To my Aunt Helen

My great Aunt Helen died yesterday. I cannot go to the funeral. In her honor, I am going to make “Cheese and Raisin Coffee Braid”. It was at every family picnic, wrapped up in wax paper and then in flat boxes that must have been left over over from somebody’s sweater gift at Christmas. My agenda as a kid, when I got out of the car was to find my grandmother, give her a kiss, kiss my great Aunt Ruth, tell my great Uncle Harry (who prided himself on his taste in casual wear) how nice he looked, ask my Uncle Paul to wiggle his ears, ask after my great Uncle Art, who was rarely seen after my mother’s second wedding, and then turn to my Aunt Helen, who would be sitting in the folding chair between my grandmother and her sister Ruth, and ask her with hope from the bottom of my heart, did she make the Danish. “Of course I did”, she’d say. “Wow”, I’d say. And then she’d turn to my grandmother and say, “she’s funny.”

1/2 cup sugar 6 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup of water
2 packages dry yeast 1 egg
3 1/2 cups of flour (approx.)

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast, and 1 cup of flour. Heat butter and water til very warm. Beat with mixer on low speed into yeast mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Beat in egg and 3/4 cup of flour. Knead 8 minutes, adding 1/2 cup of flour while kneading. Shape in a ball. Put into a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Prepare filling and refrigerate. Punch down dough. Let rest 15 minutes. Grease a large cookie sheet. Roll dough 15 inches by 12 inches. Spread filling in a 4 inch strip down the center. Cut dough on both sides of filling crosswise into 1 inch strips. Fold strips at an angle across the filling, alternating sides for braiding affect. Place on cookie sheet. Cover. Let rise til doubled. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush with beaten egg white. Bake 20 minutes.

1 8 ounce package of full fat cottage cheese
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon rind (no pith)
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup of raisins

Press cottage cheese through a sieve into a bowl. At low speed, mix with all other ingredients except raisins. Fold in raisins.

2 thoughts on “To my Aunt Helen

  1. Faye, I was sorry to hear about your Aunt, but she did leave you with a very yummy sounding pastry recipe as a legacy. Hope all is well and yours and once again, My heart felt sympathy on your loss. Love Suellen

  2. I lost my favorite Uncle Joe at Christmas time – so know your sadness and the joy of those wonderful heart-filling warm memories. It’s hard to give my children those memories of family when overseas – another reason to get back to the states…

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