Missouri’s Father Jason Doke, With a Recipe for Tiramisu

‘I like to eat,’ says Father Doke, ‘and I like to experience food and try things I have not had before.’

‘Tiramisu’
‘Tiramisu’ (photo: Juraj Rasla / Shutterstock)

Pastor of St. Martin Parish in St. Martins, Missouri, Father Jason Doke is a native of that state. His family moved from Springfield to St. Louis, Missouri, toward the end of his elementary school years. Although Sunday Mass was a big part of his upbringing, Father Doke never attended a Catholic school.

Throughout high school, Father Doke was interested in science and aspired to be a physician. Upon beginning college at the University of Missouri he quickly realized that “medical school was not in the cards for me.”

But he continued his studies in biology, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in biology. During his studies, he began a passionate interest in brewing beer and even started working at a yeast laboratory to learn how to work with yeast. He was thinking of food even in his studies. After graduation he began a job working in a molecular biology lab on campus. While in that position he began working on his Master’s in food science.

It was in these years that Father Doke began to discern a call to priesthood. His discernment involved daily Mass, Scripture study with his pastor, and two trips to World Youth Day, one in Toronto and one in Germany. After beginning seminary, he eventually finished his Master’s in food science. Father Doke was ordained in 2013.

Father Doke is noted today by friends, family and parishioners for his cooking, a passion that started in childhood. “My mom cooked for us because she was a good mother, not because she enjoyed it,” he said, “but my brother and I were interested because we liked to eat. When we were growing up, there was no cable nor internet, so we watched cooking shows on PBS, and in college the Food Channel, and Emeril Lagasse. … We are both fairly hands-on, and wanted to try dishes, but there was a lot of trial and error. My mom was willing and told us if we wanted ingredients, she would get them for us, and we would sit down and have dinner together.”

After attending Conception Seminary College in northwestern Missouri, Father Doke attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where his passion for food and cooking went up several notches. As Father noted, “What really changed my cooking was when I was in seminary in Rome.” He was in a class with 55 other men, and he was one of a few in his group who cooked.

“When we had an event,” he said, “they turned to me and often asked me to do a dinner for 40, 50 or 60 people. Once I made jambalaya for 300 people.”

In Rome, Father Doke even built his own smoker from an old water softener tank. “When I was feeding a lot of people, I would buy pork loins because they were cheap,” he said. “So I figured I could feed 12 people per loin. The guys just loved it: a homemade meal of smoked pork, cheesy scalloped potatoes and grilled vegetables was great. We didn’t get that often, so it was nice to have American food every now and then. I did that almost once a month and got pretty good at portioning for large groups.” 

When Father Doke returned to the United States, he found he really liked making pasta, especially ravioli, such as butternut squash ravioli. “To make pasta dough,” he said, “it’s just mixing flour and eggs together, and dribbling in water until it forms a ball. Let it rest, then roll it out until it is a sheet of pasta. Occasionally, I will cook for parishioners and every year. I auction off an Italian-style dinner with antipasto, pasta, a meat dish, and tiramisu for dessert.” Father Doke also makes his own cured meats for his antipasto platter.

“I like to eat,” he said. “And I like to experience food and try things I have not had before. Living in Europe, I traveled around and knew that you cannot experience a culture unless you experience their food. … Sharing a meal is important, because it was Christ who shared a special meal with his apostles. It is that spirit of hospitality that I like to bring Christ to others. I really enjoy cooking for others and being able to provide something that someone has never had before.”


Father Jason Doke’s Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons marsala
  • 6 shots espresso plus 4 tablespoons marsala, combined
  • 24 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • About 1 pound Savoiardi ladyfingers (400 grams)

Directions:

  1. Whip the egg whites to semi-hard peaks. Over a double boiler, whisk the yolks with the sugar and 3 tablespoons marsala until pale yellow. Take the yolks off the heat and whisk in the mascarpone. Next fold in the whites and add a little vanilla.
  2. Put a layer of mousse in a 9x13 pan.
  3. Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee/marsala mixture, and place them in the pan.
  4. Add a layer of mousse.
  5. Add another layer of ladyfingers.
  6. Add another layer of mousse on top. Chill overnight.
  7. Sprinkle with powered cocoa and serve.
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