Mrs. Realy used a German-style Bakehouse with a wood-fired brick oven to bake all the bread, rolls, cakes, and cookies her large family of nine would need. When the Waterloo Area Historical Society was founded, the Realy’s original Bakehouse at Waterloo Farm Museum had fallen into disrepair; the replica we use today was built on its site.
The night before Pioneer Day, we build a wood fire in the oven and keep stoking it all night and into the morning. Just before noon, visitors can see our crew shoveling and raking all the hot coals and ashes out of the oven - we will bake with no fire! We use just residual heat and add some loose bricks to absorb and hold the heat.
Some of our crew have been busy shaping the molasses cookie dough that was made using Sophie Realy’s recipe. There is no temperature regulator, and since the oven starts out veryhot, perhaps 600o, we begin baking a few trial sheets of cookies. We hope we don’t burn too many! Gradually the oven cools to a good baking temperature, and our production line moves into high gear. Drawn by the tantalizing smell, hungry visitors can watch our crew making and baking the cookies, and can buy them fresh from the oven. If the oven becomes too cool to bake, we may start another small quick fire later in the afternoon, and then continue until we’ve used all the dough.
If you would like to volunteer to work a shift at the Bakehouse, as cookie maker, baker, server, or cashier, please contact Mary Spaan at 517-522-8742 or email at email@example.com.