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U3A Writing: Baking Day

Ruth Beever recalls the joy of baking days, “the warm, rich aroma of bread fresh from the oven mixed with savoury and sweet things that exuded from the windows as you went indoors; then to open the kitchen door and be enveloped in it - warm and safe with good things to come.’’

My childhood days were wonderful. I grew up in Ferriby, seven miles from Hull along the River Humber, in the 1920's and 1930's with three brothers, Mother and Father and Effie, the help.

We lived in a square house with a big square kitchen, and one of my lingering memories is of baking day. It was the warm, rich aroma of bread fresh from the oven mixed with savoury and sweet things that exuded from the windows as you went indoors; then to open the kitchen door and be enveloped in it - warm and safe with good things to come. It was sheer happiness.

The cooking range quite dominated one side of our kitchen. It was one that had to be black-leaded (Effie’s job). It had a back boiler, an oven, a fire in the middle with a trivet at the front, and a keeping oven. On normal days a plate could be put over the fire ready for pan or kettle. These were black with use.
A big scrub-top table stood on the opposite side under the window. Sometimes in winter my father would bank-up the fire last thing on Wednesday night ready for an early start on the bread in the morning. Then Mother would roll up her sleeves, put on an apron, take a brown paper, a half-stone bag of flour and the yeast, fat and water and knead it on the well floured big table.

There is something absolutely ancestral and satisfying in kneading, and mother had it to a fine art. I watched engrossed and longed to try. The dough was then put to one side of the hearth in a huge mixing bowl, covered and left to rise.
Then came the pies and large tarts. A hot oven was needed for these. A smaller bag of flour was used along with a mixture of half lard, half Blueband margarine. The rolling out and cutting off the surplus dough all went to a pattern.

Into the large fruit pies went apples, plums, etc. Pies were eaten within a few days, large tarts kept longer as they had pastry underneath and sharper fruit was used.

Next came smaller tarts. Three, dozen-sized tart tins were filled. These held homemade jams and lemon curd.
As the oven cooled, buns and rock buns were made. This is where the Bero book came in. Bero flour was used and the recipes followed faithfully.

At teatime we always had the new bread. We used to squabble over the crusts, and we children had to 'fill up' on the rock buns as only one tart each was allowed.

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