Many years ago, my grandmother exchanged recipes with her neighbors in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many have the name of the housewife who shared her treasured recipe, and a few were from her own mother (that is, my great-grandmother). We still have these recipes copied out in my mother's handwriting.
The problem is that at times the instructions are scanty. Such as, no temperature or time given for baking a cake. Well, geez Louise, everyone knows how to tell when a cake in done, right? It's the same directions, over and over, 400 degrees, 30 or 35 minutes unless you divided the batter into three layer tins, then it is about 20 minutes.
And the other problem is that so many younger women never even had home economics classes, so they have absolutely NO IDEA what the abbreviations or instructions mean. So I will try to spell things out, and in case I forget to do that I hereby explain the terms used.
A capital T – like so – means Tablespoon. Also tbsp, also tbs.
A lower-case t – like so – mean Teaspoon. Also tsp.
I have written fractions with spaces between numbers and the slash, because my software will otherwise make the numbers too tiny.
Beat means to mix vigorously.
Fold means to GENTLY mix the ingredients. You usually use a spatula instead of a spoon for this operation. Insert the spatula down into the bowl and lift up the mixture, folding it over onto the top of the mass of floury goodness. Do this just enough to more or less create an even distribution of ingredients, because some ingredients like a whipped mixture should NOT be beaten or they lose volume.
Baking tins should be greased before you pour the cake mix into them. This means using a small brush to apply margarine or butter to the inner surfaces of the tins; sometimes you also dust flour over the grease, too. Alternatively, you can just spray them with Pam, or cut circles of baking paper to fit your pans.
Some of these recipes use yeast. If it is used in a dough, then you will have to let the cookies (such as the horns) sit on the baking sheet while they rise. Otherwise, it does not mean that making the recipe will take took much longer than one using baking powder or baking soda. Method: pour the packet of yeast into a little bowl of warm water, maybe a quarter cup. The water should NOT be hot; too hot water will kill the yeast before it can grow. You want the water to be just lukewarm. Add a bit of sugar to feed the yeast beasties. When it looks bubbly, you know that it is growing and ready to be added to the rest of the ingredients. Happy yeast, happy bread and cookies. They have quick yeast now, too, which is much faster – but check your package label well.
A word about letting the dough rise. We used to set the covered bowl on a window sill that was getting sun. Alternatively you can set it inside the stove where it will not catch cold drafts. Stove should be off or at lowest setting.
Testing for doneness: Some of you may have trouble knowing when items are done. Cookies will be pleasantly browned on top. Cakes are tested by sticking a toothpick into it; it if comes out clean instead of coated with batter, it is done. Loves are similarly tested by sticking a clean knife into it, because you have to reach deep inside. Cakes and loaves should also pull away from the edges of the pans.
The Good Part
Here are some holiday-type special recipes: Kolache cookies, Butter Horns, Jule Kage (Scandinavian Christmas bread), and Gugelhopf.
GUGELHOPF, recipe by Ann K.
This cake is baked in a 10-inch tube pan or a Bundt pan.
2 packages dry Yeast
1 / 4 cup warm water
3 / 4 cup warm milk
4 cups flour
1 cup butter (that's what it says)
1 cup granulated sugar (the regular kind)
1 / 2 t. salt
grated rind of one lemon
1 / 4 t. nutmeg
1 cup white raisins (also called golden raisins)
Soak raisins in hot water. Drain before using in recipe. Coat raisins with a little bit of flour so that they mix in well with batter without clumping together.
Dissolve yeast in warm water (NOT HOT!) Add a spoonful of sugar, the warm milk, and a cup of the flour to feed the yeast while you do something else like make a frosting, grease the pan, or get the zest off the lemon. Let rise for an hour.
In electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. (medium speed will be fine for all stages here) Add salt and lemon rind. Add one egg at a time.
Is the yeast bubbly? Good. You can mix it with the main batter. Add flour a cup at a time.
Your 10-inch tube pan should be greased. To decorate top of loaf, place cherries and or blanched almonds on BOTTOM of pan (they will be on top of loaf when you pop it out). Pour in batter.
Cover pan and let rise until it rises to top of pan.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, testing for doneness.
Let cool in pan for 5 or 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
SERVE sprinkled with powdered sugar.
BUTTER HORNS, by Rose P.
I had two cards with a recipe for horns, but one was terribly unclear so I use the other one.
This is another yeast recipe, and the horns will be allowed to rise while sitting on the cookie sheet before baking.
a cake of yeast
one half t. sugar
2 T. warm water
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 cup butter or margarine
4 cups flour
1 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
Start the yeast in small dish with sugar and water.
In mixing bowl, mix sugar, salt, and flour. Add the milk and eggs. Then add the yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly.
You should have a doughy mass when done.
Roll this out into a large even disk on your board, or on a sheet of waxed paper. Mark to cut into 8 equal pie-shapes. Take each section in turn and roll it towards the pointy end, give it a little curve and set on your baking sheet. Let rise. It does not say how long but it is not going to be an hour or anything like that. You can use the time to clean up a bit.
BAKE at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, watching carefully.
When done, you may roll them in powdered sugar or in a sugar-cinnamon mix.
SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD
aka Jule Kage (Yule Cake) Makes two loaves
(no credit given but is probably authentic family recipe)
This is time-consuming because you let the dough rise twice, but if you want to experiment with baking one at time in a bread machine, you are welcome to try. Just put the other one in the frig while the first one bakes.
2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
6 and 1 / 2 cup flour
2 t. salt
1 t. crushed cardamom seed
1 yeast cake
quarter cup lukewarm water
3 / 4 cup butter or margarine
1 / 2 cup candied cherries
1 / 2 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts or almonds
1 cup raisins
1 / 2 cup cut citron
1 / 2 cup flour
In small bowl pour the yeast into the quarter cup lukewarm water. Add a teaspoon of sugar to feed it. Let sit while you heat milk, etc.
Scald milk, let cool. When it is lukewarm add the eggs and sugar. Add salt and cardamom seeds to flour, along with the lukewarm milk mixture.
OK, now the yeast mix should look a little bubbly. Add it to the batter. Add pats of butter, citron, cherries, nuts and raisins.
You may need to add up to another half cup of flour to make the dough soft. Knead slightly in bowl.
Cover with dish cloth and let rise to double.
Turn out of bowl, punching down and shaping into two round loaves. (You may make into bread loaf shapes if you want.) Place into greased pans. Let rise to double again.
Brush with beaten egg yolk (to which a little water is added) for a shiny top.
BAKE at 350 degrees for one hour.
KOLACHE COOKIES by Harriet Z.
also spelled Kolachy or Kalatchy
1 yeast cake
half pound butter (2 sticks)
4 T. sugar
3 cups flour
1 / 2 pint hot sweet cream
4 egg yolks
1 / 2 t. sugar
1 / 2 t. salt
1 ground lemon rind
Prune or apricot jam for topping
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water; add a teaspoon sugar.
In small bowl: Cream together 1 / 2 t. sugar, 1 / 2 t. salt, 1 ground lemon rind into the egg yolks.
In large mixing bowl, mix the flour and pats of butter. Add the above creamy mix of eggs and sugar.
To this add the bubbly yeast mix.
Let rise, covering bowl with dish towel/dish cloth.
Roll out dough onto floured wood or marble (ha!) surface, or onto floured waxed paper. Roll out thin to thickness of cookie. Use biscuit cutters or decorative cookie cutters.
Set onto greased cookie sheets to rise again.
Top with prune or apricot jam.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
And voila! You are queen of the holidays. And can collapse onto the nearest chair till next year(?).
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