Living Like Farmer Boy ~ Baking Day

by Merissa on March 17, 2011

in Living Like Little House

I'll be honest, Farmer Boy was my least favorite book in the Little House series. Sometimes when I would re-read through the series I would skip it and just go on with Laura's story. (Probably most of that was due to the fact that I, as a young girl, didn't care very much to listen to the orneriness of a boy!) But I have to say, that now as a grow woman, Mother Wilder is my hero. Now that I read back through the book I see different things that I missed before. How they ran their household, what they ate, ect. I love this paragraph:

"That was Saturday night. All day long Mother had been baking, and when Almanzo went into the kitchen for the milkpans, she was still frying doughnuts. The place was full of their hot, brown smell, and the wheaty smell of the new bread, the spicy smell of cakes, and the syrupy smell of pies.

Almanzo took the biggest doughnut from the pan and bit off its crisp end. Mother was rolling out the golden dough, slashing it into long strips, rolling and twisting the strips.Her fingers flew, you could hardly see them. The strips seem to twist themselves under her hands, and to leap into the big copper kettle of swirling hot fat.

Plump! They went to the bottom, sending up bubbles. Then quickly they came popping up, to float and slowly swell, till they rolled themselves over, their pale golden backs going into the fat, and their plump brown bellies rising out of it. ~ Farmer Boy p. 75-76

I love that Mother Wilder has a baking day! Baking Day wasn't something that I grew up with but it's been something I've been implementing in my weekly plans for about the last year. One day each week(I try to do it on Wednesdays or Thursdays but I move it around sometimes when I don't have the time) I bake everything I need for the week. If you are a regular follower you know that around here we make everything from scratch, breads, cookies, crackers, everything.

Each week I make a meal plan. I try to have this finished by Monday and I make it for at least 7 days. After I make my menu for the week I also make a grocery list if I need to get groceries and I make my Baking Day list.

If you've never had a Baking Day before I will tell you how mine goes. In the morning after I finish all my other chores I get out things I will need. I've found it's easiest if I have a separate "station" for each thing I'm making. I get out all my ingredients that I will need. The handy thing about baking day is that everything is out that I need for each item and I don't have to keep pulling things out of the cupboard and putting them back in. I don't have much counter space in my kitchen at all but like I said above I like to try and separate things. At each "station" I put the recipe of what I'm making(so I don't forget what's in which bowl!) I only mix up one thing at a time so I don't get confused about where I am in a recipe. Ahead of time I plan what I'm going to be making first. It's good to figure out what needs to rise and what needs to refrigerate and such before hand. If you have it well planned out you can be baking something while something else is rising and when that's baking you can mix up the next thing, ect.

Lately my Baking Day's have become a little more involved. If I'm going to be baking bread I like to bake extra and freeze it so I don't have to bake any bread the next week. And if I'm making one of something I've started to double the recipes and put the spare in the freezer. It's been so handy to have these extra things in case my meal plan falls through or if we need an extra treat to take for something. Plus it saves money by having the extra things in the freezer because then when I run out of something I just have more in the fridge and I don't feel tempted to run to the store and pick up and unhealthy and expensive version of whatever it is that I need.

Mother Wilder knew about all this. She knew that she couldn't spend every day baking bread and doughnuts and that it was better to have things on hand. It freed up her time for the rest of the week and I bet she always had what she needed for her meal plans.

Baking Day takes time; most of one day usually. But I think it's worth it, for all the reasons I mentioned above and more.

What about you? Do you have a baking day? If you don't is it something you want to do? What's keeping you from doing it?

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gwen Valentino March 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

We too are making our way through Farmer Boy right now, I have considered skipping it 🙂 The girls are not too excited! Baking day sounds like a great thing for our family to start! It would be a nice addition to our week. So thank you for the inspiration!


2 Lana March 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Farmer Boy is one of my favorites of the series and I have to admit that all those huge meals and cooking are part of the reason. I miss having a crowd to cook for everyday. With just hubby and I and the fact that we are over 50 make it so that I don’t do alot of baking anymore as we just don’t get it eaten and we are not supposed to eat alot of sugar and we need to eat more fiber, etc. The Long Winter is the one I would skip, the cold and hunger and darkness really make me feel desperate or something!


3 Lori April 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I read 2 books every spring when I am getting my garden ready. The first is The Long Winter and the other is The Pioneers. Both go thru a horrible winter and nearly starve. It makes me work harder at making a really good producing garden and putting by as much as I can by canning, freezing and drying. It is a good motivator and personal challenge to make sure my family will be well fed and not run out come spring. We have a family of 5 here and I can for my older daughter and her family too. We have a baking day. Melissa I like that you bake extra for the following week. Good Job!


4 robbie @ going green mama April 26, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I love this idea. What wonderful motivation!


5 Evelyn May 10, 2011 at 7:27 am

I’m so glad I found this – I love it 🙂
I remember that I did not read Farmer Boy as a child because I thought it looked boring, but I am now reading it as an adult as a result of reading this and I am enjoying it so much – the food and the work that they do, it’s a wonderful book.
I still have my original boxed set from when I was a little girl.


6 Betty September 18, 2011 at 8:09 am

Love this!! 🙂


7 Danielle January 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Farmer boy happens to be my favorite book!! Something about the comforts of a farm, lots of yummy food, a dad who is wise with his money and SPF sufficiency. I love it!!


8 Penny February 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Love your website and the Little House on the Prairie books. Will start reading again. You make “making bread’ sound so easy! I wish I felt it was easy to make. I wish it came easy to me.. Will try some of your recipes. Thanks!


9 Shauna June 24, 2014 at 12:30 am

I know the original post was years ago, but I thought I would add: I have a baking day-usually Sunday after Church so I can enjoy all the hot, fresh, treats for Sunday dinner.
I always make bread first and then let it rise on the stove top with the oven turned on. It seems to rise best this way for me.
Since the stove is on I make cookies, they will usually finish baking just about the time the bread is ready to go in the oven.
While the bread cooks I make muffins for breakfasts. I am usually done mixing and putting them in the tins about the time the bread is done.
While the muffins bake I mix up scones and fry them.
If there is time (and energy) left over I will make ahead a few casseroles and bake them too for quick dinners for the week.


10 Sandy July 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Hi Everyone,
I saw the coolest self sufficient idea for freezing food with no electricity during winter months. No, it’s not putting things out in the show. It might look a little funny to have casseroles in the snow when neighbors show up to visit. One family used the inside cavity and a cool old door of an old refrigerator to make a freezer that attached to the side of their house. It sort of goes like this: the cavity is mounted into a home built wooden “box” about the size of the original fridge housing. This mounts to an appropriate sized opening in an exterior wall of the house (theirs was in their pantry, I think). The door is mounted on the inside of the house. Voila! No electricity and an automatic freezer. The door prevents the cold outside air from getting in too. Nice idea.


11 Casey January 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Farmer Boy is one of my favorite books in the series too. I’ve always wondered what the donuts look like to be able to flip over on their own. Does anyone have an image of this? My 9 year old son loves to read realistic fiction so I had him read this book recently. These books are wonderful history lessons.


12 melissa June 2, 2015 at 12:03 am

Casey – I wondered that too. I know that calas (rice donuts) flip on their own. Their dough really isn’t firm enough to roll and twist though.


13 jasmine mcburney February 28, 2015 at 8:22 pm

My granny Humpfries always had a baking day and she made all her weeks buns cakes soda bread potatoe bread treacle farls ect she learned to bake from jer two great aunts Maggie and Christina who lived in the familys irish cottage in the countryside in County Down in the North of Ireland. Christina was a ladies maid and Maggie was a seamstress. They were both excellant bakers and grew all their own produce. Their tea tabel was always set and full of goodies my granny and her aunts were excellant bakers xo


14 jasmine mcburney February 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I also love Little House books and even have bought the cookbook and have made recipies from it. Love your web page and all your articles its lovely to hear about you and your lovely country life. I to lice in the country in a 400 year old irish cottage and i love to bake and grow my own produce but dont keep hens as i get them at the farm around the corner but i make my own butter and sometimes soft cheese its great fun keep up all your great work and thanks for a great site xo


15 Tiffany August 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I agree completely. Mother Wilder is an absolute inspiration!! I have 4 boys and was inspired by The Little House Books to have my own baking day… I am wondering- where can I get ahold of a classic recipe for these twist doughnuts? They sound amazing!! (and the apples and onions fried too….and birds nest pudding…..etc. etc. 🙂


16 Meredith October 17, 2015 at 7:14 am

Farmer Boy was my favorite in the series. It seems that I learned more from Mother Wilder than any of the other books. Of course, I didn’t read it until I was in my late 30s so that probably made a difference. We have a baking day about once every few weeks when I make bread. I usually double whatever I do and any extras go in the freezer (muffins, biscuits, bread, etc.). Sometimes I’ll make a basic yeast bread recipe and will make variations to each loaf (2 regular loaves, 1 cinnamon twist, rolls, etc.). For us the variations make the difference and keep it interesting. Sometimes (when I’m feeling really motivated) I’ll make a large batch of biscuits, cut them out, will freeze them individually. This helps some mornings when I’m busy and don’t have time to make fresh biscuits. I’ll pull out a handful, let them thaw a bit, and then bake them for breakfast.

Love your site!


17 sharon November 26, 2015 at 12:06 am

Yes, I have a baking day., a laundry day, housecleaning day and also the Lord’s day. We live 10 miles from town so I buy large quantity of things and store for when needed. We have a garden and I do canning. We only give one gift at Christmas, due to our religion (like Amish).


18 Alyssa May 7, 2017 at 12:05 pm

My grandmother used to read the “Little House” books to my sister and I when we were little, and I loved them. Because “Farmer Boy” wasn’t included in her box set (that I now have), I didn’t read it until I was an adult. My favorite was always “Little House in the Big Woods,” mostly due to all the cooking scenes–and I loved “Farmer Boy” for that, as well. I’m not sure I would have liked “Farmer Boy” as a little girl, mostly because my favorite thing about the series was the slightly competitive dynamic and differing personalities of Mary and Laura, which was pretty similar to the relationship my sister and I had as children.

I’m trying to get back to baking all of my breads, though at this point in my life, it’s just me. My “baking day” is Sunday. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread in your house.


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