dairy fermentation class. is there a better way to enjoy a blustery friday evening in mid-april? i think not. my excitement for this class had been growing for some time, and now i imagine myself in a sun-shiney kitchen, apron on, milk culturing on the table top to become butter or quark while more milk heats up on the stove, waiting to embrace a yogurt culture. and the food, oh, those dishes! the taste! the creamy. the sour. the smooth. the flexibility of this medium: savory, sweet, salty. oh, the possibility!

as i sat in the class, taught by my friend blair, of great fermentation fame, i couldn’t help but think of my nanny. the discussion clearly focused upon milk. raw milk. un-homogenized, unpasteurized milk. and, as blair shared her wisdom on how to most effectively pour off the cream, i could hear nanny telling me about how she, as a kid, helped her dad process milk on their farm. she was in charge of the filter that caught any dirt or hairs as the milk traveled into it’s jug. my great grandma, queen of the matson kitchen, took charge of that milk. she instructed my nanny to “dip the milk” for meals, where my nanny literally used a large dipper to collect the milk from the jug. my great grandma separated her cream from the milk, too, saving it to enrich soups, dishes, desserts, even to make butter. and i can only happily imagine the dishes she made with that fresh milk. MMM! my nanny still asks us to “dip the milk” for meals to this day. fantastic.

for this fancy and dair-i-licious occasion, i made bread. with great dairy comes great bread. how else can you really enjoy fresh quark (essentially cream cheese) whipped with lemon zest and honey? don’t leave that dairy lonely–savor it with a hunk o’ pink banana with flax and pumpkin seeds bread! or a slice summer squash, rhubarb, walnut, poppy and lemon zest bread! 

i was delighted and excited and pretty much joyous to have the opportunity to contribute to this, the premier class of the urban ecology detroit 2010 series. hooRAY.


both loaves are delightful in their own ways. the squash bread was moist, smooth, and sweet. the other (which i lovingly refer to as the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bread), thick, lush, complexly simple, and pretty much a new favorite. and, the eggs featured in these babies come straight from diane, my nanny’s best friend and happy egg-monger. 

recommended smothered with some sort of fermented dairy delight!

pink banana squash bread with pumpkin seeds and golden flax
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups pink banana squash puree
1/2 cup pumpkin seed and golden flax, mixed

1. preheat oven to 350. butter 2 bread pans and set aside.
2. in a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (through baking powder).

3. cream sugar and butter, add eggs. then add vanilla and pink banana puree. combine well.
4. slowly add in dry ingredients, in three batches, but don’t over mix the batter. once combined, gently fold in seeds.

5. divide batter between two pans, sprinkle tops with extra seeds. bake for about an hour, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

everything but the kitchen sink quick bread
adapted from 101 cookbooks special zucchini bread

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup poppy seeds
zest of two lemons
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup summer squash 
1 1/2 cup rhubarb, chopped
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder

1. preheat oven to 350. butter two bread pans, set aside.
2. in a small bowl, combine walnuts through lemon zest, set aside.

3. beat butter, yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together. fold in summer squash and rhubarb.

4. in a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients (flour through curry powder). to this in two batches, making sure not to over mix the batter.
5. gently fold in nut/poppy seed/zest mixture into batter. save a bit to sprinkle on top of the loaf.
6. divide batter between the two buttered pans, sprinkle with remaining nut/poppy seed/zest mixture.

7. bake for 40-45 minutes. allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.



on the left, pink banana squash bread with plain, whipped quark. on the right, everything but the kitchen sink bread with whipped lemon-honey quark. lip-smacking GOODness.