Ann Ingalls

Ali Bakes Bread

For your reading pleasure, a story I sold several times over to Aileen Andres Sox at Primary Treasure. This story is based on my own experience of baking with my Irish Grandmother. If you like, try the bread recipe at the end. It’s a real treasure.






Ali stood on a wooden chair. She watched Grams measured with the palm of her hand; flour, salt, sugar and baking soda–all in a big bowl. “What are you making?”


“Bread for hungry people. We always have enough to eat, but some people don’t.”


“Hold out your hands.” Grams filled them to overflowing with golden raisins. Ali popped a few in her mouth, but the rest went into the shiny bowl.


Then Grams got another bowl and two eggs.


“Let me crack the eggs,” Said Ali.


Grams poured in buttermilk, She measured with her eyes.


“Can I stir?” Ali whisked the milk and eggs together. She poured that into the big bowl.


“Use your fingers,” said Grams.


Ali dipped her fingers into the sticky dough. Flour flew everywhere. No one minded.


Then Grams got two heavy black pans from the cupboard. “Can you butter the pans? Fingers again.”


Ali’s fingertips slid and swirled along the bottom of the pans. “What’s next?”


“Count with me.” Grams placed the dough on the countertop. Ali kneaded it a dozen times while she counted. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12….” She patted and shaped two loaves. Raisins burst here and there through the dough.


Then they tucked it in the pans and smoothed it with their hands.


“Now for the best part.” Grams and Ali held an old knife and cut a cross into the dough in each pan. “Pray with me,” said Grams. “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name….”


After they had finished praying, Grams popped the bread into the hot oven.

“Mmmm,” said Ali. “It smells so good.”


While it was still warm, Grams and Ali wrapped the biggest loaf in a towel. Mr. Gulatti. had lost his job a long time ago. He was still looking for a new one.


“Grams, we have lots of cans of food in the cupboard. Do you think the Gulattis like applesauce?” asked Ali.

“I’ll bet they do. I’ll bet they like spaghetti sauce and pasta, too,” said Grams.

“I can get a big box,” said Ali.


Then Grams and Ali prayed, “Lord Jesus, please remember our neighbors, the Gulattis. Help Mr. G. find a new job. And thank you for this yummy bread. It will fill our tummies and theirs, too.”

“Amen,” said Grams.


Then Ali and her Grams carried the bread to their neighbor’s front door.

It opened and Mr. Gulatti said, “Now what do we have here?”





4 cups unsifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

¼ cup sugar

1 cup currants or raisins

4 tablespoons butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 ¾ cups buttermilk


Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly using two knives or a pastry blender.

Mix egg with milk and add to dry ingredients. Stir until blended.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a dozen times.

Divide dough and make two round loaves. Place each loaf into a greased 8 inch pan or a greased cast iron fry pan.

Press the dough to the sides of the pan. With a floured knife, cut crosses on top of the loaves about 1 inch deep. Be sure to say the “Our Father” while you do this. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. When cool, wrap both loaves into tea towels and give one away.


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