Mom's baking skill is the best thing since sliced bread

April 28, 1993|By Carol Cutler | Carol Cutler,Copley News Service

It's a funny way to begin a cookbook, but it gets your attention: " 'You're writing a book with your mother?' I heard that response over and over again. . . . Friends and sister cooks voiced amazement, incredulity, horror, delight, and jealousy -- the reactions depending on the source."

Those are Lora Brody's words about the baking project she did with her mother, Millie Apter: "Bread Machine Baking -- Perfect Every Time" (William Morrow). There seems to have been a need for this book since more than a million electric bread machines were sold this past holiday season alone.

This collaboration proves so successful that hopefully it will inspire similar projects. Think of what a Mother's Day gift it would be if you suggested a joint venture. This is saying that you admire Mom enough to want to work with her.

Surely she has at least one specialty that you have just taken for granted. By now most of us have grown up enough to recognize that even parents can have some talents. Just because we're younger doesn't make us smarter.

Among the mothers I know there is one who has made

TC profession out of making dried floral arrangements, another who is a crackerjack photographer and another whose green thumb would be the envy of Mr. Burpee. We watch all this creativity as everyday activity. Now is a good time to seize the opportunity to capture on paper or film her very personal skill.

My mother was a wonderful cook, but her pastries were especially memorable. Her strudel dough was so thin and delicate that no machine could match it without breaking it. She showed me how to do it, without a recipe, of course. So much depended on the particular flour, the amount of humidity in the air, the quality of the butter, it had to be done by feel, not rote.

Instead of just watching, I should have been taking notes about all the nuances of creating great strudel dough. Better still, after taking notes I should have worked side by side with her at least once. How pleased she would have been. This specialty, among so many others, would have been a contribution to pass on for a kind of kitchen art that is passing.

Suppose you do gather a dozen or so recipes or gardening tips of your mother's, what do you do with them? There need not be anything as grand or professional as the Brody-Apter book, but a small booklet can be reproduced very inexpensively by photocopying instead of printing.

For a family reunion you have a ready souvenir gift for everyone. Perhaps this could be your next Christmas card for a selective list.

Ms. Brody and Ms. Apter went much further with their joint endeavor. Both loved making bread, but time was becoming a serious hindrance. Ms. Brody, particularly, had to be convinced that the bread machines were acceptable stand-ins for creating bread manually. Once swayed, however, she became acutely aware of the differences in the 12 most popular bread-making machines. The same recipe didn't work the same way in each one. That is a serious dilemma for a cookbook author.

So both bakers tested, retested and again retested. Each of the 75 recipes has seven or eight variations to accommodate the different traits of the machines. Even something as basic as the quantity of flour and yeast is different at times.

Mother and daughter in this case loved working on the book, albeit in different cities.

This Stilton Parmesan bread is an unusual bread from "Bread Machine Baking." The authors state, "This magnificently aromatic loaf rises about two-thirds high in the machine. It has a heavy, moist, rich texture; it's golden yellow in color, and has a powerfully assertive cheese aroma."

Stilton Parmesan bread

(for DAK/Welbilt machines)

Yields 1 loaf.

1 tablespoon yeast

2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup red (Bermuda) onions

2 extra-large eggs

5 tablespoons butter

5 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Place all ingredients in machine, program for white bread, and press start.

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