Hope you’ll join me in welcoming mystery writer Kathleen Ernst to Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen today. She’s got a new release…and a delicious recipe for Swiss Pear Bread to share with us today! Be sure to comment for her contest today, too! ~Riley
The Swiss Connection
Chloe Ellefson, the protagonist in my Historic Sites mystery series, has a definite Swiss connection. She worked at an outdoor museum in Switzerland for five years. In The Heirloom Murders her Swiss ex reappears, and the plot takes Chloe into a Swiss-American community in southern Wisconsin.
My father’s parents were born and raised in Switzerland. I was fairly young when they died, and I wish we’d had more time together. Thinking and writing about their homeland, and Swiss-American culture, helps me feel closer to them both.
My grandfather was trained as a pastry chef in Bern, and he continued that trade after immigrating to the US. Since I’m such a foodie myself, it grieves me to not have any of his favorite recipes.
While researching The Heirloom Murders I talked with elderly Swiss-Americans about food traditions. It was hard to choose a single recipe to feature, but I finally settled on Swiss Pear Bread. Dried pears were once a staple in rural Swiss kitchens, and many versions of pear bread made their way to the new world.
Pear Bread is still common in Swiss enclaves such as Green County, WI. This loaf is hearty and moist and absolutely delicious. In my novel, Chloe’s friend Frieda Frietag serves it to guests. It makes me smile to think that perhaps my own ancestors did so as well.
Frieda Frietag’s Swiss Pear Bread
Makes 2 loaves.
½ lb. dried pears, diced (about 1-3/4 c.)
1- ½ lb. other dried fruits, such as dates, prunes, apples, and apricots, also diced
½ c. chopped black walnuts
1 T. anise seed
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 T. melted lard or butter
1 t. sugar
1 T. honey
1 T. salt – (or as desired)
3 c. lukewarm water
9-10 c. flour (I use all wheat, but you could also use white flour, or a blend)
Chop dried fruit, place in a pan, cover with water, and simmer until fruit is soft, about fifteen minutes. Drain fruit, reserving the liquid. You can do this the night before, and let the fruit drain overnight.
Add water to the drained fruit water as needed to make 3 c., and bring to lukewarm (about 100 degrees) temperature. Dissolve yeast and 1 t. sugar in the liquid. Add honey, anise seed, lard or butter, and salt.
Add about 3 c. flour and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the dried fruit and walnuts. Continue adding flour gradually until the dough is of kneading consistency—soft, but dry enough to handle. Knead until dough is light and elastic, using your hands or a dough hook with a large, heavy-duty electric mixer. (This is the maximum quantity my mixer can handle, but it does work.)
Knead dough again for about 10 minutes. Put dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about two hours. (I put the bowl beneath the light over my stove.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Divide dough in half, shape into loaves, and place each into a well-greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until a straw inserted into loaves comes out dry. Remove from pans and cool on racks.
I’m grateful to Riley for allowing me to celebrate publication of The Heirloom Murders: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery by guest-posting here. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you. Leave a comment, and your name will go into a drawing for a free book. The winner can choose any of my seventeen titles. The Heirloom Murders, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours! To learn more, please visit my website, www.kathleenernst.com.