Baking

In her element, baking for her family
This is one of my favorite pictures of my mother, Eva.
She’s in her element, poised, masterful, and happy.

Her family is visiting and as usual we have requested that she bake for us.

We all remember our childhood days when she baked enough Swedish rye bread, cinnamon and dinner rolls for a family of seven to last for a week!

I didn’t know how special it was at the time to have fresh home baked bread–this was the 50′s when white “boughten” bread was all the rage. When I took my brown bread sandwich for lunch, the other kids laughed at it.

And oh how I thought I wanted that smooth white bread….till I tasted it. Yuk. It didn’t taste like anything! all it was good for was wadding into a sticky ball and throwing at Dallas Foster.

Saturday was baking day, and Mom had it down to a science with her large earthen crock, her special counter for rolling out the dough with the built in flour-bin. I loved to watch her knead the bread and was always impressed when the rising dough expanded and doubled every time like magic.

Saturdays smelled like heaven as the bread baked, and she always had a special small loaf for tasting immediately, hot with melting butter.

Sunday mornings meant fresh cinnamon rolls..nothing better ever, especially when you knew you were going to have to go to church and sit still for a few hours.

I followed her footsteps and became a baker as well. I loved the ritual as much as the rolls and breads and cakes and pies. This is how I expressed my love–just as she did for all those years.

Until the sad and shocking day that I found out I had celiac.
Until that day that I realized that all of those baked goods all those years were poison to me.

After getting the diagnosis, I didn’t bake for a long time. How to bake without flour?

I stopped eating my beloved breads.
The gluten free breads on the market tasted and looked like cardboard.

And when I went home to visit, I couldn’t eat Mom’s rolls anymore.

As a Swede, I was devastated.

But over the years, (I found out about the celiac 10 years ago), the baking reasserted itself as I began to experiment with the new flours: sorghum, teff, quinoa and millet….and now when I bake I look like a mad chemist…with never fewer than 4 and often up to 6 flours and semi-flours and wannabe flours lined up around my crock.

I’ve had many many failures and to be honest, things often turn out weird. But at least half the time with luck and persistence I produce good enough cakes and pies and muffins and cookies….but alas,

I have not mastered bread, and neither has anyone else as far as I’m concerned.
Nobody.

At 95, Mom has laid down her baking….and her daughters now bake for her….and she graciously eats my odd gf treats along with the stellar gifts of my other sisters, all of whom who have become master bakers.

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