Local bakers share holiday insights
You’re rushing in from the chilly weather outdoors and you catch a waft of sweet-smelling goodness coming from the kitchen. Follow the aroma and find yourself staring down a table filled with decadent desserts and goodies. You can make this fantasy a reality by taking some notes from two seasoned local bakers who have been whipping up delicious desserts for years.
Christine Paton, home baker
Christine Paton, Minnehaha Academy counselor and cake decorating aficionado, has been making pastries and baked goods for friends, family and colleagues ever since she took up an interest in the culinary world. Paton began cooking with her mom as a child.
“Our styles [from her younger self] are completely different,” said Paton, who has developed the great talent of decorating cakes for family and friends over her many years of baking.
Ranging from Spider-Man birthday cakes to intricately designed wedding cakes, Paton has done it all. However, if you were to ask her family, there would be one holiday treat that would stand out from them all.
“During the holiday season they rush down the stairs in the morning, because they know that maple scones are waiting for them,” said Paton.
Maple scones might need to be upgraded from the title of ‘scone’, because of the cake-like insides of these dense little treats. Check out the recipe on page 11. Another one of Paton’s holiday baking staples is angel candy, a dessert consisting of sweet honeycomb and rich chocolate.
“I love the challenge,” said Paton.
She has progressed in her baking skills over years of experimenting when trying new techniques on tried and true recipes. Furthermore, Paton believes that baking is not only about mastering certain dishes, but also about trying something new and sharing with friends and family.
Melissa Coleman, food blogger
Texas native and local food blogger, Melissa Coleman, has been discovering ways to simplify her life, as well as her recipes, ever since she began baking at the age of 5. Coleman’s blog, The Faux Martha, is a well-known site for those looking to experiment with a recipe or try something entirely new.
“You can make something out of seemingly nothing,” said Coleman, who appreciates a simplified and minimalist take on baking and life in general.
Coleman began baking at a young age with her sister and neighbors.
“It’s been a lifelong love of eating, but then it was actually learning to make them,” said Coleman who has fond memories of making banana bread at a young age.
As she continued to develop her love of baking and experimenting with ingredients, Coleman learned to make more complex desserts as well.
“It was called ‘Fresh Berry Tiramisu’ and it was the first dessert I really learned to master,” said Coleman.
“Baking allowed me to taste things I had never tasted before, like getting flavors that I saw on a TV show in New York,” said Coleman.
Coleman later went to school for graphic design and has found that her knowledge of aesthetics and simplicity has been a great help in creating a successful website.
“I would say I usually post a recipe once a week,” said Coleman, who will regularly bake a certain dish several times during the week to ensure she is showcasing the best recipe possible.
Due to her blog The Faux Martha, Coleman has discovered many solutions to common problems in the culinary world, as well as twists on classic recipes in order to make them healthier.
“I created a cream cheese frosting that holds its shape, so it’s really useful for decorating,” said Coleman.
This frosting is a great addition when making cookies and other desserts during the holiday season. Another one of Coleman’s fortes is combining sweet and savory ingredients while cutting down on sugar in certain recipes as well.
“I started using less sugar to figure out ways to make things sweeter without adding sugar,” said Coleman, who also enjoys experimenting with unlikely flavor combinations to create entirely new spins on favorite foods.
However, once the Christmas season comes around, Coleman finds herself baking a certain festive dessert.
“Christmas in a Bowl is a crazy recipe that takes forever, but is so delicious,” said Coleman, who began baking the wacky dessert before she had kids.
‘Christmas in a Bowl’ consists of homemade brownies, white chocolate pudding, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and sprinkles.
“I made it one year at a Christmas party and someone said, ‘this tastes like ‘Christmas in a Bowl’ and the name stuck,” said Coleman.
So as family and friends venture from near and far to celebrate the holidays, why not treat them to one of these delicious desserts?