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ANI's Latvian Bakery - Get the Goods

It's midnight and the Latvian Bakery is open at ANI’s Union Glacier Camp. The Antarctic sun is high in the southern sky and the smell of fresh baking wafts through the air.

When the Chefs finish their work at 9pm, we two Latvian girls sneak into the kitchen with a sense of guilty pleasure. We quickly find ingredients, mix them together, shape the dough and shuffle trays into the oven. Curious guests and staff sneak in to join us as soon as smell of fresh baking escapes the kitchen. Nobody can resist! By morning the kitchen is once more the domain of the Chefs and there is no sign of the 'bakery' - apart from cooling racks full of tantalizing cookies, buns and other goodies that have miraculously appeared overnight.

The Latvian Bakery began in 2007, with a single batch of traditional pepperkakaker (ginger cookies) baked for Christmas. The tradition continued and we now create a variety of baked goods throughout the Antarctic season (November-January). The time we spend in kitchen is very rewarding. We love to surprise people and bring a feeling of home to the sometimes harsh Antarctic environment. We have even turned down offers to climb Mount Rossman or go skiing because cookies have to be made!

Our three most popular treats are cinnamon rolls, oatmeal cookies and Italian style Biscotti di Prato. Cinnamon rolls and biscotti are perfect for afternoon coffee and tea breaks and the oatmeal cookies have proved to have magic powers...

ANI 's Forecaster Marc de Keyser and Facilities Manager Ian Storey helped us make Power Cookies for the 2012 Ice Marathon. These were based on the traditional oatmeal recipe with some additional chocolate and dried fruit. Both Marc and Ian competed in the 100 km Ultra Marathon. During the race they each ate one cookie per 10km lap and their success was incredible! Marc won the event with a personal best and Ian completed his first 100 km run, finishing in 5th place.

Our field guide Nancy took a secret stash of oatmeal cookies on her Ski Last Degree trip. Each day the team members were awarded one cookie after a full day skiing south. We were surprised by our popularity when the team came back to Union Glacier! They were so grateful for the cookies.

Word of the Latvian Bakery spread when Nancy took goodies to ANI’s South Pole Camp. Soon we were sending care packages via Twin Otter ski aircraft to friends at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Novo Camp in Dronning Maud Land, Casey Station on the far side of Antarctica, and the Sub-glacial Lake Ellsworth Project camp. We even air dropped some cookies to hungry expeditioners!

What's next?

Bake your own Oatmeal Power Cookies

  • 210 g flour
  • 210 g rolled oats or any other type of oats
  • 145 g butter (room temperature)
  • 55 g brown sugar
  • 90 g sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 55 g light sugar syrup
  • 50 ml water

You can add different things. People in Antarctica love these cookies with raisins, dried cranberries, whole almonds and dark chocolate. We use fresh cranberries at home. Basically you can add any nuts or dried fruit as well as chopped chocolate.

  • Work together flour, oats, butter, sugar, salt, baking powder with your hands in a bowl
  • Add syrup and water and mix well until you have smooth cookie dough. Then mix in cranberries, raisins, almonds, chocolate, etc
  • Form the dough into a long 'sausage' and wrap it in a sheet of baking paper. Let it cool down in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Pre-heat oven to 180' C
  • Cut the 'sausage' in pieces and form round cookies with your hands. Place on a cookie tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden brown

Thanks to Jolanta Berzina and Inga Circene for sharing their story about Union Glacier's Latvian Bakery - and for sharing their baking talents too!

Photos from Flickr:
Jolanta and Inga - The Latvian Bakers
Cinnamon Rolls
Biscotti di Prato
Help is Always Appreciated
Gingerbread
Personalized Cookies - A Cloud for the Forecaster
Marathon Bakers
Power Cookies for the Ice Marathon
Oatmeal Power Cookies