"Always wear oven mitts or use
potholders when putting pans or cookie sheets in the oven or taking
- Esther Hautzig, Holiday Treats
My husband Rody doesn't bake. But his mother and
grandfather did. They
worked the family bakery in Pittsburgh from 1930 until 1939 and their
memory lives on in their recipes. My favorite one from their collection
appears in my new book, A Knitter's
Home Companion, and is named in
honor of the mother-in-law I never met--Sis
Gessner's Mandel Bread (click here for the recipe as a PDF).
Rarely do I bake a batch of this mandel bread just for us. Although
it's a generous recipe, I often find myself doubling or tripling it.
Piled on plates, mandels are sent to neighbors up and down our street.
Packed into brown lunch sacks, they are given to daughters who no
longer live at home. Wrapped in a cloth napkin, they are brought out to
coffee with friends. Mandels find their way to pot lucks, picnics and
holiday gift packages. They are made for sharing. Sometimes I toss a
Tupperware container or two of them into our freezer. They're handy
when a visitor drops by unexpectedly. They do not need any defrosting.
Mandel bread requires double baking. After the long loaves are baked
once, they are sliced and slipped back into the oven to be toasted
golden. If you'd like a little knitting or crocheting with your mandel
bread baking, consider making potholders to ease the cookie sheet's
repeated journey in and out of the oven. Stitch a few extra and send
them to a friend with a tin of your home-baked mandel bread. But be
sure to keep two potholders for yourself. You’ll need them for next
batch. They are a baker's handy helper.
Ilustration: Copyright © A
Knitter's Home Companion by Michelle
Edwards, published by STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, an imprint of
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011.