WHO: Katherine Dunn, 22, of St. Petersburg, a culinary student at the Art Institute of Tampa
WHAT: Cream Cheese Crumb Buns
ABOUT: The Magnolia Bakery in New York City is magical for Dunn. Whenever she visits her older sister, she loves to step inside the small bakery on the corner of Bleecker and W 11th Street. Underneath its blue awnings, the bakery displays frosted cupcakes, tempting everyone to come inside. "I've eaten countless amounts of their cupcakes," Dunn said.
For Dunn, it's more than just a pastry shop; it inspires her to work toward starting her own bakery someday. "They get to frost cakes and cupcakes and make cookies all day, which is what I want to do," she said.
One of her favorite recipes is Cream Cheese Crumb Buns, which she adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. Not only is it a perfect comfort dessert, she said, it's also great for breakfast with a cup of coffee. It's her dad's favorite.
Dunn said she realized she wanted to become a professional pastry chef while she was majoring in literature at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Between reading Jane Austen novels and George Saunders stories, she baked goodies like peanut butter bars and Hershey's chocolate cake. Eventually, she said, she decided she wanted to bake full time. Dunn dreams of opening up her own downtown late-night bakery where college students can eat pastries while they cram for exams. "Downtown St. Pete could benefit from a place like that," she said.
For now, Dunn is concentrating on culinary school and baking for her friends and family. When you bake for someone, you can be a "force of good in someone's life, just with something you can create with your own hands," she said.
TIPS: When you bake the crumb buns, "you have to manage your time well," Dunn said. First you bake the cakes for 10 minutes, then remove them from the oven and make an indentation for the cream cheese filling. That way, "the cream cheese won't slide all over the place." If you bake the cake too long, your cakes won't be moist enough to make the indentation. You also don't want your cream cheese to melt, so cover it quickly with the crumb topping and put it back inside the oven to set.
FAVORITE THING TO BAKE WITH: Music, especially Bon Iver.
READ MORE: Check out Dunn's blog at dunnsweet.wordpress.com.
Emily Young, Times correspondent
Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to [email protected] with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.