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September 25, 2021

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Great grandma's Dilly Bread

Family recipes give special meaning to the phrase “living history.” The following Dilly Bread recipe comes from Kaye Phillips of the Swiss Community Historical Society (SwissHistorical.org). While a similar recipe was made famous in 1960 as a winning Pillsbury Bake-Off entry, this version of a yeasted, cottage cheese-based bread has distinctly local roots. Kaye explains:

Baking Dilly Bread can give your home the aroma of years gone by. The flavor and versatility makes this recipe a favorite in our family. 

Dilly bread was made with ingredients readily available on the farms and gardens of our grandparents in the Swiss Settlement. Eggs came from the hen house.  Cottage cheese was made using extra cream and milk from the cows. Dill and onion were plentiful in the gardens. 

Using the same ingredients as my Great Grandmother Emma Kiener Gerber and Great Aunt Lucille Gerber Hochstettler, I changed a few steps to make this bread easier to make. I grow my own dill and onion, buying all of the other ingredients at the local grocery. 

Dilly Bread

1 package of yeast

1/4 cup of warm water

1 cup creamy cottage cheese

1 tablespoon minced onion

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon dill seed

1 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

2 1/2 cups flour

Coarse salt and a small amount of butter for the top

Use a large bowl to dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Warm up the cottage cheese to lukewarm. (I use the microwave.) Add yeast and water mixture, but do not stir.  Also add onion, sugar, dill and salt.  Stir this mixture together.  Add in beaten egg and flour. Knead mixture in a large bowl. (I use disposable rubber gloves to make this process smooth.) Let rise for one hour.  

Then stir down and shape in a bread pan that is sprayed with oil.  Let rise again for one hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes.  After taking out of the oven, coat the bread top with butter or margarine. (I just use a part of a stick of butter and go back and forth over the bread and watch it melt.) Sprinkle the top with coarse salt.  Take out of the pan to cool. Enjoy!

Note: I usually make multiple loaves at once. I heat up the cottage cheese in the carton to save time. Each loaf has its own bowl.

Please let me know if you try this recipe or if it brings back memories. Also, if you look closely at the photograph of the dill, there is something else hiding in the photo. -- Kaye Phillips

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