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Baking Big And Cooking For A Crowd

Middlebury College head baker Ashley LaDuke holds a dining hall's worth of dessert. She shares her experience cooking for large groups on "Vermont Edition."
Robert Keren
/
Middlebury College, courtesy
Middlebury College head baker Ashley LaDuke holds a dining hall's worth of dessert. She shares her experience cooking for large groups on "Vermont Edition."

Summer is the season for backyard barbecues and fixing big meals with friends and family. But how do you manage when it comes to preparing meals for hundreds of people? We're talking to people making meals for the masses, at summer camps and on college campuses, about cooking and baking for big crowds.

Bruce Albert, kitchen manager at Camp Downer, works with assistant chef manager Ashley Joyce (right) and kitchen aide Erin Sullivan (center) preparing breakfast for nearly 200 campers and staff on the morning of June 25, 2019.
Credit Emily Myers / Camp Downer, courtesy
Bruce Albert, kitchen manager at Camp Downer, works with assistant chef manager Ashley Joyce (right) and kitchen aide Erin Sullivan (center) preparing breakfast for nearly 200 campers and staff on the morning of June 25, 2019.

Ashley LaDuke, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and head baker at Middlebury College, shares her experiences preparing loads of loaves, mountains of muffins and dozens of desserts for the staff, students and faculty at the college. And she shares her insight on using local ingredients even in big batches.

Listen to the full show above to hear more from LaDuke and from Bruce Albert, kitchen manager at Camp Downer, about preparing more than 500 meals a day for campers.

Below are some big-batch recipes LaDuke shared with Vermont Edition.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread (yields two 18-oz loaves)

Ingredients:

Some of the baked goods Middlebury College head baker Ashley LaDuke shared on "Vermont Edition," including honey-caramel florentine bar, carrot cake and toffee bars.
Credit Robert Keren / Middlebury College, courtesy
Some of the baked goods Middlebury College head baker Ashley LaDuke shared on "Vermont Edition," including honey-caramel florentine bar, carrot cake and toffee bars.

  • Water, 11 oz.
  • Instant yeast, 0.2 oz.
  • Honey, 2.2 oz.
  • Bread flour, 13 oz.
  • Whole-wheat flour, 9 oz.
  • Oil, 2.2 oz.
  • Salt, 0.45 oz

Directions:  

  1. Set over to 425°F.
  2. Place water and honey in a mixing bowl with dough hook attachment (if using electric mixer).
  3. Scale all dry ingredients, including yeast, and add to liquids.
  4. Begin mixing on slow speed, until all ingredients come together and form a smooth dough, about five minutes.
  5. Stop mixer, increase speed to second/medium speed and mix for another four to five minutes, to develop gluten.
  6. Place in pregreased bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 90 minutes.
  7. Place on floured surface, punch dough down to remove excess gases. 
  8. Divide dough in half, shape into a round, place on cornmeal lined sheetpan.
  9. Allow to proof in a steamy environment to help yeast activate.
  10. Bake at 425°F for approximately 24 minutes, giving the dough steam in the beginning of the baking process to encourage the dough to expand and develop a nice shiny crust.
Cherry Clafuotis (makes 10 servings)
A cherry clafoutis, or clafoutis aux cerises.
Credit Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr Creative Commons
A cherry clafoutis, or clafoutis aux cerises.

Ingredients:  

  • Milk, 12 oz.
  • Sugar, 4 oz.
  • Salt, pinch
  • Vanilla bean, split, 1/2 each
  • Eggs, 3 each
  • All-purpose flour, 1.5 oz.
  • Tart cherries, pitted, 12 oz.

Directions:

  1. Coat ten ramekins with a thin film of butter and dust lightly with sugar.
  2. Combine the milk, half the sugar, salt and vanilla bean and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Blend the eggs with the flour and the other half of the sugar. Temper the egg/sugar mixture by slowy adding warm milk, whipping constantly.
  4. Divide the cherries equally among the prepared ramekins. Pour an equal amount of custard into each.
  5. Bake in a hot water bath at 350°F until the custard is set, about 20 minutes. 
  6. (Optional) Lightly dust with confectioners sugar, serve warm.
Lentil Breakfast Bowl (makes 10 servings)

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil, 2/3 cup
  • Shallot, minced 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves, minced 5 each
  • Russet potatoes, peeled and diced, 4 cups
  • Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, 2 cups
  • Whole red lentils, cooked, 5 cups
  • Pearl barley, cooked, 5 cups
  • Red bell pepper, small, diced, 2 cups
  • Brussel sprouts, thinly shredded, 2 cups
  • Dried thyme, 1 TB
  • Dried oregano, 1 TB
  • Salt, 1 TB
  • Pepper, 1/2 TB
  • Parsley leaves, minced, 1 cup
  • Eggs, fried over easy, 10

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy skillet, add the oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until translucent and aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to high and add potatoes. Toss to coat with oil and saute until they begin to brown and become crispy.
  3. Add lentils, barley, peppers and brussel sprout to pan and toss. Saute to heat through and evenly disperse.
  4. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Evenly portion into bowls and garnish with parsley. Top with the fired egg.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.