Recipe for Fresh Baked Bread Takes a Lot of Work

article image
Fresh-baked bread was a way of life in the 1800s, but it was also hard work.

This recipe for fresh baked bread was taken from a cookbook published in 1832. Seems to us that the woman who followed this recipe needed a whole day with nothing else to do and a pair of good strong biceps.

“Put a bushel of flour in a trough or a large pan; with your fist make a deep hole in the center thereof; put a pint of good fresh yeast into this hollow; add thereto two quarts of warm water and work in with these as much of the flour as will serve to make a soft smooth kind of batter. Strew this over with just enough flour to hide it. Then cover up the trough with its lid or with blanket to keep all warm.

“When the leaven has risen sufficiently to cause the flour to crack all over its surface, throw in a handful of salt, work all together; add just enough lukewarm soft water to enable you to work the whole into a firm, compact dough, and after having kneaded this with your fists until it becomes stiff and comparatively tough, shake a little flour over it and again cover it with a blanket to keep it warm in order to assist its fermentation.

“If properly managed, the fermentation will be accomplished in rather less than half an hour. Meanwhile that the bread is being thus prepared, you will have heated your oven to a satisfactory degree of heat with a sufficient quantity of dry, small wood fagots; and when all the wood is burnt, sweep out the oven clean from all ashes. Divide your dough into four-pound loaves, knead them into round shapes, making a hole at the top with your thumb, and immediately put them out of hand into the oven to bake, closing the oven door upon them. In about two hours’ time they will be thoroughly baked, and are then to be taken out of the oven and allowed to become quite cold before they are put away in the cupboard.”

Pearl Speck
Vici, Oklahoma

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.