Baker Rises to National Level

03 Mar Baker Rises to National Level

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“Ulm woman takes grand prize in Bake for the Cure; heading to Pillsbury Bake-off”
story in the Great Falls Tribune Wednesday, March 3, 2010.
  
  
  

Baker rises to national level

Ulm woman takes grand prize in Bake for the Cure; heading to Pillsbury Bake-off

 

Story and photos by SYDNE GEORGE For the Tribune

Ulm home baker Aimee Hachi­gian- Gould assumed she was on the wrong end of a prank call when she learned she was the $1,000 national grand prize winner in the Fleischmann’s Bake for the Cure contest. That was until she realized the person on the line was Beth Betcher, the Fleischmann’s Yeast representative she had spoken with on past occasions when she had won baking contests at the Montana State Fair.

The judges absolutely loved Hachigian-Gould’s winning recipe for Strawberries and Cream Cof­feecake, Betcher said.

“The flavor was a delightful blend of sweet cake with a rich, fruit filling and the texture was a divine soft crumb cake due to the use of cake flour,” the judges said.

“The presentation was beautiful with the crumb topping and the optional use of a heart-shaped pan.”

Hachigian-Gould said when she developed the recipe she wanted to create an elegant and pretty, but easy, yeast-risen coffeecake that could be made on short notice.

“It had to be pink, of course, because it was for the breast can­cer awareness theme,” she said.

Creating winning recipes is nothing new for Hachigian-Gould.

Actually, she’s been entering and winning baking and cooking contests for years. Her first contest was the Michigan State Fair in 1982, and the following year she won a blue ribbon there for Ghura­bia, an Armen­ian butter

cookie that melts in your mouth.

Since then she has won numer­ous cooking contests at the Mon­tana State Fair, including the SACO and E. Guittard Chocolate Cake Contests, Spam Cook-off, Wheat and Barley Thon, Crisco Pie Contest, SACO Soup Contest and the C & H Sugar Fudge Contest.

Hachigian-Gould said she’s always loved to be in the kitchen, cooking and baking.

“My earliest memories of home seem to revolve around the kitchen,” Hachigian-Gould said, adding that she thinks that’s because she is 100 percent Armen­ian and “we’re always feeding peo­ple.”

She learned to cook from her mother and grandmothers and said that cooking is always a fami­ly affair with Armenians. And by family she means the whole family. She remembers starting weeks

in advance to prepare for family get­togethers that might include not only the immediate family, but also all of the in­laws and the in-laws of the in-laws, as well as the shirttail relatives and neigh­bors, too. Hachigian-Gould said she learned to cook for 50 to 100 people at a time.

She said the men in her grandfather’s village in Armenia were bound by blood and friendship and that these ties contin­ued in America when her relatives ended up in Detroit in 1915 following the Turk­ish genocide against the Armenians.

As a result, Hachigian-Gould’s favorite things to bake are Armenian pastries, both sweet and savory, and anything chocolate. It’s important to Hachigian-Gould that the finished product looks beautiful, especially when she’s cooking for a competition.

“It’s fun to test myself on a recipe or technique I’ve never done before, just to say ‘I did that’,” she said.

Her motto is “No fear in the kitchen,” and she said she’s pretty good in the backcountry, too, cooking on a wood stove or over a campfire.

Hachigian-Gould loves competing against her mother, Louise Hachigian, because she was her teacher in the kitchen.

“We collect recipes all year, trying to dream up something exotic for the fair contests,” Hachigian-Gould said.

Her twin sons, Andrew and Brandon Gould, 17, have been carrying on the family tradition and entering cooking contests since they were little. She said it’s exciting when they win, especially when they were 6 and baked unsuper­vised in the Family Living Center and won blue ribbons in the Wheat and Bar­ley Thon.

Perhaps even more exciting than her Bake for the Cure win was news that she is a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-off this year.

Hachigian-Gould will fly to Orlando, Fla., in April to compete with 100 other finalists for the $1 million grand prize in the 44th Pillsbury Bake-off. There, she’ll bake the Featherlight Cheddar Ranch Puffs she describes as “a yeasty light bis­cuit made with Pillsbury All-Purpose flour and Land o’ Lakes butter with ranch dressing mix, bacon, green onions and cheddar cheese.”

“Everyone who eats them asks for the

recipe, and no one guesses that yeast is the key to their lightness,” she said.

“It’s still hard to believe I was selected from literally tens of thousands of entrants,” she said, likening being select­ed to the Pillsbury Bake-off to “finding the Holy Grail for the home cook.”

She always believed if she was select­ed it would be for a really exotic choco­late creation. Instead it was for “a very easy quick and delicious breakfast bis­cuit puff that her sons have been making since they were about 3 years old.”

Hachigian-Gould shared some of her prize-winning recipes.

STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM COFFEE CAKE Cake:



2¾ cups cake flour



¾ cup sugar



¾ cup butter



1 envelope Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast



½ tsp. baking soda



½ tsp. Argo baking powder



1 cup sour cream



¼ cup water



1 egg



1 tsp. almond extract



1 tsp. 100 percent pure bourbon vanilla extract Filling:



1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened



¼ cup sugar



1 egg



½ tsp. almond extract



1 tsp. vanilla extract



Red food coloring, optional



¾ cup strawberry jam



½ cup sliced almonds

For cake: Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of crumbs. Stir undissolved yeast, baking soda and bak­ing powder into remaining crumbs. Com­bine sour cream and water; heat to very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Stir sour cream mixture, egg and extracts into flour mixture. Spread batter in greased 9­by-3-inch round or heart-shaped spring­form pan. Set aside while making filling. For filling: Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg and extracts; beat until smooth. Optional: tint to desired shade of pink with red food coloring (about 2 to 3 drops). Pour onto prepared cake batter. Top with jam and sprinkle with reserved crumbs and almonds.

Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes or until cake almost doubles in height.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden. Cool at least two hours. Store cake in refrigerator.

Recipe note: The light texture of this cake depends on cake flour. Do not sub­stitute all-purpose flour.

Ghurabia (Armenian butter cookie)

Easiest cookie recipe ever, Gould said. Use 1 pound clarified butter, 2 cups sugar, creamed with the cold butter until it dissolves (takes half an hour) and mix in 3 cups flour. Chill, then shape by hand or roll ¼ inch thick and cut out. Bake at 300° until set. Do not brown at all.

FEATHERLIGHT CHEDDAR-RANCH PUFFS



1 package (¼ ounces) active dry yeast (2½ tsp.)



¼ cup warm water (105° to 115°)



3 cups Pillsbury All Purpose Flour



1 tbsp. baking powder



¼ tsp. baking soda



1 tsp. salt



1 package (1 ounce) ranch dressing mix



½ cup cold butter



½ cup thinly sliced green onions (8 medium)



2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)



1 lb. bacon, cooked, crumbled



1¼ cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 400°. Line cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper; spray paper with no-stick cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix yeast and warm water; set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour, baking pow­der, baking soda, salt and dressing mix. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

In small microwavable bowl, place onions. Cover with microwavable plastic wrap, folding back one side to vent; microwave on high 30 seconds. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes.

Add cheese and bacon to flour mix­ture; toss until well coated. Stir in yeast mixture, onions and buttermilk all at once until soft dough forms.

Drop dough by ¤ cupfuls 2 to 3 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until puffed and light golden brown.

Serve warm with additional butter, if desired.

2 Comments
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