Seabrook bakes off
Love of baking doesn’t fade with ageBy Julia Collins
Most people move to Seabrook, an Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., to escape the burdens of a house. But house and yard maintenance aren’t the only culprits in holding people back from enjoying their retirement. Many people move to the community with two restaurants and a café to avoid cooking daily meals.
Not Marge Gibson and Madelyn Lawson. These two culinarians enjoy baking, cooking, and entertaining in their Seabrook apartment homes, and they find they have plenty of space to do so and plenty of friends with whom to share their goodies.
In fact, both entered the community’s first-ever dessert challenge, a bake-off between residents and staff members.
“I enjoy baking and the pleasure it gives my friends and family,” Marge says. “If I’m bored I just go out into the kitchen and bake something. I always find someone to give it to.”
For the bake-off, Marge made an “old, old family recipe” for apricot horns. The flaky, horn-shaped cookie filled with apricot jam is one of her family’s favorites. Made with butter, cottage cheese, and flour, the dough has a hint of almond essence, complementing the apricot filling.
“I have the dough in my freezer, so I can make them any time I want,” says Marge.
She has been baking and cooking for as long as she can remember. Since moving to Seabrook from San Diego, Calif., and Freehold, N.J., before that, she continues to enjoy entertaining guests. “My kitchen is great for all my baking,” she says.
Baking buddy Madelyn Lawson also entered the competition with a dessert with an almond flair. She often gives her almond puffs—bars of crusty, almond-flavored dough iced and dusted with slivered almonds—away as token gifts, “when it’s not proper to give money,” she says.
Her daughter, also a baker, found the recipe several years ago, and it’s graced the family repertoire ever since.
“I love to bake, but I really love to cook,” Madelyn says. “I have to give away cookbooks to my children because I have so many.”
Mostly, Madelyn says, she enjoys entertaining in her Seabrook apartment home, “even though most people like to go out to eat,” she adds.
“I think it’s cozy to have friends over. My kitchen is very suitable for entertaining and cooking,” Madelyn says. “I like to try new recipes and to make things pretty, to set the table, to entertain.”
Nine Seabrook community members and ten staff members competed in the dessert challenge, November 7, at the community. From cakes to cookies to pies, the judges had their plates full.
Fellow Seabrook neighbor and resident advisory council member Jim McDonnell, Fireside restaurant chef David Nixon, and Coaster reporter Don Stine judged the 19 decadent desserts.
Staff member Vince Accera’s chocolate-layered truffle won first prize, and all look forward to next year’s challenge.
“It was fun coming up with the recipe and participating,” Madelyn says. She especially liked wearing her chef’s hat.
Madelyn Lawson’s Almond Puff
Serves 10 to 12
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp water
½ cup butter
1 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sugar glaze (recipe below)
Slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut ½ cup of softened butter into 1 cup of flour (the recipe has another cup of flour to be used later). Add the 2 tbsp of water and mix with a fork. Form into a ball and divide in half. Roll or pat each half into a strip 12 x 3 inches long. Place them 3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, bring the other ½ cup of butter and 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat; whisk in the almond extract and the other 1 cup of flour. Reduce heat to low and stir until the mixture forms a ball (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and beat in eggs until smooth. Divide in half. Spread evenly over strips, covering completely.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes until topping is crisp and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. Frost with sugar glaze and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
In a mixer, combine 1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 2 tbsp softened butter, 1 tsp almond extract, and 1 to 2 tbsp warm water until smooth and spreadable.