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Clara's bread pudding made easy

Trains adjusted their schedules so travelers would arrive in Red Wing on time to take a meal at Clara's House, as the St. James Hotel was affectionately called during her tenure.

This year Sturdiwheat is introducing a bread-pudding mix based on the recipe of Clara Lillyblad, proprietress of the St. James Hotel from 1931 to 1972. Visitors came from across the region for Clara's famous bread pudding and home-cooked meals.

"We've developed products in groups because it's an easy way for us to market," said owner Suzanne Blue, who added that Sturdiwheat started a line of dessert mixes this year.

The bread pudding recipe was an obvious choice, she said, because of its local connections. Yet it wasn't easy replicating the recipe. "There was more than one version, so we worked with what we found," Blue said.

"We were looking for a product that we thought would help people bake conveniently something that isn't available in the marketplace. We're trying to help discerning bakers and people who enjoy it do it more conveniently."

Sturdiwheat offers a family of all natural cooking and baking mixes based on a milling process discovered by Arnold Kaehler. While Kaehler was grinding wheat on his farm, the casing on his portable grinding mill broke, allowing some of the outer wheat layers to sift through by mistake. Curious, Kaehler tasted the stray wheat and enjoyed its hearty flavor.

After experimenting in his kitchen, he patented a process for grinding and screening the wheat layers. He named his new product Sturdiwheat, priding himself on the strength-building qualities in his breakfast foods of hot cereal and pancake mix.

Sturdiwheat still is made in Red Wing, and the company now produces a variety of products including bread and pancakes mixes, desserts such as apple crisp, short breads and crepes, coating mixes and cereals in its headquarters on Main Street.