Linda Pospisil, of Sedalia, has loved baking all her life, and it comes naturally, passed down from the Klein side of her family — German immigrants who settled in this area in 1852. She loves it so much she’s stared her own little baking business.
“I’ve always baked, I think Easy-Bake Oven came out when I was little,” she said laughing. “And I got one. My great-aunt bought me one.”
Pospisil recently began a new baking venture after leaving Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg in October last year as a respiratory therapist. In May she began “The Little Red Hen Bakery” and started selling her wares at the Sedalia Area Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Choosing a catchy name for herself was easy and with good reason, she said.
“The reason I choose that is because I’ve always said, ‘can you help me do this or can you help me do that’ but nobody wants to help me,” she said smiling. “But then they’ll help you eat it, they want to reap the benefits. Well you know the story of the little red hen, nobody ever wanted to help her. So I was like, well there you go.”
And it’s no wonder they want to help eat the baked goods, upon entering her home the aroma of fresh baked bread surrounds one and makes them feel right at home, temping them to dig in. Among her culinary talents one will find pies, scones, brownies, cookies, sourdough bread, beautifully browned cinnamon roll bread, and banana bread.
Pospisil loves antiques, but has also kept an assortment of old cookbooks, a cutting board belonging to her grandmother, Georgia Nelson, and wooden rolling pins belonging to both her mother, Billie Klein, and great-grandmother, Anceline Hunt, who lived in Florence.
A good baker is made excellent with the use of the right rolling pin and she knows her collection has been time tested and proved.
“This was my great-grandmother’s,” she said holding up a small six-inch rolling pin. “My grandmother, her daughter, gave me this when I was 8 years old.”
Pospisil, who is only five feet tall and plucky like the little red hen, said her father, Tom Nelson, also made a small six-inch wooden stool for her to stand on so she could knead bread at the counter.
“I’m so short, I couldn’t knead bread without being up high enough,” she said.
Many of her recipes have been passed down through the years by the women in her family.
“A lot of my recipes come from my mom, my grandmothers and my great-aunts, ” she said.
She’s tried using newer recipes, but has always come back to the family bread and baking recipes.
“It just doesn’t taste like grandma’s,” Pospisil noted. “I use lard … my great-grandmother she had 10 kids and so every day she would make probably 10 loaves of bread. They had tons and tons of family. Grandma said it was nothing for us to make eight or nine pies a day.”
She said the original bread recipe she uses from her great-grandmother, she divides it in fourths and it still makes three big loaves.
Besides baking several days a week for the SAFM, Pospisil is working on a cookbook.
“I’m trying to put together a Klein Family cookbook,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of my family that has been submitting recipes.”
She said she hopes to have it ready for the Klein Family reunion to be hosted in two weeks.
“It’s the 83rd or 84th year and they always have it down in Florence,” she said.
Pospisil said she believes in making baked goods from scratch, just like her family has always done.
“Our family’s always made everything from scratch,” she added. “Once in a great while, I’ll make something and I’ll use a mix and add some stuff to it, but I feel so guilty. It’s like oh no! I’ve got to do it from scratch. I think it just tastes better. And besides that, it doesn’t have preservatives in it.”
Baking relaxes her and she feels driven to bake because she likes to “serve people.”
“I always want to make sure, whenever I make something, I want it to be the best for someone,” she said. “It’s like presentation, not necessarily that it looks really good but that it tastes awesome.”
When she worked at the hospital the staff used to tell her she made the best brownies.
“I always wanted to be famous for making the best brownies in the world,” she added. “I made these brownies, and I’ve tweaked and done this and done that. And this girl she goes, ‘Oh my god! This is the name of your brownie, I’m going to call them Tickle-My-Throat brownies.’”
She said the woman said the brownies were so good that when she ate them they gave her a little tickle in her throat.
“And I’m going, is that not really funny!” Pospisil said laughing. “I’ve made them the same way now for a long time — they made her happy. And my friend’s husband, who is a sheriff’s deputy, said ‘I swear there’s something in these, nobody makes brownies this good! These are addictive.’”
Pospisil’s brownies are made with real butter, farm fresh eggs and grated unsweetened bar chocolate that she buys in bulk, plus Hershey’s cocoa.
She said one key to getting great results with baked goods is good quality, fresh ingredients. That’s why she has a 50-pound bag of Gold Medal flour setting in a chair in her kitchen; and a large supply of farm eggs on hand.
“I have tried cooking with other eggs, but I just don’t think they hold up,” She said. “I don’t know if they lose the volume it gives or not. I go through a lot of eggs.”
Flour makes a difference too.
“If you buy cheaper flour, you need to sift it two times,” she noted. “Because if you don’t it doesn’t work well — you’ll either have to use more or you’ll have to use less. And another thing is butter, I do not use any substitute.”
Pospisil, who is diabetic, also makes sugar-free baked goods for those that need it, she said. Besides being at the SAFM she will take orders for all her baked goods; Pospisil can be reached at 827-4154.
The Little Red Hen Bakery is at the SAFM from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays at the main gate on the Missouri State Fairgrounds on U.S. Highway 65.