Today was the first day the children came for baking lessons. Until school is out, we will only have lessons on the weekends, then there will be more—and some time in June, we will have our fiesta. Word has gotten around, I guess, because donations started coming in: bags of flour, cones of brown sugar, big bottles of vanilla, and many other baking items.
Our courtyard was crowded with children. So many! We lined up buckets and bowls of water and soap all along one wall, and they were standing in line, waiting to wash themselves. Papa made sure they scrubbed their faces and necks. Mama even washed their hair and Gabriella helped the girls braid it back out of the way. You must not let even one hair get into your dough!
This took a very long time, for there were so many of them. By the time we finished, the sun was high in the sky and everyone was hungry. I helped Mama and Gabriella serve tortillas and yesterday’s pastries. Then everyone washed their hands (again!) and we gave them clean cloths to pin to their clothes, like aprons. An apron is usually to protect your clothing from the food; this time, it was to protect the food from their dirty clothing. Mama said we needed to be a laundry as well as a bakery!
The smallest children were given simple things to do, like running inside to get more milk or butter or ask for sugar from a baker. The older children learned how to measure flour and baking powder, how to beat eggs and grease pans. The very oldest made doughs and rolled pastry; there were many things to teach them, and the courtyard was full of what Papa called “quiet busy-ness.”
Because our ovens are empty during the afternoon, we could bake many of the things the children made. Only the oldest of them were allowed to slide panniers under a loaf of bread or take a sheet of cookies from the oven. But everyone, even the youngest child, clapped as all those goodies sat cooling in the kitchen! Then we frosted cookies, tasted slices of bread, munched on fried empanadas. Some things were not so good—Mama said that was to be expected—but some were delicioso! And a pretty good start to our lessons, though they have a long way to go, yet!