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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

When I was a little girl, I used to list “treasure-hunting” as one of my favorite hobbies.  You might  be thinking that I was a very imaginative child, one who pretended she was a pirate searching for gold; if this is what you would think, then you would be wrong. In my youth, treasure hunting was so much more than a make-believe game, in fact, it was not a game at all.  Treasure hunting was going to my grandma’s house, which appeared both beautiful and orderly (but like many things, appearances can be deceiving), and looking for “treasures” amongst 50 years worth of clutter.  What once started as an opportunity for me to collect more “things,” looking through various drawers and boxes to find little knick knacks and odds and ends (or my mom’s senior prom pictures that she refuses to let me bring into the house), turned into an opportunity for me to collect real, hidden treasures — the stories my grandma would tell me about all of the objects I found.  Some of my greatest finds, a beautiful beaded wallet, launched stories about a babysitter my mom and her siblings once had, and a t shirt from france (which I wore until there were holes in about every place imaginable), became the springboard for stories about my grandparents’ travels.

Surprisingly enough, in the three years that I have been writing this blog, I have neglected to share one of my family’s hidden culinary treasures: Mema’s Mandel Bread recipe.  Though it might seem simple to an outsider,  like the “treasures” I used to seek in my grandma’s basement, to me, it truly is one of the most special cookies I have ever tasted.

Mema’s Mandel Bread – Ann Benderoff


-3 eggs (at room temperature)

-1 scant cup of sugar

-1 cup mazola oil

-3 cups flour (Gold Medal, pre-sifted)

-2 tsp pure vanilla extract

-cinnamon sugar mixture, to sprinkle at the end


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat eggs.

3. Add sugar and mix.

4. Add oil and vanilla and mix.

5. Add flour and mix.

6. Oil hands and mold dough into 2 long logs.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.

8. Slice the logs and put the individual cookies on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and return cookies to the oven to bake again until firm and crisp (watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn).


note: This is a basic recipe — many people choose to add chocolate chips, dried fruits, or nuts, but our family likes it plain.

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