I attended P.S.115, also called E.B.B., Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from K-8. It was a co-ed elementary school but once we hit middle school the boys were transferred out, and E.B.B was dubbed “everything but boys.” The school was walking distance from where we lived but there was a crossing guard, a flaming red-head named Irene, to escort the children across the Grand Concourse. Every morning at 10:00 a.m. classes came to a halt and snack was served. The teacher, along with a class monitor, would go to the office and bring back a flat of small milk containers and either a box of cookies or a container of pretzel rods. As much as I liked the pretzel rods, I preferred the cookies. I can only remember one type of cookie being served, a sandwich cookie with a cream filled center, the top half chocolate and the bottom vanilla.
School was over at 3:00 p.m. and when I arrived home I was served milk and cookies as my afternoon snack. (remember in the 1950s milk was thought to be a miracle food) The little white bakery bag on the kitchen table held either a Black and White cookie, a brownie with walnuts and chocolate frosting, or a Chinese cookie which was a marbled coffee-colored cookie with a crinkle top and a glob of hard chocolate in the center. Having milk and cookies at home was always better than at school, the milk was served in a tall glass, straight from the fridge and ice-cold, the way I prefer it. The cookies were bought fresh every morning in the bakery my mother frequented on Burnside Avenue. It didn’t seem to matter what season it was, or how low the temperature fell outside, both in school and at home the snack was always the same, and after all what could be better than milk and cookies?
This recipe came from Norm’s grandmother Shaindle Rose, who my daughter Shira is named after. It is a very 1950s kind of recipe which includes bits of the confection Turkish Delight. My mother-in-law Lil made it the last time we were in Toronto and told me that Bubbie Shaindle called it White Strudel.
Bubbie Shaindle’s White Strudel
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup oil
rind of a lemon
7 or 8 thin slices of Turkish Delight, cut into bits
Maraschino cherries, cut in half
Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers, add the Crisco until the mixture resembles small lumps. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the wet ingredients. Mix gently and add flour if needed. Dough will be very sticky. Refrigerate dough for one hour which will make it easier to handle but feel free to add extra flour as needed. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Roll out one portion at a time on a well floured board into a 9 x 12 rectangle.
Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam over the dough. Then sprinkle Turkish delight, coconut, golden raisins and sliced maraschino cherries over the top. Using a knife for easier handling, and add more flour as needed, gently roll up dough into a log and place on baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Cool and slice with a serrated knife.