We recently bought a former chef's collection of more than 100, mostly-vintage, cookbooks. If you love cookbooks like we do, you can imagine how much fun we've been having going through them. One of our new favorites is "The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook" published in 1963. Naturally, when browsing this book, our thought was to try a bread recipe. This moist white bread has a tender crumb and the buttermilk gives it a lot of great flavor (makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich). The quantities are as per the original recipe, but we've re-written the instructions to accomodate the use of a stand mixer.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup warm water (105 - 115°F)
- 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 5-1/2 to 5-3/4 cups sifted bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Warm the buttermilk in the microwave for 1 minute on 80% power. Add the sugar, salt and butter and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, set aside for 5 minutes until it begins to bubble, then add to the buttermilk mixture.
Place 3 cups of the flour and the baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Start mixing on a low speed (#2) and add the liquid gradually. (If mixing by hand, just use a very large mixing bowl and combine the ingredients with a wooden spoon.)
Once the ingredients are incorporated, add an additional 2-1/2 cups of flour and mix until a rough, sticky dough forms. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour in 1 tablespoon increments if you feel the dough is too wet (we didn't need to).
Continuing at the same speed (#2), knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead once or twice by hand and form the dough into a ball. (If kneading only by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes total.)
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn several times to coat on all sides. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down, turn onto a lightly floured surface, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough in half and form into loaves. Place in well greased loaf pans, cover again and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and has a hollow sound when tapped.
Makes 2 loaves
About Margaret Rudkin and Pepperidge Farm:
Margaret Rudkin began baking in 1929 while living on the Fairfield, Connecticut farm named for a rare Pepperidge tree that grew on the property.
Rudkin's aim was to provide a wholesome, nutrient-rich bread for her youngest son, who suffered from severe asthma and allergies. With a little trial and error she developed a recipe that was delicious, nutritious and very well received by family and friends.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit, she began selling her "Pepperidge Farm" bread through a local grocer for 25 cents a loaf - 2-1/2 times the current going price for a loaf of bread!
She was so successful, she soon had her husband carrying bread to Grand Central Terminal in New York on his way to work as a Wall Street broker. From there the bread was distributed to specialty shops throughout the city, and the growth of Pepperidge Farm began.
"The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook" is a true labor of love. It includes recipes from Rudkin's childhood growing up in New York City as well as many recipes that chronicle her transition from city life to farm living. The baking section includes a number of unique bread and roll recipes as well as yeast cakes.
Having become such a serious cook, Rudkin began collecting antique cookbooks in 1957, and she shares excerpts and modernized interpretations of recipes dating back as far as 1475. The book wraps up with a culinary exploration of her Irish heritage, inspired by a 1953 salmon fishing trip she took with her husband.
If you can manage to lay your hands on a copy of this book, do it. It's a great addition to any cookbook collection.