Exploring Philly // The Kettle Black

“Mad alchemy meets traditional French baking” in The Kettle Black, the latest bakery to open in Philadelphia. The Kettle Black offers a range of bagels and delicious crusty breads, many of which include activated black charcoal.

Although the charcoal doesn’t give the baked goods a special taste, it creates a striking appearance.

They offer a weekly sandwich and bagel special, which are all delicious. The day my friend and I went, they had a special vegan lox (made with pickled carrot – so good!) and a bean hummus with caramelized onion.

Some believe that activated black charcoal is a natural antidote, because of its filtering properties. However, co-founders and husband and wife, Marc Basile and Claire Ogilvie, don’t claim any of the health benefits are true; their bread just tastes amazing.

Below is one of their most popular loaves, “The Crackler,” named after the distinct loud noise it makes when it comes out of the oven. As a perfectly crusty bread cools, the thick crust contracts, making a crackling noise.

My friend and I arrived just after the bakery opened at 7, right in time to catch Ogilvie taking photos of The Crackler for Instagram. She keeps their Insta quite active, always posting videos of her husband (and head baker) dancing as he laminates croissants or slashes breads before baking.

The Kettle Black
631 N 2nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19123 

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Link Roundup / December

Happy mid-December!

^ I came back from India a couple weeks ago which was the most incredible experience (more to come later!). I already can’t wait to go back.

I’ve had this conversation a number of times, embarrassingly with only slightly less self-deprecating language.

I found these articles about Chobani’s rebrand and redesign fascinating. Almost all yogurts are copying Chobani’s original style, plastic white tubs with a tinfoil top, so now they’re trying to do the opposite.

I got some instant coffee to round out all my pumpkin baking, and now this recipe has shot to the top of my baking to-do list.

Pretzel. Shortbread. Cookies. I have to go a little bit further on my next run to center city to check these out!

Recipe // Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I tried whoopie pies for the first time a couple months ago. Living in Philadelphia, I am surprised that it took me so long; it is a classic Amish dessert. They were so good, that I immediately added it to my baking to-do list. For my last English class today, I decided to finally try it and bring them in.

Inspired by this video featuring One Girl Cookies, a bakery in NYC famous for whoopie pies, I set out for a copycat recipe. Although traditional Amish whoopie pies have a marshmallow fluff filling, I decided to use One Girl’s cream cheese frosting instead (with significantly less sugar). Cream cheese frosting wins over fake marshmallow fluff any day!

I made a sad attempt at piping the cookies out using a ziploc bag, and then just gave up completely for the frosting. They’re not the most beautiful things… but oh man. They are so good.

I made sure to add plenty of spice to balance out the sweet pumpkin cookie. Instead of just adding cinnamon like the original recipe called for, I also added hefty amounts of allspice and instant coffee powder.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
makes 16 whoopie pies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp instant coffee groups
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons dark molasses

COOKIES

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the pumpkin puree, light brown sugar, canola oil, eggs, and molasses on medium speed for 3 minutes, until well combined. Scrape down the bowl and then turn the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing for a total of 30 seconds, until the batter is just combined. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed.
  3. Fill a pastry (or ziploc #collegebudget) bag fitted with a large round tip with the batter. Pipe the batter into 2-inch diameter circles onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-inches of space between each cookie.
  4. Bake for 14 minutes, or until the cookies are a dull, deep orange color and spring back when touched. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before filling them.

FROSTING*

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
  2. With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners sugar and then beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the filling is thoroughly mixed. The filling should hold its shape; so if it is too soft, add more confectioners sugar a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is right.
  3. The filling can be made up to 5 days in advance, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the filling.

*Note: I used granulated sugar and it worked fine. I just added a splash of milk to get rid fo the grainy-ness.