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MaMa's Crunchy Nut-bread


My mother, Mildred Brown Shaw of Sumter, S. C., makes a really good pound cake. In the early 1950s, she decided to use the pound cake batter with pecans added in order to make a non-chocolate brownie-like desert. Initially, they had a texture like my wife's mother's (Lallah Lindler Drafts) "chewy cake" brownies. Then Momma left the sheet of cooked mix overnight in the oven, and the product came forth as a very brittle and crunchy "cookie" which immediately became a family favorite and a favorite "care package" to me while I was in college at the Citadel. She cooks it in a cheap, thin-gauge aluminum pan* about 2 inches deep by 10 by six inches so that the nut-bread is less than an inch thick. She puts ingredients out the night before morning baking in order that all are combined at room temperature.


  •  mixer: electric motorized mixer such as Sunbeam Mixmaster.
  • baking container: grease or Pam spray the above-sized baking pan.
  • sweetener: 2 cups of normally granulated white table sugar.
  • fatty component: 2 sticks of margarine (1 cup).
  • flour: 3 sifted cups of self rising wheat flour.
  • binder: 4 whole eggs.
  • taste enhancer: vanilla extract, one teaspoonful.
  • liquid component: 1 cup of milk (she uses 2% milk-fat).
  • staple ingredient: coarsely broken pecan pieces...2 generous cups.

Mix all together (except the pecans) in series in an electric mixer and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. about 20-30 minutes (until it looks done). Start preheating the oven. Then start the mix by creaming together the fatty component and the sugar in the mixing bowl at fairly low speed. Then add the eggs. Then add the flour slowly, being careful that it is taken up in the mix without lumps. Add the vanilla; and then add the milk. Remove bowl with contents from the electric mixer, and dump the pecans into the mix and combine evenly.

Experimenters: The fatty component could be changed to butter. A few raisins or dried cranberries could add taste variety and sweetness and do so as discrete packets of taste released only as chewed. One could substitute other nut types or even a mix of nuts. And, one can make a "richer" desert by adding, say, whole milk...or milk plus cottage cheese (or other soft cheese), or half-and-half instead of milk, or even whipping cream instead of milk.

* Momma, having 7 siblings, remembers that money was tight at Christmas time in the 1950s as the families were enlarging. So, the siblings agreed to limit the gift-giving between adults to $1.00 per family. My aunt's family, Betty Brown Cain, gave two baking pans to my parents (such gifts were essentially wife-to-wife gifts), and Momma still has them. There is no brand name etched on them.

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[posted 25 November 2005]