A few weeks later, my Travel & Recipe Book Club read Ruth Reichl's Delicious -- her first novel, which I frankly had not given much thought (or credence) to. But what a wonderful book, with a multi-layered story line and a number of surprising culinary twists and turns. I couldn't put it down!
What stuck in my mind -- and in my heart -- was the protagonist Billie Breslin's amazing proclivity for recognizing tastes and foods, starting with spices. As a child she was constantly smelling them and developing a skill that set her apart in her cooking/food world... something comparable to the great Robert Parker of wine tasting fame.
Cardamom is the 3rd most expensive spice after Saffron and Vanilla, and I finally tracked some down at Whole Foods for the reasonable price of $4.99. Best to get the pods and grind the seeds yourself, but couldn't do that this time. So I rounded up the rest of the ingredients and methodically went to work.
And it always feels great to perpetuate a Yiayia recipe in hope that it is enjoyed for years to come, especially by members of her family!
NOTE: Shout-out to my book club cohort Linda Laquer, who baked Billie's Gingerbread Cake to Ms. Reichl's specifications -- totally awesome!
Yiayia's Cardomom Bread (Makes 2 Loaves)
2 + 1 eggs beaten
2 Active Dry Yeast packets
1/3 t. salt
2 t. ground Cardamon
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. scalded milk (NOT boiled)
6 c. flour
1 1/3 sticks melted butter + a little Crisco
1. Add yeast to water warmed to about 110, let it sit to "proof."
2. Stir eggs, salt, sugar, milk and cardamon in a large bowl or pot.
3. Add melted butter, and then the yeast/water.
4. Add 2 cups flour, kneed well adding rest of flour cup-by-cup.
(Kneed dough until it is not sticky on a floured surface,
adding more flour at end if needed.)
5. Let rise covered with lid and heavy blanket for 2 hours.
6. Beat down and kneed again.
7. Divide and add to 8X5 loaf pan lined w/Crisco.
(Dough should not be higher than 3/4 pan or it will rise too high.)
8. Let rise 1 more hour.
9. Gently brush with the extra beaten egg.
10. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350.