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Peanut Butter Bread, new favorite breakfast

January 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Bread

My housemate, Christa (of the Turkey Chili Rice fame) gave me a wonderful old cookbook for Christmas: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries, from 1922. The binding is delicate, the pages yellowed, and it has the great musty old book smell that I would wear as perfume if I could (um, maybe). It offers recipes for every day of the year (as long as you don’t mind eating cold boiled tongue and buttered asparagus every Sunday in May), and I can waste hours perusing the pages, awed by the odd ingredients and the minimal instructions. It’s clear reading this that back in 1922 it was unnecessary to explain every step of a recipe because the woman reading it (and yeah, it was almost always a woman) already knew more cooking basics than most people do today. I’m totally fascinated by this cookbook.

Good Housekeeping, 1922

I have perhaps mentioned this before, but I have kind of a thing for peanut butter. So much so that I eat toast with peanut butter every morning for breakfast. When I saw, on page 64 of my new old cookbook, the recipe for Peanut Butter Bread, well, I knew I would have to make it. It would have to become my new breakfast toast because the peanut butter is already in the bread! Brilliant!

The Recipe

I hesitated, though, when I saw the half cup of sugar in the recipe. My mom always told me never to eat sugar in the morning, and I almost never do. I buy all-natural peanut butter, with no added sugar, and I usually avoid jam or honey or even flavored yogurt in the morning, because it’s all just too sweet, and I wouldn’t want to be hyperactive and riled up first thing, right?

My curiosity got the better of me, though, and I figured one week of sugar in the morning wouldn’t kill me. So I made the bread. And I was really uncertain about the bread. It took much longer to cook than I expected, and when I took it out of the oven, it had a suspiciously hard crust. It seemed much too dense, and the small crumbs I tasted were awfully sweet. I was worried, but I stashed the bread away to await my Monday morning breakfast. And wow, was I worried about nothing. It’s chewy and has a great crumb, and it toasts up well, and while it might do with a little less sugar, the peanut butter flavor is just right.

I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s perfect. I might want to experiment with making this a yeast bread somehow, and using maybe half as much sugar. If I could figure out a way to do this without the milk and egg, that might be nice. But still, it makes a pretty darn good breakfast, as is.

Peanut Butter Bread

  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (use all-natural, because they probably didn’t have Jiff in 1922)
  • 1/2 c. sugar (or less)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. flour (I used half all-purpose and half white whole wheat, and I will do it again)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder (my bread might have been less dense if my baking powder had been fresher. I do not get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for my expired baking powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. whole milk

Heat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter and the sugar.

Creaming the peanut butter and sugar

You will notice that I used a small mixing bowl. That’s because the 1922 recipe was kind of confusing, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I hope to eliminate some of that confusion for you. Because I love you, and want you to be happy.

Beat the egg very well in a small bowl, and mix it into the peanut butter mixture.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Now add the dry ingredients and the milk to the peanut butter mixture, alternating adding a bit at a time of each to make the mixing easier. I did not do this, and the mixing was a pain in the bottom.

Mix all the ingredients together as well as you can. I ended up getting in with my hands to knead it all a bit, as I usually do. Once the ingredients are well mixed and you have a smooth, slightly sticky dough, shape it into a well-greased (well-greased! very important!) bread pan, and bake for about 50 minutes.

Well, the original recipe says to bake for 50 minutes, but mine took a lot longer to cook all the way through. Which probably explains why the crust turned out so rock-like. I used an instant-read thermometer and pulled the bread out when the internal temperature reached about 175F. You can also test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center, like with brownies: It should come out clean.

Peanut Butter Bread, cracked

As you can see, my bread also cracked all along the top, but it looks much worse than it is. I’ve had far bigger cracking disasters with other breads. This one is still slice-able, and didn’t fall apart when I took it out of the pan, so I count it a success.

And it tastes gooood. Better toasted than cold, and yes, it’s a little sweet for my taste. And I do have the dilemma about what to put ON my toast, what with the peanut butter being already inside of it. But I will have happy Peanut Butter Bread breakfasts all week, and maybe even next week as well.

That is, if the recipe for Prune Gems on page 65 doesn’t tempt me too much.

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