Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Range of Skill

I had the great pleasure of cooking at the 1897 Poe House this past Sunday. The E. A. Poe House (brick maker, not author) is part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.
I had a wonderful time cooking on this 1902 stove. The stove had been restored when the museum got it and it worked like a dream! It took a while to get the oven hot enough- but was easy enough to keep hot! There was almost a constant supply of wood going in the firebox to keep the range hot enough for baking.

Keeping the fire box hot!
The cooking demonstration was part of the annual Holiday Jubilee that celebrates a Victorian Christmas with period decorations, carols, hot cider, and more! I was able to dig up a great Gingerbread cookie recipe from the 1912 Mary Frances Cookbook!

While the original recipe calls for lard, I had none on hand- and just doubled the butter! To 4 tablespoons of butter I added the warm molasses that warmed on the stove almost all day giving the kitchen a great smell! Then the baking powder and flour/spice mixture. I cannot tell you how much flour I used for the entire batch- since I was adding as I was talking to visitors- but it was somewhere around a cup to 1 1/2 cups in addition to the 1/2 cup added with the spices.
Dough being mixed up!
 The dough is very soft- and rolls out very easily on a well floured surface- be careful it will stick if you do not have enough flour down on your rolling surface! I was using a large cookie cutter (think big biscuit size) so I was able to get about 6 cookies out with each batch. I have no photos of the rolling/cutting out since I was trying to take them while there were no visitors in the kitchen. I did however snag this one of me from the museums page!
I should make better faces for photos!

The cookies went into a 300-350* degree oven for around 10-ish minutes- I checked them before removing them since you lost heat from the oven every time the door opened.  Out would pop 6 fresh cookies! They were cut and served up for the visitors to sample! There were many positive comments on how they turned out!

Fresh cookies!

Did I mention that I had a great kitchen helper come with me? My dear sweet husband ended up staying all day and helped out in the kitchen!  I had planned on make a Christmas pudding from and 1897 recipe I had found. But, after discovering I had left part of the ingredients at home (over an hour away) we improvised (SSSSHHHH...)
DH working on the pudding!

We started with a butter/sugar base and added 2 eggs. From there about 1 tablespoon of molasses- then about 2 cups of sifted flour with some cinnamon and nutmeg. There was some milk added and raisins- I have to admit I just started the mix- and DH finished it- so there were no exact measures and we mixed until it "looked right". There was about 1/2 cup of apple cider added as well (think about my cider cake).  We ended up with a thick cake batter and into the oven it went. DH also set out to make a sauce to over the pudding- it was mostly milk & powdered sugar with a little butter and molasses added.  What ended up was something amazing!

The Christmas Pudding

Sadly, DH and I both know that we will never be able to replicate what came out of the oven and on to the plate- but it was a glorious pudding! It was similar to a cake- but that sauce on top is what made it divine! There was nothing left of it by the end of the demo- everyone was amazed and how nice it was!  

The day ended with the stove cooling off and the dishes being washed- but all in all it was a great day for baking!

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