Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around baking with my mom. Birthdays, holidays, scout bake sales, my mom always baked and I was there in my “Mom’s Little Helper” apron ready to get my hands dirty. I can’t say for sure, but I believe in the beginning I helped because that meant I got first dibs on the brownie covered beaters (I had to get there before my brothers). But I then realized there is more to helping than making a mess and eating raw batter. Some of my mom’s early lessons included “do not turn the mixer on high in a bowl of flour” or “don’t crack eggs directly into the bowl or we will be fishing out eggshell for the next 20 minutes.” At this point it wasn’t really about the baking, but about making memories (and a mess) with my mom.
As I got older I started to appreciate the lessons I learned from my mom in the kitchen. How to stack, ice and write a simple message on a cake was one of the more eventful lessons. Actually, it wasn’t the lesson itself, but the event that came after that made it so memorable. With some guidance from my mom, I baked and decorated my first birthday cake for a boy I was dating. I was so excited to surprise him and show off my hard work, but he dumped me before I could show him. I just wanted to toss the cake, but my mom didn’t want all my hard work to go to waste.With the quick sweep of a spatula and some more icing, my mom changed a “Happy Birthday” cake to a “Happy Superbowl” cake. Not only did it make me laugh, it helped mend my young, aching heart.
But there is one baking tradition that holds a special place in my heart, Kolachy cookie baking. Our yearly event included my mom and I baking the cookies, but in the end, it brought my whole family into the kitchen for one reason or another. As soon as the smell filled the house, my dad and brother would immediately start picking the “bad ones” off the cooling grid (because “you can’t serve those!”). I would then get annoyed because all the poppy seed cookies kept disappearing – which is funny since many of my family members felt, “the poppy seeds tastes like dirt.” Got to love holiday family honesty! But no matter how annoyed I would get, I loved making my Grandma Irene’s Kolachy recipe with my mom. We weren’t just making cookies for Christmas. We were making memories and preserving our family history with light, flakey, poppy seed cookies.
With my mom’s help I gained confidence and began to experiment and bake on my own. It was because of her I fell in love with being in the kitchen and decided to go to culinary school. It was because of the time and memories with my mom in our little kitchen that I want to bake with my daughter some day. Baking together created a special bond between us, and I thank her every day for encouraging me to pursue my passions (and for eating a lot of breads/baked goods along the way).
It’s funny, writing this I’m reminded of my brother, who every night would say, “Mom, you’re a gooood cook!” So on that note, Happy Mother’s Day to the best cook, teacher, confidant and mom a girl could ask for. I love you!
For over 100 years, mothers have had a special day that honors the care, love and guidance they provide to their children. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and many of us are blessed with more than one special woman in our life – aunts, sisters, grandmothers, friends, mentors. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share a story each day from now until May 10 from our Wilton Test Kitchen as well as our Wilton Sweet Treat Team honoring the females who have inspired them most.