Apple Dumplings

Our most adventurous recipe so far has been boiled apple dumplings.  We started with Hannah Glasse’s recipe and modified it for individual apples, which works well.  Unless you have made apple dumplings before, we suggest you read the Hannah Glasse original instructions as well as our instructions prior to beginning this recipe.

To Make Apple Dumplings

Make a good puff-paste, pare some large apples, cut them in quarters, and take out the cores very nicely; take a piece of crust, and roll it round enough for one apple; if they are big, they will not look pretty; so roll the crust round each apple, and make them round like a ball, with a little flour in your hand; have a pot of water boiling, take a clean cloth, dip it in the water and shake flour over it; tie each dumpling by itself, and put them in the water boiling, which keep boiling all the time; and if your crust is light and good, and the apples not too large, half an hour will boil them; but if the apples be large, they will take an hour’s boiling; when they are enough, take them up and lay them in a dish; throw fine sugar all over them, and send them to table; have good fresh butter melted in a cup, and fine beaten sugar in a saucer.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1747 & 1796.


  • Tart apples, four fit into a kettle
  • Grandmother Nora’s pie crust
  • Cinnamon and sugar mix
  • Four pieces of cloth, large enough to wrap around apples
  • String
  • Flour for cloth
  • Melted butter, honey with cinnamon for topping


Peal and core apples. Fill the core with cinnamon and sugar. Prepare Grandmother Nora’s pie crust recipe and roll out the dough 3/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 4 strips, one for each apple. Mold and shape the crust evenly around each filled apple so that the dumpling is sealed shut with dough.

Next prepare the apples one at a time for the kettle.

For each apple, take a piece of cotton or linen which is large enough to wrap around the dumpling and dip the cloth into the boiling water, then flour the cloth. The flour creates a barrier around the apple and helps to seal in the flavor when the dumpling cooks. Wrap the floured cloth securely around each apple and tie it off tightly with strong kitchen twine.

Flouring the wet cloth was easier when we laid the cloth flat on the table, poured a bit of flour along one side and then picked that side up and let the flour shimmy and cover the center of the cloth where the dumpling would be placed.

Using a loop of kitchen twine, suspend the apples from sturdy sticks or fireplace pokers in boiling water. Keep the water boiling.

The dumplings should cook in about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the apples. Remove dumplings from the pot, cut open the tie and place on a plate to cool.   

We topped our dumplings with melted butter and then drizzled cinnamon and honey on them.

Recommended Reading

Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy: the Revolutionary 1805 Classic. Dover Publications, 2015.

Kay Moss and Kathryn Hoffman. The Backcountry Housewife. 18th Century Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program, Schiele Museum, 2001. Good discussion of various dumplings.


Pumpkin Pie with Molasses

Adding molasses to the pumpkin filling gives this pie a distinctive flavor. It is easy to make and easy to eat. At one time molasses was the most popular sweetener in the United States. Refined sugar replaced it in popularity in the first part of the 20th century, mostly because of the cost. Molasses goes well with cinnamon and ginger (think ginger bread), both of which are used in this recipe. We use our own pumpkin grown at Venoge when possible.

Our recipe comes from The Williamsburg Art of Cookery Book, 6th printing. It comes from the Wicomico Church c 1829.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed steamed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs beaten


Beat well together.

Pour into partially baked pie crusts and place in the Baker.

Bake in a medium oven at 350° for about 1 hour. This will make one pie. 

Pumpkin pie with Molasses

Pumpkin pie with Molasses


Sweet Potato Fritters

One of the most successful vegetables we grow in the Venoge kitchen garden are sweet potatoes. They are, of course, suitable and yummy in pies but we wanted to try using them in a recipe that could be made in front of visitors. We decided to try deep fried sweet potato fritters. Not only were they easy to make but they were fantastic and have a crunchy and tasty outer crust.


  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of milk


  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


Heat oil to about 375°F. We fill our kettle half full with oil and heat it over the hearth.

Combine mashed sweet potatoes and egg in a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking powder.

Add sweet potato mixture to dry ingredients and slowly add milk. Batter may be a little lumpy, but that is okay.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together

Mix wet and dry ingredients together

Carefully drop teaspoons of batter into hot oil. The batter should sink to the bottom then quickly float to the top as it cooks.

Sweet Potato Fritters cooking

Sweet Potato Fritters cooking

Gently flip the fritters in the oil so that both sides cook. These will cook quickly. Since oil temperatures will vary, cut one open to see if it is done and adjust cooking time accordingly.

While still warm, roll in the sugar and cinnamon mix.


Onion Herb Bread

This bread smells wonderful just out of the oven and it tastes just as good. An incredible crust is created when cooked in the bake oven making this bread the perfect complement to our Venoge Summer Soup.

We use fresh herbs from our kitchen garden so the flavors vary from batch to batch in the summer. It pairs well with our Fresh Cheese with Herbs and also toasts well over the fire.


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons butter
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (for yeast)
  • 2 1/4 cups regular flour (sifted)
  • 1 tablespoon onion chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of herbs on hand such as dill, rosemary, and chives
  • Melted butter
  • Salt


Gather and prepare herbs.

Scald milk, remove from heat, stir in sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add cooled milk mixture. Stir flour into yeast mixture. Add your selected herbs. Stir all together until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Cover and let rise in warm place until tripled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Stir down, and beat vigorously about 1/2 minute. Turn into a greased 8-inch cake pan or 9-inch pie pan.

Bake in a medium oven at 350° for about 1 hour. Brush top crust with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Cool on rack.



Roasted Eggs

I became aware that roasted eggs were a ‘thing’ when I read “The Backcountry Housewife” (a must read). The writer states that:

“Experimentation has shown us that eggs do indeed roast quite nicely in their shells when buried in hot ashes for a quarter of an hour or more. A fine explosion results when placing the eggs in contact with hot coals, however. The roasted egg is very similar to a boiled egg.

Made dishes of boiled or perhaps roasted eggs are common in old recipes. These dishes are generally composed of the eggs, whole, sliced, quartered, or stuffed, with a white sauce. Mushrooms, onions, or oranges (if available) are common accompanying ingredients. …. If the eggs are stuffed, the filling may be mashed and seasoned yolks or bread crumbs. Forcemeat might also be included.”

Kay Moss and Kathryn Hoffman. The Backcountry Housewife. 18th Century Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program, Schiele Museum, 2001.

When we tested the method at Venoge, we waited until we had a nice mound of hot ashes to bury the raw eggs. We had a thin layer of ashes on the bottom and about an inch on top and sides. A few hot coals were present but none touched the eggs. It can take a bit longer than 15 minutes depending on the heat of the ashes.

The advantage of roasting versus boiling was apparent immediately. There is no need for another pot on the crane or trivet taking up space. Just remember where you buried the eggs!


  • Eggs
  • Hot ash (free from coals)


Place eggs on top of a thin layer of hot ash. Be careful to not include any coals or the eggs may explode or get too roasted on one side.

Cover eggs entirely with ashes and wait 15 minutes. You can turn eggs during cooking depending on the heat of your ashes.

Remove eggs and let them cool. We place ours in cool water so we can peel them easily. Remember older eggs peel easier than fresh eggs. So if you are having trouble peeling the eggs, like we did, it is likely you are using fresh eggs.




The name says it all, little bright spots of dough floating in a sea of dark oil. They fry nicely and taste lovely. We serve them as fast as they come out of the kettle.

Our recipe comes from The Williamsburg Art of Cookery Book, 6th printing. It was from Mrs. Cole’s recipe c. 1837.


  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter


Heat oil to about 375°F.  We fill our kettle half full with oil and heat it over the hearth.

Mix together egg, milk and sugar. Sift dry ingredients and mix into the wet ingredients. Mix in butter.

Carefully drop teaspoons of batter into hot oil. The batter should sink to the bottom then quickly float to the top as it cooks.

Drop into hot oil

Drop into hot oil

Gently flip the fritters in the oil so that both sides cook. These will cook quickly. Since oil temperatures will vary, cut one open to see if it is done and adjust cooking time accordingly.

While still warm, roll in in confectioner’s sugar or a cinnamon sugar mix.



In the Venoge kitchen, butter is the first thing we make.  Most of our recipes will require either the butter or the byproduct of making butter, the buttermilk.

When Venoge was an active homestead, milk from the cow would be placed in a wide shallow bowl. Shards of a milk bowl have been discovered at Venoge.  Once cream rose to the top it could be carefully skimmed off and churned into butter.

Since we don’t have access to a cow, we buy a quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream and put it into our half gallon churn, made by Henderson’s Artifacts. If you are unable to find heavy cream, whipping cream can be substituted. The difference is that heavy cream contains 36% milk fat and whipping cream contains 30% milk fat. A pound of butter and several cups of buttermilk are made from a quart heavy cream.

When the cream is at the right temperature, about 60°F, it takes about 15 minutes to turn into butter.


  • Quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a churn

Begin with heavy cream that is somewhat cooler than room temperature. If the cream is too cold it will take longer to churn. If the cream is too warm the butter will still form, but it will be very soft.

Pour cream into the churn, put on the lid and use the dasher to whip the cream.

Continue churning with the dasher until the consistency changes and the cream thickens. As you continue the cream will again change and it will slosh at the sides of the churn. At this stage the cream is turning into butter.

Keep churning until liquid, called buttermilk, separates from the newly made butter clumps. The buttermilk may be slightly opaque. Save off the buttermilk for drinking or use it in a recipe where milk is needed. The butter will be yellow to pale yellow depending on the source of the cream.

Use a strainer to separate the buttermilk from the butter or a butter paddle, as pictured below. Either will help hold back the butter clumps while you pour off the buttermilk.

Use the paddle again to squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Straining butter

Squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Rinse the butter with cool water. Rinse thoroughly using your hands or the butter paddle. This will help keep the butter fresh so it does not turn rancid. We use our butter immediately, but it can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for longer.

Add salt or herbs at this time. We prefer to keep our butter unsalted or ‘sweet’.


Fresh Butter


  • Pint (16 oz) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a jar

If you don’t have a churn, try making butter using a jar. Approximately a cup of butter and a cup of buttermilk are made from a pint of heavy cream.

To begin, fill your jar half way with heavy cream that is about 60°F. As the butter is forming it will double in size. Screw on the lid.

Shake the jar. In two minutes or so the cream will begin doubling in size. Continue shaking as the cream turns to a thick whipped cream consistency. It may take another 8 minutes to get to this stage. As the cream begins to separate it will make a sloshing sound. Keep shaking the jar until the cream has completely separated into butter and buttermilk. This is the final stage and may take 1-2 minutes to reach.

Strain off the buttermilk. Squeeze out excess buttermilk from the butter using a paddle or spatula. Rinse the butter with cool water and squeeze butter again to excess liquid.

Add salt or herbs if you like. Chill and serve.


Round Loaf

This recipe was a surprise; it was simple and produced a beautiful, delicious loaf easy to cut.   It went well with our soup or plain with butter and jam. The original recipe called for slashing the top which also works nicely.

Our recipe is adapted from English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David, Biscuit Books Inc., Newton, MA


  • 3 cups unbleached flour (approximately), of which 3/4 cup may be whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons of salt (approximately)
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • A scant cup water


Mix the yeast to a cream with a little tepid water. Stir the salt into flour.

Mix the creamed yeast into it, add the tepid water. Mix well and shape the dough into a ball. If it is too wet, sprinkle with little more flour. Cover, and leave in a warm place to rise.

In an hour to an hour and a half the dough should have doubled volume and feel spongy and light. Scoop it up, and slap it down hard on a board. Repeat this three or four times. The more the dough is knocked down at this stage the better the loaf will be.

Knead and roll the dough into a ball, place this in the center of a floured baking sheet. At this stage fold the ball of dough all round, tucking the edges underneath, so that the uncooked loaf looks like a little, round, plump cushion. If this detail is omitted, the loaf will spread out flat. Shape the loaf.

It is advisable to cover the dough while it is rising for the second time and the easiest way to do this is to invert a clean bowl over it. Once risen, you may now make slashes on the loaf; one from side to side the other two crossing that one.

Cook in a 450° degree oven on center shelf for 15 minutes and then 400° for the next 15 minutes. If the bottom is not done, turn upside down and leave in the oven for 10-15 minutes more with the heat off.

We baked our Round Loaf in the outdoor bake oven, the temperature was roughly 425° throughout the baking. We did put it back in upside down for about 15 minutes.



Charlotte’s Dessert Bread

This quick bread is dark and rich and has a distinctly different texture from others.  Finding extra space in the bake oven, we quickly combined ingredients on hand and created this uniquely simple bread.  Searching for an appropriate name we went to the first known housewife in the Venoge cottage, Charlotte Golay Weaver.

Charlotte Golay Weaver was born in 1787 in Le Chenit, a municipality in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland.  She came to live in New York state where she met and married Jacob Weaver.  They arrived in Vevay, Indiana in 1813 and by 1814 settled in a house owned by her father, David Golay.  As Jacob Weaver would write in a letter to his father in New York, Charlotte and Jacob lived “close to his door”.  We suspect Charlotte was the first to cook in the kitchen at Venoge. Charlotte, we remember you.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup hot water


Melt butter and blend in sugar. Mix in eggs. Sift flour with salt and soda and add to wet ingredients. Add cornmeal. Mix ingredients. Add hot water and mix. Add raisins and currants. Add cinnamon.

Turn into greased 9 x 5 loaf pan or 9 inch round pan. Bake in slow oven at 350° for about 1 hour.

Serve when cooled with fresh butter.