Enfield Shaker Graham Bread Recipe

ELDRESS ROSETTA CUMMINGS, ENFIELD SHAKER VILLAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Enfield Shaker Graham Bread
Enfield Shaker Graham Bread

ORIGINAL RECIPE

“I do not know what bread you are in the habit of making, but as we make our bread from a home brewed yeast, I always make my Graham Bread very nearly like the Fine Flour [bread]. The batter which I set over night I always make of fine flour, also in mixing the bread I add some fine flour, perhaps a quarter part. Without this it is apt to be rather dry and incline to crumble. I do not think it requires as much working or kneading as fine flour [bread] and so it rises more readily. Care must be taken that fermentation is not carried too far as this would render it tasteless & unwholesome. In the Recipe given in Science of Health for [G—?], I notice water only is used in mixing the batter. I prefer to use half sweet milk and think you would like them better. The general directions for mixing and baking are as I should give them.”

Enfield Shaker Graham Bread Recipe

KITCHEN-TESTED BY NAN MUNSEY, ENFIELD SHAKER MUSEUM

UPDATED RECIPE
Starter
1 cup (227 grams) cool to lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 cups (149 grams) unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup (28 grams) whole wheat flour

Dough
All of the starter (above)
1/2 cup (113 grams) lukewarm water
1/2 cup (123 grams) lukewarm milk
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon molasses
3 cups (375 grams) whole wheat flour
3/4-1 cup (120 grams) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the Starter: Stir all the starter ingredients together to make a thick, pudding-like mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight.

To make the Dough: Stir down the starter with a spoon and add the water, milk, yeast, molasses, salt, all of the whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup of the white flour. The dough will be a loose, messy mass. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then stir again. Dough handles better when it’s had time for the flour to absorb the liquid.

Knead the dough, adding up to an additional 3/4 cup (90 grams) flour as necessary to make a soft dough, about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled, 1-2 hours depending on the weather.

Dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each piece into an oblong loaf, and place it seam-side down in a greased bread tin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise until it’s about 50% larger, about 1 hour.

Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat your oven to 475° Fahrenheit.

Make 3 slashes on the top of each loaf with a sharp knife or bread lame. Dust with a little flour.

Reduce the oven temperature to 425° Fahrenheit and bake for 25-30 minutes. Interior temperature of the bread should register at least 190° Fahrenheit on a digital thermometer.

Remove bread from the oven, and cool on a rack.

This recipe for Graham Bread was included in a letter that Enfield Shaker sister Rosetta Cummings wrote to Eleanor Elkins, wife of Hervey Elkins, in the second half of the 19th century. Hervey Elkins had been a brother at the Enfield, NH Shaker community for 15 years, before leaving in 1852 to marry Shaker sister Martha Hart (sadly, she died in 1856) and to become an itinerant Universalist preacher, traveling around New England. The original letter is in The Galen Beale Collection: Letters of the Hervey Elkins Family. Enfield Shaker Museum very much appreciates the opportunity to share this recipe; the Graham Bread is delicious.

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