One of the things I learned growing up as part of my training was how to bake and how to add that special “Something” that makes it magical. I was trained by my grandmother as part of my magical training as she had been trained by her grandparent. My mom rejected the training from her grandfather who just happened to be a professional baker. More fool her. She didn’t want anything to do with anything “weird”.
As far as my grandmother was concerned, there was no difference between learning how to talk to animals and plants or how to make magical clothing and sachets or learning our family’s Scottish history and teaching me how to bake.
Grandma would learn new tool for cooking that came along but when it came to special recipes like my great grandfather’s shortbread recipe it had to be done by hand. No mixer just using your hands and intending all good things for the people that would eat it. I still can’t make it unless I clear my mind and just concentrate on the dough.
Grandpa Alex’s Shortbread recipe
1 LB of flour (I use unbleached) 1 LB = 4 cups
1 LB butter
1/4 LB of Brown sugar
Cream with your hands together until you get one large dough ball. Works best with cold butter cut into chunks. If the butter is warm it sticks to your hands.
Have a piece of brown paper cut from one side of a grocery bag.
Pat out until 1/2 thick. Mark with a fork on lines for breaking. DO not use a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees until a light tan.
Break apart when cool. DO NOT cut with knife. This will change the chemical constitution of the cookie. It’s very fragile anyway.
This recipe is from the old Los Angeles dept store Bullock’s that had the best tea rooms back when ladies lunched when they shopped.
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp of butter or margarine
Beat in milk until blended
Combine flour and salt mixture to milk and eggs and blend.
Fill 8 well-greased custard cups.
Place on baking sheet and bake at 400° degrees for one hour.
Note: if using new custard cups, season to prevent sticking. Cups should be placed in hot oven 30 minutes. Remove old grease and re-grease cups before using.