I have lots of things to do tonight so I decided I needed a recipe that I could prepare quickly and then leave in the oven unattended for a specific amount of time. Enter the recipe for Mrs. E. Bricker’s no yeast quick Brown Bread in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I first measured the 3 cups of Graham flour to ensure I had enough available. Then I added the white flour, salt and brown sugar. I mixed it together before adding the water and milk. As mentioned in previous posts, milk in 2012 will not sour the way it did in 1912. Instead I added 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the cup of milk. I also dissolved the baking soda in the milk as suggested by the recipe. I mixed the wet and dry ingredients and had a thick dough to drop into a loaf pan. It looked a bit lumpy so I used a wet spoon to smooth the top. The loaf of soon to be brown bread went into the oven at 350 degrees F. for one hour. It was perfectly baked when I took it from the oven. I quickly removed the bread from the pan and then angled it across the top of the pan. It is an easy way to let bread cool if a special rack isn’t available. Removing the bread from the pan before it cools prevents a soggy bottom on the loaf. I spread a little butter across the top of half the loaf to have a soft crust on that portion and a leaving a crisp crust on the other part.
Mrs. E. Bricker is likely Ellen Roselia Cook. Her husband is 51-year-old Ephraim Bricker – a man very involved in politics. Mrs. Bricker is listed in the census as Rose or Rosa. Mrs. and Mrs. Bricker had at least five children and possibly another who died as a baby. In 1901 they have one 30-year-old daughter Laura and a 15-year-old son Gordon living at home. There is also a 13-year-old girl Sophia who is listed as a domestic servant. Mrs. Bricker’s background is listed as English while everyone else in the household lists German and Presbyterian while the young servant is Evangelical. Mr. Bricker’s employment is in a Livery stable and the daughter is a clerk in a dry goods store.
By 1911 all the children are out of the home on Ahrens Street in Berlin and three lodgers live with them. Although the family and one lodger list German heritage, two lodgers are of Scots background. Everyone lists their religion as Presbyterian except the one female lodger who is Anglican. Mr. Bricker is now retired and living on an income, the lodgers have various occupations. One is the manager of the Union Bank, another is a traveller (salesman) in boots and shoes while the young woman is a milliner in a hat shop.
There is a picture of Mrs. E. Bricker on the Waterloo Region Generations website http://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/getperson.php?personID=I12639&tree=generations
I often mention the religion of a recipe contributor since I’m trying to find connections among these women. In this case the Brickers are quick fluid when it comes to their denomination. During her life it looks like Mrs. and Mr. Bricker were Mennonite, Methodist and Presbyterian. Mr. Bricker’s occupation varied. He was a farmer, blacksmith, livery and elected official.
I’ve been trying to imagine Ellen Roselia (Cook) Bricker making this bread in 1906. Is this being prepared by young Sophia or Laura or is Mrs. Bricker making it for the lodgers? Is it bread for everyday or a special occasion like a tea? Did they run out of bread and this is a quick way to have some in time for breakfast?
I cut some of this bread as soon as it came from the oven, and spread the slice with butter. The crust was crisp and the bread tasted good although there was a hint of soda. I would make this quick bread again.
1 cup sour milk or cream, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon soda dissolved in the milk, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 cup white flour, 3 cups Graham flour, stir together, bake 1 hour in moderate oven.