Today I made pioneer bread with Sister Johnson in the Family Living Center. The center is a large building in historic Nauvoo, with displays and hands-on learning about daily life in Nauvoo in the 1840’s. You can learn how to bake ash bread, candles, a barrel tight enough to hold liquid, or how to spin yarn, weave rugs, or throw a decorative pot.
In the 1840’s most Nauvoo residents lived in log cabins. Their kitchens were next to the fireplace in one corner of the cabin. Cook stoves were available for purchase from St. Louis, but most Nauvoo residents could not afford them.
Let’s make some pioneer bread! First we need to build a fire in the bustle oven to get the bricks nice and hot.
While the bricks heat up, we will make the bread dough with a little of this and a little of that. We stirred the dry ingredients; 2 T yeast, 1 C sugar, 1 C powdered milk and 1/2 C potatoe flakes in a large bowl to mix them together. Then we stirred in 5 C warm water.
Next we mixed in 5 C wheat flour and 6 C bread flour just until the flour was wet in most areas and began to make a ball. Then we sprinkled 1/2 C oil and 1 heaping T salt over the top, covered the bowl and let it rest 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the moist ingredients. Then you scoop the dough out onto a canvas and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Next we will turn it out on our canvas, and cut it into 6 -8 loaves. Each little loaf is pinched and pushed (never punched) and gently formed and rolled into a small round loaf.
While we were getting the loaves ready, the fire was removed from the oven and the brick interior was allowed to cool down to the ideal temperature of 420 degrees. The first batch will bake for about 20 minutes. The second batch of bread will bake longer because the bricks are beginning to cool down.
Two of these loaves will go to the new missionary couples arriving tomorrow. We carry on the tradition of our pioneer ancestors who brought fresh bread to those in need arriving daily from all parts of the world in old Nauvoo. Jesus Christ is referred to in the Bible as the Bread of Life, and isn’t he the staple that we all need to be fed and have eternal life? “John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger;..”