Friday, June 8, 2012

The Trouble with Lists - Dione Lucas - A Spécialité: Apple Bread

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Last week we ended delving into the lives and work of the women who appeared on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food. While I am glad the adventure is over, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. During the course of the year, I heard from many of you who were not at all shy about sharing your views of the list and the women who made it. You were equally vocal about the women you thought should have been included but were not. All those who made the list had fans and detractors and those who compiled the list must have known that it would be controversial. I don't fault their judgment, but, in hindsight, I wish they had shared the criteria they used for selection. I'm also going to take the liberty of "adding" one last name to my version of the list before it is retired.

Dione Lucas was the first woman graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and she was instrumental in establishing a branch of the school in London before WWII. While it is a dubious distinction, she is also remembered for the meal she cooked for Adolf Hitler. She emigrated to the United States in 1940 and established her own cooking school. She also opened several restaurants in New York City, among them the Egg Basket, from which her television program, To The Queen's Taste, was broadcast in 1948-1949. She was the first woman to be featured in a cooking show on television and many view her a a predecessor to Julia Child. She wrote several cookbooks on French cuisine, but there are few accounts written by those who knew her or remember her fondly. She apparently was a difficult woman and her son has described her as a "complicated personality." Those of you who are interested can find a more complete, but short, biography of her, here and here.

Few of her recipes are available on line. The one she is most famous for is "Chocolate Roll Leontine." A really wonderful version of that cake has been featured on Smitten Kitchen and it can be seen, here. I, fortunately, have a tattered copy of The Dione Lucas Book of French Cooking and from it have chosen an apple bread that she considered to be a spécialité. It is very easy to make and its spiceless simplicity highlights the pure flavor of fresh apples. She used a meat grinder to prepare the apples, but your food processor will work just as well, as long as you don't get carried away and inadvertently make applesauce. This makes a wonderful, though not too sweet, tea bread. I really think you'll enjoy it. Here's the recipe.

Apple Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Dione Lucas


8 tablespoons butter or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup ground green cooking apples (put cored apples through a fine meat grinder with some of the skin)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons sour milk (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 or 10-inch loaf pan with butter or shortening. Line it with waxed paper, and brush paper with butter or shortening. Dust pan lightly with flour.
2) In a mixer bowl, cream butter or shortening with sugar. Mix in beaten eggs, then ground apples.
3) In a separate bowl, sift flour with baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture and mix well. Add in sour milk, then nuts, orange zest and vanilla. Mix well.
4) Scrape dough into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Immediately turn it out of pan onto a cooling rack. Peel off paper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield:1 loaf.

The following bloggers are also doing wrap-ups today.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Susan - The Spice Garden, Heather - girlichef
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Linda - There and Back Again, Sarah - Everything in the Kitchen Sink

One Year Ago Today: Sugar Snap Pea and Barley Salad

Two Years Ago Today: Asparagus and Mushroom Strata

Three Years Ago Today: Buttermilk Cluster with Blue Poppy Seeds


From the Kitchen said...

The Baker is starting to cook his way through The Dione Lucas Book of French Cooking. It has been on our shelf for years and I use it frequently. It was a gift from a friend of ours--a talented orthopedic surgeon--who cooked his way through it years ago. I'm glad you've added her to the list.


Pondside said...

I can see that I'm going to have set aside some time to go back and read all of the posts I've missed during the wedding weeks. This bread sounds good, though I'm wondering about the lack of the spices I associate with apple.

Ginny Hartzler said...

A meat grinder for apples, so inventive and kind of funny. I have never heard of this lady, she sounds like a very interesting character.

Jane said...

This sounds so good Mary, and what a great story! I want to know ... how many cookbooks do you have? lol. Have a great Friday!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Mary for including Dione Lucas in the 50 game changers. I so wish I still had my tattered cookbook of hers. (I may look for one on line. I still have my Louie Diat.)

One of the first recipes my mother-in-law sent me when we were first married was a recipe of Dione Lucas, hand typed on an old typewriter with the typical typos and type-overs of the day.

How could they have left Dione Lucas off of the list! Perhaps they should have given her Julie's spot (smile). I will keep this post in honor of Dione.

Kim said...

This is a great recipe! I really liked this challenge you put yourself trough because I learned A LOT!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

Totally new personality to me. Thanks for the introduction, she sounds fascinating... and how polite for her son to call he "complicated".


Unknown said...

A very good friend of mind has a Dione Lucas cookbook, she has made a few things from it, including the chocolate roll. I have been the fortunate recipient of one actually... it was amazing! This bread looks like it could totally rival that roll :)

Heather S-G said...

I had never heard of Dione Lucas, but she sounds like she definitely should have made the list.

Thank you, Mary, for starting this delightful journey. It's been a complete joy!

Lauren said...

Thanks for introducing me to Dione Lucas - and this fantastic apple bread recipe! Perfect for a brunch I have coming up!

Suzie said...

That bread looks so good. I agree with one commenter though on the lack of spices. I'd add some cinnamon :)

Barbara said...

Clever way to do the apples, Mary. I agree, Dione Lucas should have been on the list. Amazing, really. I could easily have taken several OFF the list, too. I mumbled to myself several times...why is SHE on the list?
Young, innovative chefs like Gabrielle Hamilton deserved a place far more than Julie Powell. Oh well, as you've said from the beginning, who knows what criteria they used. And it was stretching to put Foodspotting on there too, practically eliminating one of the two founders, Ted Grubb for Pete's sake, but I still don't think they quality yet for game-changer status. (0ne wonders if someone knew someone etc. etc.)

At any rate, I loved the series, wish I had been able to start at the beginning, learned a lot, made lots of new friends, met lots of bloggers, and I send my grateful thanks to you for hosting.
Have a lovely weekend, Mary!

Deana Sidney said...

I'm with you... there really were so many missing from the list... and, although I'm a blogger and I know they were trying to be current... well some of the bloggers had no business being on the list if they skipped someone like Lucas because of it. Oh well... lists are lists and I am grateful to you all for doing the whole lot of them!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

I think I must agree with you my friend - This amazing bread is proof enough :D

Choc Chip Uru

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Yet another woman whom I happy to "meet" Mary. This truly was an adventure and thank you for taking us on this journey.

France@beyondthepeel said...

I bet the top 50 list was controversial...I just love that I was introduced to some fine ladies I didn't know before. I have a big bag of lovely apples that just night find a place in this bread. Thanks for sharing.

Catherine said...

Dear Mary. Excellent looking bread. I love apples. Blessings dear friend. Catherine xo

Tanna said...

I have so enjoyed the List posts. Very happy to have learned about so many people I might never have found on my own. Thank you.

I am curious about an apple recipe without the traditional spices... very intriguing. blessings ~ tanna

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