Le beurre d’arachide est pâté pour les enfants!Brigitte Bardot
(Peanut butter is pâté for children!)
I have seen this sentiment attributed to a few people. However I like to think that as she lolled on the beach in Cannes Brigitte absently sucked on her thumb and forefinger entwined in a wild lock of blond hair and thought wistfully of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
In previous posts I have given laud and glory to the pleasures to be had from the simple turning of the seeds of Arachis hypogaea into a creamy or crunchy goodness that someone once likened unto being kissed by a goddess (the divine Mme Bardot?) under a rainbow. Until I did a bit of Googling I did not know that it was Marcellus Gilmore Edson, a Montréal chemist, who in 1884 patented a process of making a paste the “consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment” from peanuts. Edson developed the idea of peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious foodstuff for people who had difficulty chewing solid food – an not uncommon complaint in those days. It went on to become a breakfast spread on toast with jam, a lunchtime standby, as a peanut sauce in Pseudo-Asian cooking*, a cookie favourite, a candy filling, and a bread.
Yes I did say “bread” in the previous paragraph. It seems bread making has become the work for idle hands these days. Always on the cutting edge I began making bread at the first sign of winter snow so the smell of a yeasty kitchen has been pretty standard around here at least once a week long before lock-down. Today I thought I’d take a break from my go-to white toast bread and try something that wasn’t quite as kneady and didn’t required three risings.
Here’s the result – Depression era peanut butter bread.
It is delicious – at least to me a peanut butter lover – and it matches perfectly with jam. And the aroma of it cooking filled the kitchen with a rich peanut butter smell sort of like when you open that first Reese’s.
It’s a recipe from a depression era cookbook published by Lake of the Woods Milling, a Canadian company that’s been around since 1888 and produces Five Roses Flour. They began publishing cookbooks in 1913 and it was updated at regular intervals, in both French and English, right up to the beginning of this century. Reading through them it would be possible to trace the baking trends in both English and French households (they were not always the same). This particular recipe from the 1932 edition doesn’t appear in a later English edition but does appear in a French version from roughly the same period.
Being a recipe from the depression it contains very few ingredients and none that couldn’t be found in a ordinary pantry or that would have been costly. There are no eggs, butter or shortening which would have been expensive at the time. It takes 5 minutes to put together, 1 hour to cook, and a leisurely morning with coffee to enjoy.
Peanut Butter Bread
Preheat oven to 325º F
Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
Mix together dry ingredients (I use my mother’s old tin sifter).
Mix in the milk and then the peanut butter.
Scrap into the greased loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes than turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.
The next time I make it – and I will make it again – I may just add a few extra tablespoons of peanut butter. Keep in mind that the type of peanut butter you use will change the flavour. Unfortunately products such as Kraft have more sugar and corn syrup now than it did when this recipe was first published. I used Kirkland Smooth which is almost 100% peanuts but it would be interesting to try with crunchy. And I’m thinking this would make good French Toast.
*No respectable cook in Asia would use peanut butter in their sauce. Peanuts are ground by hand and then cooked with other ingredients to create the sauces for satay and other dishes.
The word for May 26th is:
Bread /bred/ /brɛd/: [1. noun 2. Intransitive verb]
1.1 Food made of a flour, water, and yeast or another leavening agent, mixed together and baked.
1.2 The bread or wafer used in the Eucharist.
1.3 The food that is required for daily life.
1.4 Money – informal use
2. To coat food in a crumbs before cooking
Middle English brēad, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch brood and German Brot.
Before the Norman Invasion the universal word for bread was hlaf, like our modern “loaf.” It is strange that Frenchified Middle English adapted a German word that originally meant morsel or a piece.