Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Posts Tagged ‘American Cooking’

Boston Brown Bread (Yeasted) World Bread Day 2009

Posted by bakinghistory on October 16, 2009

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Boston Brown Bread dates back to Colonial times and is traditionally paired with Boston Baked Beans

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17) Today is World Bread Day and as always I am happy to participate in this event hosted by Zorra.

I write from Massachusetts, so I chose an old-fashioned recipe for a classic New England bread, made since Colonial times. It contains equal quantities of rye, corn, and whole wheat flour, plus molasses and yeast, and it is steamed rather than baked. The result is a moist loaf, with a complex flavor and a mild sweetness. Great for dinner on a cool Autumn evening—along with a steaming bowl of baked beans or soup.

From the original recipe by Paul Richards

In: Baker’s Bread, 1918—USA

Ingredients

100 g rye flour

100 g whole wheat flour

100 g cornmeal

100 g Graham flour

5 g active dry yeast

8 g Kosher salt

135 g molasses (not blackstrap)

100 g boiling water

100 g warm water

milk as needed

Mix the rye flour and yeast with lukewarm water and set aside to ferment until light.

Scald the cornmeal with boiling water and set aside until cool.  Add molasses and salt, then remaining flours and rye sponge. Add drops of milk if dough is too stiff.

Place mixture in a well greased glass or stainless steel steamed pudding mold, which mixture should fill by 2/3. Cover tightly. Place mold in large pot of boiling water (having first placed a rack on the bottom) and steam, covered for 2 hours, keeping the water always boiling and reaching 2/3 up the mold. Add additional boiling water as needed.

Unmold and serve immediately.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Regional American Food, Rye, State Foods, whole grains, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gingerbread (Novel Food #6)

Posted by bakinghistory on December 20, 2008

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Mildly spiced gingerbread cookies

ROUNDUP part 1 Roundup part 2

novel-foodSimona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste are hosting a new edition of their wonderful seasonal blog event, Novel Food. It is one of my absolute favorites since it pairs literature and food. This time, it was really difficult to choose which literary work to feature between two that I particularly like.

Since this is the winter edition, I finally opted for a short story by O. Henry, one of my absolute favorite American writers.  The short story is “The Gift of the Magi” and illustrates the theme of gift-giving: at the end, the author shows what is, in his view, the wisest gift to give, independently of what money can—and cannot—buy.

I won’t reveal anything else, since the story is short and well worth reading.  I read it for the first time when I was nine years old, and its implications deeply struck me then—now, almost three decades later, I am still moved by it, even if in somewhat different ways.

The characters of the story are a young married couple, Della and James Dillingham Young, and you can see them portrayed above in gingerbread dough and white icing.

The time  is around Christmas, the setting a big American city, but the theme transcends any specific time and place and is ultimately about the essence of human love.

here is a short excerpt:

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling — something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

Even if there is one specific food mentioned in the story, chops, I took the liberty of choosing gingerbread instead. The following recipe produces a wonderful dough, very easy to work with, mildly spiced and sweet.

From the original recipe by Hannah Widdifield

In: Widdifield’s New Cook Book: Practical Receipts for the Housewife”, 1856—USA

Ingredients:

1-1/4 lbs AP flour

1/2  lb. dark brown sugar

1/4  lb butter

1/2 tbsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 yolk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tbsp baking soda

Icing:

1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar

lemon juice as needed

1 egg white as needed

Sift flour, spices, and sugar. In a mixer, on low speed, mix butter with flour mixture until it resembles wet sand. Add yolk and mix briefly. Dissolve baking soda in milk and add to mixer bowl. Switch to the dough hook and knead the mixture on low speed for 5-7 minutes, until the dough forms and is smooth and supple. Let the dough rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300F.  Take about 1/4 of the dough and knead it briefly by hand, then roll it rather thin and cut the cookies. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (preferably insulated) and bake for about 15-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a rack—they will be soft and crumbly while hot but will turn crunchy as soon as the cool.

Make the icing by mixing powdered sugar with a few drops of lemon juice and a bit of egg white, just enough to have a stiff paste that can be piped, and decorate the cookies.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Holidays, Spices | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Miss Diether’s Chocolate Brownies

Posted by bakinghistory on November 9, 2008

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Chewy brownie drops made with barley flour, spiced with cinnamon, and full of crunchy toasted almond bits

A very interesting version of brownies, shaped like drop cookies, and flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and a touch of almond extract. They also contain 50% of barley flour, which contributes great flavor and a velvety texture. Toasted almonds provide a wonderful crunch and are very well paired with chocolate. All in all, a variation on classic brownies really worth trying.

From the original recipe by Miss Diether (Boston Cooking School)

In: “American Cookery”, 1917—USA

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup (113 g) butter

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 squares (56 g) unsweetened baking chocolate

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup (65 g) AP flour

1/2 cup (75 g)  whole-grain barley flour (stone-ground)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

1 cup (145 g) blanched almonds

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Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), place the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them until they are a reddish-brown color. Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop.

Melt the chocolate and set aside.

In a large bowl cream the butter and add the sugar little by little—the mixture does not need to be fluffy. Add the eggs and the melted chocolate, mixing well. Finally mix in the almond and vanilla extract.

Sift together the two flours and the ground cinnamon, then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring gently just until incorporated. Finally stir in the chopped almonds.

Place the mixture for 15 minutes to chill in the refrigerator, and meanwhile lightly grease 2 cookie sheets (preferably insulated).

Shape the brownie drops by rounded teaspoons and bake in a preheated oven (325°F—160°C)  for about 10 minutes.

Let the brownies cool on the baking sheet—they are too fragile to remove while warm.

P.S. I have recreated the original recipe as it was written, so I made the brownies as drop cookies. However, they can be baked in an 8×8-inch square pan (better lined with aluminum foil and then lightly greased) and then cut into bars.

Posted in American Cooking, Chocolate, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Spices, Treenuts, whole grains | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Pumpkin Pie

Posted by bakinghistory on October 30, 2008

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Update: Ivy has posted the ROUNDUP

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Ivy from Kopiaste… is hosting another wonderful event devoted to pies, this time sweet ones.  I decided to enter a classic all-American pumpkin pie, a traditional dessert enjoyed in the Fall and always part of the Thanksgiving feast.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, born in Massachusetts in 1807, immortalized pumpkins—and pumpkin pie—in his work The Pumpkin, from which the following verses are taken:

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,

What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

There are many versions of pumpkin pie, more or less rich, more or less spiced, some sweetened with sugar, others with molasses, maple syrup, or even with honey.

The recipe I feature here is very simple, minimally spiced with cinnamon, and sweetened with very little sugar.  If the pumpkin is very tasty to begin with there is no need to be heavy handed with spices, and sweeteners like molasses might be too strong and overpower the delicate flavor of the main ingredient itself. Even if canned pumpkin is an acceptable shortcut, it cannot compare with freshly roasted pumpkin and the result will be much tastier—and definitely worth the extra time and effort—if the latter were used.

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From the original recipes by Bertha Lippincott Parrish

In: “The ‘Home’ Cook Book”, by the Children’s Summer Home of Cinnaminson, NJ, 1914—USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients

Filling:

1 cup (250 g) roasted and pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cream or milk

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon or 1/2 tsp nutmeg (according to taste)

1 large egg, divided

1 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp salt

Crust:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim. I used a small cookie-cutter shaped like a maple leaf to decorate the rim of the pie as well as the top.

Make the filling: Cream the butter and add the sugar little by little, then the yolk, cream or milk, salt and spice, and then the pureed pumpkin.  Beat the egg white till stiff peaks form, and add it to the pumpkin mixture, gently, until well incorporated.

Fill the prepared pastry shell, decorate the rim and top as you like, and bake in a preheated oven (375°F), until the pastry is golden brown and the filling barely wiggles in the center. Let the pie cool on a rack.






Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Holidays, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Thanksgiving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cheese Straws (Think Spice… …Think Paprika)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 27, 2008

Crunchy savory biscuits flavored with cheese and paprika

Mimi from  Mimi on the Move is the October host for the Think Spice... event which was founded by Sunita of Sunita’s World. Mimi proposed Paprika as the theme of her edition of Think Spice….

My entry is a recipe that seems to have been around for quite a long time and is still very popular—and deservedly so. Cheese Straws are crunchy savoury biscuits that are made with a good amount of cheese, butter, and some nice spice like, as in this version, paprika. Despite their plain looks they are very tasty and hard to stop eating. Paprika pairs well with a good cheese, providing a pleasant warmth that complements the richness of the other ingredients.

I have used a very good, extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar and Hungarian sweet paprika, but Parmesan and hot paprika would work as well, as would also a 50-50 mixture of each. The only important thing is to bake the biscuits well, so that they are dry and crunchy.

From the original recipe by Janet McKenzie Hill

In: Practical Cooking and Serving, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

1 cup (125 g) AP flour

1/2 tsp paprika (Hot or sweet, or a mix of the two)

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup (75 g) butter, cold

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 to 1 cup (50 to 100 g) grated cheese (Sharp Cheddar or Parmesan or a mix of the two)

1-2 tbsp ice water (or as needed)

Place the flour, salt, paprika, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to mix everything together. Add the grated cheese and pulse again. Then add the butter, diced, and pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tbsp water and pulse again, add more water as needed with the machine running until the dough just holds together. Do not overprocess.

Shape the biscuits with a pastry bag or by hand forming small balls and then flattening them with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 10 minutes, until golden. Lower the temperature to 300°F and bake a little longer, until the cookies are dry and crunchy. Cool on racks and store airtight.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Crackers & Savory Biscuits, Spices | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Orange Bread

Posted by bakinghistory on October 22, 2008

A very good bread with a citrusy aroma

This recipe results in a wonderful loaf full of the flavor and scent of oranges, thanks to both freshly squeezed orange juice and a good amount of orange zest. The texture is reminiscent of a very light brioche, or even challah, with a moist fine crumb and a thin, soft crust. It is excellent freshly baked, and, later, toasted and spread with sweet butter and a good orange marmalade, to have with tea or coffee.

This bread goes to Susan’s Yeast Spotting Roundup is HERE

From the original recipe by the King’s Daughters Society of Duluth, Minnesota

In: King’s Daughters Cook Book, 1916—USA

Ingredients:

4 cups bread flour

1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup of warm water

1 cup to 1-1/4 cups orange juice (about 2 large organic oranges, or 3 small ones)

grated zest of all the oranges used for the juice

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp butter, softened

1 large egg white (to glaze)

Mix the yeast in the warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes.

In a mixer bowl pour 1 cup of orange juice, the grated zest, egg yolk, sugar and flour, mixing on low speed for about 1-2 minutes. Add the yeast and mix for a few more minutes, then add the salt. Mix a little longer, at low speed, and then add the butter. Mix until the butter is well incorporated and the dough is smooth and well developed. You might need extra orange juice, depending on how your flour absorbs liquids. I needed 1/4 cup extra juice, and I used King Arthur bread flour.

It is important to have some extra juice on hand if needed, because adding extra water would diminish the bread’s orange flavor.

Let the dough ferment in a lightly greased covered bowl, until double in bulk. Then shape it as you like (I made a large 4-strand braid), but it can also be baked in two bread pans (9 x 5-inch pans).

If you decide to bake it free-form, sprinkle generously a baker’s peel or a baking sheet with semolina, then place the loaf on it.

Let the prepared loaf (or loaves) ferment, covered, until light, then brush gently with the egg white lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water.

Bake in a preheated oven (350°F) on a baker’s stone if you have one, or simply on the baking sheet on which the bread proofed, for about 45 minutes or 1 hour, depending on the size, until the crust is a deep golden brown. Cool the bread(s) on a rack.





Posted in American Cooking, Fruit, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Chess Pie (quiche, tarte, & co.)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 14, 2008

A Southern classic: Chess Pie

Blog-Event XXXIX - Quiche, Tarte & Co.

This is my entry for the event hosted by  Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte .

ROUNDUP IS HERE

Chess pie is a classic dessert in the culinary repertoire of Southern U.S. The flaky crust encloses a sweet, sweet, sweet, and creamy filling topped by an ever-so-thin, crispy layer of meringue.

From the original recipes by:  Mattie Lee Wehrley

In: “Handy Household Hints and Recipes”, 1916, USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

Filling:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk or cream

Crust:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim.

Filling: melt the butter and let cool. Warm the milk and set aside.Beat the eggs at high speed with the sugar until very light (at least 15 minutes), then add the flour, the melted and cooled butter, and the lukewarm milk. If the milk is cold the mixture will curdle. If this happens, blend with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.

Pour the filling in the prepared pan and bake at 350F (180C), until the top of the filling is golden brown. Let the pie cool in the pan placed on a rack. Serve cold; refrigerate any leftovers.

A note on the pie pan to use: I recommend using a metal deep-dish pie pan. In my experience, pies baked in  glass and ceramic pie dishes often have a soggy, undercooked pastry layer, which spoils the final result. Natural finish aluminum pie pans are best because they bake evenly.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Desserts, Pies & Tarts, Regional American Food, Tarts & Pies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Potato Pie

Posted by bakinghistory on September 30, 2008

A tasty savory pie filled with potatoes and onions, milk and a touch of butter.

Ivy of Kopiaste is the host of a blog event all about savory pies. My contribution is a simple one, made with a buttery crust filled with shredded potatoes, onions, milk and butter. The filling is assembled in the pie crust with raw ingredients, which makes the preparation easy and quick. Furthermore, it does not contain any eggs. The result is a truly wonderful pie, with a perfectly flaky crust enclosing a tender, buttery filling, which is best enjoyed warm. Something worth trying for a simple dinner on a cold winter night.

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ROUNDUP IS HERE

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From the original recipes by  Jane Cunningham Croly

In: Jennie June’s American Cookery Book”, 1878—USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

Filling:

4-5 large potatoes

1 small onion

1 tbsp butter

1/4 to1/3 cup cup whole milk (or half-and-half)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Crust

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, letting the extra pastry hang over the sides of the pan.

Filling: peel, wash and dry the potatoes. Shred them finely, mix them with the shredded onion and salt.  Put the mixture into the pie plate lined with pastry, then pour over enough milk (or half-and-half) to barely cover the filling. Distribute the butter in small pieces all over the filling, fold over the pastry so that the filling is partially covered. Bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm.

This pie does not freeze well, either baked or raw, because the potatoes turn mushy.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Eggless, Milk, Pies & Tarts, vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Baked Honey Custards (Rosh Hashanah 5769)

Posted by bakinghistory on September 25, 2008

A golden and velvety dairy dessert flavored with honey and cinnamon

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is approaching soon: the celebration begins at sundown Monday September 28th.

It is customary to eat honey to celebrate, in the hope that the new year will be a sweet one.

This simple custard is sweetened entirely with honey and could be a delicious addition to the table for this Holiday. It is milk based, but it could work as well with strained orange juice for a parve version. It is also very easy and quick to assemble.

Other ideas for Rosh Hashanah desserts are these:

Honey Cake—which I posted last year

Honey Cookies—from Miri at Room for Dessert

Magical Honey Cake—from Baroness Tapuzina

September is also National Honey Month and you can read all about it at Louise‘s Months of Edible Celebrations

From the original recipe by the United States Dept. of Agriculture

In: “Farmers’ Bulletin”, 1917—USA

Ingredients

5 eggs

1/2 cup of honey

4 cups scalded milk

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325F (170C).

Mix the eggs, honey, cinnamon and salt, then add the milk in a fine stream. Mix well to combine but try to avoid making the mixture foam too much.

Fill 8-10 ramekins and bake the custard in a water bath: place the ramekins in a roasting pan, preferably placing a rack underneath them, fill the pan with hot water so that it reaches half-way up the side of the ramekins. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the custards are still giggly in the center. Let them cool in the water bath, then refrigerate. Serve well chilled.

L’Shanah Tovah!

Posted in American Cooking, Dairy, Holidays, Honey, Puddings, Spices | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Prune and Walnut Whole-Wheat Loaf

Posted by bakinghistory on September 8, 2008

A sweet whole wheat bread full of prunes and walnuts

This is my entry for this month edition of Weekend Breakfast Blogging, a blog event started by Nandita of Saffron Trail and hosted this time by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. The theme proposed by Aparna is “Grains in my Breakfast”.

HERE IS THE ROUNDUP

This simple whole-wheat bread is one of my favorites to have for breakfast, usually lightly spread with very fresh cream cheese and paired with a cup of strong black tea.

The liquid for this dough is provided by the water in which prunes are briefly simmered to soften, which provide flavor and just the right sweetness, counterbalanced by the slightly bitter aftertaste of the walnuts and the full  flavor of whole wheat.

Other dried fruits can be used instead of prunes, and in my opinion dried tart cherries work amazingly well—however, my favorite remains the one made with prunes, as in the original recipe.

This bread also goes to Susan’s Yeast Spotting

From the original recipe by Carolyn Putnam Webber

In: “Two Hundred and Seventy-five War-time Recipes, 1918—USA

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried prunes (I used unsulfured, organic prunes)

1 cup water

1/4 cup (organic) sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup walnut pieces

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour (or as needed)

1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water.

Briefly simmer the prunes in 1 cup of water, just until tender—they should not be mushy. Strain the prunes and reserve the cooking liquid (add extra water to make 1 cup). Cut the prunes in quarters, then set aside.

Add the sugar and salt to the cooking liquid, mix well and set aside until lukewarm

Place 2 cups of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast and then the cooled cooking liquid. Mix on low speed until a dough forms, and towards the end add the butter cut in small pieces. The dough should be well developed and supple, but not too stiff. Add the remaining flour as necessary.

Let the dough ferment, covered, until doubled in bulk. Knead briefly again, let ferment once more in a covered bowl until doubled in bulk. Gently flatten and stretch the fermented dough to form a rectangle, then spread the walnut and prune pieces, pressing them into the dough. Roll up like a jelly-roll, pushing to avoid trapping air inside. Form into a loaf and place into a lightly greased  8 x 4-inches bread pan and let it ferment covered until the dough reaches about 1/2-inch above the rim of the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven (350F) for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Unmold the bread and let it cool on a rack before slicing.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Eggless, Fruit, Tea, Treenuts, whole grains, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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