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My grandmother, Genevieve Zuchowska Zablotny, used to make this bread for the Easter holiday. All the Polish women in the neighborhood had similar recipes handed down from their mother or grandmother. My childhood friend, Alice, lived two doors down from my grandmother; she and I would carry loaves wrapped in tea towels across the street to the rectory so that they could be blessed by one of the priests. We’d have fits if a crumb fell to the ground – they were now HOLY loaves. Oh boy, funny memories.

I’ve attached my grandmother’s recipe. Note that it calls for FIVE POUNDS of flour. Yup, a whole sack. Her recipe makes six loaves. The first time I made this bread, I was a novice baker, it was my first attempt at bread baking, and I had no idea what a gigantic mound of dough this concoction produced. ‘Overwhelmed’ was an understatement. I’ve condensed the recipe down to make one loaf. Here’s how.

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This bread is a delight with a big bowl of beef or lamb stew, or just about anything that’s been cooked for hours in a velvety gravy. I’ve made this many times, believe me, I wouldn’t lead you astray. And if you happen to have a record album of old Irish rebel songs playing in the background as you’re kneading, so much the better. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all!

2 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
7 oz. Guinness stout
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp powdered ginger (don’t leave this out; it really makes a difference!)
1 tbsp butter (to brush on loaf after baking)

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Homemade croutons.

I realize you can buy them at the grocery. And yes, they cost maybe $.99 for a box. But they have nothing on what you can make yourself. This task is exponentially easier if you have a loaf (or half) of homemade bread sitting around getting stale. You could bake a loaf for this purpose, and I must admit, I have actually done so.

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