I'm sure you've all heard of Marion Cunningham. No, not the one from Happy Days, but the wonderfully talented American chef. David Lebovitz calls her "the last of the great, classic American cooks." She assisted James Beard for 11 years, was responsible for the most recent versions of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and has several cookbooks of her own. An unpretentious woman, she continues to provide straightforward, practical recipes for delicious American cuisine. She was a regular contributor to Gourmet and Food & Wine Magazine and I believe still writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. I can't begin to list all her accomplishments, but refer you to one of the nicest articles I've ever read about a chef, written by David Lebovitz HERE. She also received the Grand Dame award from Les Dames d'Escoffier "in recognition and appreciation of her extraordinary achievement and contribution to the culinary arts," and in 1994, she was named Scholar-in-Residence by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
I've previously done a post on her yeast waffles, which have rightly replaced any other waffle recipe we've ever made at our house and have three of her cookbooks which I frequently search for inspiration. Here's yet another gem to tell you about: her Chocolate Walnut Butter Bread.
If you're looking for a delicious surprise for a Sunday breakfast, or if you're having company for brunch.. you've got to try Marion's fabulous bread. It's a combination of a yeast and sweet bread. Only one rising, you don't need a mixer and you can do it in one bowl. I don't make a lot of yeast breads any more but I made one loaf to see how it turned out and we loved the tender crumb and the rich surprising flavors. And here's a thought: make some French toast with this bread. There'll be some happy faces!
Chocolate Walnut Butter Bread
From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
4 eggs, room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken or chopped into large pieces (I used chocolate chips)
Put the warm water in a mixing bowl and add the yeast. Give it a stir and then allow to stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
Add the flour, sugar, salt and eggs to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously until well blended. (I used an electric mixer) Beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated and the batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to let the batter rise to double its bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Stir the batter down and add the nuts and chocolate. Spoon into two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inch greased loaf pans. The pans should be about half full so the tops are nicely rounded when they are finished baking. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out on a rack to finish cooling.