April 03, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Nut & Raisin Sandwiches on Graham Bread

I'm excited to finally be able to make this! I have seen several recipes in the heritage cookbooks that call for "graham flour". And some recipes say to "serve with graham bread". I didn't know what that was, so I did some research.

Graham flour is just whole wheat flour, but very coarsely ground. It's about as rustic a flour as you can buy. It was developed by Sylvester Graham in the early 1830's (and yes, it is commonly used to make graham crackers--although, the early graham crackers were not at all sweet like they are today).

His story is fascinating--you can find the details here. (He developed a diet that included bland starches, like graham flour, in order to stave off lustful behavior. So, I guess this bread is not what you would call an aphrodisiac! I'm tempted to rename this bread "Abstinence Bread", haha.)

I had a VERY hard time finding graham flour--even to buy it online! There were some sites that listed it for sale, but I wasn't about to pay $25 for a pound of flour. I almost bought the wrong item--I saw several listings for "gram flour", which is NOT the same thing. Gram flour is made with chick peas.

Eventually, I somehow came across a site called Purcell Mountain Farms that was selling graham flour for $4.35 per pound (and free shipping!). A pound of flour isn't much (maybe three cups or so) but I only wanted it in order to try out a recipe for graham bread.

You can certainly substitute whole wheat flour to make this bread, but after tasting it, I just don't think it would be the same. The texture really makes a difference here.

Since I was going to be making the graham bread, I also decided to choose a recipe for a spread that is meant to be served on graham bread and post the two together.

This bread is delicious! I was very surprised at just how good it was, because it's not anything special (other than using the graham flour that was difficult to obtain). When it comes to bread, I definitely prefer the white varieties. But the whole point of this heritage recipe series is to try new things, especially recipes that are off the beaten path.

I also mentioned last week that I don't like raisins, but discovered they were delicious in the Spread Cookies. This recipe for the nut and raisin sandwich spread uses raisins (obviously), so I dove in. And again, I really enjoyed them! I may be a convert to the raisin side now. (The graham bread recipe lists raisins as an optional add-in, but I did not add them to the bread itself.)

As always with the heritage recipes, I made it exactly as-written in the recipe. I will share my notes after the recipe.

This recipe for Graham Bread was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society for inclusion in their cookbook by Lenora Spitler. She said it was her grandmother's recipe and over 175 years old. The recipe for the Nut & Raisin Sandwiches came from the St. Charles 1910 Cook Book and was included in the Historical Society cookbook as well. 

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Graham Bread

1 T. rounded lard
2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. flour
2 c. graham flour
1 c. raisins (optional)

Mix all of the above and place in a greased pan. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Simple enough! I wrote about the graham flour in the intro. If you can't find it, you can substitute with whole wheat, but like I said, I do think that the texture of the graham flour is important for this recipe. For the other flour, I just used unbleached white flour. 

The "soda" refers to baking soda. I used shortening for the lard. As for the baking time, I pulled mine out after 45 minutes because it looked done to me. And it was perfect!

Nut & Raisin Sandwiches

1-1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. nuts
1/2 lemon
buttered bread

Pass nuts and raisins through a chopper. Blend smooth with juice of 1/2 lemon. Spread between slices of well-buttered graham or white bread.


Again, this is a simple recipe. I chose to use walnuts (we have a billion of them for the squirrels). I put the nuts, raisins, and lemon in a food processor and pureed until it was like a very thick paste. It reminded me a lot of a Larabar--only with raisins instead of dates.

While I was preparing this, the squirrels kept coming up to the back door, hoping for walnuts. I thought the paste would make a nice little treat for the squirrels, so I grabbed a grape-sized amount and rolled it into a ball. Then I rolled the ball in the "flour" at the bottom of the walnut container (the "flour" is just referring to the very fine walnut crumbs that settle on the bottom).

One of the squirrels took off with it before I could take a picture of her. I'm going to make some more with the leftover filling.

Overall, I absolutely loved the bread and was pleasantly surprised by the nut and raisin spread. I would definitely make them again. I think the graham bread would make a really delicious toast to have for breakfast!

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