Veterans Day: When baking bread helped the troops

During World War I, white flour, considered more nutritious, was saved to feed the troops fighting overseas. Recreate a bit of history on Veterans Day with this recipe for rye and whole wheat War Bread.

American Food Roots
Veteran's Day can be celebrated with a bit of culinary history by baking War Bread, a recipe that saved white flour for the troops fighting in World War I.

Veterans Day 2014 marks the launch of a five-part series of videos by American Food Roots, a website dedicated to exploring American culinary history.

Curtailing the use of sugar, wheat, and meat during the war effort gave rise to "Meatless Monday," "Wheatless Wednesday," and relying on on honey and syrup to sweeten dessert – all trends that are enjoying a resurgence in today's health-conscious, environmentally aware food movement.

"What's surprising in [American Food Roots] material are the number of foods and nutritional concepts that we think of as contemporary," said American Food Roots' managing editor Bonny Wolf, in a release. "In fact, many of our current culinary habits can trace their beginnings to this seminal event 100 years ago."

The series begins with "A World War I Meal From Soup to Nuts" to show how America began contributing to the war effort long before US soldiers deployed for Europe. Viewers will learn how peanut butter become prominent as a meat substitute and the arrival of a new modern ingredient called "mayonnaise." You'll learn how soybeans were fashioned into croquettes and a braised tongue recipe shows the early roots of today's "nose-to-tail" trend. For dessert maple syrup sweetens a barley flour and buckwheat in a cake that will please today's whole-food bakers.

To save white flour to feed troops fighting overseas, homemade bread of the era sometimes used three different types of grain, called "thirded recipes." Mix up a little culinary history in your kitchen with a nod toward supporting the troops with American Food Roots' recipe for whole wheat and rye War Bread.

War Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fat
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
6 cups rye flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Pour the boiling water into a large bowl and add the sugar, fat and salt. Put the bowl aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. When the boiled water cools enough to keep a finger in it for a few seconds, add the dissolved yeast. Add the rye and whole wheat flour.

3. Cover and let rise until twice its size, shape into loaves; let rise until double and bake about 40 minutes, in a 350 degree F. oven.

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