President Cleveland’s palate was not nearly as adventurous as his love life. He was a man of simple tastes who was no fan of elaborate French menus but ate them to indulge the Washington social circuit. He had his cook from Albany (who fed him while he was Governor) on hand and Rose, his sister, as hostess before his young bride took over. An absolute favorite of his was his wife Frank’s freshly baked brown bread. Her handwritten recipe was found tucked away in a drawer somewhere in the White House during the Kennedy administration and has found much acclaim since its rediscovery. You may think brown bread is boring, but I assure you there is nothing better straight out the oven and slathered in marmalade. Though we have made some adjustments, the original recipe isn’t far off from a loaf of perfection. The marmalade comes from a wife of a New York Congressman in 1890. Thick cut rind makes for a more interesting bite but for the love of all things good, be sure to remove all of the white pith.
Frances “Frankie” Cleveland’s Brown Bread
· One bowl Indian meal (cornmeal)
· One bowl rye flour
· One bowl sour milk (buttermilk)
· One large cup molasses
· One teaspoonful soda
· One tablespoon salt
Steam two and a half hours, and bake from twenty minutes to one-half hour, depending upon the heat of the oven.
· 1 “bowl” = 8 ounces by modern standards
· I substituted wheat flour for rye flour (same amount)
· The easiest way to steam is to use an empty coffee can (or for aesthetic purposes a flower pot without a hole in the bottom). Grease the can then fill with batter to 2/3 high and secure wax paper over the top of the open side of the can. Place the can in a water bath and into a 375 F oven to steam. Let it steam for an hour then remove the wax paper and remove from water bath to brown the top.
By Mrs Chas Tracey (Wife of Representative from New York), “Statesmen’s Dishes” 1890
Take five dozen moderately tart oranges- be sure they are not bitter, and cover them with cold water over night. Next morning turn the cold water off, and cover them with water as hot as can be borne by the hand; then take off the rind and as much of the white inter-lining as possible. Quarter half of them and slice the other half, taking out all of the seeds. Take the rind of the three or four of them, remove the white and cut in small pieces, and put them in with your fruit. Then for eight pounds of the fruit take seven of white sugar, and let the whole simmer on a slow fire, skimming frequently, till it comes to a boil, then boil for twenty minutes.