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Sara

Sara and me

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Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline. Soldiers aren’t supposed to have any attachment to the stray dogs, let alone bring them onto the home base where he spent part of his time. His unit all fell in love with Fred, but Craig was obviously the dog’s first love. A very inspiring story; a few tears were shed here and there as I read it. Fred now lives here in the U.S. against all odds.

Also read Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy. There is joy, grief, a tiny bit of religion, and likely this book wouldn’t make you think much of pastors. They’re flawed as we all are. Quite a read, for one of my book clubs. I had hoped the book would paint a brighter picture of the profession (I have a wonderful pastor at my own church).

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant. He is a consummate humorist and can find chuckles in almost every task. I ate this book up in one go. LOL funny and interesting on all fronts.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story, centered around a tragic event in their small town in Minnesota. About how he reviews his memories as he grows old, looking at the people, the event, and his part in it.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century. Abigail Howland, who came to the house as a little girl, lives with her crusty but loveable grandfather. Her grandfather’s forbidden love life is an open secret, but long after his death it is Abigail who must pay the price for a love match Southern society could not abide. Lots of sub-stories. Very interesting read.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982. She once again leaves the home place to build a house for herself. As the foundation is poured and the walls go up, each of the hurtful memories are uncovered. Finally the mystery, left in the ashes of the burned home, is revealed. How could her mother do what she did? Very interesting read.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Breads, on December 3rd, 2007.

bishops bread slices

I’ve been waiting for months and months to give you this recipe. Since I only make this at Christmas-time, I didn’t think it appropriate to share it when the temps outside were in the 90’s. Although this is not my original recipe, I will tell you I’ve been making this for about 40 years, and this is one of those recipes – if you’re a regular reader of my blog – that I say – “now, listen up! I’m about to share something important.” Hence it is. Important. My mother’s friend Mary gave me this recipe, back in about 1969 or 1970. We had a group of us – 4 women: my mother, Fay, and two of her friends, Esther and Mary, both near her age. And me. We played the Japanese version of Mah Jong about every 2 weeks or so, and one of us provided lunch. It had to coincide with when my daughter, Dana, went down for her nap, so more often than not, it was at my house. After eating the repast we’d then play the game for a couple of hours.

So, Mary brought this, one Mah Jong day, when it was close to Christmas. My mother (and dad both) liked fruitcake. But I never did. Still don’t. I’ve been known to try a nibble, with somebody’s prized recipe, thinking that maybe my taste buds have changed, that I’ve matured somehow. Or that somebody has found some unique new way to make fruitcake palatable. Sorry. No. I still don’t like fruitcake. I detest citron, and anything close to it. So, when Mary brought this over, explaining that it was something like fruitcake, I was suspicious. However, she quickly said she didn’t like fruitcake, either. Oh good. I became a bishop’s bread convert from the first bite. SO:

• I do like maraschino cherries. Certainly I don’t eat them 11 months of the year. I mean, where do we ever even SEE maraschino cherries anymore except on some caterer’s platter or in a Shirley Temple. I went through a stage in the 1970’s when red dye was an anathema, but that didn’t keep me from making bishop’s bread, I’m sorry to say. So much for my dedication to the shrine of a healthy body! But now they don’t use the bad red dye (supposedly), so I hope that since this is only consumed by me for these few, short weeks, maybe I’ll live another day.

• And, I like chocolate too. You all already know that. You can use Nestle’s chips, or cut up your own, or use some other brand. The better the brand the better the bread. You could use milk chocolate too, I suppose.

• And, I like walnuts.

• But, I don’t like fruitcake.

• Enter, ta da: Bishop’s Bread!

So, on to this recipe. If you’re going to be a stickler for detail, I suppose this does bear some resemblance to fruitcake – it has a similar consistency – chunks of goodies glued together with a basic cake recipe. Kind of like pound cake. But, instead of citron and dried fruit (lemon, lime, orange, red candied cherries, dates, figs, etc) this has nothing but chocolate chips, walnuts and maraschino cherries. The cherries maintain their moistness, and you combine them with walnuts and chocolate, and it’s a marriage made in heaven, I say. Yes, it’s a bread-like shape, and you slice it like fruitcake, but it isn’t. I promise. On my honor.

Here’s how it’s made:
bishops bread mixThere’s the walnuts, chocolate chips and masarschino cherries all mixed with all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). The sugar goes into the egg mixture, which is added next.

bishops bread eggsYou add in the eggs and sugar mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until everything is well coated AND you can’t see any white flour bits anywhere.

bishops bread in pansThere’s the raw batter spooned into the pans – this time I used pretty paper pans, so I didn’t have to use the buttered waxed paper on the bottom because you tear off the “box.”

bishops bread baked 540There they are, just baked and cooled. They make lovely gifts for people at this time of year.

You can bake it in bread pans, so you’ll have just one loaf using the recipe below. Or, if you’re a Bishop’s Bread lover, then you bake in large quantity. Today I made a quadruple batch. It would make 4 bread pans full, but I had some smaller, cute little cardboard ones that are perfect for giving away (picture above). I made seven of them and one loaf pan. I’ll keep the loaf sized one and very judiciously give away the others. Only to very special friends. You can interchange nuts if you’d prefer something different. And if you don’t like maraschino, then substitute apricots, perhaps, or dried cranberries maybe. But it won’t be the same.

bishops bread fruitnuts closeup

Over the years I’ve tried to find out the history of this bread/cake. The internet hasn’t been of much help other than to give me several similar recipes (purportedly dating to the 1950’s) with candied cherries, sometimes almonds or pecans, chocolate, and dates. I did see a couple with maraschino cherries, so this must have been somebody’s interpretation. Obviously, the way-back origin must be religious in some way with the word “bishop” in the title. I did find this, though:

Any purchased or homemade cake decorated with the bishop’s name and a tiny mitre can be used on the feast of a bishop-saint, the traditional cake is Bischofsbrot or “Bishop’s Bread.” (this was from a Catholic Church website)

It probably did have candied cherries in it at one time. Whatever it is, I adore this bread. And if you’re a regular reader of my blog, and you like my recipes, then I sincerely request that you make this bread. Post Haste.
printer-friendly CutePDF
Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

Bishop’s Bread

Recipe: a dear friend from the 1970’s, Mary Wilfert
Servings: 20 (slices)

FLOUR MIXTURE:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
CHOCOLATE, NUT & FRUIT MIXTURE:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups walnuts — chopped
1 cup maraschino cherries — drained, halved
1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs

NOTES:  You could also make these in smaller pans (and bake a shorter time) and give as gifts to friends and neighbors. The proportion of nuts, chips and cherries can vary to your taste. If you don’t like maraschino cherries, substitute dried cranberries, for instance. Prefer pecans? Or maybe macadamia nuts? The original recipe I was given also included dates.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a bread pan and line the bottom with waxed paper (yes, it’s important). Sift dry ingredients (this is to make certain the baking powder and salt are evenly distributed) into a large bowl. Add chocolate chips, walnuts and cherries and stir to coat the items, particularly the cherries.
2. With an electric mixer combine eggs and sugar and beat until thoroughly mixed, then add to fruit-flour mixture and stir gently, but well, until combined. You don’t want to see any pockets of flour. Pour into prepared pan(s) and place on middle rack in the oven. Reduce oven temp to 325°F. Bake for 60-75 minutes, testing in center with an instant read thermometer, until it reaches about 210°F. If you use a toothpick to test for done-ness, and the tester goes into a chocolate chip, it’s hard to tell it’s done. Continue baking as needed and test at 5-minute intervals. Remove pan(s) to a rack and allow to cool in the pan. When cool, remove from pan, remove waxed paper from the bottom, then wrap well in plastic wrap and foil, or preferably in plastic bags and refrigerate. Slice about 1/4 inch thick. Eat with gusto. [Makes 1 regular sized bread pan loaf; more if using miniature bread pans .]
Per Serving: 255 Calories; 13g Fat (42.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 33g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 82mg Sodium.

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  1. ThursdayNext

    said on December 4th, 2007:

    I cannot get over this recipe…it sounds like the perfect dessert for Christmas. It also seems versatile and I am seriously wondering how this would be in a simple trifle – layered with some vanilla pudding in a trifle bowl and then topped with chocolate shavings. Or would this pair better with ice cream? Thoughts? I am scheduled to make a trifle for Christmas day and want to break away from my usual…would this work?

  2. Carolyn T

    said on December 4th, 2007:

    Hmmm. I don’t know about the trifle idea. If you can picture using a dense kind of bread (well, like date nut bread, for instance), that kind of heaviness, then it might work. If you sliced the bishop’s bread quite thin it might work. And I wouldn’t make the vanilla pudding/sauce all that sweet – under sweeten it, I’d think. You could always add more sugar later if you took a taste of the bread with the pudding. And some whipped cream to cut the richness? Just a thought.

  3. Anonymous

    said on December 5th, 2007:

    This bread is the best!!! I am so lucky to be a recipient of the few loaves my mom makes, I wish I had taken two loaves. This is the best. I don’t like fruitcake either.

  4. Book Group Friend

    said on December 17th, 2007:

    This is a great recipe. I served it recently and got rave reviews. It looks so pretty thinly sliced on a Christmassy plate. If you have any left overs, it stays moist for quite awhile. So make sure to save some for yourself!!

  5. Carolyn T

    said on December 17th, 2007:

    I still have one loaf left. I think I’ll keep it hidden in the refrigerator until awhile after Christmas. I’m already on food overload with the parties, dinners, etc. we’ve been going to. But I agree, it’s good stuff!

  6. Anonymous

    said on December 26th, 2007:

    You don’t always have to make it as an actual bread loaf shape. My mother has been placing the batter in cupcake tins for years. It cooks faster and is perfectly portioned.

  7. Arlene

    said on February 13th, 2010:

    I’ve been looking for this recipe for YEARS !!! A friend used to make it and I loved it. Wondering if I should add dates ??? Have you ? I don’t want to ruin it. Thanks

    Yes, absolutely you can add dates. I’m not overly fond of them, but I believe they were in the original recipe given to me. . . hope you enjoy the bread! . . . carolyn t

  8. Rev Beth Casey

    said on December 5th, 2010:

    I want to just add a memory to this bishops bread. My mother made it when I was a kid.. however she did something I have done and works quite well. She would make hers in a 9×13 pan and sprinkle white sugar on the bottom of her pan after she greased it. she would rinse her cherries and place them accordingly. Then pour her batter which only carried flecks of the cherries and nuts in her batter. When she flipped the bread after it was cooled the sugar sparkled like glitter..very pretty and impressive.
    I now do this with my loaf pans.. I also chop my cherries and chocolate and nuts very fine and only put a small amount in the batter.. it looks so pretty when you cut it and still very good..the larger fruit and nuts are all at the bottom of the pan and its in the flipping that you get the right effect.. try it, you might like it too!

    What an interesting idea, Beth. Thanks for the suggestion. I may have to try it that way just because it’s different. . . carolyn t

  9. mary lynn reed

    said on December 14th, 2010:

    I have loved and made Bishop’s Bread for years, for my family and for presents. It’s a universal hit.

    For a fictionalized biography of Katherne Swynford, one of my all time favorite books is “Katherine” by Anya Seton. It’s very well researched and well crafted for historical fiction of the 1950s. It was reprinted in 2004. I highly recommend it.

    So happy to find a kindred spirit as far as BIshop’s Bread is concerned! And yes, I read Seton’s “Katherine” probably 30 years ago. Loved it! . . . carolyn t

  10. Anonymous

    said on December 30th, 2010:

    I have been making this bread for many, many years. I received the recipe from a neighbor (currently 96 years old). This recipe calls for dates, walnuts, brazil nuts. We also put in red and green maraschino cherries with the juice.
    This neighbor of mine told me that her ancestors told her that in the 1300’s this bread was made special for when the Bishop of the Catholic church would come for a visit. He was the only one who could eat of it. Eventually as time went on, other church officials were allowed to eat it. This day and age, everyone gets to eat it no matter what religion you are. It originated in Germany. I am sure there could be a lot of truth to this.

    I did do some internet research at one time about the history of the bread. I was never able to find any recipe that was quite like this one, but you’re right about the making of it for the Bishop; hence it’s name. In the time of the Middle Ages, nuts and dried fruits were precious, so to serve that to the Bishop certainly would have been a big “treasure.”

    I don’t use the juice from the cherries because it colors the batter. I prefer a regular creamy colored bread part. And this year I didn’t dry them off enough so some of the juice did leak out into the bread. But it tasted the same, and always good! I also don’t use dates, although they were in my original recipe. I’m just not all that crazy about dates. Out of hand, fine, but I don’t like them much in baked goods – taste too much like citron, I suppose. Thanks for stopping by my blog .. .. carolyn t

  11. Jaie

    said on November 13th, 2011:

    I was reading “Pat of Silverbush” written in the 30’s and your recipe came up in a search. I now must try it!

    Ah, is the bread mentioned in the book? I’ve never heard of the book – do let me know as I’ve always wanted to know more about it and there is just about nothing on the internet about it. Let me know what you think. I’ve just finished baking a new version of it (using a different batter, but the same hard stuff – chocolate chips, maraschino cherries and walnuts). It will be posted within a week or so. . . carolyn t

  12. Tee Vee

    said on December 7th, 2011:

    My grandmother and mother have been making Bishop’s Bread for YEARS!!! It is a great recipe and a huge surprise to anyone and every one who tries it. I use pecans rather than walnuts (more flavor!)and half the amount of cherries (other half dates); OTHERWISE, STICK TO THE RECIPE. Surprise your friends and family!!!

    The trick is getting non-fruitcake people to even TRY it. But, I agree, it’s delicious stuff. . . carolyn t

  13. Nancy B.

    said on December 9th, 2011:

    I got a similar recipe from a friend’s Mom over 25 years ago and I make it every Christmas. Everyone loves it. There a 2 differences. The first – use candied cherries instead of marashino. Also, when cooling the loaves, put the tines of a fork into the loaf in about 6 or 7 spots about a 1/2 inch down. Then spoon over the brandy over those spots.
    FABULOUS!
    Sounds wonderful, Nancy! I may have to try it! . . . carolyn t

  14. Ruth Youngstrum

    said on November 12th, 2012:

    Help -I made this but it was so thick and dense that it broke apart -do I need to add some more liquid due to our altitude?? I live at 5280 ft. Still tasted great. Thanks.

    I don’t THINK altitude would play much of a part in this because there is no leavening in it (baking powder). Is it possible the loaf got too hot (meaning the oven was too hot)? I never do add any liquid to it. I did, however, make a newer version of this bread – look on my blog for Golden Bishop’s Bread. I haven’t gone to look up the differences – a reader sent me this other version – and I liked it a lot. But I’m not sure it had any other liquid in it either. I’ll have to look further. I live at sea level, so don’t do much about high altitude cooking, obviously, and I don’t even remember what changes have to be made. I’ll go look at that too and I’ll email you. . . carolyn t

  15. Marcia

    said on December 4th, 2012:

    My mother made this Bishop’s Bread every Christmas and I helped from the time I was about 5 or 6. I am now 65 yrs ago. I am not motivated to make it but sure would love to taste it just once!! Does anyone volunteer to make one large loaf and send it to me? I have paypal and would pay for the labor and ingredients. Thank you.

    Marcia, it’s so EASY to make? You should try it. . . carolyn t

  16. Suzy

    said on December 7th, 2012:

    I got my Bishop’s Bread recipe from a co-worker who brought it to work every December. My recipe includes chopped dates. It is my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie.

    If you read my write-up about the recipe, mine (that came from a friend of my mother’s) also contained dates, but I don’t overly love dates, so I left them out of the recipe from the beginning. Do go read my Golden Bishop’s Bread recipe too, that I acquired last year
    https://tastingspoons.com/archives/7584. . . carolyn t

  17. Valarie

    said on May 3rd, 2013:

    They make this bread in the cutest ABC Family Christmas movie (12 Dates of Christmas) and call it cherry chip loaf. I looked all over the internet for a recipe for cherry chip loaf and this looks perfect. Besides the fact that I’m pretty sure I didn’t cook it quite long enough, it turned out great. It is so good! Thank you for sharing a bit of the history and the real name.

    I’ve not heard of the ABC Family Christmas movie or the 12 Dates of Christmas. Will have to ask my Tivo to record it later this year! Am glad you found the recipe. It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes and except for one year I think I’ve made it every December since about 1970! Long, loooooong time! . . . carolyn t

  18. Judi Uvick

    said on December 12th, 2013:

    Is there no shortening in this bread? With 3 eggs, it shouldn’t be dry, but you can never tell!

    No, there’s no added fat in the bread. As you can see from the photos, it’s mostly the “fruit,” – the chocolate chips, the maraschino cherries and the nuts – with the batter just kind of holding it together. The eggs add all the binder it needs to hold together. It doesn’t need anything else. You can take a look at my other Bishop’s Bread (the “original” one). It’s an even more basic batter: https://tastingspoons.com/archives/215/. I can just tell you from years and years of experience, it works just fine without any butter or shortening. . . carolyn t

  19. Glen

    said on December 12th, 2014:

    Hi Carolyn… looks yummy. Going to try it this weekend. Noticed the recipe does have baking powder. So, should I use plain flour or is it ok to use AP or whatever I have on hand? Always look forward to your post. Thanks.

    All-purpose flower doesn’t have any leavening, only self-rising flour does. So yes, just use ordinary flour. It plays a minor role in the bread anyway, just some kind of glue to hold together all the goodies. . . carolyn t

  20. Kate

    said on December 24th, 2014:

    Hi Carolyn, I came across your blog this past Thanksgiving because I misplaced my recipe card for bishop’s bread, and it was too late at night to call an aunt for it. Our family has made bishop’s bread for years, passed down by my Granny, Helen. She told us that she had come up with the recipe by accident, I’m not sure what year exactly but it would’ve been sometime in the 50’s- early 60’s, when she was living in the Chicago area. She was baking a batch of fruitcake, when she inadvertently switched to another recipe, which happened to be for a chocolate chip quickbread. It was a hit with the kids, so she documented the hybrid recipe and dubbed it Bishop’s Bread. Her version was made with fruitcake components, the recipe we pass along in the family has the same quantities you have here except that she used just says 5 cups of mixed fruit and nut- i esp. like to use (dried/plumped in brandy) apricot, cranberries etc with chopped walnuts and pecans. We all traditionally make it on Thanksgiving, and I like to make it for Christmas too. I plan to make your version of this recipe this Christmas season. My Granny was an amazing and beautiful lady and it’s so wonderful to see how far her legacy has reached. God Bless!

    That’s really interesting. My research about Bishop’s Bread goes back into ancient history in Europe, but the bread wasn’t made with chocolate chips, of course, but with nuts and fruits of the season, most likely. Thanks for commenting. . . carolyn t

  21. Ann

    said on December 12th, 2015:

    My grandmother got this recipe sometime around 1910 from one of her Swedish neighbors. She, and then my mother, made this every Christmas and it was always a hit. Her recipe uses red and green candied cherries and chopped dates. It was only made at Christmas time because the candied cherries were expensive and could only be found in stores around the holidays. You should warn your readers that this is a very stiff dough. It contains almost no liquid ingredients (no oil, butter, milk, water etc) except for the eggs. It’s not the kind of quick bread dough that can be poured into the loaf pans, it needs to be spooned.

    Yes, my original recipe called for dates (I’m not fond of dates in breads, so I eliminated them) and my friend who gave me the recipe didn’t like candied cherries (I don’t either) and she substituted maraschino cherries and I was in LOVE with the bread from the first bite. My batter may not be quite as stiff as yours, but I agree, it’s not a standard kind of pour-able batter! Thanks for stopping by . . . carolyn t

  22. Susie

    said on December 13th, 2015:

    Hi, I have loved this bread since 1971 and only make it at Christmas. Sadly no one but me likes it so I have to eat the whole thing by myself…sigh.
    I lost my recipe last year and I thought just maybe I could find it. Thanks!
    My recipe called it Chip and Cherry Cake and does have cut up dates in it…but don’t mind leaving it out 🙂
    Thanks! I am ready to make it.

    I haven’t yet made my bread this year. Maybe this week. You could add dates to it – your choice, for sure. I just don’t happen to like dates in bread, very much, so I left it out way back when, when I started baking this bread. I’m glad you found my recipe. It’s a good one! . . . carolyn t

  23. Sharon

    said on December 21st, 2015:

    our family has also made this for years, passed from my grandmothers family, Huston’s hailing from Allegheny. Like Ann said December 12th; we use green and red candied cherries and the dates and so only make it at Christmas time. When I make some for gift baskets I will double the batter, tastes as good and makes 3 little loaves. We called it ‘cherry chip bread’ but Bishop bread sounds best, everyone is gone now so no one to ask. Thanks all, enjoy.

    It’s amazing how different the bread can be. I wouldn’t eat it if it had candied fruit in it – just because I don’t like the stuff – but the maraschino cherries? Oh yes. In years past I’ve made big batches of it to give as gifts – not so much anymore since I’m a widow and none of my friends appreciate the bread as much as I do. My kids like it, though. Thanks for commenting . . . carolyn t

  24. Sarah

    said on January 6th, 2017:

    I made a loaf using my mother’s recipe today and was inspired to google a bit looking for the origin. This site is the first I stumbled on that uses the same basic recipe (I do walnuts, dates, candied cherries (though i’ve also done dried–delicious!). Now that I see all the comments above, I wonder if my family is alone in eating it with cream cheese on it? Just sliced with a layer of plain cream cheese. SO GOOD!

    Oh, that sounds wonderful, Sarah! In case you didn’t find it, I also have another recipe here on my blog for a Golden Bishop’s Bread – https://tastingspoons.com/archives/7584 if you’re interested in seeing a variation. It was good too, but I prefer my old tried and true one and go to that each and every year. I gave away one of the two loaves I made but I ate the entire 2nd loaf all by myself over the course of December. I love this stuff. Only one December in the last 45+ years have I not made this bread. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. . . carolyn t

  25. Kris Allen

    said on February 10th, 2017:

    Thank you!!! My sister passed last year & I didn’t get her cookbook. Been looking for this recipe for ever. It seems to be the same as she made. Thank you do much for sharing.

    You’re so welcome. Happy memory-making. . . Carolyn t

  26. mush

    said on December 11th, 2017:

    Thank you for bring back the memory of my sister. She made bishops bread for years and of course I never got the recipe. She has passed away years ago and finding this recipe brings her back to me. I am looking forward to making my first batch today. Thank you again.

    You’re very welcome. Do note that my original recipe included dates, but I’m not much of a fan of dates, so have never used them. You can mix and match your favorite kind of fruit and nuts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Let me know – I’ll be interested to hear if it’s like you remembered. I made a 2-loaf batch this year and am trying not to have a slice every day! I want it to last into January!. . . carolyn t

  27. Sarah Campo

    said on December 11th, 2017:

    How many loaves does this recipe make. Assuming one but wanna make sure.

    It makes 1 loaf of a regular bread pan size. You could use the smaller pans and it would make probably 3, maybe just 2. I always make it in the traditional bread pan, 8″ size. Sorry if that’s not clear in the recipe. . . carolyn t

  28. Margy Mc

    said on November 7th, 2018:

    I used to make this bread and send it to my husband in 1968 when he was serving with the Marines in Vietnam. What a wonderful find to see it again!

    It’s such a winner of a quickbread. It’s almost the season for it again. Yeah! . . . carolyn t

  29. michelle

    said on November 9th, 2019:

    We have made this bread for years. We use candied cherries (red and green), Dates, walnuts, pecans, and candied pineapple. The chocolate is the bonus the Bishop Bread.

    I’m just gearing up to be making a couple of loaves for the holidays. I simply can’t make it other times of the year or I’d be eating it too often! If you read my post, I don’t like candied fruit, hence this version is right down my alley . . . thanks for writing . . . carolyn t

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