Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Homestead Diaries | Ginger and Molasses

Well here I am with the second official Homestead Diaries post!  I got a lot of enthusiasm in the comments on my first post, so it looks like you all want me to go ahead with the series!  Alrighty then.  Let's get started.

Today, I did my first ever baking adventure with the wood stove.  After browsing the old cookbooks, I decided to try a simple ginger snap recipe dating back to 1890.

I got the stove roaring, and waited for the oven to heat up.  It usually gets to be between 350 and 400 degrees, depending on how big your fire is.

Checking to make sure it has enough wood...

As the stove was heating, I gathered all of my ingredients together and began preparing the dough.  The molasses was in the cellar, so I had to brave all those little spiders who have made their threadlike homes down there and grab the molasses and run back upstairs. *shivers*

 After some elbow grease I at last got the dough to the right consistency.  There were no mixers back then!

I cut them out with a simple, jagged edged round cutter.   There were a bunch of other shapes, but I wanted them all uniform. :)

 And then into the oven they went!  With a wood burning stove you have to gauge how long you have had your food in, and turn it around halfway through or else one side will be doughy goop and the other will be fried within an inch of its life.  And yes, I'm speaking from experience.  You do not want to see how the first pan came out. :)


Set some dishes to soak while I was waiting for my cookies...

Pussy wants to come in!  Sorry Sarah, no kitties allowed in the house!  
She's the sweetest little thing....

It looks like they're done!  Perfect!  Now we'll just get a trivet out and let them cool somewhere where little fingers can't reach them... :)

I just have to say I am so stinkin' proud of myself that I successfully baked something in that oven.  Of course, the other homemaker and I couldn't eat all those cookies ourselves, so I brought some to the ladies at the country store, and then turned the rest of them over to the ever grateful, ever obliging fellows at the blacksmith.  They told me they were delicious. :)

Now, I want a wood burning stove for myself.  I am definitely going to use one in my future home!

Oh yes, I almost forgot!  The recipe!
Ginger Snaps 

2 eggs well beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp soda
Enough flour

Mix in order given.  Turn out on a floured surface; cut into shapes.  Bake in a quick oven.

Now, don't panic.  You have to remember that this is a very old recipe, which dates back to a time when women were in the kitchen much more often, and thus knew what they were doing.  Which means that recipes were a bit vague, especially with amounts and baking times.  We will take this one step at a time.

Beat the eggs, stir in the brown sugar, molasses, and baking soda.  Add some flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough holds together and is able to be rolled out on a floured surface. When I made it I think I used about 3 1/2 cups in the end, but be your own judge.  Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/4" thickness.  Cut into shapes, and place on a greased cookie sheet, about 1 1/2" inches apart.

And now, we have the oven situation.  In the old days there was no set oven temperature which you could work with.  You could fluctuate the temperature a bit by how hot you had the fire going, but that was it.  So if you are using a modern oven I would suggest bringing it up to 375 degrees and baking the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until set.  My first batch was done in a flash, but by the time I was putting last batch in, I had let the fire go down a bit so they took longer.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

Lovely!  Now you know how to make ginger snaps the way they did in the old days.  I hope you enjoyed the post. :)

God bless,


Sarah said...

Your ginger snaps looks delicious! I loved all of the photos. The kitchen is so cozy and inviting. I wish I could stop by for a cup of tea and a cookie. : )

Rosamund Gregory said...

Oh,how lovely! Isn't reacting fun?!?!
(Now, do they allow you to do first person reenacting, or just ol' "interpreting" which is mostly explanations in costume? At our museum they like the latter.)What buildings do you have; village style, historical house, smithy, barns? And what period is it? The spinning wheel is absolutely delicious...
What a delightful series this promises to be!
~God bless, Rosamund

Miss Elizabeth said...

Yes! Reenacting is so much fun. :) Here we do interpreting, not first person :/
It's an 1880s working farm, so it has a smithy, barns, two log houses, and the main brick house along with some other random outbuildings and a woodworking shop. We have horses, donkeys, pigs, sheep, and chickens. So, not quite a village, but bigger than an average historical farm.
I'm so glad you are enjoying it!
~ Miss Elizabeth

Rosamund Gregory said...

Oh, fun, fun! We've a smithy, a barn, and an 1890' s house on the first half, with the obligatory chicken coop, corncrib, etc; on the second we have a 1860' s cabin, barn, sheep barn and the like.

Natasha Marie said...

Ooh, those look so good! Now I'm craving gingersnaps. :} How fun learning how to use a wood burning stove for cooking!
Yes, definitely keep these posts coming - I love them!

Aspirer said...

I am so glad you are keeping this up! It feels like I'm following along and going on an adventure each time! :D

God bless my dear,
♥ Aspirer

Jessica Cangiano said...

These cookies and your photos of baking them are so lovely - it's almost as though I can smell the evocative scent of spices baking by simply looking at them. I've always loved Ginger Snaps (and ginger in general), and think this post is just the reminder I need to whip up a (GF) batch this week before the summer heat settles in for good soon, and one's dessert thoughts turn more to frozen treats.

Many hugs & happy Tuesday wishes,
♥ Jessica

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