Although you can't see me right now, I'm recovering from a momentary panic state. In my not so high tech recipe box, I couldn't find my recipe for walnut bread. Due to a lack of holiday ambition, I haven't baked this in awhile. I thought it was gone forever. Wouldn't that be a shame to lose such a family treasure? My brother (the chef) has tried to recreate this on his own and never gets really close. This year, I'm going to start baking these sooner than later.
Tina, my father's sister, was a self made woman. Her husband suffered from significant heart disease most of his adult life and wasn't able to completely support his family on his own. That meant that his wife had to pitch in and help. Back in the day, my aunt started her own temporary employment office, way before Kelly Girls and temp agencies like that were around. She was an original in her field and made a boatload of money doing so. Her husband helped manage investments and between them, they were incredibly successful. She was also a very glamorous lady. She wore the latest fashions and had a beautiful home in an exclusive area of town. I'll tell you though, the one thing that sticks in my mind above all else is not all the glamor, but that this woman was a Knitter with a capital K. She would always sit down with her knitting at family events she wasn't hosting. Her fingers flew and I can recall being enchanted. Perhaps it's her I channel when I knit. She and her husband always hosted a Christmas Eve event that was the highlight of our holidays. I really did not appreciate how much work this was until I was an adult. It was so much fun as a child. The one thing we all looked forward to was the loaf of walnut bread each family got to take home for breakfast on Christmas morning. I didn't look hard for pictures, but the one above is from my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Aunt Tina was already in her 80s here.
I don't think Aunt Tina would mind her treasure of a recipe being shared here today. In this way, she'll live on.
(Makes 12 loaves)
Preheat oven to 350 F
15 (fifteen) cups all purpose flour
2 handfuls of salt (humph- most bread recipes use a teaspoon of salt per 5 cups of flour-give or take)
3 cups of scalded milk
1 cup shortening
2 cakes of yeast
3 teaspoons of sugar
1 cup warm water
Proof the yeast in warm water with sugar. Add shortening to scalded milk. Mix all ingredients together and knead adding the last cup of flour a little at a time. Your dough will be smooth and won't stick to your fingers. Now, I usually cut this recipe in half and let my Kitchen Aid do the mixing and kneading but if you don't have one, well, neither did Aunt Tina. Knead away. Set it in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled. I've considered trying this using frozen bread dough and although it's an idea, I've never tried and can't completely recommend this.
Two pounds of finely ground walnuts and add to:
4 Tablespoons shortening or margarine dissolved in 4 cups of scalded milk. Add 4 cups of sugar and here is the secret: 2 10 ounce cans of PLAIN breadcrumbs adding the last until mixture is of spreading consistency. It's fairly thick. Filling thickens more as it sets and you may need to add milk to thin it out.
Divide dough for loaves then roll out those pieces of dough until thin to about a 12 by 8 inch or so rectangle. The dough will be elastic so you shouldn't need to flour your board much. Leaving 1/4 inch border, spread walnut filling. Roll up jelly roll style. Pinch and tuck ends and pinch area where dough overlaps to prevent oozing. Bake 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
You can wrap these loaves in freezer wrap or plastic wrap and then foil and freeze. You can make this way ahead of time. They make perfect gifts too.