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MINNESOTA’S A HOTBED FOR TASTY WILD RICE BREAD

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Question: My work involves a lot of travel throughout a region that includes Minnesota. I look forward to all the various types of wild rice bread, but my favorite is what they call a loaf of breakfast bread. It's not too sweet, so I take it with me in the car to snack on. The bakery that used to make it went out of business. I'd really like the recipe for this special bread, and I don't care which restaurant or bakery it comes from. - Buddy Hofmann, Columbus, OhioAnswer: We went straight to the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council for this one! Wild rice, often called the caviar of grains, is the seed of a water grass native to North America. One cup of raw wild rice increases in volume to 3 to 4 cups when cooked, and contains only 70 calories per half-cup serving. It is also high in fiber and low in fat. Most wild rice comes from man-made paddies, 60 percent of which are located in north-central Minnesota. Cultivated wild rice provides a habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

In the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council's bread recipe, sugar and spice combine to enhance the rich nutty flavor of the wild rice, producing a dense, moist, not-too-sweet loaf of Breakfast Bread.

Note that when combining sugar and wild rice, it is essential to cook wild rice very well. Combining wild rice with sugar causes the wild rice to revert to a hard kernel. Overcooking the wild rice prior to combining with sugar solves this problem.

America a la Carte welcomes recipe requests. Send the complete address of the restaurant along with your name, address and phone number to: America a la Carte, P.O. Box 5994, Austin, TX 78763-5994; or fax: 1-512-453-2145.

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Recipe

WILD RICE BREAKFAST BREAD

BREAD

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups well-cooked wild rice

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup white all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 cup milk

MAPLE BUTTER

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl of mixer. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla. Stir in wild rice and pecans. In separate bowl, mix wheat flour, white flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to egg mixture, stirring after each addition until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour mixture into an 8-by-4-inch greased loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.

To prepare Maple Butter: Beat butter in small bowl of mixer until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and beat to blend well. Makes approximately 1/2 cup.