Growing up I had always believed that my mom’s mom was a great cook. Before my palate had developed I think I was just excited that she’d microwave me some bacon which was of course forbidden in my kosher home. I’d spend every Friday night there and Saturdays at my dad’s folks.
The unfortunate reality is that she’s not a very good cook. She kept quiet about it then but makes no secret of it now. She grew up during the depression and while money was tight, anything she bought at the market she was required to eat in its entirety, like it or not. After too many misses for too few hits, she retreated into a realm of familiarity and to this day remains wary if not outright opposed to tasting anything new. Even our garlic kraut, combining two flavours she does like for certain, was tested with great trepidation. She ended up loving it.
Probably over a year ago now I installed on her computer a program that would catalogue all of her recipes, as plain as those might be. Her mastery of the program was never achieved and by this point she’s stopped being able to open it altogether. However, there is one archived recipe of hers worth preserving in the world.
The one thing I know she does well was mandelbrot. As exact a science as baking tends to be, the recipe has survived her seemingly random adulteration of it (adjusting the sugar without adjusting anything else, leaving out nuts entirely) and has further still succeeded in my own kitchen using the simplest of vegan substitutions (apple sauce for eggs). I am baking a batch right now for a benefit at CIA (Culinary Institute of America, duh. No gods, no masters…all pastries? hrm)
As the last few days in NYC have been excruciatingly hot, even for a child of the summer as I am. I so look forward to setting the remainder of these in my freezer to enjoy cold. As there are no liquids in the batter except oil, it never really freezes, simply becomes pleasantly cold.
3/4 c sugar
1 c + 1 T oil (I used safflower)
3/4 c apple sauce
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 c flour
1 c chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375
Mix the oil, apple sauce, and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients (minus the chips) and then combine the two bowls until a thick batter is formed. A rubber spatula will be less frustrating than a whisk at this point. Form two loaves about an inch thick and four inches wide. Score each in 1-inch increments and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Cut through at each score and turn each piece on its side to brown for another 20-25 minutes. Though definitely delicious fresh, I really recommend taking the time to freeze them.
Brine and Dine