Baking Prairie Breads

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Baking Prairie Breads

July 25, 2016

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While exploring the Sod House one is able to prepare traditional prairie foods. Here are some bread recipes that would have been made while at the stove or around the fire.

Skillet Bread

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

Set-Up:

Gather ingredients and prepare a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Make sour milk by pouring the milk and lemon juice into a small bowl. Stir and let it sit for five minutes.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium-size bowl.
  4. Add the cold vegetable shortening. Mix it with the flour by cutting it into tiny pieces with two knives.
  5. Add half of the sour milk, and mix the dough with your fingers. Keep adding sour milk and mixing just until the dough sticks together. Let the dough rest for five minutes.
  6. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch baking pan with shortening. Put the dough in the pan. Dip your fingers in flour and spread the dough evenly out in the pan.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is brown. Serve warm with butter or jam.

Ideas for More:

  • Mix in bacon or cheese into the batter.
  • Try cooking the skillet bread over a campfire.

Length of Activity:

Set up- 5 minutes
Mixing the dough-10 minutes
Bake time-35 minutes

(This serves four people)

Resource: Erdosh, George. Food and Recipes of the Westward Expansion. New York: PowerKids, 1997. Print.

 

Garden Pan Bread

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup mashed pumpkin
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter for greasing

Set-Up:

Gather ingredients and prepare a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup pumpkin, 1 cup water, and 2 eggs. Stir until well-mixed.
  4. Stir pumpkin mixture into cornmeal mixture. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently stir in ½ cup raisins and ½ cup walnuts.
  5. Use a paper towel or napkin dabbed with 1 tablespoon butter or margarine to grease skillet or baking pan.
  6. Spoon batter into skillet or baking pan.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bread is golden brown and pulls away from edges. A wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the bread will come out clean.

Ideas for More:

  • Instead of raisins try another dried fruit such as crasins or apricots
  • Try a different nut such as pecan or hazelnut

Length of Activity:

Set up- 5 minutes
Mixing the dough-10 minutes
Bake time-30 to 35 minutes

(Makes 8 to 9 servings)

Resource: Gunderson, Mary, and E. Barrie. Kavasch. American Indian Cooking before 1500. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth, 2001. Print.

 

Johnny-Cake

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups cornmeal (stoneground white or yellow)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons drippings
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk

Set-Up:

Gather ingredients and prepare a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. In a bowl mix cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. Place drippings in the center.
  3. Stir molasses into ½ cup boiling water and pour the mixture on the drippings.
  4. Stir until drippings are melted and meal mixture becomes a paste. Stir in the buttermilk and mix well.
  5. Grease the baking sheet and pour the batter onto it, spreading it evenly by tilting the sheet or by pressing with a wet hand.
  6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until dough surface is cracked and edges are browned.
  7. Remove from the pan before it cools.
  8. Serve with honey, molasses, baked beans or boiled cabbage and meat.

Ideas for More:

  • Try mixing in some fried and chopped bacon

Length of Activity:

Set up- 5 minutes
Mixing the dough-10 minutes
Bake time-20 to 30 minutes

(Makes 6 servings)

Resource: Walker, Barbara M. The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Print.

 

Churn Your Own Butter

What You’ll Need:

  • Heavy cream
  • Canning jar
  • Colander or piece of cheesecloth

Set-Up:

Gather ingredients and prepare a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. Take a canning jar and fill it one-third full of cream.
  2. Shake the jar until you feel and see the butter separate.
  3. Separate the butter from the buttermilk by straining it.
  4. Rinse the butter with cold water. Gently turn it while rinsing until the water runs clear.
  5. Put it into the refrigerator to chill.

Ideas for More:

  • Mix in salt before chilling for salted butter.

Length of Activity:

Set up- 5 minutes
Making butter- 15-20 minutes

 

Resource: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-09-01/How-to-Make-Butter-at-Home.aspx

 

 

Additional Resources:
Fertig, Judith M. Prairie Home Cooking: 400 Recipes That Celebrate the Bountiful Harvests, Creative Cooks, and Comforting Foods of the American Heartland. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Common, 1999. Print.
Fertig, Judith M. Prairie Home Breads: 150 Splendid Recipes from America’s Breadbasket. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Common, 2001. Print.