Recipes From My Kitchen
When I was in my early twenties before I left the Amish the second and final time, I taught in one-room school. To make ends meet, I started a little baking business in the summers. I sold my goods outside the auction barn in Middlefield, Ohio every Monday.
Some years later, when my boys were young, I started an in-home bakery business so that I could be an at-home mother and still help with the family income. I started out by delivering the baked goods to people’s homes. When that got to be too much, I started having people come to my house to pick them up. Eventually I could no longer handle the volume, so I sold my bread, pies, and cookies through the local supermarket (Shelburne Supermarket, in Shelburne, Vermont). But alas, once I no longer had people coming to my home, I found this a solitary profession, which was not a good match, with me being the extrovert that I am. I found the bread dough would not talk back — the radio just talked at me — and when my husband came home for lunch the bread dough got more attention than he did. The lack of intellectual stimulation and interaction with people was eventually what led me to the burnout phase, which is why I quit.
My customers flattered me by telling me how much they were in withdrawal when I quit baking. I kept promising them I would write a cookbook. More than ten years have gone by and I’ve done many things, but that is not one of them. One day when I was making a strawberry-rhubarb pie, I had the idea of adding a recipe page to my website. Now if I can find the people who used to be my customers to let them know about this, I will have fulfilled my promise, albeit in a different manner than I had anticipated.
I will start with strawberry-rhubarb pie, since it’s that time of year and that is what inspired this idea. If you are a former customer of mine and know others who are also, please send them my best, along with a link to my website.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water 3 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup water
Sugar to taste (about 1/2 cup)
2-3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
Crust for bottom and top crusts (top should have plenty of holes for steam to escape)
1 T half n’ half
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil in large saucepan. Add diced rhubarb and bring to a boil. In the meantime, combine the cornstarch, cinnamon, and the rest of the water in a bowl. When the liquid around the rhubarb begins to bubble and boil, add the cornstarch mixture all at once, and stir vigorously until it thickens (It should be quite thick at this point.) Remove from burner. Add sugar to taste. (It is very important for this sugar to be added at this point and not with the water in the beginning, otherwise the cornstarch will not thicken the sauce properly.) You will find that the sauce will become glossier and thinner. Fold in the strawberries. Wet the edges of the bottom crust of the pie and coat the top crust with half n’ half so the crust bakes to a golden brown. Turn the filling into the pie, place the top crust over it, and pinch down the edges of the pie, all around, so it will not separate (the water you spread on the edges will act like glue if you make sure to seal it all around.) Trim the edges, flute them, and place the pie into the middle of the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool to lukewarm. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Pie Crust Made Simple
4 oz. frozen lard, cut into slices or small chunks
4 oz. (one stick) frozen butter, sliced
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
Water as needed
Sift flour and salt into food processor. Add lard and butter and process until no chunks of fat are left in the crumbs. For a two-crust pie, measure 2 and 1/2 cups of crumbs into a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of cold water, and mix only until dough forms. (Use more water if needed, 1 T. a time. If dough is too moist, dunk it into the dry crumbs, and work them into the dough until the right consistency). Form two balls of dough and roll out. Freeze remaining crumbs for later use. Simply add water and roll out when you want to make pie crust later.
Note: I keep lard and butter frozen in 4 oz. sections, so that when I want to make pie crusts they are ready to use.
The name of my baking business was Saloma’s Bread, but when people talked about my bread, they universally called it “Saloma Bread.” The favorite among many of my customers was my oatmeal bread. I wish I could remember where I first found this recipe, but all I know is that I’ve been making this recipe of oatmeal bread almost as long as I’ve been baking bread (since I was twelve years old). In my original home, we carried on the Amish tradition of cleaning and baking on Saturdays. That is when I would try out new recipes as well as the tried and true ones. My oatmeal bread recipe has become a trusty one, so when I teach someone how to bake bread, I often use this recipe. The bread comes out moist with a soft crust.
2 cups quick oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 T. salt
4 T. butter
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. plus 1 tsp. dry yeast (not in packets, but from the local food coop)
7 cups sifted flour (I only use King Arthur)
Mix oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and mix. Let sit until lukewarm. (The temperature is crucial here -- if it’s too hot when you mix in the yeast, which is the next step, you will kill the yeast.) In the meantime, mix lukewarm water and remaining brown sugar and stir. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow to sit until it becomes bubbly. See “note about temperature for the yeast.” When the oatmeal mixture is the right temperature, add the yeast and stir. Sift flour, then measure out seven cups (the order is important -- 7 cups of flour before it’s sifted is not the sam as 7 cups after it’s sifted). Add one cup of flour at a time, and stir vigorously between each addition. (I stir 100 strokes between each cup). When the dough is too stiff to stir, spread one cup of flour onto the counter and turn the dough onto the flour. Knead for 10 minutes, adding a tiny bit of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. Be gentle with the dough, so it becomes smooth and elastic. The right movement is a rhythmic turn, bend, push. When the dough is smooth and not too sticky, grease the bowl you removed it from. Put the dough in upside down, then turn over, to grease both the top and the bottom. Cover with a cotton cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about one hour). If you want to make rolls, grease a pan and shape the rolls into the size you want. Let rise in a warm place until they are double the size you started with. For bread, form the dough into three loaves and let sit while you grease three loaf pans. Reform the dough, pushing the air out and place into the pans. Let rise until desired size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place rolls or bread into the middle of the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees immediately. (The hot temperature will kill the yeast, which will help keep the shape.) Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes -- bread for 40-45 or until golden brown. Remove from baking pans and cool to lukewarm. Serve warm, with or without butter. Yields about 2 dozen rolls or 3 loaves of bread.
Note about temperature for the yeast:
The temperature of the water or mixture you add yeast to is crucial for the yeast to work properly. If it’s too cold, it will take longer to rise, but it’s too hot, you will kill the yeast and it won’t rise at all. So, how do can you tell what is the right temperature? If you have a thermometer, it should be between 90 and 110 degrees, which is somewhere between tepid and lukewarm. The best way to tell is if you take your little finger and hold it in the middle of the mixture for 10 seconds and the temperature feels the same -- if it feels like it gets warmer as you hold it there, it is probably too warm. If it feels like you could give a newborn baby a bath in it, then it’s probably just right.
1 baked pie crust
1 heaping quart of the freshest and sweetest strawberries you can find
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 small box strawberry gelatin
Whipped cream topping:
1 cup whipping or heavy cream, whipped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Wash, stem, and slice the strawberries. Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup water to make a paste. Stir into boiling water and sugar. When it boils and thickens, remove from heat. Mixture should be nice and clear and thick. Add strawberry gelatin (dry) and stir. Pour over sliced strawberries and turn into pie shell. Chill for several hours. Top with whipped cream and keep chilled until served.
I use real pumpkins for this recipe. I choose the “sugar pie pumpkins” when they are deep orange, for then they are ripe. This variety is smaller than the run-of-the-mill pumpkins for carving, or what we used to call “cow pumpkins.”
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the pumpkin. Take off the stem. Cut the pumpkin in half, then each half into thirds. Scrape out the seeds and pulp. (A canning jar lid works really well for this.) Cut each slice in half and layer the pieces into a glass baking pan. Cover the bottom with water and bake until the flesh is soft when pricked with a fork. (There should be no resistance to piercing it.) Cool enough to handle the pieces. Peel off the skin, and put the pumpkin into a food processor. When the processor is two-thirds full, process the pumpkin until smooth. Repeat until all the pumpkin is processed. Now you are ready to make the pie.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together in electric mixer:
2 cups mashed pumpkin
Add and mix:
2 T. molasses
1 cup sugar
1 heaping T. cornstarch
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (this is best when bought at your local food Co-op)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Add and mix again:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half n’ half
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell, frozen (see pie crust recipe above)
To get a full pie, fill the pie to within one-half inch of the top and place in oven at a level below the middle. Then pour the rest of the filling into the pie in the oven with a measuring cup.Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 50 minutes, or until the middle of the pie is solid. Cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
If you have leftover pumpkin, you can make a pumpkin roll. For a delicious recipe, I suggest clicking on this link to The Mennobrarian’s blog.
Photo by Saloma Miller Furlong
Anna's Amish Baked Goods
The summer of 2012 started a whole new baking chapter in my life. That is when Anna Miller, a young woman who left her Amish community stepped into my life. She used many of the same recipes I had used many years ago when I was baking professionally.
One of the recipes that Anna perfected is the one for sticky buns. Many of her customers here in the Pioneer Valley have requested the recipe for them. I promised I would post it here. But first I need to post the recipe that I inherited from my mother for white bread, for that is the dough that Anna used for the sticky buns.
Mem's White Bread
Mix together in a large mixing bowl:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups hot milk
Proofing the yeast:
1 cup lukewarm water (The same temperature as you would use to give a newborn baby a bath)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
While the hot milk is dissolving the sugar and melting the butter, proof the yeast until it becomes nice and foamy. Meanwhile, cool the milk mixture with ice cubes until it becomes lukewarm. (If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast). When it becomes lukewarm (same as for proofing the yeast), add the yeast mixture and stir.
Sift flour into the milk mixture. At first it will be lumpy, until you add more flour and then it should become nice and smooth. Beat well, and keep sifting about a cup in at a time. The more you stir it at this point, the easier it will be to knead the dough later. When the dough forms a ball, it is ready to be kneaded. I turn it out onto a clean counter with sifted flour on it to knead it. Anna actually kneaded the dough right in the bowl. If you do this, then you need a bowl that is a lot bigger than the dough, so you can work it better.
The amount of flour is approximately 6 cups. You want the dough to be soft and yielding, but not sticky. I knead my dough for 10 minutes after I've stirred in all the flour that I can.
Turn dough into a greased bowl and cover with a clean, lint-free towel. Let rise about an hour, then punch down and let rise again for 45 minutes.
The dough is now ready to form into loaves or rolls. Or you can make it into sticky buns (see recipe below). I've broken Anna's recipe down into what will yield three 9-inch pans of sticky buns.
A batch of Mem's White Bread
Softened butter (about a stick)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Sticky Bun Stuff (recipe below)
Mix together and bring to a boil:
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 T. corn syrup
2 T. water
1 T. vanilla
Pour the sticky bun syrup into three nine-inch pie pans. Add pecans or walnuts if desired. Mix together the white sugar and cinnamon and set it aside.
Grease a clean counter with butter. Without punching down the dough, place it on the greased counter. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Smather this dough with soft butter. Pour the white sugar and cinnamon over that and spread it all over the dough. Roll it up like a jelly roll. Take a cutting board and slide it under the "tube." Cut the roll into slices, just under two inches thick. Place in the pie pans with the sticky bun syrup. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sticky buns low into the oven, second to the bottom rack. Bake for 5 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown (about 35-40 minutes).
Remove from oven and let sit five minutes. Turn a large plate upside down over the top of the pan of sticky buns and turn over. The sticky buns should separate from the pan. Scrape any excess syrup and spread over the top of the buns.
Serve while warm.