Family Baking Recipes Of the Signers:
Family Recipes From and Little Known Historical Tidbits About Those Men Who So Courageously Affixed Their Names to the Declaration of Independence and Our Constitution.
Authored by Robert W. Pelton
Baking in the American Colonies was far from an easy task. The women of the house made quite an art out of baking tasty loaves of bread, pastry, pies, cakes, cookies, and all of their other homemade goodies. In those days, homemakers couldn’t always buy good flour. Almost every sack or barrel presented new baking problems. Flour always had to be tested for quality before using.
In those days, the wood heated oven was not nearly as efficient as those used today. The method of measuring oven heat in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was simple but effective. Baking was always a matter of guess. The homemaker relied on when it “felt” hot enough to bake in. If the heat was excessive, it scorched the inquiring hand.
Consider the fact that the first Colonial women didn’t have any sort of an oven in which to do her baking. Big ovens of brick, always ready for baking, had been left behind in their old homes by the settlers. In the new land bricks were scarce. There was little known clay obtainable for brick making. Certainly none along the desolate shores of the broad Atlantic where the Pilgrims landed. And the Colonists were not at first equipped to manufacture bricks. So the Pilgrim mothers did their baking either in Dutch ovens of tin, set facing the open fire on the stone hearth with a tin shield to ward off the flames, or in an iron kettle with squat legs and a depression in the cover for hot coals to give the top heat.”
Most recipes found in cookbooks of the Colonial period were written as a descriptive paragraph. The paragraph contained all the ingredients needed, correct amounts to use, and how to properly mix them. Unlike today’s recipes, it didn’t have an orderly list of ingredients followed by simple instructions for preparing the cake, bread, or whatever was to be baked. On the other hand, many recipes handed down through a family were merely a handwritten list of ingredients without instructions telling what to do with them. Homemakers in the Colonies, when given such a recipe by a friend or neighbor, was expected to already know how to correctly mix the ingredients.
The Colonial homemaker depended on homemade yeast that varied greatly in strength from batch to batch. She made both liquid yeast and yeast cakes. Liquid yeast was commonly made and then bottled and stored until needed.
Butter made in the Colonies was always heavily salted. The woman of the house had to carefully rinse the salt from her butter before using it for baking. Butter was sometimes in short supply in the Colonies. When the woman of the house wanted to bake and had no butter on hand, she simply substituted finely ground salt pork as her shortening.
Yes, baking in the American Colonies was far from an easy task.
8" x 10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
ISBN-13: 978-1456406165 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
BISAC: Cooking / History