Baking Days.





Capture.PNG baking

I could be totally wrong here but it seems to me that home baking was much more widespread than now in the years during and for some time after WW2.
Much of it obviously was out of necessity, unavailability and expense of ready made products and ingredients, but I believe many (mainly) housewives also took great pride in using skills inherited from their mothers to produce the mouth watering delicacies which we all remember.
It would be a fair bet that everyone has at least one favourite from those days, still remembering the anticipation of that first mouthful and willing to trade a great deal to relive those happy moments. I wonder how many still manage to get the occasional tasting.
Another peculiarity was that although cooking took place almost every day, baking was usually confined to one, regular day per week i.e. Baking Days .

My own particular favourites from that time were Coconut Macaroons – I could eat them by the cartload given half a chance.
Mum used to make them regularly , place them on a baking tray and putting them to cool off on the pantry floor. At that time we had a dog and on one occasion, she forgot to close the pantry door properly. The next we saw of the Macaroons, the top of every single one had been bitten off by the dog ( which by now had scarpered) and only about the bottom third remained. Mum was about to throw the remnants away but I protested, in fact the bottom bits being the best with the nicely caramelised coconut base, and said I would be more than willing to see them off, which I duly did.
A dog’s breakfast ?. I’ve eaten it !
It’s many years now since I enjoyed a Coconut Macaroon but a couple of years ago, we were on holiday and calling in for a coffee, I spotted what looked like a scrumptious Macaroon but it was slightly more exotic than those of my childhood. This one was drizzled with chocolate so I took the plunge and boy, were those moments to relish.

In those days, most homes had the old fashioned cast iron “ranges” incorporating an open fire with an oven and warming chambers alongside. Many were ripped out in the ‘50’s ,when modern cookers became more readily available, to be replaced with the ubiquitous tiled fireplace. It was however in these older ranges that many learned their skills, much of it relying in judgement and experience. I don’t remember my Mum even having a pair of kitchen scales. Nonetheless, some of the pies, cakes and other goodies which came out of them defied belief with their quality.
My paternal grandfather had to learn to cook & bake as his wife died very young, he was left with three young children to raise and money was scarce. His speciality was bread and he used to bake the best flat cakes I’ve ever tasted and even now , as I’m writing this, I’m sure I can smell the oven fresh , dinner plate sized bread cakes, coming out of the oven.
My maternal grandmother was also a good cook & baker, but being of Irish stock, her cooking/baking tended to the hearty rather than the delicate variety. I had an Uncle who was only a few years older then me, my Mum being the eldest of a fairly large family and he was possessed of a gargantuan appetite for food of any kind but particularly for freshly baked bread. Unfortunately he unashamedly suffered from an extreme form of flatulence both in frequency and intensity as well as noxiousness which was often triggered by a liberal helping of freshly baked warm soda bread, slathered with butter and strawberry jam. He always tried to deny it when admonished by my Grandmother – however, you can only go on blaming the dog for so long – eventually you’ll be rumbled.
In keeping with many ex matelots, my other grandfather , entirely unjustifiably, rather fancied his cooking skills and would often produce for us a disgusting concoction which he called Manchester Tart (which it wasn‘t). I suspect is was some sort of economy version of a standard Royal Navy offering. It may have gone down well with cold and hungry sailors on board ship during the war but as a peacetime civilian offering – no thanks. Siblings normally argue with each other for the biggest slice of such goodies, in this case, we used to fight for the smallest. I never had the heart, nor the courage ,to tell him how much his prized confection was disliked , it was truly almost inedible and placed huge demands on the digestive tract.
Mother-in-law was a very skilled cook & baker and with little other than her experience and skill, could produce fabulous choux pastry from her old cast iron range, delicious chocolate éclairs being a speciality of hers which were always much appreciated and regular “best sellers”.
My daughter-in-law ,who is from Texas, also keeps up the tradition , producing Chocolate Brownies and a variety of fabulous “cookies” to die for & always ensures a good supply whenever we visit.
So the skills seem to continue down through the generations and there’s probably more of a hobby element nowadays rather than one of necessity

Blackberry & Apple pie made with short pastry, Ribbon Cake with thick layers of cream between layers of cake, Lemon Seed Cake , Shortcake squares topped with caramel and milk chocolate, Sticky Chocolate cake – happy days, don’t you wish they were still here?.

But, best of all was when it was your turn to lick the mixing bowl once the cake mix was in the baking tin.
Now that was a real treat

Capture.PNG BAKING 2

Great tale Eric – Finger licking good

Last week’s picture was of course the iconic Red Walls on Black Road

What is the name of the pub on the left and the cinema now a fish and chip shop?

Princess and Shepherd

10 Responses to “Baking Days.”

  1. Dave Carncross Says:

    The Shepherd and the Princess. Sounds like a good name for a book. I bet both places could tell a good tale if they had a chance.

  2. Dave Carncross Says:

    Great tale Eric. I don’t remember you ever having a dog though. My mother was a good cook but her baking hand was a bit leaden. She once made some Parkin for bonfire night and left it down the cellar to cool off. Later that night my dad shouted up from down there ” David, come down here and give me a lift with this Parkin. She’d overdone the treacle I think and we later broke it up and ate it like toffee and very good it was too. She used to make pies that would have defeated Desperate Dan. Chewing away once on the crust, my brother Terry said ” that reminds me I must get my working boots soled and heeled”. I used to just keep eating hoping that my teeth held out OK.

  3. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Big Ernie would turn in his grave at the thought of the Princess now being a chippy.
    Hilarious about your Mum’s pies & parkin.
    My dog Rover (how original) was a long haired mongrel. We once had him down Black Rd where he rolled over & over in Cows**t ’til he became absolutely covered in it. Tony (who also had his dog Sandy with us ) & I had no option but to throw Rover into the Red Walls stream to try and clean him up, all to no avail. You can imagine the trouble I got into when we finally got him home, dripping wet, muddied and covered in the other. The house reeked of ordure for weeks.

  4. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Sorry Dave, I overlooked to mention that my previous comment was a response to yours

  5. aussiepom Says:

    My Mum made macaroons too Eric, usually burnt ones. Mum’s sister made and iced spectacular wedding cakes and taught me. My cakes are NOT spectacular but I still enjoy trimming them up. Almond paste and Icing sugar cover up a lot of faults

  6. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Good point Audrey, never thought of that. That’s maybe how & why they evolved

  7. peterwwood Says:

    My mothers speciality was coconut ice which she managed to dye a bright shade of pink there was five kids in our family so it didn’t last long.
    Brenda Wood

  8. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Coconut ice, I remember that as pink & white and good it was too. No idea what the recipe was , but do you still make it?.
    Near to where our family live in the USA, they call it “Taffy” and we always try a sample whenever we can.

  9. Douglas Says:

    Ahh Eric, you have me salivating. I remember baking days, 4 or 5 loaves of bread and two or three bread cakes – I think you knew them as flat cakes. About an inch thick and the size of a dinner plate. Mam would have the front door open, a piece of newspaper down on the oilcloth, and the bread cakes standing up against the wall just inside the door to cool down so that they would be ready to eat when I got home from school. A soldier of bread cake, with butter and jam was something I would die for right now. Doug

  10. Eric Sanderson Says:

    I remember that too Doug, standing the bread cakes in the doorway to cool off. I wonder if any passing street urchin was ever tempted to nick one?.

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