Recently during a conversation with my daughter I was teasing her about being partially made of Hollywood Diet Bread. While I was pregnant back in the 60’s, my body experienced a complete reversal, and tragically I could not bear to be around food. The idea of it, let alone the smell of it — made me miserably sick. I was one of those rare pregnant women, who instead of gaining too much, lost weight.
Fortunately, early on I discovered that two slices of toasted Hollywood Diet Bread, along with a couple of soft boiled eggs would soothe my queasy stomach and perk me right up–it was just about all I could keep down! It became quite the joke– even a pregnant woman could loose weight on Hollywood Diet Bread! Nevertheless, I loved being pregnant and I associate this bread with fond memories. Since it holds a very special place in my heart I’ve always liked having a loaf salted away in the freezer–for those moments of nostalgia. Sadly, over the years it has become increasingly difficult to find.
When I mentioned this to my daughter, she suggested that I should try making my own. Huh, what concept. For those who may have missed this venerable institution, Hollywood Diet Bread was hailed for having only 46 calories per slice—plus it contained carrots, sea kelp, cabbage, and other mysterious vegetables and healthful ingredients. In spite of all these additions, it had a light texture, was mild tasting and surprisingly satisfying. Mostly, I remember one key element: the characteristic sesame seeds on top.
With that in mind, I went to work on this seriously daunting challenge, and I’m pleased to report my first results in developing an updated version of this beloved bread. Based on my incredibly high expectations, the loaf turned out amazing well! The texture and crumb are that of a fine sandwich loaf, the flavor is mild, well balanced with a slight sweet nuttiness from the wheat and sesame seeds. I’m still a bit puzzled by the color which is caramel with a faint tinge of green. Some might find this questionable, and it could be adjusted by deleting the kale, but since I like everything else about it, why mess with a good thing? I suspect the color of the loaf will be affected by the type and size of vegetables included. Note that I used one medium plum tomato; a larger one may make all the difference… or maybe a beet…
What I do know, is that I feel like an old best friend is back–with a face lift! I think I’ll try another piece…
Final wrap: This is a very easy loaf to make since it is a no-knead dough that beats about 7 minutes in the mixer. The vegetables need to be cooked and pureed, which is key to the success of this bread. For speed, I used the microwave and was done in a flash. A quick pulse in the blender with the rest of the liquids and you are ready to go.
Harvest Wheat Bread
My version of “Hollywood Diet Bread”
1 envelope yeast, rapid rising
1/4 cup warm water
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium plum tomato, chopped
5 medium kale leaves, or comparable spinach, or other green leaf, chop
1/2 stick celery, chopped with leaves if available
1 tablespoon parsley, or other mild herb
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, divided (save about 1 Tbsp. egg white for glaze)
1/2 cup milk, or other liquid
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 1/2 cups enriched white
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
In mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast on top of water and let stand about 7 minutes until it begins to bubble. Spray a 9×5″ loaf pan.
Microwave the carrot and tomato until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add kale, celery, parsley and sugar and microwave until kale is wilted, another 2 minutes. Allow to cool briefly and puree the vegetable mixture in blender along with oil, egg and milk. There should be about 1 2/3 cup of this thick mixture.
In mixing bowl, add the flours, salt and vegetable mixture to the active yeast. Combine all and beat for about 7 minutes until it forms a shaggy dough. Scrap into loaf pan and smooth evenly with floured fingers if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap, sprayed; let stand until it reaches the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make a glaze with reserved egg white and about 2 tsp. water. Brush the top of the loaf with the glaze and sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Bake about 45 minutes until it is nicely browned and has pulled away from the pan. Remove from pan and cool on rack. Makes 1 loaf ~~