Discovery, creativity and fun at The Hungry Oven

Photos by Kelly Marion

One Saturday morning, I found myself in North Vancouver at The Hungry Oven, cooking with a wonderful bunch of kids and either their mom or dad. I never would have thought I'd find myself in such a situation, and sort of wished I had my dad or mom to cook with me. Alas, I was flying solo, so I lived vicariously through the couplets while cooking by myself, with the occasional hand from one of the moms or Chef Dahn Bryan.  

After we put our cute Hungry Oven aprons on and went through some housekeeping and general safety rules, we were ready to cook some grub. Many of the kids had some experience in the kitchen, but the extent of their knowledge varied and they were eager to learn more.

The kids (from left): Lucy, Lauren, Michael, Ben

The menu on the website gave a general idea of The Hungry Oven's Saturday breakfast menu, but when it came down to it the dishes we prepared on that day strayed from what we saw online prior. There were no compaints to the alterations, though, as everything sounded delicious, with a healthy balance of both sweet and savory, familiar and new. 

We started off by making the dough for the cinnamon buns, as the recipe we were using was a double rise recipe so it needed the most time overall. Unsure of how confident and keen the group was, Chef Bryan gave us the opportunity of either using the bread making machine or making it by hand. To my delight (and probably hers too) the eager little group decided to do it themselves.

And what resulted was nothing short of amazing. After kneading the dough like nobody's business, then letting it rise while we prepared other dishes, it was time for the kids to roll it out in preparation for embellishment. The kids were then presented with another option; should they use raisins or dried cherries in the cinnamon buns? The group was torn with some favoring traditional raisins while others (myself included) leaning towards the tart sweetness of the cherries.

The consensus was that we'd mix and match groups and make both kinds. No compromise needed and everyone's happy. But the happiness didn't stop there. When it came to a dessert for our breakfast, I couldn't imagine anything else. The cinnamon buns were perfectly brown sugared, iced sloppingly but lovingly, and cooked until still soft and doughy but with that just barely there crust forming. They were a favorite among many, both adults and children, to no surprise, as it's not often that you get homemade cinnamon buns hot out of the oven. Apparently, we may have some future bakers on our hands. 

The day progressed with us getting our hands down and dirty in more dough, some bacon, grated cheese, frozen blueberries and buttercream icing. 

We made Very Berry Muffins which were made with health and flavor in mind. They were loaded with antioxidant abundant frozen blueberries with that sweet blueberry essence that is intensified when frozen. Chef Bryan also chose to use a recipe that contained 2/3's whole wheat flour, which made them a viable source of fiber and a substantial breakfast or snack.

"I thought we'd make these because it's an easy thing to make the night before, so you grab on the go for breakfast or lunch the next day. I also like them because you can throw almost anything you want in to them; it's so easy to make substitutions with muffins," explained Chef Bryan, leading the group on a "field trip" to the freezer to get the blueberries.

Unfortunately although looking fantastic we discovered that they weren't our favorite; at least those of us with more discerning palates. The kids still seemed to like them but naturally chose the other (less healthy) dishes above the muffins. I did discover though that they were better the next day with a little butter or jam.

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