Speeding our way to Annapolis through grey days full of rain, mist, countercurrents, and a headwind was anything but warm. And what do you do on unheated boat when it’s cold? Bake.
I found a container of blueberries that had fallen through the cracks so to speak. By through the cracks I mean somehow it had fallen down into the depths of the back of our refrigerator/freezer. The place you can only get to by lying on the counter and leaning halfway into the refrigerator/freezer balancing and hoping you don’t fall in.
Somehow the berries had been kept just on the edge of freezing and the low temperatures had extended their life for almost 6-weeks. I recovered the berries from the frozen part of the refrigerator/freezer plump, juicy, and beautiful as the day they were plucked. Still, they needed to be used. What better an end then blueberry muffins?
Muffins and really all quick breads are great for sailing. They take almost no preparation time. I really recommend having a muffin tin aboard because muffins take significantly less baking time (and thus propane) than tea cakes. Another reason that muffins are better sailing food than tea cake is that each one is a single serving and you do not have to bother with cutting off a slice. Just grab and go. The 6 muffins I made (we only have a small muffin tin) were devoured in less than an hour. The blueberry teacake lasted 3-days before I cut it into slices and made French toast out of it.
And unlike banana bread, blueberry muffins are best hot and fluffy right out of the oven. Tasty, tender, and scrumptious you’ll want to eat so many you’ll make a good ballast for your boat.
Ballast Blueberry Muffins
Ballast: Weights to help counter-balance the effect of wind on the masts and give the boat stability.
- 3 c Flour
- 1 c Sugar
- 1 ½ t Baking powder
- ½ t Salt
- ¾ c Vegetable oil
- 1 ½ c Milk
- 3 Eggs (or 1 ½ T egg replacer)
- 1 T Vanilla
- 1 ½ c Blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (175◦ Celsius or medium)
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla
- When mixed well add blueberries
- Bake for 20-25 minutes
“The oven is a little tricky. You need to turn the pans a lot,” Captain X had warned me. I was used to cooking on the road. Through Couchsurfing, I had had the opportunity to cook in all varieties of stoves throughout South America; from wood-burning ovens, to little propane camping torches. I’d seen it all. This yacht’s propane oven couldn’t scare me.
And so my battle with the propane stove began. As they say, pride cometh before the fall, and thinking your first try is going to be perfect is downright hubris. I went into it fully warned what I was up against, but even so, the resulting cranberry lemon bread (the kind of bread that would have been muffins if I had had proper muffin tins) was not my best work. Even with a well-oiled pan and turning every 5 minutes, the bread still wasn’t baked completely evenly. Worst still, it stuck to the pan.
After trials, tribulations, and much turning (the pan, not me), I was the victor of my battle with the propane oven, but only by a razor thin margin. Devoured in a few hours, it was tasty enough; unfortunately the presentation left something to be desired. A golden-brown top would have been impossible unless I charred the bottom.
Cooking in an oven heated by one thin row of propane flames pushed my baking expertise to its limits. Even so, the recipe is quite tasty.
This was 3 years ago, my first time crewing on a yacht. The Wonderwall was a beautiful catamaran with a lovely galley,and I am very happy that I had my first experience cooking on a boat on her. But even with a nice galley, cooking on a boat is different from cooking on shore.
Since then I have learned a lot from cooking in different galleys.
Even on land every oven is different, but boats take this to the extreme. Temperamental ovens are pretty standard on yachts. I haven’t crewed on a boat yet whose oven didn’t need careful watching or at the very least a few turns. But this is by no means an insurmountable challenge. Once you get to know your oven’s quirks everything will fall into place. Just remember, at least the first few times remember to stay in the galley and turn whatever you’re baking every 5-10 minutes
And if you have to leave the galley for any reason for you to leave the saloon/galley area be sure to turn off the gas. No one wants to come back from an emergency sail change to the smell of burnt bread .
Cranberry Lemon Tea Cake (muffins if you like- or have muffin tins on board)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 t vanilla
- 3 T lemon juice
- ½ c dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 f (175 c ), or medium
- Grease and flour loaf pan (I made the mistake of not flouring my pan)
- Stir dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl (flour, sugar, and baking powder)
- Stir in milk, eggs, and flavorings
- Add oil
- Stir in dried cranberries
Cook for 30 minutes turning