Real Cooking

I remember as a child tagging along with my mother to the bakery located on Main Street in the town where I grew up.

I remember the display cases loaded with petit fours and decorated cookies, the kind cultured ladies would have with their afternoon tea. Or so I imagined.

I remember the crusty loaves of bread cooling on metal racks and the sweet smells of the cinnamon rolls fresh from the ovens. And in a special place of honor, there was always a decorated cake ready to welcome a new baby or celebrate a birthday. Or even?wow!? a wedding cake regally standing in its sticky, swaged splendor.

My mom never went to the bakery for loaves of bread or the chocolate chip cookies my brother, sister and I consumed after school. She would only buy the products she felt were out of her area of expertise. That translated into doughnuts, party cookies and decorated cakes.

Picking up something at the bakery wasn?t an everyday occurrence for our family. Going to the bakery was a real treat, not only to take in the sights and aromas, but because it usually also meant there was a celebration coming up on the family?s calendar.

The downtown bakery closed when I was still in elementary school, driven out by the mass production bakeries of the local Dillons stores. Gone were the teacakes in their fluted paper cups and the chocolate cookies with the piped frosting that I loved so well.


Now, for many of us, the only baked goods we consume come from the grocery store. Fortunately, our Hillsboro markets do carry products made by area bakers, a far better product than most of the national brands wrapped in cellophane.

And we can pop into Olde Town Restaurant and order zwieback, pies and beautifully decorated cakes from Linden and Dorie Thiessen.

But gone are the full-sized bakeries that use to be an integral part of every small town across Kansas. I?ve heard that many years ago, Hillsboro actually had two bakeries operating at the same time.

But bakeries are making a comeback. I think people are tired of eating cookies out of boxes and dinner rolls that ?brown and serve.? We want real food, prepared by real hands. Like grandma used to make. Hence, bakeries are springing up right and left.

One of the latest is just down the road in Newton. Melissa Bartel and I visited it on one of our recent ?road trips? where we go in search of all things good to eat.

?Heavenly Delights? is a North Main business that?s hard to miss. The front windows are painted with blue-and-white scenes taken straight from Grandma?s kitchen.

When Melissa and I entered the facility, the delectable aromas coming from the kitchen struck me first. Then my eyes took over, taking inspection of the array of cookies, breads and zwieback awaiting purchase in the display case.

My eyes drifted to the adjoining room, where an antique dining table held a beautifully decorated multi-tiered wedding cake. Several other antique pieces caught my eye and, as I wandered into the room to get a better look, I was surprised to see my nephew Brent Driggers and his bride beaming down on me from a wedding portrait that was hanging on the wall.

?How did Brent and Jamie get here?? I wondered aloud. The connection soon became apparent when I found the business cards of Jamie?s photographer dad, Lynn Hagaman, on display. It turns out the owners of Heavenly Delights, Evan and Joyce Hockett, are friends of the Hagamans. And since both are in the wedding business?cakes and pictures, that is?it only makes sense that they help advertise for one another.

Soon, the excitement of seeing Brent and Jamie was forgotten as Melissa and I were offered sugar cookies warm from the oven.

As we indulged ourselves, Mr. Hockett shared some wonderful memories from his childhood. He had learned to bake standing at his grandmother?s side, kneading the bread dough with his own two hands.

While the bread was rising, together they would churn the butter that would be part of their evening meal. When he spoke, you could almost feel the warmth of that farm kitchen that still lives in his heart.

Today, he translates that love for family and home into loaves of vegetable bread, soft oversized cookies, and fabulous cakes that celebrate the passages of life. His business cards read ?Old Fashioned Baking.?

Just like Grandma used to make. Heavenly.

* * *

Angel Biscuits

2 packages dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

5 cups self rising flour, sifted

1 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups buttermilk

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Add buttermilk and yeast. Roll on floured board and cut into rounds. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden. To freeze, bake for five minutes, cool and wrap. To serve, place biscuits on greased pan and thaw. Bake 7 minutes.

Hint: After dough is mixed, it may be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator and will keep one week, so you can use as needed. Be sure to discard any leftover dough after one week.

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