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Friday, February 14, 2014

Baking Lessons

Cookies are not a common item in Egypt, especially home-baked cookies. After I began giving my neighbor my home-baked cookies on a regular basis last year Laila, the 15 year old daughter asked me to teach her how to make cookies. Since their first taste of my baking was chocolate chip cookies that's what she meant when she said "cookies". We had a baking session and that was pretty much it for the 3 months we were in Cairo.

Now it's 2014, we're back in Cairo and Laila (now 16) asked for more baking instruction. We set a date to make cappuccino cupcakes and it was pretty much a disaster during the 4 tortuous hours it took to make 8 cupcakes. That was my take on the baking lesson. She, however, gained so much confidence from that experience that she began baking on her own. One day Laila sent her younger sister to our apartment with a bag of oatmeal cookies and a note. I was very surprised that she had baked these cookies totally on her own. I wasn't even in the building. The cookies were perfect and they tasted good too. I immediately went over to congratulate her.

Now Laila had so much confidence that she wanted to make an apple pie. I'd made one last year and she loved it. I explained that a pie is advanced baking and that apple crisp is a good alternative. When she asked for a recipe for apple crisp I said, "I don't have one but if you ever want a recipe you can look on the internet and find thousands of recipes." She pulled out her tablet and searched. Sure enough there were thousands of recipes just for apple crisp. She asked, "How do I know which one to use?" We looked at a few and chose one. She said she'd make it.

I didn't think any more about apple crisp until Laila phoned a couple days later asking me what to do with the apple crisp she had just made. Should she put it in the fridge or leave it out? OK, now I was in shock. I grabbed my camera and headed right over to see this apple crisp. It looked good so we tasted it. Perfection! I was so proud of my baking student. She spooned some into a couple bowls for me to take home. Later that night, after dinner, we ate her apple crisp. Oh my gosh, it tasted so good.

Laila's apple crisp was so inspiring that I had to make some of my own a couple days later. I have to admit that hers was much better. I guess a new baker takes more care than an experienced one.

Note: While I'd love to include a photo of my protege, she wears the hijab so photos are forbidden.

Posted by Linda

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