. Pots de crème were cooling, as was a huge tray of peanut brittle and those warm classically decadent cookies with Hedy’s telltale sprinkle of Maldon salt on top. With all that around us, the two began opening up about just one of the many delicious creations from the pastry kitchen, explaining exactly how the homemade jams are made and showcased at MGFD.
Hedy started by pointing out that the homemade jams are actually quick jams, and they aren’t boiled for hours like the more traditional, old-fashioned renditions that a grandmother would make. Instead, these are a simple, yet delicious, quick combination of fruit puree, sugar and pectin – a gelling agent for preserves, jams and jellies. Jams here are made constantly throughout the week, and there’s always a wide selection of them in the refrigerator.
One of my favorites, the roasted banana jam, begins with roasting whole bananas, still in their peel, which are then pureed and cooked down quickly with sugar. A few dashes of lemon juice wakes up the caramel, luscious flavor – a flavor enhanced through the roasting.
The star is always the fruit. Trew pointed out that since quick jams don’t cook down the fresh ingredients for too long, the resulting jam actually ends with a more vibrant fruit flavor. In the case of my banana, the result is a smooth, nutty jam that tastes almost like a banana bread.
Hedy finished revealing the true secret by summing it all up with two words, “Fruit forward!”, explaining that the top priority is showcasing the natural flavor of the fruit.
The trick is understanding which flavor combinations complement each other best. A hint of citrus will certainly brighten up a mango jam, like in the case of the huge containers of mango and lime jam. Hedy has included the detailed recipes for a few of her jams in her upcoming cookbook, for those craving a dose of this fruit forward flavor at home too.
So, how are these delicious jams served at MGFD? Well, Chef de Cuisine Bradley Herron has been known to push jams over to the savory side of the kitchen, most notably into Cheese of the Week boards. At the pastry kitchen, the jams find their way into rugelach, Sunday Brunch’s star attraction – homemade Pop Tarts, and Hedy’s take on the fruit newtons. They are a consistent source of inspiration for delicious baked treats, but they can also be sampled on their own at brunch, offered in small jars.
After the whole jam session, I was overcome with a startling curiosity about the other secrets being kept at the MGFD pastry station. Exactly what makes the flavor of the popcorn ice cream so true to the actual popped snack? Or how are all those delectable candies and confections made, like Hedy’s Snickers? Stay tuned, because I have an inkling that more secrets of the pastry kitchen at MGFD will be demystified quite soon!