Best Homemade Holiday Breads
Very Old Recipes
These are all recipes that are at least a century old, passed down through generations of certain families. These are all what are referred to as soda-leavened breads, and they are best with a few tips that I will give you. Add the dry mix or the soda last. Avoid stirring the batter any more than necessary. It will remove the gas needed to raise your bread dough. Get your batter in the pan and in the oven immediately, for the same reason. For every tsp. double-acting baking powder called for, or each 2 teaspoons single-acting powder, you could substitute ½ tsp. baking soda, plus ½ cup buttermilk or sour milk. You can let the ½ cup sour milk or buttermilk replace ½ cup sweet milk or other fluid.
Sift together 3 cups whole wheat flour, a tablespoon cinnamon, and a teaspoon each of clove, ginger, and baking soda. Add pinch of salt.
In another bowl, combine 3 beaten eggs and a cup each of oil, brown sugar, sour milk and molasses. Beat dry ingredients into the liquid. Pour into greased and floured 8 x 12 inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.
Mix in your baking pan 1 ½ cups flour, a cup sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, a teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt. Melt 6 tablespoons shortening and stir into these ingredients already given. Add a tablespoon vinegar, a teaspoon vanilla extract, and a cup cold water. Make holes in batter and stir. Bake mixture right away in preheated 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes.
Boil 2 ½ cups water to pour over 2 cups raisins and 4 teaspoons baking soda. Let this sit covered overnight. In the morning, add a cup of sweetener( molasses, white or brown sugar, honey, but nothing artificial). Then add 4 tablespoons of some type of shortening(bacon grease, oil, butter, melted lard, whatever you have). Add four cups of your favorite flour and a pinch of salt. Pour batter into 3 loaf pans, making each about half full. Bake at 350 degrees F for an hour. Cool before removing from your pans.
If you'd really like to do this authentically, bake in metal coffee cans. That's what the hobos did during the Depression era.
Rhubarb Nut Bread
Combine 1 ½ cups brown sugar, a cup buttermilk, an egg, ½ cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup water, and a teaspoon vanilla extract in large mixing bowl. Beat until well mixed. Then add 2 ½ cups wheat flour, a teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt, and mix this well. Stir in 1 ½ cups finely chopped rhubarb and ½ cup whatever nuts you like. Divide your batter between two 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees F for about an hour.
New England Brown Bread
Combine a cup each of the following flours: corn, whole wheat, and rye. Add 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Add 2 cups buttermilk and ¾ cup molasses. Pour your batter into a 2-quart greased container. Cover loosely, set container on a rack in a large pot, then pour boiling water in the outer pot. Fill it halfway to the top of your brown bread mold. Cover kettle with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over medium heat 3 ½ hours. Water around your mold should be boiling the entire time, and you will need to add more. Remove brown bread and mold from water, and use a knife to cut it loose from its container. Turn it upside down and release the bread. It is best hot. **Raisins are optional in the mix. If you elect to use them, use a half cup.
Real Hot Cocoa
As a bonus, my mother made this for me:
Mix a heaping teaspoon Hershey’s unsweetened dry cocoa and sugar to taste with enough evaporated milk to mix easily in your cup. Pour in hot water to fill cup the rest of the way. Stir frequently, as ingredients will separate. Guaranteed to be the best cup of cocoa that you have ever had.