Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Graham Bread: Healthy and Delicious
Graham flour is popping up more and more now, moving beyond just graham crackers (although these days you may want to check the list of graham cracker ingredients to see if real graham flour is actually used). Graham flour is coarsely ground whole wheat. It retains the bran and germ from the kernel and is less processed than regular whole wheat flour.
The flour is named for a 19th century nutrition reformer, Sylvester Graham. He was a Presbyterian minister who was controversial at the time for his views on healthy eating which included a vegetarian diet with whole grains but no caffeine, white flour, meat, tobacco or alcohol. Funny to think that a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains could cause such a stir, but the bakers, bartenders, butchers and tobacco farmers were not happy with the number of followers Rev. Graham attracted at the time.
Bread made from graham flour is incredibly delicious. In fact, Graham Bread tops my husband’s list of favorite breads. There is a natural sweetness to the graham flour and when molasses is added you have a loaf of robust, wholesome flavor.
My mom first introduced me to Graham Bread (she has a delectable Graham Nut Pudding, too, that I’ll share with you soon). The recipe she gave me was torn from a newspaper. Its edges have yellowed over the years and it is safely tucked into my recipe journal. I’ve modified the original recipe to include buttermilk, yogurt and some spelt flour, and switched from white to brown sugar to enhance the earthy sweetness.
Since there is no yeast involved, this is a quick bread to stir up and lovely to have in your repertoire to make on a moment’s notice. It is marvelous toasted and spread with butter for breakfast (we just inhaled a loaf this way) or slathered with cream cheese for an afternoon tea break. You could add currants or dried cranberries for some variation, but I prefer to keep it plain and simple. I think Sylvester Graham would approve!
Makes 1 loaf (9x5 inch loaf pan)
2 cups graham flour
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup plain, thick yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the graham flour, spelt flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt and stir together. Pour the molasses in and mix. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and buttermilk and stir until mixed. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth. Bake for about 1 hour, until a tester comes out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and slather with butter.