Baking Class at the Battenkill Kitchen
WHIPPED CREAM CAKE, GOLDEN LEMON ALMOND CAKES, AND BEER BREAD
Cooking classes held at the Battenkill Kitchen are charity events to help fund the kitchen, which provides people in the area with a commercially approved space. Charlie Burd, Suvir's partner, is treasurer and organized our event. People came from the local area, Vermont, Massachusetts, and even from as far as Brooklyn, NY. It was a mix of enthusiastic professional, soon to be professional, and dedicated home bakers. Fellow blogger Julie Dykstra brought her delightful young baker/daughter Avery who sat spell bound taking in every word and story. We invited them to visit the farm after the class and she was ready to move right in!
AVERY AT THE FARM
Hopefully the attendees learned many things from the demo but we learned two important things as well: 1. Argo has a new baking powder that does not contain aluminum. Compared to Rumford baking powder without aluminum, that I have been recomending, measure for measure it is slightly more active and produced more level cakes! This is because it is a true double acting baking powder, i.e. it gives about 2/3 of its rise once in the oven as opposed to Rumford that gives about 2/3 of its rise "on the bench" (while mixing). To find a distributor in your area call 1-866-373-2300. Note: this is ideal for cakes baked in tube pans but for layer cakes that were formulated using Rumford it may require a bit less Argo if the cake dips in the center. Stay tuned--we will be testing! If cakes need to be held for a while before baking it is definitely going to be superior. 2. Fresh egg whites are more coagulated than older ones and therefore do not whip to the same volume. I've long wondered if using whole eggs in layer cakes would perform the same way but to my delight, using the American Marsala Farm newly laid eggs, the cakes were identical to using older eggs. I'm still not sure if they would perform the same way in a cake heavily dependent on eggs for volume such as a génoise. Fabulous Eating Experiences
LUNCH IN VERMONT
Manchester Vermont, is just across the state border and closer to the farm than many of Suvir and Charlie's close friends and neighbors! Charlie took us to a very special place called the Lawyer and the Baker. At first glance the place looked like a down home casual restaurant where you order at the counter from a chalk board hand-written menu and the food gets delivered to the table, but let me tell you: the cooking was out of this world!
We all shared the blt enhanced with avocado, spanakopita, meatball sandwich on a garlic baguette, and squash salad. Chef-owner Jessica Rambold is the baker and her husband Kevin, who also went to culinary school, is the lawyer. But as a special serentipitous moment Jess told me that her mother Szuzsi Dahlquist is someone I worked with years ago at FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology! Jenn brought out a first printing of the Cake Bible so well used it was totally in pieces.
JESS AND THE PERFECTLY CRAFTED KEY LIME PIE FROM THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE
I asked Jenn for her recipe for the butternut squash salad as it was so fantastic even a professed detester of squash would succumb! She obligingly ran right to the kitchen and returned with the recipe hastily scrawled on two post-its! Here it is now. Squash and Spinach SaladRoast peeled butternut squash with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, until tender and carmelized. In a food processor, purée ginger, fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce, and maple syrup and toss with the squash spinach, dried cranberry and toasted pecans.
Our last evening was a major treat: dinner at Betty Osborn's who had also attended the class. Charlie said she is a dear friend and neighbor so we thought it would be down the road but it was more like a half-hour drive through beautiful winding country roads and little country towns. We met new friends and old--a former editor from my William Morrow days over 20 years ago who now lives in the area. Betty has a beautiful old country home filled with wonderful antiques.
THE MANTLE PIECE WITH ANTIQUE GLASSWARE
Betty is also a fabulous cook. She made a highly flavorful chicken stew of the last of the tomato harvest and a seasonal plum torte so perfect I asked her for the recipe for our next book! Sally Lungo, host of Dinner at 8 made molasses cookies also so perfect they too will be in the next book! What a community of terrific people, bakers and cooks! For our last morning, on the way to the train station in Albany, Charlie took us to a special place for donuts. King's Pastries is seasonal and only open on Sunday mornings.
KING'S PASTRY CART JUST OUTSIDE THE PASTRY KITCHEN OF THEIR SPACIOUS HOME
Charlie generously ordered a wide assortent and we tasted them all over milk at the famed Battenkill Creamery. Our favorite was the apple fritters, studded with the newly ripened apples from the nearby orchards.
THE PASTRY CART
CHARMING MRS. KING BRINGING OUT THE DONUTS
Battenkill Creamery has the best milk I've ever tasted, in fact it consistently wins the prize for the best milk in NY state. The only criticism from NY state is that it is "too high a butterfat" to which I have absolutely no complaint. Their heavy cream is also the best I've ever had in this country. Charlie informed us that some of the top restaurants in NYC use their cream.
WE WERE AMAZED BY THIS CREATIVELY GRAPHIC DEPICTION OF HOW MUCH MILK A COW PRODUCES IN A SINGLE DAY!
All these wonders reaffirmed my conviction that country living has city living beat. But for right now I feel blessed to have both.