Do you have memories of homemade baking? I have a few, but only one I am willing to tell (for now).
It didn’t matter how bad my day was at school, walking through the door to see Mum (or Grams) baking made everything better! Pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, apple pies for Christmas, chocolate cakes for birthdays – the smells of baking were always a pick-me-up.
In Grade Seven, I attempted to make my Mum’s drop cookies at school during Home Economics class. Mum had given me her recipe card (provided I bring it back), stained with vanilla extract and coffee from the first time I helped her make them – I was five. The chewed (?) dog-eared lower corners were courtesy of my younger brother – he was teething.
Everything was going well, until I reached the last ingredient – Coffee. Uh, oh. I didn’t bring any.
I panicked, what coffee did Mum use? Does the school have it? Teacher assured me that the coffee brand was not important, “Coffee is coffee,” she told me.
Uh, huh. I shouldn’t have listened to her.
Did you know, there is a difference between drip coffee and instant coffee? I didn’t.
Instant coffee dissolves and becomes coffee when it comes in contact with hot, boiling water. Drip coffee, doesn’t … it floats as it stains the water.
Now, there wasn’t a lot of time left in class, so I made do with what I had, and added the floating coffee to my cookie dough. It looked disgusting – that’s what the girls called it. The perfect cookie dough defiled with what-looked-like peppercorns littered through it.
“Think of them as chocolate chips,” said Teacher, as she put a tray of them into the oven. Within a minute the room filled with the smell of coffee, attracting every adult in the building!
“We’re making cookies!” I chimed. They left.
Two minutes later, the tray came out. The cookies were the same colour as Mum’s batches; they even smelled the same, but overall appearance? Nope, mine were mutant monster cookies.
Teacher and the girls wouldn’t touch them; but the boys and I were brave enough, filling our pockets as well as our faces. The coffee bits made them a little more bitter than Mum’s, but they were still good. I think we were wired for the remainder of the day.
I have not made anything of Mum’s since – that was almost 40 years ago! (Important Note: My wife loves baking and she makes the cookies just like Mum!)
Oh, and that old recipe card? Mum still has it! She told me that she got the recipe from my Grams – but I forget which one, Gramma Grace (her Mum) or Gramma Emily (my Dad’s Mum), I’ll have to ask her again the next time I talk with her.
Hopefully, your attempts to recreate a family recipe turned out far better than mine.