Meet Lauren, Our Pastry Chef Here at Red Horse Mountain Ranch, And Check Out a Holiday Recipe!

Lauren, our full-time pastry chef, spends an extensive amount of time at the ranch making sure our guests have the most delicious muffins, scones, desserts, and bread- all made from scratch! From 6 am until dinner, she is in the bakery of our kitchen making sure everything is perfect and fitting to the taste of our guests. One of the most appreciated aspects of our kitchen at Red Horse Mountain Ranch is that we cater to all food preferences, whether it is gluten or diary free, vegetarian, or individual allergies, Lauren can bake an exceptional dessert, bread, or whatever is needed! Our guests always appreciate the personal attention they gain if there is a need for particular dietary needs.

Lauren’s bread, desserts, and other baked goods are always a favorite! Delectable pastries and bread can only come from a passionate pastry chef, and as an all-inclusive dude ranch this is definitely a well-valued asset for us, and especially for our guests! We always recognize and value the thanks and compliments that our guests give when they stop by the kitchen after a favorite dessert, bread, or meal is tasted.

Check out some of Lauren’s personal answers on being a pastry chef at Red Horse:

What interested you in working at Red Horse Mountain Ranch? “The variety of the menu and the opportunity to bake everything for each meal fresh and from scratch.”

As a chef, what is your favorite food to cook? “I typically stick to baking during the guest season, but sometimes I’ll make one of the courses for our wine dinner (in addition to the dessert course.) I really like to make pot roast. It makes the kitchen smell like my grandma’s house.”

What is your favorite thing to bake at the ranch? “I love to bake bread. My favorite bread is Ciabatta; the dough couldn’t be simpler—just flour, water, yeast, and salt—but the end result is unlike any other bread.”

What is the most rewarding part about being a pastry chef at Red Horse? “The most rewarding thing about being a pastry chef at Red Horse is knowing that my food is helping to bring families closer together and to create new friendships when they gather around the table for each meal.”

Most difficult aspect?  “Dishes! Getting dried-on dough out of a mixing bowl takes a lot of elbow grease and a lot of precious time. Thank goodness for our kitchen assistants! Whether they’re washing dishes or helping to prep the next meal, the kitchen assistants make the chefs’ jobs and my job much easier.”

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting Lauren’s baked goods: here is a recipe that can bring a bit of Red Horse Mountain Ranch to your home., especially for the holiday season, enjoy!! More to come on Lauren’s chef skills and ranch food!

Frosted Pumpkin Bars

Butter            4 oz

Brown sugar            1 cup

Egg            1

Vanilla            ½ tsp

Mascarpone cheese            4 oz

Pumpkin puree            4 oz

Flour            1 cup

Baking powder            ½ tsp

Baking soda            1/8 tsp

Salt            ¼ tsp

Cinnamon            ½ tsp

Ginger            ¼ tsp

Cloves            pinch

Pecans, toasted            ¾ cup (optional)

Toffee candies (I use Werther’s Original)            12 (optional)

 

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese            3 oz

Butter            1.5 oz (3 T)

Powdered sugar            ¼ – ½ cup (to taste)

Maple extract            ½ – 1 tsp (to taste)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and grease with pan spray.

In a plastic bag, smash the unwrapped candies until the pieces are very small. Add the pecans and break them up, too. Set the bag aside for later.

Brown the butter in a small sauce pan. The butter solids will fall to the bottom of the pan and turn golden brown; the butter will give off a nutty flavor.

Remove from the heat and pour over the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk together, then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

Whisk in the mascarpone and pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Then add them to the wet mixture and fold together until the mixture just comes together.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the pecan and toffee mixture over the batter. Then top with the remaining batter. (You can make these bars without the nut filling—just pour all the batter in the pan. I like the textual variation that the nut and toffee mixture provides.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the sugar; start with the smaller quantity, taste, then add more if you prefer a sweeter frosting. (I use the smaller quantity as a sweeter frosting can overpower the bars.)

Add the maple extract to taste. (The strength of maple flavor can vary by brand, so start with a small amount and add more if needed—you want to still be able to taste the cream cheese.) Once frosted, portion into 12 – 16 bars.