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Awoke to a perfectly sunny day and got right to work. I fired up the oven and removed the dough prepared yesterday from the refridge so that it could warm up and be used in the first batch of the day. I was soon joined by Karl who was quickly busy at work mixing more dough and converting the recipe from measures to weights in order to process each batch of bread more quickly. Karl has given me much needed insight into the efficient operation of a kitchen, and have been more fortunate to have been joined by his friend Tom, from whom Karl has learned much about baking. The oven has been performing wonderfully and the bread is better with each run. It is hard not to notice Harrisburg’s skyline and the surrounding countryside from this vantage point. Despite her present troubles, Harrisburg is a wonderful city, and I have no doubt that her best years are yet to come! I have heard nothing but high praise about the museum from all the visitors that have stopped by to talk with me. I am especially pleased when a city resident tells me how much they enjoy a visit to the museum, because the museum is a reflection of the best the city has to offer and that is saying a lot. I’m done for the night; I have put a pot roast in the Dutch oven and am looking forward to that and a good night’s sleep in my quarters.
Got up at 6am and lit the ovens for the first baking of the day, still not a morning person, but do the best I can. Was met by Karl DePaulis, who has volunteered to assist me in my endeavor to bake edible bread and not embarass myself too much in the process; was also joined by a reporter from the Patriot News who remained with us throughout the morning to document the high drama unfolding in the daily life of this Curator/Soldier/Baker. The days’ baking went extremely well and I managed to pull 47 finely baked loaves of fresh bread from the oven. I never realized just how tiring it would be baking all day long from the wee hours til nearly dusk. I’m afraid that I have been a poor host to the 42nd Mississippi, encamped here for the weekend. Spraying the baking chambers with a mist from a spray bottle and covering the door plugs with soaking wet towels (facing the inside of the chamber) helped create steam that assists in the baking and gives the bread a nice brown color. The goal for tomorrow is 60 loaves. Wish me luck. I met many very nice and supportive people today who stopped by to see how the baking was going…my thanks to all of them. Also my thanks to the members of the 42nd Mississippi Company F, who have their encampment at the museum this weekend; they have been very interested and kind even though I am a Yankee!
I have received a few more baking tips from my brother Brennan in Vermont. My bread has been coming out of the oven white as a sheet instead of the golden brown that I was expecting. I thought that brushing them with oil or butter was the answer, unfortunately that was not the correct assumption and they turned out looking like an asteroid that flew through Earth’s atmosphere and landed in a cornfield. It turns out that steam is key to a nicely browned loaf of bread. A spray of water (mist) and a water soaked towel wrapped around the door plug will provide the steam necessary to make it happen. I will put this to the test at 1:00pm today. With the oven being one hundred percent complete and insulated everything should come out perfectly. I will keep my fingers crossed.
The old winter quarters are holding up well, and continue to provide me with good shelter from the recent rain and cold. Some rain is predicted for today but none yet.