Traditionally, Saturday night is bean night. Well, that’s the way it was in Atlantic Canada and New England and since moving to Montreal, I’ve always wanted to do a traditional baked bean supper, complete with brown bread and fish cakes, despite the fact that I’ve never made any of these things before.
And so Friday night, armed with a recipe from the parents, I began.
First: soak one pound of yellow-eyed beans in water overnight. I’ve found that yellow-eyed beans are difficult to find in Montreal, for some reason. These ones came from the Maritimes. Other recipes more commonly call for Navy Beans.
In the morning, bring to a boil, drain, rinse, and then bring to a gentle boil again until the skin peels when you blow on it. When this happens, remove from heat and drain and rinse again.
Cut a small onion into quarters and place into the bottom of the pot. Normally I’d use a ceramic bean pot but as that was not available, we used a 1970′s slow cooker purchased at a United Church garage sale.
Add the beans and a small cube of salt pork on the top. Prepare a mix of 4 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch each of pepper and ground ginger. Add one cup of boiling water to the dry ingredients, stir and add to the beans. Then add a half cup of molasses to the beans. Cover and set the slow cooker on high for six hours.
MY GENTLE GERMAN JESUS! WHY AREN’T YOU SOFT YET!?! WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE?!?!
Okay, deep breath. Did the beans actually peel when I blew on them? Sort of, I think. Shit. I should have boiled them longer. Now they’re just brown and hard.
Okay fine. Learning experience.
Next up: Molasses Brown Bread.
You need: 1 envelope dry yeast. 2 Tablespoons white sugar. 1 cup of rolled oats. 1 tablespoon of salt. Half cup of molasses. 5 – 6 cups of flour (hmm, recipe doesn’t say what kind. I’m going to use the rest that whole wheat flower I bought). 2 Tablespoons shortening. 1 cup boiling water. Half cup warm water.
In a bowl, pour boiling water over the oats and shortening and let stand 1 hour.Then, add the molasses and salt. Dissolve the sugar in a half cup of warm water and stir in the the yeast. When it has become foamy, stir and add to the porridge mixture.
Then gradually add the flour, mixing as thoroughly as possible. Cover and let rise until it doubles in bulk. When that happens punch down and shape into loaves, place in pan(s) and let rise again, (covered). When doubled in bulk again, bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then 325 for 35-45 minutes.
When complete, you will have a loaf of bread that weighs, approximately, 36 lbs. This is because I should have used all-purpose flour and not whole wheat. Also, you’re supposed the kneed the bread a little more, apparently. Still, I like heavy bread and for the first time out, it wasn’t as bad as what I will now refer to as The Great Baked Bean Disaster of 2006.
The fish cakes, on the other hand, came out lovely. This is because we bought them at the Maxi.
So lessons learned:
- Use all purpose flower when baking molasses brown bread.
- Boil your beans until they clearly split when blown upon.
- Or, go to the store, splurge and spend the 89 cents for canned beans.
- Or use this recipe.