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A Baker's Handy Helper

"Always wear oven mitts or use potholders when putting pans or cookie sheets in the oven or taking them out."
- Esther Hautzig, Holiday Treats

IllustrationMy 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.

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Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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