I finally have a modern version of a bake board! I tried it out today by making Boston Brown Bread using Attie Murray’s recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
A bake board is a flat wooden board which often has a lip to “anchor” it to a table or counter. Some have edges which keep things from sliding off onto the floor or table or counter. They are great places to knead bread or roll pastry or cut out cookies. Like most homes in 1912 Berlin, my kitchen has minimal counter space. Kitchens then usually had a flat to the wall dish cupboard and perhaps another small cabinet and then a good sized table which was used for food prep and possibly family meals depending on the size of the home and the status of the family. This is what makes the bake board so nice. Table clean up is much quicker.
Although Boston Brown Bread doesn’t have yeast or even require kneading it was still nice to try the board.
I followed the recipe by adding all the dry ingredients (Graham flour, rye flour , corn meal, soda and salt) to my bowl. Molasses was next and in the end I added approximately 1/2 cup of milk. I greased a loaf pan with a little butter and dropped the dough in. I smoothed the top a little and baked in a preheated 350 degree F. oven. I will eventually have to figure out how to steam bread but this recipe gave me the option to bake so I did so.
Since I couldn’t find Attie Murray in the census or on Generations, I decided to look at the other Murray women submitting recipes. Perhaps they would lead me to Attie (or Hattie? or Mattie?). Minnie and Winnie and Jean Murray submitted recipes. In the 1911 census there is a Shady Murray but she only came to Canada in 1905 from Assyria even given the strange spellings of names in the census, I doubt she is Attie. The census shows her speaking only Assyrian. I did find a Minnie and a Hattie in Perth County but Murray is their married name. How likely is it for them to not use Mrs. when they are married? Based on the census there are a number of Murray families in that neighbourhood so perhaps they do use their first name. Further research will be necessary to find “Attie Murray”.
I removed the pan from the oven after 1 hour and let it rest a few minutes before turning the loaf out. I decided to spread the top of the loaf with some butter to keep it from getting too hard later. As usual I cut a slice while it was still hot and added a dab of butter. I can’t decide if I like this bread or not. It has major health food overtones with a grainy texture, dark colour, and hints of molasses. I think I might have added just a touch too much baking soda as it reminds me a bit of Irish soda bread. I just realized I made a mistake! I didn’t sour my milk and I didn’t add the full amount. That could account for the heavier texture of the bread.
I’m reserving judgment on this bread for now. I’ll try it again when it has cooled. For now, I’d recommend it to anyone who likes trying different grains and enjoys a variety of bread styles — and who is better able to follow directions!
BOSTON BROWN BREAD
1 cup of Graham flour, 1 cups of rye flour, 1 cup of corn meal, 3/4 cup of molasses, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 tablespoon of soda, 1 3/4 cups sour milk. Mix flour, salt and soda in bowl. Add molasses and enough milk to make a soft drop batter. Beat rapidly for a few minutes. Then put into a greased pans and steam 2 hours or bake in moderate oven 1 hour.