Today in American history…former First Lady Lucretia Garfield was born in Garrettsville, Ohio on April 19, 1832. She married future President James Garfield on November 11, 1858.
Mrs Garfield became First Lady when her husband became our 20th US President on March 4, 1881 until his untimely death on September 19, 1881 (President Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881 and succumbed to his injuries).
In her short time as First Lady, she was known for her cheerful social events at The White House. She even lifted the ban on alcoholic beverages that were banned by her predecessor, Lucy “Lemonade” Hayes. Mrs Hayes was not a fan of having alcohol during social events at The White House and banned them. Hence the press and the public gave her the nickname of Lucy “Lemonade” Hayes.
Lucretia Garfield was interested in researching the history of The White House as well as the history of the previous First Ladies. She also began to inventory the historic objects contained in The White House – similar to Jacqueline Kennedy’s project when she was the First Lady in 1961-1963.
President Garfield’s favorite foods were squirrel stew, fresh baked bread, mashed potatoes, parsnips and apple pie. He also enjoyed milk.
His ultimate favorite food was potato bread.
Mrs Garfield had a collection of several recipes – including her potato bread. I thought about making a few things today to honor her birthday and potato bread was the win. Squirrel Stew??! Not so much!
Lucretia Garfield’s Potato Bread
1 large russet or log white potato
1/4 cup butter, cut up
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/4-4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups water
Peel and cube potato. In saucepan, combine potato and the water. Bring to boiling. Cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of hot cooking liquid. Set liquid aside. Mash potato cubes with a potato masher (should have 1 cup). Set aside.
Combine reserved cooking liquid, butter and salt. Cool to 120 degree F to 130 degree F.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the 4-1/4 cups flour and the yeast. Add reserved cooking liquid and eggs. Beat with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in mashed potatoes and as much of the remaining flour as you can.
On a lightly floured surface, knead in as much of the remaining flour as you can to make a moderately stiff dough that’s smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 to 1-1/2 hours).
Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Shape into loaves or rolls. For loaves, shape each half of dough into a loaf. Lightly dip tops of loaves into additional flour. Place loaves, floured sides up, in 2 greased 8x4x2-inch loaf pans. For rolls, divide each half of dough into 12 pieces. Shape into balls. Lightly dip tops into flour. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover bread or rolls. Let rise until nearly doubled (30 to 40 minutes).
Bake in a 375 degree F oven. For loaves, bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped (if necessary, cover with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning). For rolls, bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves or 24 rolls.
(Recipe from Midwest Living)