First Stop on The Plus Bus

IMG_20170630_145144I have to admit I’m no always in the loop on plus size goings on. I have a busy life, and at this point I think I do most of my shopping online, instead of in physical stores. So I have my husband to thank for for introducing me to the plus bus in Glassel Park (he’ll probably come to regret this eventually).

The Plus Bus started out as a pop up for plus size women to sell or trade their old clothing, and a chance to shop for new, gently worn clothes for a lot less than a new piece might cost. As most of us plus sized ladies know, our clothing options are limited, and often times more expensive than straight size,so having an option to revamp your wardrobe and not go broke at the same time is really exciting.

Back in my middle and high school days, I used to buy most of my clothes from thrift and vintage stores. I loved the hunt and finding a good deal, but as I gained weight, my selection dwindled and eventually I gave up on buying used clothing. Getting a chance to do this again made me so excited to finally check out the plus bus.

The shop is located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassel Park,right next to the uber hip Highland Park. The shop is hard to miss with its brightly painted exterior on the street corner. Inside, the shop isn’t huge, but packs a punch. Clothes are sorted out racks by size and color, with shoes and accessories in the back. In addition to used clothing, they have some vintage pieces, as well as some new accessiories made by local artists. We were greated by Alex (and her super cute dog) who was really nice and inviting, and even helped me with some of the more involved items I tried on.

As I perused through the racks I was able to find some of my favorite brands like Torrid and Modcloth, with other brands ranging from Forever 21 and Target, to higher end like Eloquii.

After looking around for a while I ended up trying on 5 dresses (including a new with tags black and gold Eloqii dress), a skirt and a steel boned corset. There was something so satisfying about easily finding so many items not only in my size, but in style I love. I popped in to the cabana in the corner and started trying on my pieces.IMG_0429

The corset ended up being way too big which made me sad, but it was worth a try.  I had a few misses with the dresses, and my husband said the black and gold dress made me look like I was going to a quinceñeta (I still like it). I still ended up falling in love with a red and white polka dot dress by Moon, and a navy dress with pennyfarthing print and a very cool back detail by xhileration (target). Both dresses were in perfect condition and my total was under $40 for both, score!IMG_0426

Another great thing about the Plus bus is all the events they have going on. In the past, they’ve had events on moddling tips, plus size men’s events, a very fun brunch, and recently a wedding pop up with dolly couture. They even contacted me about doing a pastry pop up after Alex, the girl we met working there on our visit, recommended me to the owners. Sure this makes me a little biased, but there’s a lot to love above it this place regardless.IMG_4801IMG_4799

So if you get a chance, check out the plus bus. They’re usually open Wednesday to Sunday 3-7, but check in for extended hours during sp dial events. Also fr the first time, they did a clothing sale on their Facebook, so keep an eye out for that if you can’t get out to LA anytime soon.

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Bakealong Berry Blitz Tort

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

I know I’m pretty late on getting this month’s challenge, but I did just get married, so I feel like that’s a pretty good excuse (there’ll be a whole other post about my wedding).

I ended up making use of it for an inpromptu Memorial Day BBQ we had. It’s a little involved, but it’s nothing crazy hard, and definitely worth the work. The basic elements are pastry cream, butter cake and meringue, but you end up with an impressive looking cake. The flavors are great, especially if you’re a sucker for berries and cream like me. This would be a great dessert for any kind of summer get together.

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Ingredients

PASTRY CREAM FILLING

  • 20 ounces whole milk
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/8 ounces cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces heavy cream, whipped; optional
  • about 6 3/4 to 9 ounces fresh raspberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries
    *For a simple shortcut filling, see “tips,” below.

CAKE

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

TOPPING

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 5 1/4 ounces Baker’s Special Sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 ounces sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 ounce sugar*
    *Substitute prepared cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.IMG_0398
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, egg yolks, and whole egg with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.IMG_0397IMG_0397
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks/cornstarch to temper the yolks. This keeps them from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk. If you’ve never had to make anything with a hot milk/egg mixture, this step is very important. IMG_0399
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk, pouring it through a strainer to capture any bits of egg. Bring to a boil over medium heat (this may happen very quickly), stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; the mixture will thicken significantly.IMG_0400IMG_0401
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Transfer the filling to a heatproof storage container, and top it with a piece of buttered plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the filling so it doesn’t develop a skin). Refrigerate until cool, or for up to several days. I strained my mixture to get out any chunky bits.IMG_0402IMG_0403
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Or lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well. I only had 9″ pans but it worked fine, for the most part. Also, if you bake cakes frequently enough, pick up some parchment rounds in the size of your pans. They save a lot of time and energy.IMG_0404
  8. To make the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well combined. Scrape the bowl, and beat briefly to incorporate any sticky residue.IMG_0405
  9. Beat in the vanilla, milk, baking powder, and flour; the batter will be stiff.
    Spread the batter in the prepared pans (it will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that’s OK).IMG_0406IMG_0407IMG_0410
  10. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy; gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form rigid stand-up points).IMG_0408IMG_0411
  11. Spread the meringue on the cake batter. Sprinkle the almonds over the meringue. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, and dust on top.IMG_0412
  12. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned. The cakes will puff up significantly; don’t worry, they’ll settle as they cool. If you used a 9″ pan like me, I would recommend checking them at 20 to 25 minutes. I pulled mine a minute early and the bottoms were a bit over done.IMG_0413
  13. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully and thoroughly loosen the edge of each cake, and gently turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. The best way to do this is to place a flat object (a giant spatula, a small baking sheet) atop the pan, and to turn everything over.IMG_0414
  14. Lift the cake pan off the cake, then place a cooling rack against the bottom of the cake. Turn everything back over again, so the rack is on the bottom. Some of the almonds will fall off during this process; just sprinkle them back on top. I used a sheet pan to turn the cakes out then flipped the cakes back over to the cooling rack.IMG_0415
  15. When you’re ready to finish the cake, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. Stir it gently, just to loosen it up enough to spread; stirring too vigorously can break it down and turn it watery. It’ll probably have a few lumps; that’s OK. For slightly richer filling with greater volume, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, and gently fold it into the pastry cream. Again, don’t beat the pastry cream; it’ll be a bit lumpy, but that won’t affect the taste. Add the cream, it’s totally worth it.IMG_0416IMG_0417
  16. To assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling. Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. I spread half my filling on the first layer, spread out the berries, then spread out the second half on top of the berries to keep the berries in place and secure the top layer of cake.IMG_0419IMG_0420
  17. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time.IMG_0422

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