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The farm was firing up its new brick oven and what better way to celebrate than to make fresh dough and top it off with, among other ingredients, the farm’s signature goat, cow and feta cheeses.
“The idea for the oven came to me one day last year at this time,” said co-owner Barbara Brooks. “We wanted to promote agriculture and get more people to come to the farm.”
She and partner Lynn Ahblad got in touch with Avi Gabel-Richards, a local mason who does stonework for the National Park Service.
Ahblad and Gabel-Richards pored over the book “The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens,” by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott.
And then the project went from there.
Over the summer Gabel-Richards pecked away at the stone-clad oven on weekends and had no idea how much he was being watched.
“Avi was in the post office and someone said: ‘Why aren’t you back there finishing the oven? I have an anadama recipe I want to try,’” Brooks said.
Community baking is exactly what Brooks and Ahblad have in mind.
They would like to hold a monthly open bake — the first might happen before Thanksgiving — during which people bring their own dough and pop it in the oven.
With the necessary permits they also hope to bake and sell pizza next summer.
The oven is a classic mix of cement blocks for the core, a brick hearth and a stone exterior for aesthetics and to hold the heat.
The stones were reclaimed from a large berm behind the barn and power-washed.
Ahblad said it takes almost 24 hours to get the brick oven heated to a temperature of 700-800 degrees F, which she measures with a temperature gun.
She and Chef Eileen Kell decided over the course of baking on the christening day, Oct. 27, that 560 degrees seemed to be optimum for the best pizza crust.
Kell made a whole range of pizzas for the drop-in crowd of about 30.
There were pizzas with vegetables and pizzas with apples and pizzas with small circles of goat meat that tasted like pepperoni. Most were topped with cheese.
Kell quickly pulled the pies from the red hot oven with a wooden pizza shovel and Akane Hirosawa, a Japanese intern at the farm, sliced them into manageable pieces.
A brioche dough was prepared for the sweeter offering of apple pizza with cheese.
Kell said the wood-fired oven with its even heat was “the best ever.”
“It was a great and holy honor to put the first pizza in that oven,” she said.
Brioche Dough for Apple Pizza
2½ tsps. yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 cup flour
3 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
Mix above ingredients, except for butter, by hand (or preferably mixer) until you have smooth, elastic bread dough. Then add 1¾ cup flour. Blend until smooth again. Add butter. Incorporate. Let rise. Punch down. Roll out onto floured board.
Seal Cove Farm Chevrotin goat cheese
2 cups peeled and chopped apple
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon. Spread over brioche dough. Sprinkle with Chevrotin.
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1-2 Tbsps. honey or sugar
½ cup olive oil
1-2 Tbsps. salt
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
Mix water, yeast and honey and let it rest about five minutes. Add oil and salt. Add enough wheat flour, cornmeal and white flour until sticky. Knead until it is springy. Let it rise in bowl, one to two hours. Shape into balls and roll out on floured board.
Pearl Pizza with Arugula
Seal Cove Farm Pearl cheese
Sprinkle dough with arugula, caramelized onion and top with slices of Seal Cove Farm Pearl cheese.
Jacqueline Weaver covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. A New Hampshire native, she has vacationed in Maine for 25 years and has been with The American for three.Website: ellsworthamerican.com