When I was young, every once in a long while, we would pile in the car and go shopping at The Nut Tree in Vacaville. The Nut Tree began in the 1920s as a fruit stand and grew into a souped-up rest stop on I-80. I remember there being a giant gift shop, a toy store, a bakery and the coolest little painted up train that took people out to the small airport beyond the orchard. They had these huge honey cookies in different shapes that they would ice your name onto. I don’t know if it was because I was a kid, or because I rarely got sugar, but I wanted one of those cookies BADLY.
There would be those special times that my mom and I would be out and about and dinnertime was upon us. It was on a trip coming back from San Francisco where I finally got to see the inside of The Nut Tree restaurant. I remember feeling like such a grown up and worrying that my outfit wasn’t fancy enough. (I wasn’t and it was.)
You may be wondering why I bring this up…..well, when choosing this week’s recipe, I found three recipes for Dill Bread. The first was this one I used, the second was Dill Casserole Bread. (I can only assume it is because it is baked in a round casserole dish) and then there was Dilly Bread. The Dilly Bread recipe was claimed to be the same they served at the Nut Tree Restaurant. They must not have wanted to keep it much of a secret because there were three almost identical recipes in the church cookbook. Maybe I just discovered why The Nut Tree went broke. Lucky for all of you, their recipe lives on.
BTW….I never got one of those cookies.
While the yeast was dissolving in 1/4 c. luke warm water, I put the cup of large curd cottage cheese on the stove on low to heat it up. I cut an onion in half, whipped out my handy cheese grater and grated the onion until I had a little over two Tablespoons worth. In my standing mixer bowl I combined the yeast, warmed cottage cheese, egg, onion, 1 T. melted butter, sugar, dill weed, salt and baking soda.
I added the flour, about half a cup at a time, just like the directions said, and fully incorporated it into the batter each time. I sprayed a bowl with Pam and scooped the dough into it. Covering the bowl with a towel, I went looking for a warm place for the yeast to do its magic. I live in Oregon and today was a particularly cool morning. There were no warm spots in my house except for under a cat, and that’s just not sanitary. So, I turned on the oven to ‘warm’ and when it pre-heated, I turned if off and put the bowl in. I let the dough rise, which it was more than happy to do, punched it down with floured hands and folded into a greased loaf pan.
I shoved it back in the warm, but not on, oven and let it raise the roof again. Once 30 minutes had passed, it was threatening to rise over the edge of the pan, so I took it out and brushed a generous amount of melted butter all over the top. Sprinkling some coarse salt here and there, I waited for the oven to get up to 350 degrees.
The bread baked for about 37 minutes and when I took it out of the oven, I immediately turned it out onto a cooling rack. It was GORGEOUS. Oh, and by the way, I had been drooling for over half an hour because the intoxicating buttery, dilly aroma that was wafting out of the oven was unbearably delicious. Then I had to wait forever while the loaf cooled completely. Agony. Torture. I ended up doing what any sane person would do and I made myself a cheese and onion sandwich right there on the spot. It was sincerely one of the best sandwich combos ever. That dill bread didn’t need anything fancy, because it already brought so much to the party. Take that, Nut Tree!
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
- 1/4 c. warm water
- 1 c. large curd cottage cheese
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 2 T. onion (grated)
- 1 T butter (melted)
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 T. dill weed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. soda
- 2 1/2 c. flour (sifted)
- Additional melted butter
- Coarse salt
- Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the cottage cheese until lukewarm.
- In a large bowl combine the warm cheese with yeast, egg, onion, 1 T. melted butter, sugar, dill weed, salt and soda.
- Gradually add flour, enough to make a stiff batter, beating thoroughly after each addition.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down dough and knead 1 minute.
- Turn into greased loaf pan or 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish.
- Cover and let rise 30 to 40 minutes.
- Melt butter and brush generously onto loaf. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until done.
- If it begins to brown too much on top, cover with foil the last 15 minus of baking.
- Remove from oven and turn onto rack to cool.