On long passages the days can blur together in the routine (okay, this is a good passage we’re talking about here). Sounds boring, but it isn’t bad. There is always something to do and days slide by almost without notice. Still, it’s nice to shake a little spice of celebration in there. Umineko was lucky; of the 4 crew, 2 of us had March birthdays, so we had sea celebrations to plan to break the passage up.
I don’t usually do much for my birthday. Traveling so much it usually gets forgotten or I’m just not with close friends and it doesn’t matter. I figured this one would be the same. Sure, I make cakes for other people on their birthdays but I didn’t really want to make one for myself. That just seemed gratuitous.
When my birthday came, I wasn’t expecting anything… and almost cried at Sato San’s kindness. Somehow, on the 45 foot boat he managed to bake me a special Japanese cake called Dorayaki without my knowing! I could hardly believe it when he brought it out… there was even a candle for me to blow out!
Dorayaki is a sweet layer cake filled with anko, brown sugary adzuki bean paste. No one had baked me a birthday cake since I was a little girl. I was so touched at Sato San’s delicious creation.
I’m not sure he had ever baked a cake before in his life, but it was scrumptious. Japanese desserts are not nearly as sweet as Western ones, and dorayaki is no exception. The layer “cakes” are more like a slightly sweeter version of Western pancakes. The filling though, anko, is sweet. My friend’s son calls it “Chinese chocolate,” and I have heard other Americans say it’s too sweet for them. To me it is sweet and delicious but not too sweet. I know, I know, we don’t usually think of beans in desserts but believe me. Anko is yummy.
This isn’t my recipe, but I found a wonderful Dorayaki Recipe on Japanese cooking 101. Even better (when you have enough bandwidth), they have cooking videos of how to make each recipe. I highly recommend trying this tasty recipe when you have a chance.
A few weeks later it was Toshi San’s birthday… the Umineko boys had thrown me a fantastic birthday. I had to make sure Toshi got a fun one too. Or at least a tasty treat on his birthday.
I did my best to keep it a surprise and bake and decorate while Toshi San slept. Decorating pies, by the way, is not the easiest thing. I’m not quite sure I did as good a job as Sato San had with clandestine baking, but I did my best.
Apple pie was one of Toshi San’s favorites, so I had made a point of buying some in Panama and reserving a few for his birthday pie, secreting them in my cabin.
Most people think of apple pie with milk, and *sigh* ice cream, at least I do. Alas the nearest ice cream parlor was still well over a thousand nautical miles away and ice cream is one of those things almost impossible to keep on a boat. The boys poo pooed the idea of apple pie and milk. Ordinarily we didn’t drink on passage, but today was a birthday celebration. Beer was in order. And so it was… we served apple pie and beer for Toshi San’s birthday crossing the Pacific.
Apples are a wonderful fruit to keep at sea. They last for literally months. Just keep them wrapped up in a dark, dry, and cool (ish) place there’s one on board. Since apples grow in cold climates they’re hard to find in the tropics, but they definitely last. There are people who use canned apples in pie, and admittedly cooking on a yacht I have cut corners that I never thought I would, but I draw the line at canned apples. To me making apple pie out of a can is nothing short of sacrilegious.
Admirals Apple Pie
- 3 c flour
- 1 c cold butter
- 1 t salt
- 3 T rum
- 2 T cold water
- Put flour and salt in bowl.
- Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks and stir into flour
- Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
- Mix in rum 1 T at a time
- Mix in water squeezing, until dough forms a cohesive ball
- Divide ball in half, roll into circle and line pie tin
- Roll other half of dough into thin circle
- 5 apples, cored and sliced (I prefer granny smith)
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- 2 T lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F)
- In large bowl place apple slices
- Mix in remaining ingredients except butter
- Spoon filling into crust-lined tin
- Lay remaining dough over pie tin
- Pinch edges closed
- Poke vent slits into pie crust with knife
- Cover edges of pie with tin foil to prevent them from getting too brown
- Place in oven for 45 minutes
- Remove tin foil
- Bake an additional 15 minutes until pie juices just start oozing out of vent slits and crust is a golden brown
- Allow to cool for at least ½ an hour… if you can wait that long