Recapping Our Second Great Barista Bake Off

On Your Marks, Get Set... Bake!

This October we hosted our second sold out Great Barista Bake Off event. Over two nights, ten of our baristas competed for the coveted Star Baker award, while customers who purchased tickets to the event became judges. 

At Carabello, many of us love the uplifting, inspiring, and even silly, nature of The Great British Bake Off. A few years ago, when Emily Carabello realized that many of our employees loved to bake, we knew a Bake Off-themed event was a perfect match. 

Emily and Cheyne dress up as Prugh and Matt

Dressed as judge and host, Cheyne and Emily arranged for 24 guests each night to taste five employees' best bakes. The only rule for the bakes was that coffee or tea must be an ingredient (and ideally one that is discernible). Guests who came judged each bake on a rubric for appearance, use of coffee or tea, overall bake (no stodgy or soggy bottoms!), and the winner was crowned Star Baker! 


Guests enjoying the Great Barista Bake OffJudging the Great Barista Bake Off

On each night—to keep things totally fair—our customers did not know who baked what—and we were very proud of all the delicious items our ten bakers made! 

On Thursday night, Kelly made a killer custard tart, and we have included her beast of a recipe below.   

Thursday Night Star Baker: Kelly Combs

Thursday Night Star Baker Kelly

Thursday Bakers

On Friday night, Rachel made a fig jam layered spice cake with a rooibos tea infused butter cream icing that was like a grown up fig newton. Her recipe is also included below. 

Friday Night Star Baker: Rachel Diaz

Friday Night Star Baker Rachel
Friday Bakers

We loved hosting this event, and the customers were blown away by the skill of the bakers!  

Kelly Combs' Winning Recipe: The Lady Grey Tart

Recipe adapted from The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell
Gingersnap Crumb Crust
  • 2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 TB unsalted butter
1) Combine cookie crumbs, salt, and melted butter. 
2) Press mixture into a 9" pie plate or 8 tart pans by first creating an even layer at the bottom of the pan and then working the crumbs up the side. 
3) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then bake the crust for 10-12 minutes (the tarts will take less time so monitor closely). Look for lightly browned edges and a slight toasty smell. 
4) Wait to fill until completely cool.
Whipped Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1) In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium-low until it begins to thicken (1-2 minutes). Increase the speed to medium and add the sugar in a very slow and steady stream. Continue to whisk until the cream is at a stage of medium peaks. Add vanilla. Whisk until just combined. 
2) Store in a bowl or piping bag in the fridge until ready to use. You can make it up to 4 hours in advance.
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup (but you can use corn syrup 1:1)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 TB butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1) Combine the sugar, syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. You can stir the mixture before it comes to a boil to help the sugar dissolve but STOP stirring immediately after it starts to boil. Then continue to boil until the syrup becomes a medium color. Once the syrup starts to color, tilt the pan occasionally—it is easier to see the true color of the caramel when you are looking at less of it. 
2) As soon as the caramel is close to a medium amber color, turn off the heat-- the caramel will retain heat and continue to cook so you don't want to allow it to carry-over its cooking. Add the butter  and stir to gently combine. Stir in the cream (the caramel is likely to bubble up and steam at this point. Just keep stirring and it will die down). The sauce should be smooth and creamy at this point. *If the caramel seizes (you are seeing chunks of caramel) return to the pan over low heat and stir occasionally until the sauce is smooth and then remove from the heat. 
3) Stir in the salt and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature. The sauce will firm up a bit as it sits. If needed, reheat in 15 second bursts in the microwave to make it more fluid for pouring. 

*The sauce can be made up to two weeks in advance.
Earl Grey Custard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 5 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 TB arrowroot powder (but you can use cornstarch 1:1)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
1) In a medium saucepan, bring milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and steep the tea bags for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and pour into a medium sized bowl. 
2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center. 
3) In a separate bowl whisk together the brown sugar and cornstarch. Then add the milk mixture along with the eggs. Add vanilla and salt. Whisk these ingredients until incorporated. 
4) Place the parbaked gingersnap crust on a parchment lined baking sheet and pour the custard into the crust. Transfer to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the custard is set around the outside and slightly jiggly in the center. This will take up to 45-50 minutes for the 9" pie but much less time for the tart sized ones. 
5) Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. 
6) Top with the Whipped Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce. 
*Note: This pie can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until time to serve. Crust will soften as time goes on! 

Rachel Diaz' Winning Recipe: Gluten Free Honey Spice Cake

  • 1 2/3 cup of gluten free flour
  • 1 1/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strong black tea, brought down to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
( —has directions for preparing and baking the cake. As a note, I cooked it in a sheet pan for 20-22 minutes and cut 50 (1 1/2 inch squares) out of the sheet cake.
Cognac Fig Jam
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of cognac (or brandy or triple sec)
  • 4 oz dried figs (stemmed and halved)
  • 4 oz fresh figs (stemmed and halved)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
( I followed the directions on this sans the cognac and using half fresh figs.
Rooibos Buttercream
  • 1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 227 grams of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • ~1 tbsp of strong rooibos tea (brewed it at a 1:2 ratio. 1/4 cup of tea leaves for 1/2 cup of water, steeped extra long)
Beat all the ingredients together with a handheld mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer).
After preparing all ingredients, sandwich together two pieces of cake with about a 1/2 tsp of jam and pipe rooibos buttercream on top. Garnish with a sliced fig. Makes 25 mini cakes.