You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

As their first cookbook hits the bookstores this fall, the mother-daughter team at the Model Bakery in Napa Valley is getting ready for another season of holiday madness.

"At Halloween, we do a lot of decorated cupcakes and cookies, and we'll do spiderweb cakes," said co-owner and managing partner Sarah Mitchell Hansen, daughter of founder Karen Mitchell. "Our busiest time is Thanksgiving and Christmas."

The bakery has been a community hub in St. Helena since 1984, with a second location at Napa's Oxbow Public Market since 2008, providing everything the valley needs to run smoothly: coffee and pastries to kick-start mornings, cookies and cakes to celebrate special occasions, breakfasts and lunches to fuel workers and a delicious array of artisan breads to go.

"A lot of people get their birthday cakes, and then their wedding cakes," Hansen said. "We do a lot of local events. We've been doing the Napa Valley Wine Auction since it started."

"The Model Bakery Cookbook" (Chronicle Books, $35) offers 75 recipes from the bakery for sweet and yeasty treats, from its signature English Muffins and Pain Au Levain to Morning Glory Muffins and Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

"The book is user-friendly," Hansen said. "The layer cakes will take a little more time, but the basic muffins are pretty easy."

Mitchell, a former high school teacher and caterer, bought the bakery in 1984 after a trip through Europe inspired her to bring artisan bread to the valley.

Mitchell grew up in Portland in a family of Norwegian bakers. After renovating the bakery and its ovens, which had been operating since the early 1900s, she opened just before Thanksgiving in 1984 and never looked back.

"In the valley, there wasn't really a lot of options (for bread) in the '80s," Hansen said. "We were more focused on the European style. When we opened, my mom had a French pastry chef, and we had the breads made with wild yeast instead of commercial."

Along with master baker Peter Reinhart, who founded Brother Juniper's Bakery in Sonoma County, Mitchell was part of the pioneering Baker's Dozen group, a network launched in 1989 by cookbook author Marion Cunningham.

Since Hansen joined the bakery 10 years ago, she has expanded its wholesale business throughout the valley, providing fresh-baked bread for 80 accounts, including high-end restaurants such as Bottega, Bistro Jeanty and Domaine Chandon in Yountville.

"Probably our most popular bread is the French baguette," Hansen said. "It's a standard French sweet bread, made with a starter, but it has more acidity and depth."

The bakery uses organic ingredients, sourcing its flour from Central Milling of Utah (distributed by Keith Giusto Bakery Supply of Petaluma) and its dairy products from Clover-Stornetta of Petaluma.

The bakery rose to fame with its English Muffins, which were extolled by Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello on the Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."

"We make 1,000 a day, all done by hand and rolled in cornmeal," Hansen said. "Then we fry them on the stovetop in clarified butter."

Morning pastries that fly out the door include the Morning Buns (made with croissant dough and cinnamon sugar), Blueberry Muffins, Croissants, Pain au Chocolat and Bear Claws.

"We open at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays," Hansen said, "and we have a line, especially during harvest."

While growing up, Hansen spent a lot of time at the bakery, sitting on flour bags, doing her homework and munching on cookies.

"The Model Bakery Cookbook" includes several cookie recipes as well, including a decadent double chocolate and espresso cookie known as the Chocolate Rad (short for radical).

"It's a really fudgy cookie, especially when they're warm," she said. "It's crackly outside and gooey inside."

During the fall holidays, the bakery is flooded with orders for its seasonal pies, from the classic Brandied Pumpkin Pie to the Apple Streusel Pie.

Although it now boasts more than 60 employees, the bakery still operates like a small business, offering house charge accounts for locals and their kids.

"The kids will come over and do their homework and meet their parents there," Hansen said. "It's a gathering place."


The following recipes are from "The Model Bakery Cookbook," by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen with Rick Rodgers.

<strong>Morning Glory Muffins</strong>

"Morning Glory Muffins are a flavor-packed way to start the day, with carrots, apples, coconut and raisins all playing a part."

<em>Makes 16 muffins.</em>

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, plus ? cup

1/2 cup dark raisins

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line 16 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together into a medium bowl.

Combine the carrots and apple in a small bowl.

Beat the vegetable oil and sugar together in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer set on high speed until light in color, about 2 minutes. (Or whisk by hand for 2 minutes). One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating them with two equal additions of the carrots mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition. Mix in the ? cup coconut and all of the raisins.

Using a number-16 food-portion scoop with about a ?-cup capacity, transfer the batter to the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining ? cup coconut over the tops.

Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, transfer to wire cooling racks, and let cool. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.


<strong>Chocolate Rads</strong>

"These radically chocolate cookies are guaranteed to be a hit. ... The chocolate is, of course, an important element, but some people are surprised to find espresso in here, as well."

<em>Makes 12 large cookies.</em>

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 pound semisweet chocolate (no more than 55 percent cacao), finely chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon cold brewed espresso (or 1 teaspoon instant espresso dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water and cooled)

2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.

Put the chopped chocolate in a large, heat-proof bowl, preferably stainless steel. Set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water and let stand, stirring occasionally, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and incorporated into the chocolate.

Beat the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until the mixture is fluffy, thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. (Or whisk the mixture by hand for about 8 minutes.) Beat in the espresso and vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the melted chocolate, being careful not to overmix. Add the flour mixture, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that the batter is completely mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. The dough will be soft, so let it stand until firm enough to shape, 20 to 30 minutes.

Place an 18-by-13-inch sheet of parchment paper on the work surface. Drop large spoonfuls of the dough across the width of the paper. Using wet hands, pat and shape the dough into a 12-by-3-inch log. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper, smoothing the dough into an even log. Twist the ends of the paper closed. Place the log on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Position racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

Since the log will be flat where it sat on the baking sheet, roll the wrapped dough on the work surface to smooth it so that the slices will be nice and round. Unwrap the dough. Using a thin, sharp knife dipped in water, cut the dough into 12 1-inch-thick rounds. Arrange the rounds about 3 inches apart on the lined pans, allowing four cookies per pan. Refrigerate the remaining rounds.

Bake, switch the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the tops of the cookies are cracked and the edges are beginning to crisp, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling racks and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds on a cooled pan. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


<strong>Brandied Pumpkin Pie</strong>

"If you have a bakery, people expect you to sell pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and you had better comply. The trick is to make your customers take notice of something that they have eaten many times. Our filling has a splash of brandy, crystallized (not ground) ginger, and just enough sugar."

<em>Makes 8 servings.</em>

Unbleached all-purpose flour for rolling out the dough

1 recipe Pie Dough (see below)

For filling:

1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin

1 cup heavy cream

3 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger, plus more for garnishing

2 tablespoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground mace

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Whipped cream, for optional garnish

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a round about 13 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. You will see flakes of flattened butter and shortening in the dough, which is just what you want. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the overhanging dough so it only extends ? inch beyond the rim of the pan; discard the trimmings. Working around the perimeter of the pan, fold the dough under so the fold is flush with the rim of the pan, and flute the dough. Freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Place the pie pan on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges of the pie dough look set and are just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the pie pan from the oven, keeping it on the baking sheet. Remove the foil and pie weights.

To make the filling: Combine the pumpkin, cream, eggs, sugar, crystallized ginger, brandy, cinnamon, mace, cloves and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well combined. Pour into the pie shell.

Put the pie in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until most of the filling has puffed but the very center looks shiny and hasn't quite set, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate until the pie is chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, garnish with crystallized ginger, cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.


<strong>Pie Dough</strong>

"Every bakery has a proprietary recipe for pie dough. Our recipe includes butter and vegetable shortening. Since butter tastes so good, why do many recipes use shortening or lard? Unlike butter, these last two fats contain very little water. Since liquid toughens the gluten in flour, the less water in the dough ingredients, the flakier the dough."

<em>Makes one 9-inch crust.</em>

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2-inch cubes, chilled

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, chilled

1/4 cup ice-cold water, as needed

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat with flour. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are about half their original size. Add the shortening and toss to coat. Continue cutting in the butter and shortening until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-size pieces of the solids. Do not overmix. While stirring the mixture with a fork, gradually add enough of the water so the dough begins to clump together.

Gather up the dough and shape into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled but not hard, about 1 hour. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. If the dough is well chilled and hard, let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out.

<em>You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com.</em>