The first cookbook I cooked from when I was a child was Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cook Book. That’s not entirely true, of course, because I used to help my mother with recipes before I started to cook on my own. She had (and still has) a black-bound spiral notebook of her mother’s recipes, a number of different cookbooks on the shelf and a head full of recipes that she never wrote down. When I was ready to start making things on my own, though, I chose the Betty Crocker. I was mostly interested in baking and there were plenty of simple recipes to work my way through. My first brownies (regular and golden), snickerdoodles, Nanaimo bars and chocolate crinkles were made with recipes from this book. I delved into cakes and quick breads, too, eschewing the recipes that used boxed mixes, but embracing the Bisquick ones.
This week’s French Fridays recipe reminds me of the simplicity of the recipes I made when I was a kid, but with a sophisticated twist. The Gruyère alone makes this bread stand head and shoulders above the cheese bread I made with generic cheddar back then. Still, it’s a recipe that a child could make, once they’re ready to start baking on their own. That’s what I love about quick breads; they’re simple to make, with lovely results. When I made one loaf gluten-free, I didn’t even have to worry about over-mixing the dry ingredients, as it’s gluten that can make quick breads tough.
I’ve actually made this recipe twice. The first time, back in October when I first got Around My French Table, I made it with standard flour and a sharp, good cheddar cheese. I was at my parents’ house and baked it for them to use for lunches. I didn’t have the opportunity to taste it, but I heard that everyone enjoyed it. This week, I made it with a gluten-free all purpose flour and used Gruyère. I also added some tiny cubes of red pepper along with the chives. (Before I added the peppers to the mixture, I dried them out a little in a skillet over low heat on the stovetop.) Gluten-free breads can often have a very dry and crumbly texture, but not so for this bread. Though it was a little denser than the standard flour version, it was very moist and not at all gritty. I think this would be a good recipe to use a g-f flour mix that has teff in it, which might make the texture a little closer to the standard flour version. I’m also looking forward to trying some of Dorie’s bonnes idées for this recipe – it lends itself to a lot of variation.
Since there’s only two of us and because gluten-free bread doesn’t have a very long shelf life, I think I’m going to use the rest of the loaf to make a savoury bread pudding. There are some great ideas here.
I’m going to leave you with a shot of one of my favourite pages from my Betty Crocker cookbook. (I found two copies at a library book sale years ago, bought them both and gave one to my sister.) It shows lunch suggestions for various family members and it reminds me that we live in a very different era from the one in which that book was created. Thank goodness we have Dorie to update home cookery for us today.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Savoury Cheese and Chive Bread