Naperville Eats: Prize-winning student has sweet plans
By Judy Buchenot firstname.lastname@example.org January 11, 2012 4:34PM
After patting the dough to an even thickness, Melissa Loar gets ready to cut out biscuits. | Judy Buchenot~For The Sun
With visions of sugarplums and pastries dancing in her head, Loar is anxious to learn all that she can about baking. Here she shares her knowledge and the recipe for her prize-winning biscuits and pumpkin bars.
8 ounces bread flour
8 ounces all-purpose flour
1 ounce granulated sugar
1.25 ounces baking powder
0.25 ounces salt
5 ounces cubed chilled butter
2 eggs, divided
8 ounces buttermilk
Sift together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter cubes and mix until butter pieces are pea-sized. Whisk eggs and measure 2.25 ounces. Save remaining egg to use as an egg wash. Whisk buttermilk and egg together and then combine with dry ingredient mixture. Use hands to mix until the dough holds together but be careful not to over mix the dough. Sprinkle flour on table, and roll or pat out dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut with round biscuit cutter. Lay biscuits on a pan lined with parchment paper. Brush remaining beaten egg over biscuits covering sides and top. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Best served warm.
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combines eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin with mixer until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix on low speed until smooth. Spread into a greased 13-by-10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. To making icing, combine butter and cream cheese in a mixer. Add sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Spread over cooled bars.
Updated: February 14, 2012 8:11AM
Melissa Loar thinks Naperville could use a new pastry shop, and if things go her way, she would like to be the shop owner someday.
The Naperville Central High School senior became interested in baking after watching several television shows, such as “Ace of Cakes” and “Cake Boss.” She started making cakes on her own, and has photos to prove it, including one featuring intricate lilies made for her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary and a birthday cake with a three-dimensional Mario figure created for a friend.
When Loar found out that she could complete advanced culinary classes through the Technology Center of DuPage as part of her high school electives, she enrolled in the program. She attends classes at Naperville Central in the morning and then travels to the TCD campus in Addison for the culinary and hospitality program.
“It has been a great experience so far,” Loar says. “It has really helped me see where I want to be in the food industry.”
Recently Loar competed in the 2011 Region 1 Skills USA contest and won first place in commercial baking.
“We had two hours to make biscuits and pipe frosting designs,” Loar says. “I made seven batches of the biscuits the week before the contest to practice. We got scored on sanitation, efficiency, presentation and the taste. It was really exciting.”
Loar says she has learned a whole new vocabulary in the program. Although her skill set expands with every class, she recognizes there is still a lot to learn.
“I would like to attend a pastry school and am looking at Kendall College in Chicago,” Loar said. “I would also like to travel to different countries to work in kitchens, so I can learn different techniques. I would like to travel around Europe working but also Hawaii.”
Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at Buchenot@comcast.net.