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Willliam J. Hopkins

The Baking Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and it was painted white and had green blinds; and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One morning the old rooster had crowed very early, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John and Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah had come down-stairs and done their work. It was Saturday morning, and that was baking day; so, when they had all finished breakfast, and Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis had cleared up the things and washed the dishes, they got ready for the baking.

The chimney was a great enormous chimney that went all across the end of the kitchen. And beside the big fireplace was an iron door that opened into the oven. For the oven was a big hole in the chimney, beside the fireplace; and right in the middle of the chimney, behind the fireplace, was a great big hole, as big as a closet, and at the back was a little door that was just big enough for people to go in. In this closet in the chimney they used to build a fire sometimes, and hang hams and fish over it in the smoke.

When they were ready to begin, Aunt Deborah opened the door to the oven, and she took some wood that Uncle John had brought in, and she built a fire right in the oven. Then she took up some coals from the fireplace and lighted the fire in the oven and shut the door. And the fire burned and the oven got hot. And once in awhile Aunt Deborah opened the door and put in some more wood.

Then, while the fire was burning in the oven and getting the oven hot, Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis took flour and butter and lard and water, and they mixed them together just the right way, and made some dough. And they rolled the dough out thin, with a long wooden roller, and they folded it over and rolled it out again, and did that over and over until they thought it was right. Then they spread the thin dough out on the bottom of some plates that were middle-sized deep.

And Aunt Deborah had some apples all ready, with the skin cut off and the cores cut out, and the nice part of the apples cut up into slices. And some of the apples she had stewed in water until they were all soft, and some she hadn't.

First she put some of the stewed apples in the plates on top of the thin dough, and put in a little sugar and some cinnamon and some nutmeg on top of some; and on some she didn't put any cinnamon or any nutmeg. Then she laid another thin piece of dough over the top of the apples, and she made little marks with a fork all around the edge, and she cut holes in the top with a knife.

Then, in other plates she put the apples that were not stewed, and a lot of sugar, and thin dough on top, the same way. Those were apple pies, and they were three kinds.


Then Aunt Deborah made some squash pies, and put in on the dough that was on the bottom of the plates some of the inside of squashes that she had cooked over the fire. The very inside of squashes is soft and full of seeds, and that part isn't good to eat; but just next to the seeds is the part that is good. And spices and a lot of things were mixed with the squash to make it taste better. There wasn't any thin dough put over the top of the squash pies, but just a thin strip around the edge. And there were other kinds of pies besides the apple and the squash, and when they were made, there were so many that they covered the tops of both the tables, for Uncle Solomon and Uncle John liked pies.

Then Aunt Deborah thought the oven was hot enough, and she opened the door of the oven, and with a long rake she pulled the fire out into a big pan and put it into the fireplace. Then she put into the oven all the pies it would hold, and she shut the door; and the pies were baking in the oven, it was so hot, though there wasn't any fire in it. And when those pies had been in the oven for awhile, they were all done, and Aunt Deborah pulled them out with a kind of shovel and set them down in front of the fire, and she put other pies in; and so she did until all the pies were baked.


Then she put coals in the oven again, and a little wood, to get the oven hotter, for it had cooled, baking so many pies.

When she first came down that morning, Aunt Deborah had mixed some bread, and had set it in a big pan near the fire, to rise; and now it had risen enough, and she took it out of the big pan. And while the oven was getting hot again, she put the bread on a smooth board and rolled it around and pushed it with her hands. That is what they call kneading.

Then she took some square pans that were deep, and she put some of the bread in each pan and set them down by the fire again. And pretty soon the oven was hot enough, and the fire was raked out, and the bread was put in. By that time it was time to get dinner ready, and Aunt Deborah left the bread in the oven while she got dinner. For the oven was getting cooler all the time, and the bread would not get burned.

So, when the bread was done, Aunt Deborah took it out and wrapped it in a cloth until it was cool. And Aunt Phyllis put all the pies in the buttery. Then they had enough pies and enough bread to last them all a whole week, and they would not bake any more until the next Saturday.

And that's all.