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)?

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Every week over the course of the summer, a new brown paper bag of mushrooms arrive from Oyster Creek Mushrooms.  It’s always a surprise and it’s always delicious.  Almost any mushroom will do in this recipe, and sometimes, in the winter, when our CSA is inactive, I use button mushroom which are also wonderful in this dish.

This happens to be one of E’s favorites and is in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Blue Book.

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers from a whole roasted chicken. If you don’t have cooked chicken handy, you can use uncooked, boneless chicken – 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, breasts, or thighs, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Just add the chicken at the same time as the mushrooms instead of at the end of the recipe and increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.

1 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced onions; about 2 small to medium onions
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced; about 4 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked chicken, pulled into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; 1/2 cup lightly packed

Following the instructions on the package, bring water for the fettuccine to a boil. While the water is heating, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, add the onions. Sauté the onions for 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium-low when the pan begins to brown slightly. When the onions are tender and golden brown, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the wine, return the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Begin cooking the pasta following the package instructions. Add the heavy cream to the onion/mushroom pan and bring to a boil again. Add the chicken and continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is heated through; serve over the pasta with Parmesan as a garnish.

Serves 4 to 6 generously

Annie
P.S. Jean, if you are cooking for only 2 people, this recipe will freeze well.  Just saying.  🙂