Browsing through some old recipes, I came across my late grandmother’s recipe for whole wheat molasses bread. One of the most prominent memories I have of time at my grandmother’s house is eating this bread, toasted with apple butter. It seems she always had a fresh loaf with homemade apple butter whenever we were visiting. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and it’s been a few years (at least) since I’ve made her bread, so I knew it was time. Glancing over the ingredients, my first thought was that I should try to make it healthier. On second thought, I decided Meghan’s introduction to Grandma’s bread had to be the original recipe. In reality, it is a fairly healthy recipe. 50% of the flour is whole wheat and there is only 1/2 cup of sugar, and the recipe makes two loaves. There is no butter or oil. So I stuck with the original recipe; I even bought cow’s milk for the occasion, something I have only done a handful of times since reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell four years ago.
Here’s the ingredient line up:Print
Every time I eat this bread I am brought straight back to my childhood. I love it just as much today as I did growing up. It is really best with homemade apple butter, but rarely do I have time to make homemade apple butter. As delicious as it is, it is a time-consuming process. In comes pumpkin butter. A tasty alternative, pumpkin butter is much quicker to prepare. Mine was ready before the bread was finished baking.
Now pumpkin butter is usually made with a healthy (and I don’t mean that in a good way) amount of sugar. Usually when I want to swap sugar out of a recipe, I use honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup, and occasionally Sucanat. This time I decided to try a natural sweetener I’d read about but never actually used before: xylitol. Have you heard of it? Doesn’t sound natural at all, does it? Well, it is an all-natural sweetener made from birch bark. It looks like sugar. Better yet, it tastes like sugar. All of this without the detrimental effects of sugar. Here’ s a blurb from the package of Xylo Sweet I purchased:
XyloSweet can be substituted for most common sweeteners without compromising taste or texture. Unlike so many other sugar alternatives, XyloSweet does not have any aftertaste and it is metabolized without insulin, so it creastes a significantly lower glycemic effect when eaten. Regular sugar has a glycemic index score of 85 to 100 compared to XyloSweet’s glycemic index of only 7.
A glycemic index of 7?!! NO aftertaste? (I’m talking to you, Mr. Stevia) Wow. This got me excited. Of course, I didn’t take XyloSweet’s word for it. That would be like believing the American Dairy Association has no agenda other than public health when running their “Milk. It does a Body Good” ads. Everything on the package checked out,and I couldn’t find anything negative about xylitol.
The only downfall I see is that it costs a whole lot more than regular sugar, but what “health food” doesn’t cost more than its inexpensively produced counterpart? A one pound package cost me somewhere around $7.00, whereas you can get a five pound bag of white sugar for less.
If you don’t have any xylitol on hand and I didn’t convince you to run out and get some, you can use any of the alternatives I mentioned above. Although if you are using one of the liquid sweeteners I would probably only use half of a cup. Or you can splurge and use regular sugar, but you know I don’t recommend that. 😉
In true Grandma Pike fashion, I re-used an apple sauce jar to store my pumpkin butter.
This is a spicy pumpkin butter, which is just the way I like it. If you like yours milder, you can decrease the spices a bit.
Both recipes went over very well with both Tim and Meghan. As you can see, half of one of the loaves was gone before I was finished cleaning the kitchen!
You’d think I’d be done, right? I should have stopped here. But today I decided I wanted to try to healthify Grandma’s recipe after all. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. My mission: no white flour, no sugar, no cow’s milk (we get more than our share through the cheese and yogurt we eat!)
First, I halved the original recipe. I didn’t want to make two whole loaves if my experiment was a flop. Then, I made the changes and hoped it would at least resemble the original. I planned on doing a blind taste with Tim when it was finished to get a true gauge of how the healthified version stacked up.
Here’s the new ingredients (missing the salt-oops):
Grandma Pike’s Famous Bread (HHM’s Version)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup xylitol
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup sour unsweetened soy milk (add 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar to make it sour)
In a large bowl, mix the first six (dry) ingredients well. Stir in molasses and milk and mix well. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.
So what was the result?
Right away I could tell the new version had a lighter texture.
My picture doesn’t do it justice. I’m working on the photography thing. Even though this version had all whole wheat flour, it was still lighter! I’m sure that is because I didn’t use any regular whole wheat flour, but a mixture of white whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour. Both of these flour types produce lighter baked goods than traditional whole wheat.
What about the taste?
I made Tim close his eyes and try a bite of both versions. Can I just say that I couldn’t stop laughing when I looked at these pictures? Who does that second one remind you of? Let me give you a hint:
Now I know where she gets that crazy face when eating. 🙂
But I digress. Tim proclaimed that while both were good, my healthified version was better. In my opinion, they taste almost exactly the same. The big difference is with the texture and I think that is what puts my adaptation over the top.
I’m pretty sure my Grandma Pike is looking down and smiling that I found a way to make her bread even better. I just wish she was here to enjoy it with us. I hope you will all love this delicious bread as much as I have over the years.