The Sifting Sands of Baking…mid-Century

The cooking utensils of my youth now fall into an antiques category named “mid-century.” To which I say “Oh come on now – it’s either an antique or not.”   I’m not buying this new category; for one thing it ages me and would imply that I too am an antique. Harrumph!  For another thing I feel it’s just a way to make what should be garage sale items more appealing.

When I was just a lass my father owned an Army-Navy Surplus store.  Naturally not everything would fit into the store so he had a storage shed at the house for a few of the overflow items.  Trust me, I have seen garage sale items en masse. It’s in the blood and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Since I’m talking mid-Century let me go just a bit earlier.  Still not a true antique but from an age I’ll call premid-century.   I came across it at Goodwill: a flour sifter.  It intrigued me and the price was well within my budget, less than a dollar.  I did a little research and depending on where I got the info it’s either from the 1930s or 40s.

It’s the sifter on the left.  The blank space in the middle of the photo is for the flour sifter I remember from my youth:  the true mid-century one.  It had a crank handle, red I think.  Apparently it disappeared into a landfill somewhere between Florida and Georgia.  The sifter on the right is my current version – brighter, fancier with more moving parts.  Both sifters are a cylinder shape, both have wire mesh bottoms.  I don’t think the new one is any better than the original.  In fact, the newest sifter tends to get flour and other items caught under its many blades.

If you’re a television food fan you know the current rage is shaking the flour through a wire mesh basket.  For me that actually worked better, until someone sat on the durn thing. A good bit flatter it still works. I just can’t get as many dry ingredients into it as I used to.

There are those that will tell you modern flours do not need to be sifted; better quality production and all.  Even if it’s true I still like the idea I’m mixing my baking soda, salt and other dry ingredients with the flour as I sift away.  It makes me happy.

My youngest daughter used to make the best pancakes: light and fluffy.  When asked why her pancakes were so much better than mine she always said the same thing “It’s because I take the time to shift the flour.”

Whether you sift the flour or shift it from the bag to the mixing bowl it seems to help my baking; along with having the patience to have all the ingredients at room temperature before starting, but that’s another blog.


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