Braided Honey Bread with a little ImmigrationMilk and Honey. A phrase of goodness, sweetness, abundance, hope--is there anything you wouldn't lick with milk and honey on it? Don't answer that. A land of milk and honey is a land of opportunity. Thinking of the ingredients one is pulled to the thought of immigration, well at least I was, though inversely. Throughout Americas golden age of immigration (17th century through the 1930's) the term has held repertoire for lady liberty's shores, and has enticed millions, like bees to a daisy, to emigrate with dreams of soaking their bread crumbs in the flowing sticky-sweet Venetian streets. Consequently, rarely was there ever much honey, hell milk would make for quite nice eh. What is a history of the United States if not a study of immigration? Such an invitation as well may be extended to all of the Americas for that matter. Our lands are made of milk and honey, figuratively speaking, but what a nice pair of ingredients, wouldn't you agree. On y va.
Can you tell that i'm back in school yet? Perhaps taking a history class on immigration? Just wait I'm in a Mexico history class too, we'll have some aroz com leite coming up. Hehe. Don't worry though, I will not be making Texas Toast in honor of my course on US westward expansion. I draw the line of dorkiness only just past the dignity level. Any and all information and historical facts mentioned will not be cited, for they will derive from lectures attended and from what I somehow manage to keep in my head. So citation of information here will go to Dr. Irish, Dr. Montezuma, and Dr. West.
When we look at the history of immigration to the United States the primary thought is ah the British! But collectively very few Brits ever made it to the shores of New World. American immigration must be analyzed in sections distinct from one another: first the colonizing wave which includes Europeans and Africans through the slave trade. The second is immigration following independence up until the early twentieth century. And then finally the mid to later twentieth century.
Ok ok, yes the first US colony was founded by the British, Jamestown 1607, but they were not the first ones here. I know I need not mention the cod to you, but don't forget that the Spanish and the French were already past the Appalachian mountains by this point. Almost a century prior the Spanish were in Florida, crawling along the coast of California, and settling the American South West. The French were already masters of the Great Lakes, sailing down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and making their way into the interior via route of the Indian fur trade. Spaniards and French: Americas first immigrants. Now who doesn't like Cajun gumbo and Spanish Florida? oh yes we owe much to our first immigrants.
Focusing on the European colonists stuck between the mountains and the sea during the colonial era, we see a makeup of stationary farming Germans settling in Pennsylvania, over 100,000 Scotch-Irish (Scottish, not Irish at all) taking on that bandit "frontiersman" role of hills people, Scottish Highlanders settling in South Carolina and Jersey, the Irish coming in as indentured servants (slave laborers), the Dutch in New Amsterdam, what we call New York, French Huguenots, Spanish Sephardic and Dutch Jews from Brazil (yeah are you confused?) and then of course a few of those Englishmen cowering in the corner of a minority complex. These are the first people (the first people after the murdered native population) that peopled this country, that created this country. A nation of immigrants drawn to the milk and honey who tried to make bread of it.
There is a bread recipe coming, I promise. (the above photo is my entry for this months Click The Photo Contest themed Crust)
Following the revolution, the vast majority of immigrants were, well the Irish. The years 1820 through 1920 have been coined the century of immigration in which America received 4.5 million immigrants comprised mainly of, again the Irish, but also Germans, Scandinavians, and later the Italians. Though the great famine held significant weight during this century, political and religious sanctions against Catholics also helped lead to the great depopulation of Ireland. By the late 19th century the Irish made up at least 15% of the population in each of the fifty largest cities. So truly why are we to say British North America when in fact it should be Irish North America? And why am I not making an Irish soda bread then? Consequently the Irish are not known for cuisine, though while in Galway I did chance upon a remarkable cabbage soup.
The major wave of immigration ends in the 1930's. Why? Well if you were in history class with me you would hear IMMIGRATION ACT of 1924 that's why, which the yell of is a startling deja vu from a few years past. The other great waves of immigration consist of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. But we'll talk about them at another time. Though they came as well for milk and honey, so, if we owe our land, our people, our who we are to milk and honey, we should use it more often. If there is an American cuisine, it should be milk and honey. Not the Italian, Greek, Chinese, Mexican, pizza, hotdog what-have-you that makes up what we eat in this country as "american," but milk and honey, a food stuff that by definition must have preceded the immigrant.
Honey & Milk Almond Challah style bread:
(Yes I did make a yeast bread--and braided it too. A Salty Cod first) This bread started from a recipe for Challah, a Jewish sweet braided bread, but like everything I do i feel i am so much better and must change things, and bake it Hawaiian style in a skillet.
Ingredients: 4.5 cups four ~ 2 eggs ~ 4 tbsps olive oil ~ .5 tbsp yeast ~ 1 tsp salt ~ 5 tbsp sugar ~ tsp cinnamon ~ 1 cup warm milk ~ 2 tbsps honey ~ almond extract
method: 1) in a bowl (with your arm) whisk one cup of the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon 2) add milk, 2 eggs, olive oil, and 2 honey. 3) mix, and then slowly add all of the rest of the flour, then obviously it will be too thick to stir and you will need to kneed with your hands. 4) kneed dough 4 minutes, roll in olive oil then place in bowl, cover, and wait 2 hours. 5) cut dough into three equal pieces and roll each out like a robe. 6) cross them at the middle, and then braid them like hair, keep them stretched. 7) wrap it around the inside of a heavy black skillet pan and pinch tight together the ends, then cover and let rise 1/2 hour. 8) squish the whole thing down very hard with a pan or something, then beat an egg mixed with honey and olive oil and completely wash the whole thing 9) bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes, 15 minutes in wash with a mixture of hot honey and almond extract. 10) remove from oven, and sprinkle with almond slices, well i would have if i had some.
Honey butter spread: whip butter, some honey, and a little powdered sugar. But shhh! don't tell anyone that honey butter is just butter and honey, you will lose the goddess aura.
This clearly has nothing to do with the fact that I am currently taking a history course on Immigration to America at my University. Nahhh. I wanted an excuse to make some bread, we shall attribute it for what it is; hey whatever inspires right? America the melting pot has been debunked. Instead we see America as a salad, but not a tossed salad. That phrase has been ruined for me (thanks editor). But a salad in which there are eggs, tomatoes, pears, green beans, and even tuna all making each other taste better. Somewhere in that salad is a vinaigrette, hopefully with a little milk and honey.
Bake a braided bread to remember that we're all a bunch of braided strands. There are so many differences here in these American countries, but that's what makes us the same. That we are different.