Baking With Br. Chris: Give the Gift of Bread

Friar Voices

Br. Chris’ Date & Nut Bread recipe card

Sixth of seven parts

Give the gift of bread

People just like to get homemade things, says Br. Chris Cahill. It’s always good to bake bread for them. Although It’s probably a lot more expensive than bread you get in a store, it’s enjoyable and useful and it doesn’t leave something you have to take care of.

This recipe for a quick and easy Date and Nut Bread is one of his mother’s favorites for the holidays. Chris bakes 20 loaves and gives 15 to family members at Christmas. You want to let it sit for a day after baking, he says. It’s good with cream cheese.

DATE AND NUT BREAD (Makes 1 loaf)

1 cup dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray full-sized loaf pan with cooking spray for baking (such as PAM Happy Baking spray). Chop dates, sprinkle soda over dates and pour boiling water over the dates. Let cool. Mix in sugar and eggs.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with wet ingredients and add nuts. Pour into a bread pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Makes 1 loaf.

This Raw Apple Bread keeps well – it’s better after 24 hours – and makes a nice gift. It’s another of Chris’ favorites from Beard on Bread. Author James Beard calls it A rather unusual baking powder bread that you will find delightfully textured and interesting in color and flavor.

(Makes 1 large loaf)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
2 tablespoons buttermilk or soured milk
1 cup coarsely chopped, unpeeled apples
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10 by 5 by 3-inch loaf tin. Cream the butter or margarine, add the sugar slowly, and continue to beat until light and lemon colored. Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour with the salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the apples, nuts and vanilla or lemon rind.

Spoon the batter into the tin and bake in preheated oven 50 to 60 minutes, until the loaf pulls away slightly from the sides of the tin or until a straw or cake tester inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then loosen from the pan and turn out on a rack to cool completely before slicing.

VARIATION – Sprinkle about I tablespoon chopped nuts on top of the batter before baking.

(From Beard on Bread by James Beard, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

SUNDAY: Impress your guests