Best Bread & Breadstuff Recipes
Pennsylvania Germans (Dutch), baking is art. It begins
with the early settlers. They make their own yeast, use whatever
kind of flour is available, and bake in primitive ovens! In
those early days, bread and soup are often the only food, so the
bread had to be good. Even in those primitive conditions, they
expect bread to be crisp, golden on the outside, soft, and moist
inside. Their saying is if they found holes in the bread, "the
baker is in it."
For those Pennsylvania
Germans, Friday becomes baking day. Their folklore considers
Friday a luck day. What better day to make baking day, than the
lucky day. More importantly, tradition places certain rules
about bread that include:
You never place bread
upside down on the table or the family will quarrel.
You never place bread on
its sides or the angels will weep.
When a family moves, you
send a bread loaf with a broom ahead to ward off
When you move, you carry
the dough trough into the house before anything else to
assure the family of food.
When you start yeast, you
put the names of three capable women into the pot to make
sure of perfect bread.
You keep the homemade
yeast in the "stoz crock" on the kitchen shelf and
stir into the flour at night. Then the dough is set to rise.
Early in the morning, you knead the dough, shape the loaves,
and carry them outside to the bake oven.
During the pioneer days, the
bake house is plaster masonry, with a tile-roofed shed across
the front. This protects the baker and loaves from bad weather.
Shelves ranges down the sides of the shed for the loaves as they
came from the oven. They elevate the oven for convenience. They
construct the oven with brick, and the door is iron.
Early in the morning on
baking day, they build a cordwood fire inside and allow it to
burn furiously until reduced to ashes. Using a "Kitch,"
they shovel out the ashes, and swab the oven floor with the
Huddel Lumpa, and they are ready to bake.
They transfer the loaves with
a paddle-shaped, long-handled Schiesel to the oven's
bricks and the baking begins. Usually some wood ash stuck to the
bottom crust, but they consider it a way to improve the flavor
of the bread.
While the bread baked, they
made their pies and cakes. When the bread came out and the
loaves were cooling, the pies went in. As the heat of the oven
slowly dwindle, they place trays of fruit inside to dry. By the
time the bake oven cools, they fill the shelves with golden
brown bread loaves, an array of sticky buns or a crumb-covered
coffee cake, and many more baked goodies.
The tantalizing baking aroma
pulls the children to the bake oven. There are little pie shells
filled a little milk or molasses and a touch of spices produced
Flitche. They devour them with zest and now it is their duty
to carry the loaves, pies, and cakes into the farmhouse.
Modern kitchen stoves make
baking easier. However, the amount and variety of baking done is
still impressive. However, you find there is more to bread dough
than just the bread to Pennsylvania Germans. With a twist here
and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, they produce the most
luscious poppy-seed rolls, cinnamon buns, "Deutsch" cakes, and
the like, that you can imagine.
hot and buttery, these confections cross the border between
bread and cake so wantonly that it is hard to classify. You
discover "cakes" enclosed in pie crust and they are rolled or
twisted. To the Pennsylvania German, the word "cake" means many