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Farming: Growing character at D & C Wielfaert's

Story and photo by CRISTINA TRAPANI-SCOTT

Pull into David and Cindy Wielfaert’s farm, D & C Wielfaert Farm and Greenhouse, on any given day and you’ll be greeted by a big old black lab. It’s a classic farm with red barns and coops standing against wide open backdrops and chickens wandering across the drive that leads to the greenhouse.

If no one appears immediately, odds are David and Cindy as well as Cindy’s sister, Eileen, are in the greenhouse. The youngest of their five children, Lucas, is most likely tending to some project on the 80-acre farm. Spring, of course, is a busy time for the Wielfaerts, who have been in the flower and plant business for more than 30 years. The family not only has a retail greenhouse on their property, but they keep a full weekly schedule of selling flowers and plants at outdoor markets, including the Northville, Clinton and Saline farmers markets and the Ann Arbor Artisan Market.

David and Cindy began farming the property they currently live on in 1979. There was never any question that the couple would farm. They both come from families who have farmed throughout Michigan for many generations, though flowers and plants weren’t exactly what David thought of first when he thought of farming.

“In my family and Dave’s family greenhouses were only for growing produce,” Cindy said. “Dave used to be totally against planting flowers. Then he got really good at it.”

Featured Recipe

By Evans Street Station

Yield: 12 Cakes

Pineapple Mixture:

1 ½ Pineapples (cleaned & diced small)
¼ lb Butter
½ lb Light Brown Sugar
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Rum
1 oz Ginger Juice
1 Vanilla Beans
as needed Cornstarch & Water (slurry)

Melt butter in medium saucepan, add brown sugar. Bring to a slow boil, add rum & triple sec. Add pineapple, ginger juice & vanilla beans. Cook until pineapple is done, approximately 20 minutes. Thicken with slurry if needed. Remove from heat & pour into hotel pan to cool. Set aside.

Cake Mixture:

2 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ cups Sugar
3 oz Butter (melted)
¾ cup Heavy Cream
½ cup Water
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 ea Eggs
1 ea Egg Yolks
1 tbsp Lemon Zest
1 tbsp Orange Zest

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt together in medium mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in separate mixing bowl. Whisk to mix well. Add dry ingredients. Mix well.

To build and bake:

Grease baking dishes. Place approximately 2 oz pineapple mixture in baking dish, then add approximately 3 oz batter on top. Place on sheet trays. Bake @ 325° with a low fan, for approximately 25 minutes. (Rotate after 12 minutes.) Use toothpick test: insert pick in center of cake; if it comes out wet, bake for 5 minutes more. Repeat until done. Remove from oven & allow to cool.

Chef’s Tips: When you’re zesting a citrus fruit, scrape the outer layer only; don’t get to the white of the rind. That way, you get the flavor of the citrus without the harshness and the bitterness.

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