Raising Dough$ with Grandmother’s Recipes
I’ve been baking. Not sourdough, because that’s not my current thang…I’ll leave that up to daughter who is the queen of the sourdough. My covid dough belly and hips attest to that. Grrr.
Nevertheless this weekend she baked or rather we did, to raise dough$ for the Sustainable Food Center here in Austin. We are part of the Oven Mitt Movement, a small group of socially responsible bakers who are interested in feeding the needy by kneading. Think of us as a Wall of Carb-Pushers fighting the good fight against right wing oppression, poverty and homelessness.
Yesterday, were you sitting, masked at the counter in our kitchen, you would’ve first seen me whipping up the Mandel Brot…my maternal grandmother Elsie’s version of biscotti on steroids. It’s an extremely labor intensive recipe but so well worth the caloric overload, so sayeth those who have delighted on these dunkable delectables. And while I mixed and measured I wondered about the massive ratio of butter and sugar to eggs, flour and almonds if I had mis-transcribed the recipe; still I persisted.
Once the dough was in the fridge, chillin so it could be shaped and baked, I commenced production of my paternal great grandma Baba Chevka’s Baba Cakes. Now these anything but delicate or tiny morsels of heaven have been a family favorite for nigh onto five (or is it now six) generations. A ridiculously rich dough of egg, butter, milk, sugar, flour, mixed then risen three times (can you believe the recipe actually said I should punch it down thrice?) then shaped first into thick pancakes then filled with butter, cinnamon, sugar, chocolate chips, pecans and raisins, then folded over to resemble vulvas (yes they do look like that), then stacked next to each other in rows, to rise yet again to bake til golden brown. Oy what a lot of procedures.
While the baba cakes were rising I shaped the now stiffer Mandel Brot dough into thick cylinders which I hoped would spread as they were supposed…then baked them until brownish, removing from the oven to slice, then toast to look biscotti-ish. This was a real challenge because the dough was so short (as am I at 5’3”) that some of the biscotti’s broke which of course made us need so desperately to taste the “rejects”…just to make sure of the flavor quality…obviously. Fortunately we had enough unbroken slices to fulfill our orders.
We then put the three pans of Baba Cakes in the oven (I made extra for the house, because why not) and sat down before washing the dishes. By the way, had you truly been sitting at the counter now would’ve been time for you to get off your ass and help…to earn your samples of our hard work.
Amidst all this daughter was able to make a bakers dozen of everything bagels to rest in the fridge til this morning, while drinking coffee and eating the fruits of my labor.
Everything was ready by noon. I’m was able to dash of some colorful labels on the printer and slap them on our packages. Image is everything. This week we’ll be baking more bread for a homeless feeding program.
Of course all this reminds me of what my Grandma Elsie did from the Great Depression until the mid 1950’s. She would feed meals every week to needy persons from her backdoor. She told me it was the only way she could sleep at night, knowing she had helped feed someone. I suppose now that I’m a grandmother myself that I sleep better knowing the little I do helps someone else…