In my recent travels through Tennessee, I picked up the Memphis Cookbook and Confederate Era Recipes. Each pamphlet contained a recipe for “Dilly” Bread, so I thought this was an old Southern tradition. However, a bit of research turned up what seems to be the original “Dilly Bread” recipe. It comes from a different era and another part of the country altogether. The recipe, submitted by Leona Schnuelle of Crab Orchard, Nebraska, was the Pillsbury Bake-Off grand prize winner in 1960.
In an interview with the Associated Press in 1977, Mrs. Schnuelle said that she decided to use cottage cheese because her mother used to put whey left over from cottage cheese into the bread she baked. Since Mrs. Schnuelle had no whey, she decided to use the cottage cheese itself. Eager to win the contest, Mrs. Schnuelle wanted to add another unusual ingredient and grabbed dill seeds from her pantry shelf. Her effort won her $25,000, made her a celebrity at square dances in Crab Orchard, and gave her bread lasting fame – but not dating back to the Civil War era.
For a change from my usual breakfast bagels or English muffins, I made a batch of Dilly Bread. It needs to rise twice, so it took all morning, but the batter came together quickly and required no kneading. I could not find dill seed at the two supermarkets I visited so I bought a jar of dried dill weed and used that instead with fine results. Tomorrow I’ll cut a fat slice to fuel my 10-mile run.
Dilly Casserole Bread (1960)
Makes 1 loaf (18 slices)
2 to 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
2-3 teaspoons instant minced onion
2 teaspoons dill seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 cup small curd creamed cottage cheese
2 teaspoons margarine or butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, if desired
- In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, onion, dill seed, 1 teaspoon salt, baking soda and yeast; mix well.
- In small saucepan, heat water, 1 tablespoon margarine and cottage cheese until very warm (120-130 degrees). Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
- By hand, stir in remaining 1 to 1 2/3 cups flour to form a stiff batter. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80-85 degrees) until light and doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.
- Generously grease a 1 1/2- or 2-quart casserole. Stir down batter to remove all air bubbles. Turn into greased casserole. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 30-45 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover dough. Bake 30-40 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from casserole; place on wire rack.
- Brush warm loaf with melted margarine; sprinkle with coarse salt. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.