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Cookin’ Up Christmas (Cookies!)

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - December 9, 2013





‘A big orange and some fresh pine bough and ‘Silent Night’ are all I need, and cookies, of course. They are the string that when I pull on them I pull up the complete glittering storybook Christmases of my childhood.’

— Garrison Keillor

 

Nothing says Christmas and the holidays like baking cookies. This is the season of cookie swaps, cookie-baking get-togethers, and church holiday fair cookie walks. Probably more than at any other time of the year, cookies are baked in large batches for gift-giving.

Holiday cookies are shared with family and friends and, often, service groups bake large quantities of cookies to ship to soldiers overseas. The simple and tasty cookie in all its flavors and forms is among the most beloved foods of Christmas.

In today’s day and age, with so many people working full-time and keeping to busy schedules, the art of cookie-making might be lost if not for treasured recipes handed down from grandparents and relatives. But for those who wish to perfect their holiday baking on a limited schedule, Moulton Farm on Quarry Road off Route 25 in Meredith has the solution in a lineup of holiday baking classes sure to fit every need. The classes do fill up fast, so sign up now!

Says Tricia Lutkus, baker and workshop instructor at Moulton Farm, “We hold the baking classes in the kitchen right at the farm stand. And if the class isn’t too large and students want it, we do hands-on baking. This gives students a chance to participate. In some of the larger classes, students watch and take notes.

“I give the students the recipes so they can follow along as I bake,” she continues. “I give a step-by-step procedure such as the best way to mix cookie dough so people understand why we bake each recipe the way we do. We want them to know the best methods, such as how to roll and cut dough to the correct thickness. And we give the best recipes for decorating purposes and we show students why it is important to follow the recipe.”

For those who have tried to make cookies at home to less-than-stellar results, Tricia will explain why the cookies did not turn out just right and how to remedy the problems.

“We want people to have fun when baking! After we make the dough and bake it, we demonstrate the decorating process. And we allow students to try the cookies warm right out of the oven. We show how cookies look when they are frosted hot vs. when cooled. Then we send everyone home with a pile of cookies!”

Although Moulton Farm has offered holiday baking classes for about three years, new this year is a Baking Holiday Cookies workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. “I will be showing students how to put together cookies, and also how to do a stained glass sugar cookie. This is a type of cookie that people would be afraid to try at home without instruction. In addition, we will make traditional holiday cookies.”

Also scheduled for the holiday season is a class called Create a Holiday Dessert on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m. “I always did a Yule Log class, but this year we will do something new with the holiday dessert theme,” she adds.

For those who love traditional gingerbread houses and want to learn how to make their own, Tricia offers a class on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. called Gingerbread House Decorating. She will have all the fixings on hand and will be there to give advice and guide students as they create their own masterpiece gingerbread house with glittery decorations.

Chefs who are holding a holiday dinner can gain some great tips from Moulton Farm’s chef, Jonathan, during the Creating the Perfect Three-Course Holiday Dinner on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. He will share the secrets of preparing the three-course meal … and then students will get to eat the meal!

“Before we started doing the classes, our general manager, our chef, and I talked about fun ways to get people involved; these classes are a great way to get people together at the holidays,” Tricia adds.

When it comes to baking, Tricia is a pro. She has been baking since she was 13 and says it’s been a passion for as long as she can remember. “I used to teach baking while I was still a high school student. They would pull me out of class to teach baking classes! After college, I was the lead teacher for a year and I love teaching.”

Tricia graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI with an AOS in Baking and Pastry, and has 25 years of experience in the field, including as a high school baking instructor, as a pastry chef at Le Meredian in Boston, and in local restaurants.

“I am always making cookies. In the summer, we are incredibly busy at Moulton Farm. To give you an idea of just how busy, for the month of August this year, we sold 1,526 dozen cookies in bags and another 120 dozen individual cookies!”

With this busy schedule, Tricia loves to slow down a bit after the summer ends. It is then that she plans the holiday baking classes. “I like any excuse to bake! My favorite things to bake are cookies such as gingerbread men. My family’s favorite is chocolate chip cookies. I am always looking for new recipes and trying new things with baking.”

Tricia adds that biscotti are another favorite but she discovered people are afraid to make this pastry treat. Thus, she has offered biscotti baking classes at Moulton Farm.

It is mostly local women who sign up for and take the cooking and baking classes, although some men also attend. “We get a good mix of students, from women in their 60s to a nine-year-old in our biscotti baking class. Mothers and daughters and grandmothers love to take the gingerbread house classes together.”

While all the baking and cooking classes are taking place, holiday greenery is not neglected at Moulton Farm. Lead greenhouse grower Sue Dail offers classes in wreath-making, among other things.

“Our wreath workshops and boxwood tree or kissing ball classes are very popular,” Sue says. She will offer a wreath or door swag class on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. and a Boxwood Tree or Kissing Ball class on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m.

Creating a Christmas Table Centerpiece will be offered on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 6 .pm.

For those who wish to take a class, call 603-279-3915 or go to www.moultonsfarm.com. 

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