Wow… things have been going like gangbusters around here, so much so that I haven’t even had a chance to write! The bulk of my current projects are finished or this close to being finished. So, now I will try to catch it all up.
In between projects, I have taken little bits of time to do some baking. This is where the whole growing up in a large family hits home every time. You see I grew up cooking and baking in a household that usually encompassed between seven to twelve people (and sometimes guests and friends), I learned to cook in large quantities. And it was more like cooking by sight… so you looked at a certain number of, say potatoes, and thought, ‘yes this is enough for eight’ but then you threw in some more. Just in case. And I am telling you that there was never leftovers!
Unfortunately, I never figured out a way to undo that kind of thinking. And that goes for baking as well. My mother would bake a chocolate cake and before it cooled enough to frost, it would be two thirds eaten! Always make more than “enough”.
So, baking for me was like that. One of the things I still do that I learned growing up was to save the ends of a loaf of bread for bread pudding. You know, the crusts that no one wants to eat. Well, I still do that as a loaf of bread in my house today can last a long time. So, when it has been around a while and no one is eating it, I will throw it in the freezer. For bread pudding. This can include bagels and raisin bread and regular ole white bread. So, I had quite a bit filling my tiny, inconvenient freezer, so I made bread pudding.
You have to start with bread crumbs. So I pulled it all out, sliced and diced and toasted it all in the oven. A double batch of bread pudding (see? it is already starting) requires 4 cups of bread crumbs, but I usually throw another half to full extra cup to make sure it comes out okay… ie not too mushy.
So, of course I prepared more than I could use in a single instance of baking. Are you starting to get the whole “way too much” theme?
And here is the end result. I have a copy of Better Homes and Gardens red and white cookbook from 1948 that I still use for my baking recipes. Nothing healthy here, these are recipes with lard and butter and lots of sugar! Eaten warm, this is like french toast on steroids!
At the same time, I also had bananas in the freezer. My mom could really bake, and her pièce de ré·sis·tance was her banana bread. She was famous for it. Well, at least in our town she was famous. She had people who would bring her ripe bananas and ask her to make her banana bread. Some of us kids bandied about the idea of going public with it… you know, “Ma Benson’s Famous Banana Bread”… in the same vein as Mrs. Field’s Cookies or Otis Spunkmeyer’s Cookies. Alas, it was not to be.
But having at least enough very ripe bananas on hand for two loaves, out came the bread pans and my wonderful, how-did-I-ever-live-without Kitchenaid mixer. While it was mixing bananas, the pudding was baking. Then the banana bread went it.
Have you ever had warm, out of the oven, homemade banana bread with butter? Just this side of heaven!