1. Introducing Family Baking Recipes Of the Signers………………….. 13
2. Food Availability in Colonial America …………………… ……… 21
3. Bread Baking in the Homes of the Signers 29
4. Sweet Breads as Made in Colonial Homes 49
5. Corn Bread Baking as Done for Our Forefathers 61
6. Sweet Rolls & Coffecakes Early American Style 81
7. Biscuit Baking as Done in Colonial Kitchens 91
8. Homemade Crackers as Made for Our Founders 109
9. Roll Baking as Done by Colonial Women 121
10. Muffin Baking from Kitchens in the Colonies 137
11. Bun Baking Secrets of Signer’s Wives and Mothers 159
12. Layer Cakes as Eaten by the Signers 171
13. Cake Varieties Baked by Our Colonial Ancestors 187
14. Cookie Favorites Before and During the Revolution 213
15. Pie Crusts and Pastries Made by Families of the Signers 243
16. Pie and Tart Fillings Prepared by Women of the House 255
I: Old Time Measurements and Today's Counterparts 279
Baking in the American Colonies was far from an easy task. The women of the house made quite an art out of baking tasty loaves of bread, pastry, pies, cakes, cookies, and all of their other homemade goodies. In those days, homemakers couldn’t always buy good flour. Almost every sack or barrel presented new baking problems. Flour always had to be tested for quality before using.
Here’s how Mary Chew wrote it in her old receipt notes ledger in 1765. Miss Chew became the wife of William Paca (1740-1799) of Maryland in 1761. He would later sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776:
“As good a test of flour as can be had at sight, is to take up a handful and squeeze it tight; if good, when the hand is unclasped, the lines on the palm of the hand will be plainly defined on the ball of flour. Throw a little lump of dried flour against a smooth surface, if it falls like powder, it is bad.”
In those days, the wood heated oven was not nearly as efficient as those used today. The method of measuring oven heat in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was simple but effective. Baking was always a matter of guess. The homemaker relied on when it “felt” hot enough to bake in. If the heat was excessive, it scorched the inquiring hand.
Consider the fact that the first Colonial women didn’t have any sort of an oven in which to do her baking. As pointed out in the EARLY AMERICAN COOKBOOK:
“Big ovens of brick, always ready for baking, had been left behind in their old homes by the settlers. In the new land bricks were scarce. There was little known clay obtainable for brick making. Certainly none along the desolate shores of the broad Atlantic where the Pilgrims landed. And the Colonists were not at first equipped to manufacture bricks. So the Pilgrim mothers did their baking either in Dutch ovens of tin, set facing the open fire on the stone hearth with a tin shield to ward off the flames, or in an iron kettle with squat legs and a depression in the cover for hot coals to give the top heat.”
Cookbooks used in the Colonies were initially brought over from England. One of the first to be reprinted in the colonies was THE COMPLEAT HOUSEWIFE, OR ACCOMPLISHED GENTLEWWOMAN’S COMPANION written by E. Smith. William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, reprinted this in 1742.
THE ART OF COOKERY MADE PLAIN AND EASY by Hannah Glasse, was published in 1747 and became a favorite of Colonial homemakers for many years. It contained this recipe that is attributed to the mother of Sarah Hatfield. Sarah was but 21 when she married Abraham Clark (1726-1794) in 1749. Clark later gained a measure of fame as one of the 56 heroic signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s how Sarah wrote it: “Tasty Cakes of Ginger Bread. Take whole Pound Butter, three Pounds Flour, whole Pound Sugar. Beat 2 Ounces finely beaten Ginger till it is fine powder. . Grate big Nutmeg. Put with other ingredients; then take whole Pound Molasses, a Coffeecupful Cream. Heat Molasses and Cream together. Work dough for Bread till stiff. Lay on Board with little Flour. Roll to thin Cookies. Cut in rounds with small glass turned over or Teacup. Or roll to ball in hands the size of Hickory Nut. Lay on Bake Pan. Bake in slack Oven.”
Then in 1772, Susannah Carter’s THE FRUGAL HOUSEWIFE OR FEMALE COMPANION was reprinted in Boston. Paul Revere made the printing plates for her cookbook. This was most popular with, and could be found in the homes of, many of the wives and mothers of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Robert W. Pelton has been writing and lecturing for more than 45 years on historical, , humor and other subjects. He has published numerous articles and more than 100 books including the sensational exposé Unwanted Dead or Alive – The Greatest Act of Treason in Our History – The betrayal of American POWs Following World War 11, Korea and Vietnam; and an unsurpassed two volume exposé The McCarthy Chronicles Part 1 Treason and Part 2 Traitors. He has also published humor titles including Loony Laws Passed by Apparently Brain Dead Legislators and Strange Laws Related to Dating & Marriage All Governments Make When They Have Nothing Better To Do.
Pelton has carefully mined hundreds of sources for historical cooking and baking recipes from the early days of America. He has perused innumerable old cookbooks as well as yellowed and tattered handwritten receipt ledgers from both private and public archives and libraries. Through all this, he has been able to skillfully recreate these recipe treasures of the past in 10 historical cook books. His latest are titled Cooking & Baking During the War of Northern Aggression – Special Southern Edition; Historical Thanksgiving Cooking and Baking; and Family Baking Recipes of the Signers.
Robert W. Pelton proudly claims a heritage going all the way back to well before the War for American Independence. One of Mr. Pelton’s ancestors, John Rogers, came to America on the Mayflower and was one of 41 signers of the Mayflower Compact.
Another, John Smith was one of the founders of Jamestown.
Peleg Pelton served as the fifer in the Continental Army at age 18 during the Battle of Saratoga (1777) and again in Yorktown (1781).
Captain Peter Hager was Commander of the Old Stone Fort in Schoharie, New York, in 1780.
Another, Captain Bezaleel Tyler fought in the only Revolutionary War Battle taking place in Sullivan County, New York. Here he fought against Mohawk Chief Thayendeneges, who was also known by the name of Joseph Brant,
Mr. Pelton is a member of Sons of the Revolution (SOR), and Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).
For a Power Point Presentation covering the Words, Dreams, Beliefs, and Aspirations of Our Founding Fathers or Cooking and Baking in the American Colonies contact Mr. Pelton at 910-339-5354; or 865-776-6644; or by e-mail at: