Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mother's Wheat Germ Bread

I think about the fires recently in the hills around us here in Southern California, and remember back to the Oakland California fires in an earlier era. While many stories were poignant and very sad, one that has stuck in my memory is the story of the woman who lost everything in the fire. Interestingly, she despaired the most over the loss of her recipes, some of which were family treasures passed down for several generations. (I have a few of those as well.)

Some weeks after the fire, one of her neighbors found out where she was living, and brought her a loaf of her own bread, with the recipe attached to it. Little by little, her recipes came back to her, because she had shared them.

My mother cooked for a crowd: her family of seven children. I remember coming home as a teenager to the smell of this bread, freshly baked. It was perfect in the afternoons, just warm crumbly bread, some homemade jam, and a glass of milk. Of course the fantasy memory might include then happily skipping off to do the homework, but I think the real memory probably was slicing one more slice, in order to avoid leaving Mom’s kitchen and her good bread. This is one recipe I don’t want to lose, so I’m posting it here. It's also over at Elizabeth's Kitchen.

Mother’s Wheat Germ Bread

Combine in a mixer bowl:
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 Tbls. shortening (I suppose you could substitute butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt.

Dissolve 2 packages yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and add to above mixture. Then add 2 eggs, mixing well, but not overbeating.

Add: 1 cup wheat germ and 3 cups white flour and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Blend in 2 1/2 cups more flour.

“Blob it in” (the recipe says) into 2 greased loaf “tins,” and let rise to within 1″ of the top of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter.

I find that I’m used to a more complete recipe these days: Do I turn the loaves out onto racks immediately, or let them cool for 10 minutes in the pan? When do I brush on the melted butter? How long do I mix the dough? This is a recipe from days when most women cooked, and cooked regularly, and knew what to do. I smile at even earlier recipes that say things like “Cook in a moderate oven until done.” Translation, please?

No photo of the bread. When it stops hitting temperatures past the hundred-degree mark, I’ll make some, for old times sake, and post a photo then.


SAS said...

I love the simple advice you captured here: "Blob it in." So true of how we help others cook, with phrases that just make sense.

alotalot said...

Passing the recipes along is a good way to make them last!

I agree with what you said about old recipes not containing much detail. I have a recipe book that contains instructions like: "put it in a medium oven". or "add a scant amount" I don't know what that means! :)

Juliann said...

I have very few food memories from childhood - I did not like to eat and dinner was always a battle with my parents trying to make me finish something. But my own daughters and I have lots of shared recipes and great memories of cooking together.

CSL said...

Lovely. That was one recipe I took with me when I married. Maybe I should resurrect it again Love you!