Welcome to the second Club of the Month article of 2012 in Trilogy Life Magazine.  This month, we’re featuring a group of members who gather together to fill their clubhouse with the irresistible aroma of baked goodies.  Get to know the Ardiente Baking Club through the following interview with member Thyra Zager.

Thanks for taking the time to share the story of your club with us, Thyra!  Can you tell us a bit about the history of the Ardiente Baking Club?  What was the inspiration for starting a baking club at your community? 

In 2006, our activity director held a gingerbread house decorating session for interested community members.  We all enjoyed it so much that the following year another member, Karen Lage, and I decided that we would organize and lead another gingerbread house decorating class.  Once again we had a positive response, so we started to get together and bake and/or decorate baked goods on a more consistent basis.  As we began to have a regular group of people in attendance at our gatherings, we decided to become a club.  We called ourselves ABC (Ardiente Baking Club – the things we do are as easy as ABC), and we have been meeting regularly once a month since 2007.

What is the mission of the Ardiente Baking Club?

The main purpose of our club has been to provide an opportunity for members to get together and socialize through a shared interest.  We always sit down at the end of our baking session and sample what has been made over a cup of coffee.  We’ll taste and critique the product to decide what worked well and what could use some improvement.  We’ll often make the same type of cake – Red Velvet, for instance – using three different recipes and then we’ll decide which one we like best – and occasionally we’ll decide which recipes we won’t do again!  We sometimes have people drop in exclusively for the tasting portion of our meeting.

How are the featured recipes chosen for each Baking Club meeting?

We often use a holiday theme as our inspiration and we may not stick strictly to baking.  We have made candy a couple of times, and once each year we focus on a decorating project, like making cookie bouquets or cake pops. We’ve done everything from traditional cakes, pies, and cookies to such things as baked caramel popcorn and pizza with homemade pizza crust.  We have also baked the cornbread for our community’s chili cook-off and desserts for community dinners.

The theme for each month often comes from a member’s suggestion or a recipe idea that they have seen somewhere.  Many of us have our “tried and true” recipes that we’ve used for years, so we also share these with each other. And we are always looking for something that will cause the calories to evaporate.  For instance, did you know that if the top of your cheesecake cracks, the calories escape?

How many members typically attend your monthly baking club meetings?  Where are your gatherings held?

Because this has been such a small community for so long, we’ve had about 6 to 8 members from the time we were founded until this past year.  Now, with more people moving into our community, we have 11 official members. We use our Clubhouse kitchen to do our food preparation, so at some point we are going to have to decide if we have to cap the number of members in the Ardiente Baking Club, as our kitchen is just about at capacity now.  If many more attended our meetings, not everyone would get a hands-on experience.

Do members have to bring anything to the Baking Club gatherings, such as ingredients, baking pans, measuring cups, and so on?  If not, who is responsible for purchasing ingredients and gathering baking tools ahead of time?

Baking Club members do not have to bring any supplies to the monthly meetings.  We have been charging $5.00 per month for each member who attends our meetings, and we use this fee to purchase ingredients in advance.  If we have money left over after purchasing ingredients, we put this toward buying additional baking pans and other supplies for the club, so that we don’t have to bring these items from home.

To this point, I have been the primary person that has handled the tasks of gathering the recipes, buying the ingredients, and leading the session.  Since the time that the club was founded, Karen Lage has graduated from the Cordon Bleu Culinary School.  When she has time she leads our monthly meeting – and then we really have top quality baked goods! One of our members, Gloria Bean, is known as “The Cookie Lady,” and she sometimes shares her recipes and directs our activities.  Our formal Club has Mary Archer as President, Ray Stokes as Vice-President, and I am Secretary/Treasurer. We are not limited to female members only, and at the present time, we have three male members.

Can you share three of your club’s favorite recipes with us?
Below are just a few of the recipes that have been a success at our Ardiente Baking Club meetings.  Enjoy!

Almost-Never-Fail Pie and Pastry Crust

  • 2 1/2  C flour
  • 1 C Crisco
  • Dash salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Milk

Cut shortening into flour and salt mixture.  Separate eggs; combine yolks with enough milk to make 2/3 cup.  Combine milk mixture with flour mixture.  Toss lightly.  Roll out desired amount on well-floured board.  Whisk egg whites with a small amount of water.  Brush top of pie or pastry for a glazed finish.

Pecan Tarts

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • maraschino cherry halves

Beat cream cheese and butter; blend in flour and salt.  Chill for 1 hour.  Shape into 1 in. balls; press into the bottom and up the sides of greased mini-muffin cups.  For filling, beat the egg in a small mixing bowl.  Add brown sugar, butter and vanilla; mix well.  Stir in pecans.   Fill each cup.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool in pan.  Decorate with maraschino cherries.

Almost-From-Scratch Red Velvet Cake

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 Duncan Hines Fudge Marble Cake Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Buttermilk

Mix buttermilk (instead of water) into cake mix.  Add 2 eggs.  Add the cocoa mix and 2 oz. red food coloring. Beat for two minutes.  Fold in vinegar. Fold in baking soda.  Bake as directed on box.

These sound delicious!  Thank you for taking the time to share the story of the Ardiente Baking Club with us, Thyra!