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Toronto lawyer-turned-baker is a Great Canadian Baking Show semi-finalist

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Toronto’s Maggie Frith shares her story, cookie recipes and preparation tips

TORONTO, Dec. 10, 2022 – “The right decisions are often the hardest to make,” says Toronto’s Maggie Frith who gave up her ‘day job’ as a lawyer to become a baker. Part of her success as a baker includes being a semi-finalist on Season 4 of The Great Canadian Baking Show, and now offering baking classes in Toronto.

“I don’t regret anything about leaving my job as a lawyer to become a baker—I just wish I had figured out my passion earlier!” states Maggie Frith. “That said, I don’t regret going to law school, as I met my husband the very first day. But I’m so grateful to have found exactly where I am supposed to be. I hope my kids see that you should always follow your passion in life, even if that means making tough decisions.”

Maggie says she started out baking as a stress reliever. “It was my way of decompressing after a long, stressful day at the office. It quickly turned from a hobby where I would make cakes for friends and family, to a passion. And now, depending on who you ask, maybe a slight obsession! Over the last two years, I have realized that I particularly love teaching people how to feel the joy of baking for themselves. Along with tremendous joy comes a sense of confidence and determination, an appreciation for patience, and outlet for creativity, and even a few lessons in math and science. What’s not to love about baking?”

Maggie demonstrated her love of baking as a contestant on Season 4 of The Great Canadian Baking Show (GCBS).

Toronto’s Maggie Frith gave up her ‘day job’ as a lawyer to become a baker. Part of her success as a baker includes being a Semi-Finalist on Season 4 of The Great Canadian Baking Show. She now offers baking classes in Toronto.

“The highlight of being on the GCBS was meeting the other nine bakers who became like family while on the set,” states Maggie. “One specific bake-related highlight was Bread Week. Baking bread was very new to me, and when CBC announced they would be doing a Canadian version of my favourite show, The Great British Bake Off, I began to practice (and practice and practice) baking bread. It was one area where I thought I would struggle, but it ended up being one of my best weeks.”

Cookie Week’ on The Great Canadian Baking Show was also a highlight for Maggie. “It was amazing to be able to share a family recipe for my Linzer Cookies for my Signature Bake and the Showstopper Bake was especially important to me. Cookies have always meant family to me, and to be able to recreate an incredibly special place for my family out of cookies was definitely a highlight.”

Lessons learned

Maggie talks about what she learned from being a contestant on the show: “Baking in that iconic tent had been a dream and goal of mine for years. I didn’t think it was going to be easy, but I had no idea just how difficult and stressful it would be. Baking amid production chaos is not for the faint of hearts. As a mom of three kids, I’m always baking through a multitude of interruptions, tantrums, requests, tears and sometimes bloodshed. But nothing prepares you for the reality of reality television! As a contestant on GCBS, I learned about putting yourself out there and that doing a really challenging thing is worth it if you are doing something that you love.”

Since being on GCBS, Maggie has launched her own baking and decorating events business in Toronto called The Magpie Cakery.

“I host corporate and private baking events, kids’ baking camps, as well as virtual and in-person baking and decorating classes,” explains Maggie. “We bake everything from strudel, galettes and cinnamon buns to macarons, buttercream flower cakes and unicorn cakes. Over the past two years, I have baked with over 1,800 people, both virtually and in-person, and I have loved every minute of it! It’s much more rewarding (for me) than reviewing legal documents!”

Maggie shares some exciting news: “I will be opening my very own teaching and event space in 2023 in the east end of Toronto. I can’t wait to offer more in-person events, classes and workshops, and to keep spreading the joy of baking!”

In the meantime, with Christmas fast approaching, Maggie has share two of her favourite recipes with Toronto Times readers. She has also created her patented, ultimate Prep-Your-Cookies Guide with tips on how to make and freeze cookies ahead of the holidays, so you can just pop them into the oven and have fresh cookies in no time at all.

“Your freezer is your best friend,” says Maggie. “Here are some cut-out cookie dough methods (dough that is rolled out before cutting and baking, such as shortbread, sugar cookies or gingerbread) for cookies that can be frozen several different ways:

• Method #1: Form into a disk and then freeze away! Form dough into a 1-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and then freeze away. When ready to bake, let thaw and bake your heart out.

• Method #2: Roll then freeze! Prep and roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then transfer to the freeze using a cutting board or baking sheet. When ready to bake, remove parchment to cut, transfer to the baking sheet and get baking.

• Method #3: Bake then freeze! Similar to method #2, roll out your dough between two pieces of parchment, transfer to the freezer until firm. Once firm, make and bake your cookies. Once baked, freeze the baked cookies ‘til firm, then layer in a tight container between a piece of parchment paper. Voila! Cookies that can be frozen for up to 3 months!”

RECIPE 1

THE MAGPIE CAKERY – 3 in 1 HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE DROP COOKIES (ToTimes) Yield: Approximately 6 dozen delicious cookies

The Magpie Cakery Chocolate drop cookie recipe
The Magpie Cakery Chocolate Drop Holiday Cookies

For the Chocolate Cookie Dough

3 1/4 cups (422 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (156 grams) unsweetened, natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), sifted 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups (398 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk (1% or 2%), room temperature
2 tablespoons vanilla

Add-ins for Mocha-Walnut Cookies

3/4 cup (90 grams) toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee, decaf

METHOD

For the Chocolate Cookie Dough

Add-ins for Dark Chocolate- Pecan-Cranberry Cookies

3/4 cup (90 grams) toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (135 grams) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (70 grams) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Add-ins for White Chocolate- Pistachio-Cherry Cookies

3/4 cup (112 grams) pistachios (or macadamia nuts as an alternative), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (135 grams) white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (70 grams) dried cherries, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) or a large bowl, if using a hand-held mixer.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the butter, one piece at a time, and continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and resembles wet sand, about 2 minutes.

METHOD

For the Chocolate Cookie Dough – continued

  1. Combine milk and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add milk mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Turn mixture out onto work surface and gently knead 2 to 3 times until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball. Dough will be sticky – clean hands and lightly flour them before kneading.
  3. Divide the dough into three portions, each weighing approximately 490 grams.
  4. Prepare Add-Ins (see below) and proceed, as directed.

For the Mocha-Walnut Cookies

  1. In a 325 degree F oven, toast walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Once cool, coarsely chop walnuts.
  2. Place one-third of the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using hand-held mixer and add walnuts and ground coffee. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Transfer dough to work surface and give the dough a final kneading by hand to ensure that Add-Ins are evenly distributed.

For the Dark Chocolate-Pecan-Cranberry Cookies

  1. In a 325 degree F oven, toast pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Once cool, coarsely chop pecans.
  2. Place one-third of the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using hand-held mixer and add chocolate, pecans and cranberries. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Transfer dough to work surface and give the dough a final kneading by hand to ensure that Add-Ins are evenly distributed.

For the White Chocolate-Pistachio-Cherry Cookies

  1. Place one-third of the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using hand-held mixer and add white chocolate, pistachios and dried cherries. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  2. Transfer dough to work surface and give the dough a final kneading by hand to ensure that Add-Ins are evenly distributed.

RECIPE 2

THE MAGPIE CAKERY – Orange-Cardamom Sugar Cookies Recipe (ToTimes) Yield: approximately 20 to 24, 2 to 3-inch cookies

THE MAGPIE CAKERY – Orange-Cardamom Sugar Cookies Recipe

INGREDIENTS

For the Cookie Dough

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch, sifted 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature*, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla

For the Orange Glaze

1 cup (115 grams) icing sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon orange juice (from 1/2 orange) Pinch salt

*To check if your butter is at “room temperature”, press it with your fingertip. If it leaves an indent, you are good to go. If it’s greasy- looking and your finger slides into the butter, it’s too warm and if your finger doesn’t leave an indent, it’s too cold.

METHOD

For Sugar Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack in the middle position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the butter, sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl (if using hand-held mixer) or the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. With mixer on medium speed, add egg and beat until well-combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add vanilla and beat until well-combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  5. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 30 to 60 seconds. Turn mixture out onto work surface and gently knead 2 to 3 times until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball. Dough will be sticky – clean hands and lightly flour them before kneading.
  6. Form into a disk (pressing to about 1-inch thick) and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/4- inch thickness.

METHOD
For Sugar Cookies – continued

  1. Slide dough (still between parchment paper) onto the back of a baking sheet or a cutting board and place in freezer until firm, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Once firm, peel away top piece of parchment paper and gently replace onto dough. Carefully flip dough

over. Peel away top piece of parchment paper and gently replace onto dough. Carefully flip dough over once more and remove (and discard) top piece of parchment paper. Cut out shapes, as desired. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart (dough will not spread very much).

  1. Bake cookies until edges are set and bottoms are light-golden brown, about 14 to 20 minutes, depending on size of cookie. For best result, bake one sheet at a time and rotate baking sheet halfway through baking.
  2. Repeat the rolling and cutting steps with remaining dough. Work gently when re-rolling or cookies will not bake evenly.
  3. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For Orange Glaze

  1. Whisk icing sugar, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, orange juice and pinch of salt until smooth. Adjust thickness by adding more cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Spread glaze onto cooled cookies with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
  3. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles and enjoy! TIPS AND TRICKS

• Aim for even thickness when rolling out the dough to ensure even-baking.
• Toothpick Trick – cut the tip off of a toothpick. Line the toothpick up against a ruler and draw a line around the

toothpick at the 1/4-inch mark. Use toothpick to poke dough in several places to ensure accurate thickness.

STORAGE

• Decorated cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week. • Undecorated cookies can also be frozen in an air-tight container for up to a month.

For more information on Maggie Frith and The Magpie Cakery visit https://www.themagpiecakery.com. For more information on The Great Canadian Baking Show visit CBC Gem at https://gem.cbc.ca/media/the-great-canadian-baking-show.

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

Other articles from totimes.ca – mtltimes.ca – otttimes.ca

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