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Confections of a baker

By Staff | Feb 9, 2010

New Year's cakes are a family tradition that Bernece Frohling, of Lohrville, is proud to carry

LOHRVILLE – The cooking skills that Bernece Frohling developed during her youth on a Hamilton County farm near Kamrar have served her well through the years.

“My mother enjoyed gardening and outdoor work more than cooking, so my sisters and I were experimenting in the kitchen at a young age,” said Frohling, who now lives in this southeast Calhoun County community.

Frohling learned many of the beloved recipes that her family handed down through the generations, including New Year’s cakes, spiced with anise seed, and divinity, which her mother made at Christmas.

“While my mother whipped the egg whites with a fork, I say you can’t beat an electric mixer,” said Frohling, who noted that her grandmother loved divinity.

As a 4-H member, Frohling showcased her culinary skills in cooking demonstrations during club meetings and at the Hamilton County Fair. She enjoyed baking cookies and breads, and won many blue ribbons for her creations.

Perhaps it’s an understatement to say that Frohling enjoys baking bread, since this retired elementary school teacher owns four bread machines.

The machines come in handy, she said, when she bakes her famous butter horn rolls for potlucks or eight dozen homemade buns for the local American Legion Auxiliary’s annual Feather Party fundraiser, which is held each November.

The bread machines also make quick work of preparing a batch of caramel rolls to deliver to friends and neighbors.

As a farmer’s wife and working mother, Frohling also learned the value of a slow cooker, which worked great for preparing stews and other dishes.

“I like cooking just about everything and I like to simplify things where I can,” Frohling said.

Divinity

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup white corn syrup

1/2 cup water

Pinch of salt

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Combine sugar, syrup, water and salt in a pan over low heat; stir only until sugar is dissolved. Cook mixture until it forms a soft ball in cold water – around 235 degrees.

Beat egg whites in mixer bowl until stiff. Continue beating and add half of the syrup slowly. Continue beating while the rest of the syrup cooks to the hard crack stage – 280 degrees.

To test this, drip syrup into a cup of cold water, it should stay in a spiral and harden. Another way is to lift the spoon out of the pan, and watch for the mixture to spin a thread as it drips back into the pan.

Continue beating and add the other half of the syrup. Beat until it holds a shape. Add vanilla and pecans.

When the mixture holds its shape, spoon onto waxed paper and allow candy to firm up before storing.

Honey wheat bread

1 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons yeast

Set bread machine for dough cycle. When dough is ready, shape into two small loaves of bread – one to freeze and one to eat.

Let the loaves rise until double in bulk. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Take bread out of pans, place loaves on a cooling rack, and brush tops lightly with butter.

Store in freezer bag when cool.

New Year’s cakes

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 3/4 cups water

3 teaspoons anise seed

1/8 teaspoon salt

Bake in a krumkake iron, which bakes two cakes at a time. Ladle a small amount of batter in the center of each side and fasten down. Bake for 2.5 to 3 minutes.

(Bernece said that when the light goes out on the iron, the cakes are done.)

Remove from iron and roll the cakes.

Butter horn rolls

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons powdered milk

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

4 1/2 cups bread flour

Mix all ingredients in the dough cycle of a bread machine.

When dough is ready, divide into three parts. Roll out in a circle and spread with a thin coat of butter. Cut into eight wedges and roll outer edge to the tip. Make sure the tip is tucked under when placing each butter horn on the baking sheet.

Let butter horns rise, and then bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until they are lightly brown.

Remove from oven and brush tops lightly with butter before placing butter horns on a cooling rack. These rolls freeze well.

Chicken supreme

4 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 slices American cheese

1 bag of frozen California vegetables

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/4 soup can of water

2 cups herb-flavored stuffing mix

1 stick margarine

Place chicken in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of cheese. Dilute soup with the water. Mix stuffing with melted margarine.

Pour stuffing over cheese. Add vegetables, and then pour chicken soup mixture over all.

Cover pan with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1.5 hours. Serves 8 to 12 people.

5-hour stew

1 6-ounce can of beef broth

2 to 3 tablespoons minute tapioca

1.5 pounds stew meat, cut up

3 large potatoes, cubed (2 cups)

6 sliced carrots, or 1 small bag of carrots

1 large onion, diced into large pieces

Salt and pepper

Mix broth and tapioca in a crock pot, and then add other ingredients. Stir so all ingredients are coated with the broth mixture.

Set crock pot on high and let stew cook for 5 hours, or cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Scalloped potatoes

and ham

3 cups cubed raw potatoes

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced carrots

2 cup cubed ham

1 can cream of chicken, cream of celery, or cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

Dash of pepper

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup buttered bread crumbs

Cook vegetables until partially done. Add ham to mixture. Combine soup and milk and pour over vegetables.

Add pepper and cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Serves 4 to 6.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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