Saturday, January 5, 2013 / 7:50 AM
They may look like Marcona almonds, but those are whole cloves of garlic perched atop Red Fox Baking's ricotta tart (left). The formidable chunks of roasted garlic, rarely seen in this unmolested form on something so delicate as a tart, surely give the customers pause. That's a lot of garlic.
It's a testament to the skills of the bakers that somehow, magically, the garlic is not overpowering. Indeed the overall flavor of the tart is actually subtle. This magic gestalt is surely the result of the other ingredients -- the bright (in color and flavor) herb pesto, a French condiment known as pistou; the house-made ricotta; and so on -- all anchored by a flaky crust shell. How'd they do that?
Red Fox is Chris Scheets, Jake Marks, Cat Yeung, and Molly Dupre, four young'uns who've made strides with their baked goods since debuting them last October. Their commissary is the pleasantly political Black Bear Bakery on Cherokee Street. Their aim is to create treats as from-scratch as possible, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.
Their apple galette (above and below) with salted caramel features a rotating cast of apples (Mackintosh and Granny Smith pictured), a buttery crust, and a dusting of Turbinado sugar. It's delightful. If you buy it at a farmers' market, there's no way you'll be able to hold off eating it long enough to get it home and warm it in the oven, but you should try.
The espresso chocolate tart (below) with candied hazelnuts is a flavorbomb. When the chocolate custard -- poured over a slim layer of caramel and a crust made with powdered espresso -- hits the tongue, it's a revelation. The dynamite taste is also thanks to a coffee liqueur in the custard that the Red Fox crew actually makes themselves. It's too good for children, even if they would hock their Furbys for it. Two adults could celebrate a romantic anniversary with naught but this tart, a flask of whiskey, and a blanket by the edge of the woods, emerging later after a perfect interlude.
Other treats include a "morning bun" with pancetta, apples, herbs, walnuts, and cheese getting to know one another within a brioche pocket. "It's a decadent way to start your morning," allows Scheets. The bakers also turn out a puff pastry filled with herbed applesauce; a spiced pear-almond frangipane tart; and another impressive-sounding savory, a roasted-butternut galette with onion jam and sage-brown butter.
Among the gang of four baking up these goodies, Marks has worked at Black Bear and Farmhaus, and Scheets has knocked around from restaurant to bakery for quite a few years, he said. One of Scheets' recent triumphs was running a bakery in Kirksville, Mo. that operated like a CSA, delivering baked goods weekly to subscribers.
Together, they have been gradually building their presence in the area, vending at Black Bear Bakery and at four area wintertime farmers' markets, as well as catering the odd wedding and special function.
The name Red Fox, says Scheets, is a reference to three things: a friend's quasi-commercial garden with the same name; a local graffiti artist, or tagger, with the same name (but unaffiliated with the bakery); and a riff on the group's allies at Black Bear.
"The Black Bear and the Red Fox run in the same woods," he quipped.
Red Fox Baking items are available:
at Black Bear Bakery and Soulard Market
at Clayton Farmers Market on 1st Saturday of the month (this Sat., Jan. 5)
at St. Louis Community Farmers Market at St. John's Episcopal Church
on 2nd Saturday of the month
at Schlafly Winter Market on 4th Saturday of the month
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