Top 10 Gifts for the Bakers in Your Life

baking powder biscuits
As anyone who has sailed with us knows, Kitchen Aides and Cuisinarts are not a part of my tool kit on the Riggin.  They require electricity, something I don’t have in my galley.  What I do have is good, old-fashioned muscle and technique.  I use very basic tools to make very special baked goods and I don’t need a lot to accomplish this.

Also, because I have limited space, the tools I do have on the boat need to be ones that I use all the time or they need to do more than one task.  Here’s my list of tools that I wouldn’t go sailing without and that might spark an idea or two for the baker in your life, whether they bake on dry land or on the water.

My three favorite stores for baking and cooking tools are: The Good Table, Now You’re Cooking, and King Arthur Flour.  All are wonderful, local stores with a well-curated supply of useful baking tools.

Sifter – While a whisk will work for this task, there’s nothing that works better for making light, fluffy cakes.

Scale – The best bakers weigh all of their ingredients.  If nothing else, sometimes a recipe calls for a weighed amount and not a measured amount.  Super helpful.

Thermometer – All baking is about details and precision.  Don’t over or under bake anything again by removing it from the heat at just the right temperature.

Parchment paper – A gift from the non-stick gods.  Lining cake pans and cookies sheets with parchment or with a silicone sheet helps with the least favorite part of baking – the clean up!

Whisk – Just don’t try a baking life without one.  Great for thin batters, egg whites, and whipped cream, but a whisk will also work as a sifter in a pinch.  Just not for those super fluffy genoise cakes and such.

Rolling pin – Wooden ones are my favorite.  With or without handles, this is an essential piece of any bakers arsenal.

Pastry bag – At some point you’ll want to try your hand at pate au choux or decorating a cake.  The professional way to go is with a pastry bag and at least a few basic pastry tips.

Cookie scoop – Bake cookies that are all the same size by scooping them with this cookie scoop.  It makes the process go so much faster too.

Pastry knife – For making biscuits and pie crust, this tool is essential.  There isn’t a day on the boat that goes by where I don’t use this handy tool.

Bench scraper – Bread bakers, pie bakers, biscuit bakers and basically anyone who gets dough on the counter for any reason will love this tool.  Again, I use it on a daily basis.

Cooling rack – While this is one tool that I don’t have space for on the Riggin, I do use them at home all the time, and there I almost never have enough. 🙂

Annie
Also, doesn’t it go without saying that every baker (and cook) should have cookbooks that they love and trust (like Sugar & Salt and At Home, At Sea)?

Holiday Baking – White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan Bars

The windows are slightly foggy in the corners and the house is filled with the redolent smells of baking chocolate, toasted coconut, and warm pecans.  Right now, there might not be anything more tempting.  All the while outside, the wind howls and the snow pelts the side of the house.  Occasionally, a large mound of snow will slide off the roof to announce itself and inside, we are warm and cozy, baking one of our many holiday gifts.  Later, when the wind dies down, I’ll go for a snow shoe in the field out back.  If it’s really late, I’ll cross my fingers the sky is clear and the moon lights the way.  Moments like these have me feeling grateful for family, warmth, small houses, little things, rosy cheeks, and Maine winters.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan, and Coconut Bars Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pecan Bars
We also called these Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Bars.  They first appeared in At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer and this is a riff on that original recipe.

Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for the pan)
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Topping
6 ounces shaved white chocolate or white chocolate chips; about 1 1/4 cup
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Crust
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread the coconut in a 9- x 13-inch pan and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring two or three times. In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and toasted coconut. Lightly butter the 9- x 13-inch pan and then transfer the mixture, pressing firmly with your hands to pack evenly. Turn the oven temperature up to 325°F. Chill the pan for 15 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden.

Topping
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate, cranberries, and pecans over the crust. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the center begins to bubble just slightly.

Let cool on a wire rack and cut into 12 or 24 even pieces.

Makes 12 or 24 bars

Annie
P.S. Cookbooks make a wonderful holiday gift.  Just saying.

Holiday Baking – See it on 207!

I had the privilege of cooking with Rob Caldwell of WCSH6 and the show 207 a couple of weeks ago.  The first of three segments aired last night and you can watch me making Chocolate Rosemary Tart with Sea Salt Caramel Bark here.  The other two will air over the winter and as we know, we’ll let you know.  The recipe for the tart is on their site and if you’ve already got Sugar & Salt: The Orange Book, then you just need to add rosemary to the recipe in the book.

This was my first time in the new O’Maine Studio, which is a lovely upgrade from the former kitchen.  But it got me reminiscing as I was the first chef to do a spot in the original studio kitchen.  How many years ago was that?  Not gonna count.

Chocolate Rosemary Tart with Sea Salt Caramel Bark Photo (c) 2009 by Elizabeth Poisson
This bark has nuts in it, but the one I made for 207 was just flavored with vanilla and sea salt.

Annie
Thanks Rob and the gang for a fun time in your new studio!

Cooking Class Complete

Getting ready to roll!

If you’ve never taken a class at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York, you should.  The space is beautifully appointed and the crew top-notch.

Fun fall decorations outside the cooking school.
Using the garden as harvest decoration

It’s also seriously at least 10 times the cooking space I have on the Riggin.  Instead of standing at my stove and turning, turning, turning from stove to baking supplies to counter top, I had miles of kitchen to cover and all sorts of spaces to loose track of my knives and glasses and any number of trays of mise en place kitted up for the class.  This girl is not used to being able to spread out!

Working on the Poached Garlic and Thyme Soup

I had not a clue what to expect when I arrived, as I’ve never been in the cooking school side of the campus before.  As I walked around to familiarize myself with the space, I had several lovely surprises in the form of Riggin guests who kept walking through the door.  As soon as I’d hugged one, the next walked in!  What a treat to have the support of those who already knew me as I began the class and walked everyone through the recipes from bread to dessert.

One of our long-time guests and her friend arrived to lend support and fun. xo!
The mile long counter top, and I’m not kidding.

After teaching to a full class for 90 minutes, there was time to sign books and talk with folks as they filtered out.  What a lovely way for everyone to spend a long lunch and what a fun time I had sharing it with them.  Many thanks to the Stonewall Kitchen crew for making my first time go so smoothly.

Signing books and chatting with the peeps

Annie
Looking forward to the next time

Stonewall Kitchen Cooking Class

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

If any of you happen to be or live in the area, I’ll be doing a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen this Friday, October 26th.  We’ll be making recipes from my newest cookbook, At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition.  On the menu for the learning luncheon:

Stonewall Kitchen Menu

Poached Garlic Soup with Thyme and Red Pepper Cream
Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing over Greens
Leek and Carrot Parmesan Gratin
No-Knead Stirato Bread

Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread with Sautéed Apples

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

As you might expect the kitchen is well-appointed and kitted with beautiful equipment.  I can’t wait to share some stories, some recipes, and lots of laughter with you all!
Details:  Friday, October 26th, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at the York, Maine flagship store.
See you there!
Annie

Boat Magic with Yankee Magazine

For those of you who don’t live in Maine or New England, this month’s issue might be a harder to come by, but if you can get your hands on a copy, do it!  Amy Traverso, accomplished writer, has given the Riggin wonderful kudos and Mark Flemming, photographer extraordinaire, adds a lovely balance to her words.

Recipes included in the article are Pecan Sticky Buns, Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing, Zucchini Gratin, and Lime Pie Jars.  You can also find these recipes in At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition.

This is one of the best articles we’ve seen on our sweet girl and you should check it out.  #boatmagic!

Photo by Mark Flemming

 

Lemon Curd Cheesecake – Bake Ahead Holiday Dessert

Outside the windchill is frigid. Inside, there is a cheesecake in the oven, the house feels toasty warm, and the Christmas tree is up and decorated. As of yet, there are only a few gifts beneath it, so it’s still open for viewing – from the bottom up.

I lie under the tree with the room lights off and the tree lights fully illuminated and breathe in. The scent of pine floats over, and the soft white light causes the whole tree to glow.

This view of the tree became a tradition in our house when our girls were little. One of them was rolling on the floor close to the tree having a tantrum when she suddenly stopped cold. She’d looked up and become absorbed by how the light hit the branches and reflected off of the ornaments in rainbow prisms and sparkles. All vestiges of the tantrum evaporated in a single moment of distraction. We got down on the floor with her, wanting to reward her new, calm behavior. And we became absorbed too.

The girls are older now, but we’ve carried on the tradition. Today, whoever is needing a moment of calm and peace simply squeezes under the tree to absorb the glow and the scent. Most of our holiday traditions are that way – simple.

I find that if I can remember that one word, “simple,” my holidays nourish the soul. If not, well, you’ve been there too.

So I wish you simple this season – in all things, including cheesecake recipes.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake

These two recipes highlight two different ways of easing a cheesecake in and out of baking – slowly raising and lowering the temperature of the batter – to prevent it from drying out or cracking. One uses steam, the other a water bath or, to use the technical term, a bain marie.

Cheesecakes are easily frozen and thawed, should you want to get ahead of the holiday craziness and make it ahead of time. Remove the cheesecake from its springform pan and place it on a cardboard round, then either wrap well or place in a large plastic container with a lid and freeze. It will thaw in several hours at room temperature, then keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

The tricks to making a successful cheesecake are simple.  They also make sense when you understand the reason behind them.

Eggs, a major component of cheesecakes, don’t like to be heated quickly or subject to high heat.  Instead they like to be handled gently and with a little tender loving care.  They freak out when the heat is too fast or too high, curdling or puffing up, both of which we don’t want in a cheesecake.  This is why having all ingredients at room temperature to begin with helps.  Another trick is some sort of water – either in the form of steam or a water bath, to mitigate the formation of a crust and to gentle the heat.  Lastly, letting the cheesecake cool down in the oven helps gentle the change in heat and prevents those craters we don’t want to see in our cheesecakes.

Vanilla Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe given to me by Ed Quinn. Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for the pan

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup vanilla-flavored liqueur, such as homemade bourbon vanilla or French Vanilla Kahlua
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan. To make the crust, mix the wafers and butter together in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

To make the cheesecake, place a large pan on the lowest rack of your oven and fill it with water to produce steam as the cheesecake bakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream and mix well. The mixture will resemble whipped cream. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the egg yolk, liqueur and vanilla and mix well. Pour the batter over the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. When the cheesecake is done, the center should no longer look wet or shiny but should still be jiggly. Turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed. Let the cake cool in the oven for 2 hours, then remove, cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake
I’m afraid I’ve forgotten who gave me this recipe, but whoever you are – thank you! Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
2 whole graham crackers, finely ground
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon curd:
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Brush the inside of a 10-inch springform pan with butter and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, tilting and tapping the pan to coat evenly. Place the pan over two layers of aluminum foil and pull up the sides. This is to prevent water from the water bath from leaking into your pan. Place both the pan and the foil in a large roasting pan and bring a pot of water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter into the springform pan. Move the roasting pan into the oven, then pour boiling water into it to come at least halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake 60 to 70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set but the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off, keep the oven door closed and cool the cheesecake in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the cake and the water bath from the oven.

Prepare the lemon curd about 1 hour before the cheesecake is ready.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a mound, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add the crème fraîche. Stir in the butter, one-third at a time.

Strain the curd through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any egg you inadvertently scrambled, then spread it on top of the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cheesecake 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Holiday Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

This recipe was given to me by my friend, Linda Bournival, and I’ve only adjusted it for style, not content. She makes it for holiday gifts and gifts it with the recipe included since so many people ask her for it. It will forever be one of my favorites.

Pumpkin Roll
Cake
unsalted butter (for the jelly roll pan)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup minced pecans
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Filling
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 15 1/2- x 10 1/2- inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Place a sifter on top of a small plate and measure the dry ingredients into the sifter. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the pumpkin, combine well, and then sift in the dry ingredients. Spread the batter onto the prepared pan and sprinkle with the pecans. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center is done and the edges pull slightly away from the pan. Meanwhile, spread a kitchen towel out on the counter and sprinkle with the confectioner’s sugar. Turn the finished cake onto the towel to cool. Peel off the parchment paper and roll the cake and towel into a log. Set aside to cool.

Filling
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides occasionally. Unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling over the whole cake. Roll up again, removing the towel and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the filling to set and slice into 8 to 12 pieces.

Serves 8 to 12

Annie
May your holidays be filled with love and laughter

New Cookbook!

Announcing Sugar and Salt: Book Two -The Orange Book!  This collection of recipes from my galley and home kitchen will arrive at our door step (or barn step) soon!  Here’s a look at the process….

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Over the past several months we’ve been getting serious about producing a cookbook, so we made a lot of food.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was chocolate! And delicious.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was healthy. And delicious!
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
When we couldn’t hold all of the pieces in our head any longer, we posted it all over the office walls.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
We got to knit. And made a Ball jar cozy (several actually) using Mim Bird‘s pattern.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Occasionally, we made cocktails. They were well timed.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then we drank them.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of us had lemonade instead. And also, one of us got confused.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Then we made Brussels sprouts that were so good we almost didn’t get the photo (because we ate them all while standing at the stove).
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
A lot of words got written and someone had to take a doggie break.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then there was more food.

Annie
Now that was fun!

Click Sugar and Salt to order.