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    Baking Bread The Way Early Americans Did

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    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    Baking Bread The Way Early Americans Did

    Have you ever thought about how people baked bread before the convenience of modern electric ovens? You might think they used a brick oven or maybe even a bake kettle. But actually, most American farmers of the 17th century didn't even have those luxuries. Instead, they used a large cast iron pot.

    How do you use a cast iron pot to bake bread? That is the topic of this video by Townsends, a Youtuber who is an expert at primitive cooking and pioneer living. In this video, he walks you through the process of baking bread the way early Americans did.

    For this demonstration, he makes a rye and Indian bread. In early America, these ingredients were inexpensive and fairly easy to acquire. Here's what to do.

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    Step 1: Mix equal parts Indian cornmeal and rye flour.

    Indian Cornmeal and Rye Flour

    Step 2: Add a handful of salt and mix it all up.

    Handful of Salt

    Step 3: Soak some yeast in warm water and add it to the rest.

    Add Yeast to Flour

    Step 4: Add some water, then mix it up. No need to overwork it.

    Mixing the Dough

    Step 5: Now form it into a ball. It should hold its shape but still be pretty moist.

    Ball of Dough

    Step 6: Put the dough somewhere warm and let it rise for 4 to 8 hours.

    Step 7: Get a cast iron pot that can hold about 5 gallons. Something like this:

    Old Cast Iron Pot

    Step 8: What you need now is a hearth, which is a floor of bricks. It could be the bottom of your fireplace, or it could be a hearth you built outside. Build a fire on the hearth to heat up the bricks, and set the pot by the fire to heat it up, too.

    Fire Over Hearth

    Step 9: Check to see if your dough is ready. It should look something like this:

    Dough After Rising

    Step 10: Use a shovel to remove all the ash and coals from your hearth.

    Clearing Coal Away

    Step 11: Once you've swept away all the ash, place the bread directly on the hearth and put the cast iron pot upside down over it:

    Bread on Hearth

    Step 12: Place some straw, twigs, and leaves on the pot in order to build a slow fire that will keep the pot nice and warm.

    Twigs Leaves On Pot

    Step 13: Bake the bread for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Check on it regularly. When it's done, it should look like this:

    Baked Bread

    Watch the video below for more details and advice on cooking this bread.

    This video is just a small sampling of the old world cooking techniques on the Townsends Youtube channel. Be sure to check out his other videos.

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      3 thoughts on “Baking Bread The Way Early Americans Did”

      1. How did you research this? It is an interesting method, but they certainly would not have used commercial yeast and risen the dough in so short of time. And which early Americans are you describing?

        • He didn’t research this. The information comes right from Townsends YouTube channel. For the record You cab use any kind of flour. Just don’t burn your bread like he did.


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