I’ve mentioned it in my two love letter to Lopez posts, but my brothers and I went to camp each summer on that magical island. I started at the age of 10 and went for 6 years. My brothers started younger and went longer. It was a perfect place. Camp Nor’wester was on a 365 acre peninsula anchored to Lopez by a narrow spit of land just wide enough for a road. The very youngest kids lived in wood frame cabins (with canvas tops) and the rest of the camp population – including all the staff – lived in teepees. The only electricity was found in the showerhouses, the infirmary, the craft shop, and the lodge. We had to heat water by fire to take showers. It was rustic and at times very very cold. I learned how to get dressed in a sleeping bag and how to take the fastest shower possible in addition to other valuable things.
We spent our days on the water in sailboats, canoes, or rowboats or riding on the trails on horses, or learning how to shoot a bow and arrow in the sunny fields. We spent our meals sitting at tables of eight scarfing down filling (and not all terrible) food, “bletching” the leftovers into buckets for the pigs to eat, and hoping the dessert would be cut in large pieces. Evenings we were playing capture the flag or soccer, going to a square dance where you hoped a cute boy or girl would ask you to be their partner, or sitting around a campfire listening to someone sing and play the guitar. We spent a lot of time singing from the much beloved camp songbook and we also learned about the Northwest Coast Native American tribe whose beautiful totem poles, art, dances and long house were such a big part of the camp.
After years of being a camper there, it would come time be a member of the staff. You spend a week at staff training where you do all the things the kids will do. You have an overnight, you go to a square dance, you try your hand at all the activities and you go to chapel (which is non-denominational). Then the kids come and you work really hard. There are two big things you get to do that the kids don’t. One is that you get to go to Rice Krispie Hour which is a gathering time in the kitchen after the kids are in bed. That is where you get to eat all the leftover dessert and vent about your teepee-mate. The other is that you get to take turns leaving camp during rest hour and head to Holly B’s for home-baked provisions.
Why would you leave a perfect idyll and head to town? A place so beautiful and special many people have been married there and others have requested that their ashes be spread somewhere over the 365 acres (myself included)? Well, it depends on what you mean by idyll. For some people, a perfect bakery in a perfect little town might be about as idyllic as it gets.
My brother Alex went to town every single afternoon of every year that he worked there (except Tuesdays when the bakery is closed). And every single time he got the same thing. An Almond Butterhorn. Often he got several other things but he had to have the Butterhorn first and foremost. All the people in the bakery knew him and they would put one aside for him if the supply started getting low. For someone who is not really a sweets person, he would consume a huge amount of baked goods each summer, but only from Holly B.
I have had her cookbook for 8 years now and I just made the Almond Butterhorns for the first time on Sunday. I’ve approached the recipe many times and have been scared off. Not for any good reason – I have made much “harder” recipes in my time – but something about it just intimidated me. I’m happy to say that there was no reason to be scared because they turned out absolutely terrific and were not hard to make at all. Our brunch guests went crazy over them. Sadly, Alex had a preschool event for his daughter that day so he didn’t get one, but I promised him I’ll make them again. And soon.
To order Holly B’s cookbook, click here.
One Year Ago: Roasted Pepper Stuffed with Chickpea and Eggplant Purée and Mushrooms
With Love and Butter
Makes 12 butterhorns
Keep in mind that the dough needs to be prepared a day before you want to bake and serve them.
1/2 cup warm water
4 tsp. (2 packages) quick-rise yeast
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 cubes) butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup whole natural almonds
1/4 cup (1/2 cube) butter, melted
Blend the water and yeast in a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook. Add the eggs and egg yolk, brown sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix until combined, then add the flours. Mix until the flour disappears – just a few turns of the hook – and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle a handful of unbleached flour over the dough and mix until the dough starts to form a ball. The dough will be very soft. Scrape into an oiled bowl or plastic container about 3 times as large as the ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, line 3 cookie sheets with baking parchment or grease lightly. In a food processor fitted with the steel knife blade, chop the brown sugar and almonds together until the almond pieces are about the size of peas. Reserve 3/8 cup filling for the glaze and set the rest aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn ont a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour and shape into a rectangle with your hands. Now roll out the dough into a rectangle approximately 12 by 24 inches and 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Check the underside of the dough frequently for sticking and sprinkle on more flour as needed.
Position the dough with the short sides at top and bottom, and brush the entire surface with the 1/4 cup melted butter. Distribute the almond filling over the lower 2/3 of the buttered dough, covering all the way to the edges and pressing gently into the dough to hold in place. Fold the top (uncovered) portion of the dough to cover 1/2 the almond filling. Fold once more to cover all the filling.
Now roll the dough to about 3/4-inch thickness, keeping the rectangular shape but with the long sides at top and bottom. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 even strips along the short dimension.
Take up a strip of dough, one end in each hand, and twist 3 or 4 times in opposite directions. (Or, place the strip on your work surface and use the palms of your hands to roll the ends in opposite directions.) Now gather both ends in one hand, maintaining the twist, and loop the middle of the dangling strip up over the ends. Place the butterhorn on one of the prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with the remaining pastries, spacing them at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy and 50 percent larger. This may take 5 minutes on a hot day or a half-hour or longer on a cold day.
Before the pastries finish rising, preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack in the center position. One pan at a time, bake the butterhorns 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake another 5 minutes or until the tops are barely brown and the bottoms golden. Don’t overbake – they’re much better moist.
While the butterhorns bake, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low until just warm, stirring constantly. (DT: I reheated the glaze as each pan came out of the oven because it tends to get too thick if too cool.) Dribble the glaze onto the butterhorns as they come out of the oven. Let them cool a bit before serving.