Book Banquet: Heidi

As a book geek and food lover one of my favorite things to do is attempting to recreate drinks and food that are mentioned in books. I decided I would share this hobby of mine in the form of a new category: book banquets.

The book for today’s banquet is Heidi, and we’ll be taking a look at her usual breakfast: bread and milk. Today’s ‘banquet’ can’t really be called a recipe, but In the book Johanna Spyri (the author) describes the milk and bread breakfast frequently so it’s the one I decided to go with. Every morning Heidi’s grandfather would milk one of his goats and give Heidi a frothy bowl of warm milk and a piece of bread. This sounds fairly simple–and it is–but I had to experiment for a while before I found the right milk/bread combination.

Heidi’s Breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of bread
  • approximately a cup of milk in a bowl

Preparation:

  • Rip off a piece of bread and soak it in the bowl of milk. Let the milk soak through–or you won’t get that milk and bread taste–but don’t leave it in too long or it gets soppy and pretty nasty.

Easy, right? It is, but if we want to get close to Heidi’s actual breakfast you need to be picky about the kind of bread and milk you use. For starters DO NOT use skim milk. Normally I can’t tell the difference between whole and skim milk, but bread with skim milk was down right nasty. It mostly tasted like like soggy bread that was dropped in water. Whole milk is best, and the fresher the better. If you really want to go for authenticity try to find someone locally who owns dairy goats. Even if they don’t run an actual goat dairy they would probably be willing to sell you fresh milk, just make sure you know your milk seller has clean facilities and high grade milk. (Fresh, local cow milk would be a good substitute.) Even if you use whole milk you can add a teaspoon or tablespoon of cream to get the most authentic taste. Since Grandfather gave Heidi milk that came straight from the goat he wouldn’t have separated the cream from the rest of the milk.

Secondly, for most of the book Heidi raves about wanting to get Peter’s (the goat herder) grandmother soft bread. She says the dark, hard bread is too difficult for her to eat. What we can infer by this is that the bread Heidi eats is very heavy and has a thick crust. (This also makes sense because crusty breads hold up better in the milk.) Again, if you’re going for authenticity I would suggest making bread in a bread machine. Bread machine bread has a thicker crust and tends to come out darker than store bought bread. DO NOT MAKE A FLAVORED BREAD!! If you want to go for something lightly sweet, like a honey bread or apple bread, that would be fine, but don’t go for herbal breads. It doesn’t taste horrible, but it certainly doesn’t taste breakfast-y. If you’re in a time crunch and you want to use store bought bread go for it. Try to get something that is heartier with nuts or whole grains–not super soft white bread. This is because, again, we know Heidi ate extremely crusty bread and because soft white bread doesn’t hold up in the milk.

If you want to take this a step farther you could make Heidi’s lunch–which was bread covered with soft goat cheese and milk. (I’m pretty sure if this is all people ate they would suffer from scurvy.)

That’s all for today’s banquet. If you have a book banquet you would like me to make leave a comment!

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