My mother was only 17 years old when she got married. Somewhere in that time, she was given a special two volume cookbook set called Meta Givens Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking. It was a true cookbook of the 50's, offering advice so basic, the author must have assumed many of her readers couldn't boil water. Until Julia Child altered my mother's views on food, Meta Givens was the only cookbook in our home. The recipes were so simple and straightforward, I learned to cook from them at a very young age. By the time I was nine years old I could make real fudge, basic one-bowl cakes, quick breads, and peanut butter cookies all by myself. I also learned to make a pumpkin yeast bread when I was slightly older. Over the years my mother's Meta Givens cookbook disintegrated into a pile of loose pages. However, I was able to track down a used set several years ago. Although most of the recipes seem outdated, it was quite an experience just holding the cookbook while childhood memories rushed back.
I thought of that pumpkin bread yesterday after looking at a gorgeous loaf of bread made by Ivonne at Creampuffs In Venice. She's doing a salute to bread all month and it's dazzling to see her work. My, she can bake! She and Orchidea at Viaggi & Sapori are hosting a wonderful event called Dishes Of Comfort and I think my loaf of bread should qualify. My pumpkin bread recipe is very humble but comforting, a farmhouse type of bread good for making sandwiches and toast. Unfortunately, after deciding to make it, I suddenly realized I had no pumpkin. It was raining ferociously and I didn't want to drive to the store. I then noticed that I had just the right amount of very thick marinara sauce and decided to use it in place of the pumpkin.
The sauce was a puree of some leftover marinara sauce I made a week ago. It wasn't watery, and was almost the same texture as canned pumpkin. If you decide to make this, cook your tomato sauce down until it's very thick. This sauce had garlic, fresh basil, onions and carrots in it. I think plain canned tomato sauce would be too thin and lacking in flavor. The recipe calls for 2 cups of pumpkin, but I only had one cup of tomato puree. So, I split the recipe in half.
Anytime I make bread, I always use the same bowl my mother used when I was a child. Many people tell me their mother had a bowl just like this. I suppose it was a popular item during a certain period. This bowl means a great deal to me. Here it holds the dough before its first rising.
Forgive the flash, but I think the color of the bread is lovely. It tastes very different from pumpkin bread, which has a sweet flavor. This bread was more savory, with a faint tomato flavor--not overpowering. I'll add parmesan cheese and herbs the next time I make this.
Today I used the bread to make a wonderful sandwich, so big it could feed two people easily. Half of it was my lunch, the other half was dinner. The filling was cracked black pepper turkey, swiss cheese, avocado slices, thick cut apple wood smoked bacon, lettuce, and the last of the tomato-apricot chutney. I will need to make more of that chutney. It's fabulous. Ask Glenna, she loved it when she was here. The bread was very nice, with a good crumb and chewy crust. Ideal sandwich bread.
Tomato (or Pumpkin) Bread (Meta Givens)
4-5 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 envelope dry yeast (not instant)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very thick tomato sauce (Marinara style), pureed (or one cup canned pumpkin)
1/8 cup melted butter
Measure flour into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and stir in the sugar and let soften for about 10 minutes. Pour the hot milk into a food processor or Mixmaster bowl, stir in the salt and let cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast mixture to the lukewarm milk, then add around 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Then add the tomato puree or pumpkin, the melted shortening, and process until smooth. Add around 2 cups more flour and process, until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. This shouldn't take long with a food processor or Mixmaster.
Pour the hot milk into a bowl, stir in the salt and let cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast mixture to the lukewarm milk, then beat in around 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Then add the tomato puree or pumpkin, the melted shortening and beat until smooth. Add around 2 cups more flour and mix together, then turn out onto a floured board. Cover with bowl and let rest for 10 minutes. Then knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Take the kneaded dough and put it into a clean, greased bowl, then turn
the dough so that the greased side of the dough is facing up. Cover
with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place
until doubled--about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and
let double again---about 45 minutes. Turn out of the bowl. The recipe
makes a little too much dough for one loaf in a standard loaf pan.
Note: If you double the recipe it will make 3 loaves. Since I halved
the original recipe, I made one loaf and three dinner rolls. Let the
dough rest for 10 minutes, covered. Then shape the large chunk of dough into a loaf
and place in a well greased bread pan. Make small dinner rolls with
remaining dough and place on a sheet pan. Cover the loaf and the rolls
and let double. Bake in oven set at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or
until well browned. Rolls should cook for about 20 minutes.