Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
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.
Step 2: Add a handful of salt and mix it all up.
Step 3: Soak some yeast in warm water and add it to the rest.
Step 4: Add some water, then mix it up. No need to overwork it.
Step 5: Now form it into a ball. It should hold its shape but still be pretty moist.
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:
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.
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Step 9: Check to see if your dough is ready. It should look something like this:
Step 10: Use a shovel to remove all the ash and coals from your hearth.
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:
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.
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:
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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