Margaret Rudkin’s Bread Stuffing
A Stuffing Recipe from the Founder of Pepperidge Farm
Margaret Rudkin founded the Pepperidge Farm bakery as a health-food venture in 1937 because one of her children was allergic to white bread. Her family lived on a farm in Connecticut that had a lot of pretty sourgum trees that the locals called ``pepperidge trees,’’ hence the name. Rudkin’s pediatrician asked to buy loaves of her whole-grain bread for other children with white-flour allergies, and so the business was started. If you look in cookbooks published in that era, they mostly say that it is impossible to make bread from whole grains because the flour was too coarse and the bread would not hold together. In its time, this was a very risky venture.
In 1963, Margaret Rudkin published a cookbook with all of her family recipes. It’s called The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook, (Atheneum Press). It is a rare book, and has been out of print for 20 years. In 1965 Grosset and Dunlap republished it with much wider distribution, but that book is also out of print.
In general I have found that the recipes in this book are nearly identical to the products sold by the Pepperidge Farm bakery, and it’s a lot of fun to make your own. Here is her recipe for Thanksgiving turkey stuffing.
1 lb bread
1 white onion, chopped fine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 lb butter, melted
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, set aside some homemeade bread, to dry out. Leave it unwrapped so that it will dry thoroughly. 2 Thanksgiving morning, cut the bread into thick slices and remove the crust from each slice. Dip each slice into cold water, and wring out carefully. After squeezing each slice dry, crumble it into a large bowl by rubbing between your hands. 3
Add salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and chopped onion to the bowl, and stir gently. Pour on the melted butter, and toss like a salad.
Rudkin’s notes say ``taste and sniff as you go, because you might like more sage or thyme.’’
Time: 4 days drying bread, 10 minutes preparation.
Precision: no need to measure.