Boogie Nights

A sweary hyperactive maritime professional, really very keen on laughing a lot, doing their best to avoid all the trappings of societies' expectations by acting on impulse to any adventurous idea that wafts by. Let's go!

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30 July 2014

Extreme baking - part 1

Nothing lifts the spirits quite so well as a freshly baked goodie.

Whether that’s fresh baked bread, pastry, cookie or cake.

Some of Boogie Nights blog readers may recall my urge to bake a cake mid passage during the Triangle race recently.

I list “extreme baking” as one of my pastimes on my CV. It's almost a sport and I'm quite competitive.

Having fresh baked goods on board is a great way to make friends in port and can add a touch of the good life to a trip out, whether that’s a long passage, a race or short day sail.
Just because conditions can sometimes get hostile on board a sailing yacht, doesn’t mean we have to loose sight of civil things such as good food.

A happy and well fed crew is going to perform much better than one surviving only on tasteless dried food or canned mush.

Most people shy away from baking on board because of the paraphernalia required and the messy potential of dealing with raw ingredients. Not to mention a certain level of skill involved in getting the measurements right on a boat that might be leaning at 45 degrees and bouncing around, weighing scales are rendered useless.
In port we have the luxury of using the table, but at sea I use the floor space and the galley sink and drainer as secure places to put things to avoid them going flying.
breadcrumbs in the left bowl and sticky dough ball in the right bowl.

Getting the tools right before you start is essential.

What you will need:
  • A set of measuring cups/scoops and spoons

  • A sieve, small and large. (not absolutely essential)
  • A large enough bowl or container to fit everything into whilst mixing, (one which has a clipable lid is ideal if you have to abandon your project partway due to adverse conditions.) 
  • A measuring jug.
  • A pair of rubber gloves (marigolds work fine and last ages)
  • A non-stick baking tray with sides
  • Grater with various sized grating faces (not absolutely essential but very useful)
  • An airtight container, (this could be your mixing bowl/container.)

Two simple recipes for cookies


lemon, ginger & cinnamon cookies on the left  --  chocolate & chilli cookies on the right

ingredients can be used for more than just baking.

it all fits into a fairly compact space

Lemon, ginger & cinnamon cookies

  • 100g (2/3s of a cup) Plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teasppon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice or mixed spice
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 50g  butter (1/5th of a regular 250g block)
  • 50g caster sugar (1/4 cup slightly generous)
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup

Chuck into your bowl or mixing container : the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda, spices and grated lemon rind. Give it a stir with a stick/spoon/fork  Or put the lid on securely and give it a jiggle.

Once it’s nicely mixed up, chuck the butter in, diced ideally and don your rubber glove. One handed is fine for this, you need to massage the butter and dry ingredients together until they become breadcrumbs.
If you need to attend to deck duties at this time, simply slide the glove off, leaving it carefully in the container, stick the lid on and you can carry on where you left off later.

Light your oven. We are aiming for 180 degrees or gas mark 4, which in boat oven terms is usually <maximium>

Once the mix has become breadcrumbs, you can then add the caster sugar. You could use regular sugar, it's not that critical. Again, give the mix a good jiggle with a stick/spoon or other useful stirring/mixing object.
Once that lot is mixed, you can then chuck in two table spoons of syrup, stir it up and then get your gloved hand back in there to squeeze everything together by massaging it into a ball.

Once it’s all together in a ball, divide it into 12 equal parts, more or less and roll each part into a ball.
Get the non-stick tray and place the balls firmly to avoid them rolling about and evenly spaced to allow for spreading when in the oven. 
they spread quite a lot in the oven, if they touch though, they are easily separated once cooled.

Put the tray in the oven on the best shelf for the highest heat. Some ovens burn stuff at the back, so you might need to spin the tray round half way.
They should take about 10 mins.

Take the tray out and leave it somewhere safe to allow them to cool and harden up for 2 minutes. This may be a grill area if you have one or you might identify a safe area, such as a cupboard or behind a leacloth on a bunk or anywhere they can sit safely until they’ve gone hard. Once all of the balls are turned into cookies, you can wipe clean the mixing container and put the cookies into it, ready to serve.

Chocolate and chilli cookies

  • 100g (2/3s of a cup) Plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50g (1/4 cup) light muscavado sugar (demerera will do)
  • 50g  butter (1/5th of a regular 250g block)
  • ¼ teaspoon ready chopped chilli from a jar or mild fresh chopped red chilli
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 100g plain dark chocolate (smashed or finely chopped/coarse grated)

Put all the dry ingredients together into your mixing container, mix em up.
Then, it’s glove time, chuck in the diced butter and chilli. Give it a good rub until all the ingredients look like breadcrumbs.

Add the syrup, mix with a stick or spoon first then massage into a ball.

Light the oven, if using a boat oven, most likely setting is <maximum> or, if using a domestic oven, then 180 degrees or gas mark 4.

finally add the chopped up chocolate and knead that lot into the sticky ball so that its evenly distributed through the large dough ball.
Divide into 12 bits, roll into balls and squish down lightly onto the baking tray allowing space between for the balls to flatten out and spread a bit.

Put the tray in the oven, they should take around 10 minutes more or less.

Let them cool for a couple of minutes when they’re done so they harden up, then put them into your air tight container ready to serve. 

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