Comments On Article: The Diary Of Sarah February 14 - 20, 1932
What does Sarah mean when she says "set the sponge for bread" was it starting the yeast and loaf? Or did they use sourdough? Does anyone know?
I find the cooking she does fascinating.
Grandma Donna wrote, Laura B, during this time of 1932 yeast was sold fresh in small blocks. They sold it like this for many years and then came along dry yeast and instant yeast. Here where we live it is very difficult to find fresh yeast and very expensive. So I have to use the instant yeast which is basically dried yeast or called instant yeast or rapid rise yeast. Which basically is a instant version of a sponge. I looked to find a recipe they would have used during this time.
The sponge is normally the gooey mixture that is the leavening to make the bread dough. Sometimes you feed the sponge and give it time to bubble and then use it for making the bread.
1932 Article from the state that Sarah lived, Ohio. Yeast starter for Bread
Materials: 2 or 3 medium sized potatoes, 2 quarts of water. 1 Cup flour. 2 cakes yeast. 2 tablespoons sugar. 1-2 cup warm water.
Boil potatoes in water. When done mash fine. Add flour, alternating with hot potato water. Add enough liquid to make a total of two quarts. Then add yeast and sugar which have been dissolved in one - half cup of warm water. Let rise over night in warm place. This makes enough for three large loaves, after taking out one pint for the next "starter". For next baking follow above procedure, using starter in place of yeast cakes. This will last indefinitely if kept in cool place.
Thank you. So it wasn’t sourdough but it was yeast kept alive in a similar way. I think we can still buy fresh yeast from the bakery section of a big supermarket. Certainly we could a few years ago.
All those pies! I wonder how big her oven was, and if she had a double oven. Also, I may have missed it elsewhere, but I don't see her mentioning what they do for lunch. Leftovers? Each man for himself?
When I was going to school, we could leave the campus and go home for lunch; even first graders could leave for lunch. My mother cooked a full breakfast for us before school, cooked a hot lunch (often called dinner) to be ready for us when we walked home at noon, and cooked supper (always called supper) to be ready by 5:30 or 6, for when my dad got home. She spent so much of the day in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up.
On the question about lunch -- for farm family's lunch was a large, cooked meal. It was often referred to as dinner and the evening meal was supper. When everyone works hard every day, three hardy cooked meals were necessary for fueling that work.
I meant to comment last week, but got a reminder with this week's diary post, please note that a bath was taken on Saturday evening in preparation for Church on Sunday. One bath a week was typical. Of course, most people washed up daily, but the bath was weekly. Also, when water was carried into the house and had to be heated, more than one family member likely used that water.
Goodness...February 20th! 8 pies, 2 tubs of donuts, extra cleaning in several rooms and then topped the day off by making a cake.
I feel like an underachiever by comparison, although I think I'll take these feelings and do something about it. Perhaps a time study for a day or two? Even on my most productive days, not nearly as much is accomplished.
I couldn't help but think there houses must of smelled so yummy all the time and all the satisfaction they got in a solid hard days worth of work. My grandparents would say they always slept good unless it was stormy.
I have to say I have never made doughnuts, Would they be deep-fried or more of a baked item? Popcorn is a regular afternoon snack here. I make it in my biggest big pot with butter and salt and the children never tire of it. Such a cheap snack and about as quick and easy as it gets.
These studies have been making me look very closely at my grocery shopping, and I am pleased to say that though I was already very careful, it is coming down. However, I confess that baking in summer is not my favourite task. I am in awe of the big baking days that seemed to be done so regularly. We hope to build an undercover deck this year and on it we will put a big second-hand wood oven we were given by family when they moved, which I hope to use for the bulk of my summer cooking.
I am wondering how she stores all these pumpkin pies! I refrigerate mine, as well as any fruit pies. Cakes, cookies etc, wouldn't need refrigeration. I supposed the house has an out kitchen and the pies could easily be stored there in cold weather, but what about warm or hot days? I will be curious to see if her baking habits change with the weather.
Andrea B, I also thought her house must smell wonderful on her big baking day!
From what I've learned and walking thru old houses most of them had a cold storage area, but a home we volunteered at (Monteith House in Albany, Oregon) that I had an opportunity to cook in several times over a wood fireplace had a cold storage area, outdoor cold storage area and a root cellar. I had learned that most of the pies were eaten within a couple of days. The Monteith house was in summer time and boy it was hot outside, but very comfortable inside because when you had open the upper back and front door along with the front door and back kitchen door it created this amazing breeze that felt like a cool fan. We also experienced the same thing when we toured near us the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in all their homes and buildings. I'm very interested in myself root cellaring, but haven't found a good book on it. If you happen to learn more about storing food that way let me know.
Grandma Donna wrote, to all, I did some research based on your comments and questions.
About food storage and keeping food cold with that many pies. I do remember in the diary somewhere Sarah asking Father to go down to the cellar or downstairs to get some sauerkraut and I believe this also might be where she keeps her pickles and other food items. Also it is very cold where they live at this time.
I did a search to find a doughnut recipe between1920 and early 1933 and found a 1932 recipe. In this weeks diary reading of Sarah talks about making a sponge before making doughnuts so that means her doughnuts are yeast donuts. There are recipes for potato doughnuts for this time as well.
I had to search for a conversion first because finding fresh yeast cubes/cakes is very difficult and that is what they were mostly using during this time for their recipes. So the conversion is 1 cube of fresh yeast = 1 package (.25 ounces) of active dry yeast. There is a more complicated version, I have not tried the conversion at this time but I will.
This recipe comes from the state of Ohio where Sarah lives in the year 1932. Yeast doughnuts,
One cup sugar, two-thirds cup butter, three eggs, two cakes yeast, six to eight cups flour, one teaspoon salt, one and one-half cups scalded milk. A bit of grated lemon rind or nutmeg. Scald the milk and, when luke-warm, add the crumbled yeast. Cream the butter and sugar and the beaten eggs. Add the salt milk and yeast and beat in the flour. Knead until smooth and place in a greased bowl. Brush the top with melted butter. When double in bulk do not work down, but turn out on a floured board and roll out. Cut into rings and allow to stand un-disturbed until light. Fry in deep hot fat. Turn only once during frying. Place a few well-drained doughnuts in a paper bag with powdered sugar and shake to coat.
(For our conversion we need to activate our active dry yeast so we need to take part of that warm milk and maybe two tablespoons of the sugar and add the active dry yeast and let it sit to start the bubbly, then we can add that into the mixture.
Another 1932 recipe that makes a smaller batch. 1 cake compressed yeast, 1 & 1/4 cup scalded milk, cooled. 1 tablespoon sugar, 4 & 1/2 cups sifted flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dissolve yeast and one tablespoon of sugar in lukewarm liquid. Add 1 & 1/2 cups flour and beat well. Cover and set aside to rise in warm place for one hour or until bubbles burst on top. Add to this butter and sugar creamed, mace eggs, well beaten, remainder of flour and salt to make a moderately soft dough. Knead lightly. Place on well-greased bowl, cover and allow to raise again in warm place for about 1 & 1/2 hours. When light turn on floured board. Roll to about 1/4 inch in thickness, cut with small cutter, cover and let rise again on floured board in warm place until light, about 45 minutes/ Drop into deep hot fat with side uppermost that has been next to board. Turn, fry to a golden brown.
As we read through the diary we will get a better idea of her home, especially when the weather warms. Grandma Donna
One other thing, we have heard of the pie safe, a piece of furniture used to keep pies, cakes and bread, sometimes covered with a screen or punch metal which is metal with holes punched for air ventilation. Then there were enamel counter top small cabinet to hold a pie or two. In the past the pie save was called a cake, pie, bread cabinet. Not sure when the name changed to pie safe. Many years ago my Father-in-law reworked and refinished a pie safe for a family member, it took him two years and it was beautiful.
Many old houses were built with better ventilation for the summer. Often windows up high that opened to help air flow through the house. Some old movies we can see this. I have a feeling that as often as Sarah made pies and doughnuts they did not stay around for very long. :)
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