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‘Simply Homemade’ is simply the best

contributed photos — Ellen Hotger Hill has been delighting people with her baked goods through her bakery Simply Homemade by Ellen for 21 years.

Ellen Hotger Hill has been cooking and baking all her life. She now owns a home bakery called Simply Homemade by Ellen, which has reached its 21st year.

Hotger Hill attributes her success in the kitchen partially to her time in 4-H.

” I was enrolled into 4-H as a child. I was an active member my entire youth years,” she said. “I was blessed to learn responsibility, determination, honesty, life skills, independence, hands on learning and experimenting, cooking included, along the way.”

Hotger Hill continued to be involved with 4-H into adulthood, serving as a leader for many years, and still enjoys staying connected with the organization.

She also worked at a restaurant, adding to her experience with cooking.

“I have always enjoyed cooking and baking. In the late 1990s, I worked for a diner,” Hotger Hill said. “I told the owner I would help her get started, as she had never done anything like that before. In 2000, still working there, I had a chance to purchase the diner. We did this and ran it for 10 successful years, all homemade meals.”

She loves to make people happy with her cooking and baking and is willing to go the extra mile to give clients what they want.

“I find it so challenging to take a recipe and make it my own, tweaking it a bit to suit my clients,” Hotger Hill said. “I am especially pleased to be a tiny part of someone’s very special event.”

She has run a licensed home bakery called Simply Homemade by Ellen for 21 years. Hotger Hills also sells her baked goods at her antique shop Hotger Cornerstone Country Store in Laurel along with Esther and Co. in Newton and Joss and Beans in Baxter.

She said one of her favorite things to make is sugar cookies and she has a large collection of cookie cutters, around 1,100.

While Hotger Hill has her favorites, there isn’t much she does not bake.

“I enjoy so many items. I really enjoy things that challenge my abilities. I spend hours on Pinterest,” she said.

Hotger Hill said her pies and breads are probably what people love most.

She said owning her home bakery brings her a lot of joy.

“I enjoy my job so very much. I do an event that always pushes me every December for Runner Seed,” she said. “At this event it is around 30 pies and 200 ish cookies decorated. I am always on the lookout for a new pie or cookie cutter for the event. We reach a large amount of people at this event”

She said she always gets many new clients from this event.

Hotger Hill said her sister Beth also participates in this event and she could not do it without her.

Buttercream Frosting

(that hardens)

12 tablespoons cold butter, chopped into about 8 pieces

5 cups powered sugar

5 tablespoons heavy cream

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Gel food coloring

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes until really creamy.

While mixing on low, gradually mix in powdered sugar, occasionally scraping the bowl. Mix together for about 2-3 minutes. The frosting will be quite clumpy

While continuing to mix, add in the cream 1 tablespoon at a time. You really should only need 5 tablespoons of cream — just continue to mix together and the frosting will get creamy.

Mix in the vanilla.

Color frosting as desired with gel food coloring.

Spread frosting on sugar cookies soon after making the frosting.

It will start to harden after an hour or two.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

8 cups chopped tart apples

2 teaspoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup butter (cold)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup rolled quick cooking oats

Mix together chopped apples, cinnamon and flour.

Place in a greased 9×13 pan.

Crumb Topping Layer:

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.

Then cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in brown sugar and oats.

Sprinkle crumbs over fruit evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the apple pieces are tender. Cook time will depend on how big your apple chunks are, so just keep checking it

If crumbs are brown, but apples are still crunchy, loosely place a piece of tinfoil on top of the pan to keep the crumbs from getting any browner while it cooks a bit longer.

Do not forget to add ice cream.

Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup chilled lard

1/2 cup very cold water

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar.

Add the butter and lard and pulse 8-10 times or until the butter is in pea-size pieces and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add ice cold water and drizzle into the crumb mixture while pulsing until the mixture just forms a dough.

Chill the dough for at least one hour.

When baking start with a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes then reduce to 350 for the remainder of time.

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and roll each one out on a floured surface to 9 inches in diameter.

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Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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