Baking at Hutterite colony requires organization, lots of hands

It is 7 a.m. and women are busy making dinner buns at Saskatchewan’s Waldeck Hutterite colony.

Twenty kilograms (44 pounds) of flour will become 20 dozen double dinner buns. There is a proofing room but it is hardly needed as the kitchen warms to the perfect temperature while the commercial oven is prepared.

The women call the children from school the instant the baking comes out of the oven and the girls soon run back carrying these fresh, pillow soft buns.

As a substitute teacher, I regularly visit the colony and enjoy learning about the Hutterite way of life.

They are devoutly Christian so Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

At the colony, there are three consecutive days of church worship beginning Dec. 25.

The church is a simple building without adornment and with a table serving as an altar. Each church service is followed by a communal meal, after which the children return to church for Sunday school.

Goose is a Christmas tradition. It is poached in water until tender and served with potatoes and vegetables from their gardens. The younger women admit they prefer chicken but the elders appreciate goose.

Fruitcake, nutmeg (eggar), carrot and vanilla cookies are favourites.

Christmas is also a time for visiting when families visit other colonies or receive guests and exchange modest gifts.

The colony’s women shared the following recipes, intended to serve 64 people and well suited to large church and community groups that plan events such as fowl suppers.

Eggar Cookies 
(Nutmeg Cookies)

These cookies are made twice a year. They are always made for Christmas and then once again during the year. I have been warned that if they are not made properly, they can be dry.

  • 10 1/2 lb. sugar 4.8 kg
  • 5 lb. margarine 2.25 kg
  • 30 eggs
  • 5 tsp. vanilla 25 mL
  • 10 lb. raisins 4.5 kg
  • 16 lb. flour 7.25 kg
  • 5 tsp. salt 25 mL
  • 1/8 lb. baking powder 90 g
  • 1/8 lb. cinnamon 90 g
  • 1/4 lb. baking soda 180 g
  • 1 1/2 tsp. allspice 8 g
  • 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 8 g

Simmer raisins in 10 cups (2.4 L) water for seven minutes. Add 11 cups (2.6 L) cold water and cool well. In a separate bowl, cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs and vanilla, then add raisins with liquid. Mix flour with all the dry ingredients and sift three times, then sift into creamed mixture. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake at 425 F (220 C) for about 12 minutes.

Orange Cake

This is a cake traditionally served twice a year. It is enjoyed at Easter and once during the harvest.

  • 16 1/2 lb. sugar 7.5 kg
  • 6 3/4 lb. nuts 3 kg
  • 10 1/2 lb. dates 4.7 kg
  • 22 1/2 lb. flour 10 kg
  • 6 lb. margarine 2.7 kg
  • 3/4 c. baking soda 180 mL
  • 3/4 c. baking powder 180 mL
  • 15 lb. oranges 6.8 kg
  • 3/4 c. vinegar 200 mL
  • 3/4 c. vanilla 200 mL
  • 5 1/4 lb. eggs 2.4 kg
  • 8 3/4 q. milk 8.3 L

Grind oranges with peels and put aside five cups (1.2 L) for the icing. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs and the rest of the ingredients except dates and flour. Mix the chopped dates with flour and add. Pour into cake pans and bake at 350 F (175 C). When cooled, make a butter icing with the reserved orange added.

TEAM Resources wishes its readers a happy and safe Christmas.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.