Follow by Email:
Like us on facebook

Friday, January 6, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - #29 Betty Fussell - Yam Yeast Bread

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...With the holidays behind us, our merry band of (wo)men are continuing to explore the lives and recipes of the women who earned places on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game Changers in food. Today, we are featuring Betty Fussell, and I must tell you that we are, once again, dealing with an uncommon woman who has led an extraordinary life. She was raised in a puritan household by a stepmother who was obsessed with health and much of the cooking in the family was actually done by her father. There was little time or money for good food, and as a result she displayed no real interest in cooking until the mid 50's when she moved to Princeton with her husband, who was an academic. She had impressive academic credentials of her own, but the times were not kind to married professional women. She turned her energies to food, and, like many educated women of the time, she embraced Julia Child because she gave them something they could do at home. Prior to life in Princeton, her academic focus had been theater and she has said that for her the kitchen and dining room were a stage, the dinner party, a performance and the menu a script. She viewed entertaining at home as a theatrical event. It would, however, be years before she began to write about food. Her marriage ended badly in a very public way and despite a Ph.D, age and gender kept her from gaining a foothold in academia. She left Princeton and went to New York where she met Gloria Loomis who became her literary agent and friend. Loomis helped get her first book, a biography of Mabel Normand published. What followed is amazing. She is one of the first American writers to focus on food as a legitimate subject for scientific, social and anthropological inquiry. A complete list of the books she has written can be found on her blog which you can access here. She also lectures at museums, universities, state fairs, corn festivals, historical societies and culinary groups, and "her essays, which appear in literary journals, newspapers, magazines and encyclopedias, are written with a grace few food writers can match." She has an abiding passion for American food and that is evident in her writing.

I have chosen a simple yeast bread to represent the type of recipe that has been developed by Betty Fussell. The bread, which has great eye appeal, has a soft crust and lovely crumb that is wonderful for toasting. It gets a bit of sweetness from pureed yams and its interesting background flavors come from pepper, mace and allspice. I suggest you use the dough hook of an electric mixer to make this. The dough is sticky and can be frustrating to work with by hand. This is an uncommon bread and if you are looking for something unusual to bake, I think you will enjoy this. I doubt, however, that it will become your daily bread. Here's the recipe.

Yam Yeast Bread
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Betty Fussell

2 packages dry yeast
1-1/2 cups very warm (110-115 degrees F.) water
5 to 6 cups unbleached white flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon each allspice and mace
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup cooked yam puree (from 1 to 2 yams)
1 egg for glaze


1) Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Mix 5 cups flour with salt, white pepper, allspice, and mace. Stir into yeast mixture.
2) Add butter, yam puree, and additional flour, if necessary, to make a moist but kneadable dough. Knead until dough is elastic - 10 to 15 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Then put in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic and a towel or plate, and let rise in a warm (75 to 80 degrees F.) place until doubled.
3) Punch dough down and let rise again about 45 minutes. Punch down and shape into one large round loaf or divide between 2 buttered standard bread pans (9 by 5 by 3 inches). Let rise once more for another 45 minutes.
4) Beat egg with a teaspoon of water and use as glaze for top of bread. Bake at 425 degrees F. until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when rapped with the knuckles, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack at least an hour before slicing. Yield: 1 large round loaf or 2 smaller ones.

Recipe Source: I Hear America Cooking by Betty Fussell (Viking Penguin)
Reprinted with permission.

The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Betty Fussell today. I hope you'll visit all of them. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Joanne - Eats Well With Others, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed Susan - The Spice Garden, Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living, Mary - One Perfect Bite, Kathleen - Bake Away with Me
Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts , Linda A - There and Back Again Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Most Lovely Things, Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook

Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Barbara Tropp. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, January 9th.


Angie's Recipes said...

I always love homemade bread. This sounds and looks splendid with added yam puree. (is yam same as taro here?)

Rookie Qookie said...

loved the golden hue..

Jeannie said...

What a golden colored loaf indeed! I believe the yam puree you used is also known as sweet potato?

Hovkonditorn said...

I love the color of the bread! Have a great day!

Priya said...

Simply cant take my eyes from ur click..delicious and marvellous bread..

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

The bread looks great Mary, love the pretty color:@)

Rita said...

Beautiful; you know i an a bread lover. I was trying to figure out that lovely colour; have to try this.

Many said...

Thank you very much for visiting my blog and that he has liked. Been charmed with of that it returns hereabouts. Regards.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Once again, I have to tell you how much I love learning about these extraordinary women. I find it interesting to see how many were influenced by Julia Child to loose their energies and considerable forces into the world of food when frustrated with the constraints of gender in their era. Amazing. They thrived! Love it.

This bread does sound delicious! blessings ~ tanna

Kim said...

I love when there is puree in bread, the texture is really great by this addition. Thank you for sharing all of these informations, I did'nt know about this incredible women!

bellini said...

I know I would enjoy this as well Mary. I loved your write-up about Betty with a great insight into her life.

Kathy said...

This bread looks so delicious! Such a lovely golden color! Very nice post!!

Miranda said...

That is beautiful, I can only imagine how the yam bread tastes drizzled with honey.

lea said...

What an amazing woman and I love her picture. Years ago I made a sweet potato yeast bread and when toasted, it made the best turkey sandwiches. I'll have to try this one.

nanny said...

That is beautiful bread....baked to perfection!

Claudia said...

This is the 2nd time today I've come across bread with yam puree. This looks silkier than the first one I saw. Amazing how many inspirational food writers came from the same period in the state of California. Life is so much kinder to female professionals now. We have Betty nd her colleagues to thank.

Heather @ said...

The color is so stunning in this bread...and the shiny crust. Totally irresistible! I'll be bookmarking this one to try soon!

Mireya @MyHealthyEatingHabits said...

Hi Mary,

What an informative discussion about Betty Fussell. You really told me more about her than I found in articles. The bread is beautiful. I'll bookmark this one.

Barbara said...

Beautiful color, Mary. And such interesting spices, too. Love that she's used yams...I love them.

MÂȘ Angeles said...

This bread looks delicious!.
Thank you very much for visiting my blog.
Have a great day.

Pam said...

Oh my. That break looks absolutely AMAZING!

teresa said...

wow, what a gorgeous bread. my husband would love this, as would i!

Country Dreaming said...

What a pretty loaf of bread!

Happy New Year!


Joanne said...

I really wanted to make this but didn't have the time! What a great bread!

Jacquelyn said...

Beautiful loaves. I have yet to make a yeast bread, can you believe it? This year I am going to give it a try!

Jeanette said...

What an unusual bread - must be so moist with the yam, and I love the spices. Betty Fussell is certainly a bright talent.

Becki's Whole Life said...

What an interesting story - it's really unique that her entrance into the food world came so late in life. This bread sounds nice - I like the spices and I am always a big fan of yams!

Amalia said...

Wow, what an amazing woman! I find it so fascinating and extraordinary that she was one of the first American writers to research food scientifically. I think that's one of the most interesting things about food; the role science plays in it. This bread looks so delicious, when I read 'Yam Yeast Bread', I got really excited :) I've never heard of anything like it before, but it sounds amazing and looks gorgeous. the color and lovely puffiness is perfect! I definitely want to give this a try :)

♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

hi mary, and thank you for discovering that cyberspace corner o'mine. i feel much obliged. likewise i have scrolled up and down through your yummy pages and well. i need more time!

enjoy a good 2012, and a fine today!

angela@spinachtiger said...

I've been following this series over at More than Burnt Toast. I love what you all do. I think I'll email you.

annie said...

Looks beautiful...the color and smoothness of the glad I joined this group...I am learning so much and this time about a very remarkable woman.

Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed) said...

Your bread turned out beautifully!

terrie said...

Beautiful! looks perfect!

JavelinWarrior said...

This bread is gorgeous and I’ve been inspired to feature it in my Friday Food Fetish roundup. And I'll be sharing on Pinterest. Please let me know if you have any objections and KEEP IT COMING!

Related Posts with Thumbnails