I looked a little askance at the loaf of sweet bread I pulled out of the oven. It was purple. “Another one of my flops,” I said to myself. But later, after it had cooled, I cut a small piece off the end and tried it. My eyes widened with surprise. It was delicious!
I had made this loaf at the urging of a friend who had given me the recipe for it. “All the rage,” she said loftily, “cooking with wine.”
She had made a loaf of this bread for a brunch I attended (hers was white) and it was impressive, but not being a wine connoisseur I didn’t really ask her what type she had used. When she emailed me the recipe and then when I decided to make the bread, all I had was half a bottle of dark red merlot in the frig. “Perfect for this recipe,” I thought, but I had no idea of the unusual hue that would result.
I also had no idea what an international impression this purple bread would make. That’s thanks to my friend’s father who had come from Germany for a visit. They were knocking on my door about the same time I was sampling my purple concoction and so I let them in and hesitantly offered them both a slice. My friend politely demurred but her father, whose English was a little sketchy, was up for it. “Oho, sein lila brot,” he said pointing a finger at the loaf and laughing while I cut into it. I looked at my friend for translation. “He said it’s purple bread,” she told me with a smile.
That got me to wondering; wondering if this elderly German man thought Americans were really into purple loaves of bread. I sure didn’t want to leave him with a wrong impression of our cuisine; I didn’t want this nice man going back to his home land and telling all his friends about the “lila brot” he was served up in Wisconsin. But he ate the slice like a starving dog, and then held out his plate. I was more than happy to oblige him another slice.
My friend asked me why it was purple and I explained one of the ingredients I had used was a dark red wine. Dad knew this word. “Yah, vino, vino,” he said, so I got him a glass of that too.
While he sipped his wine and ate the bread my friend and I visited and it wasn’t long before he was holding out his plate again and so I served him another slice. In fact I ended up wrapping up half the loaf and sending it home with them.
Then a few days ago I talked to my friend again after her dad had returned to Germany. She told me my “lila brot” was a big hit over there. “He put that loaf in the freezer and then took it home with him,” she said. “He was really impressed with it.” Then she told me her aunt owned a restaurant in Germany and she wanted the recipe. “Seriously?” I said with amazement and a little horror.
So now it looks like my purple bread might become a global sensation. In fact, in the spirit of worldwide goodwill, I’ve included it as one of a couple of wine recipes for this week. Perhaps, you too, would like to prepare this soon-to-be international delight. Like I always say, nothing like a little “lila brot” to make the world a happier place.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup red merlot wine
11/4 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a medium size loaf pan. Combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat until just blended. Add the oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix well, pour into pan, and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
French Wine Bread
1 loaf French bread
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry red wine (approximately)
Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the bread almost all the way through in 1 to 11/2-inch slices. (You want the loaf to stay intact while baking but easy to separate once baked). Place bread in a jelly roll pan on a large enough sheet of aluminum foil that you can fold the sides up to contain the wine/butter mixture. Place a sliver of garlic between each slice. Melt butter in glass cup measure in microwave. Stir in an equal amount of red wine to the cup. Drizzle the wine/butter mixture between each slice and pour remainder over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Bread is done with the top and especially the bottom of the bread is crusty.
Associate Editor Mary Ann Doyle is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.