Friday, 4 April 2014

The Sun'll Come Out (Tomorrow)

It is a slow spring a comin'. Painfully slow. Painfully grey and...cold. But the weather network assures me that brighter days are ahead. They can't be wrong, can they? I'm trying to distract myself today in hopes that tomorrow we might enjoy being outside.

My quest for the perfect homemade loaf continues. I've enjoyed browsing my granny's old recipe books on the search. Some handy hints and quotes therein have made me smile:

To A New Husband

Remember this my darling
I fully realize
You loved your mother's cooking
Her Christmas cakes and pies

But when comparing efforts
Restrain your family pride
You did not have to eat the flops
She cooked when just a bride.

Husband, you reading this? Not hard to tell the book was published in the '70s. There were other hints from a 1908 cookbook that sounded downright dangerous: "For a cold in the head sniff powdered borax up the nose" (Yikes!) and interesting: "Do not approach contagious diseases with an empty stomach, nor sit between the sick and the fire, because the heat attracts the vapor". Food for thought.

In the meantime, I think I've found a winner. 

Five Grain Health Bread  
submitted to the Hillmond and District Cookbook (1976) by Tillie Hoegl

1 package granular yeast
1/2 cup honey
3 cups lukewarm water
1/3 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups dark rye flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup quick oats
1Tbsp salt
3/4 cup skim milk powder
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

plus 3 cups more all-purpose flour to make a firm dough.

In a very large bowl soak yeast, honey and shortening in the warm water for 10-15 mins while measuring remaining ingredients. Add to yeast mixture in order given: wheat and rye flours, cornmeal, oats, salt, white flour, skim milk powder. Stir 50 times. Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 2 hours). 

Sprinkle kneading board with 1 1/2 cups of the remaining white flour, punch down dough and turn dough onto surface. Knead flour into dough--before you are done you will have added remaining white flour to make a dough firm enough to handle. Now knead it 250 times, calling in your helpers to knead. Shape into a 2 foot roll, cut in half and shape into two loaves and place in well buttered loaf pans. Let rise about 1" above rim of pans. Bake at approximately 400F for 20 mins, then reduce to 350F and bake about 40 minutes longer, until crust is dark gold and crisp. 

When I rewrote the recipe to share here I realized that I left out the salt altogether, did not add white flour to initial mixture ( instead kneading all of it in after it rose). I baked it for 20 minutes at 400F but only left it in for 15 at 350F. It was quite dark and sounded hollow when tapped. Looks like it turned out, either way, and we are off now to sample with butter and jam.

Do you have any recipe books that were handed down?


  1. I love all the advice. I don't ever approach anything with an empty stomach. The bread's looking good, I like the different ingredients, especially the oats. I do a loaf in the bread machine every day, but I must admit I always use the same recipe (with some barley flour). I need to experiment more. I remember a farmhouse cookery book we had when I was little that had recipes in it that began with things like "First jug your hare". A shame I don't still have it.

    1. CJ, I had to google "jug your hare"--what a fantastic expression, and one I'd never heard. So of course I came across a recipe to share:
      I can't imagine that I'll ever need the recipe, but isn't it great to learn about the food and cooking techniques of yesterday? I'm so glad you stopped by!