During Christmas by Candlelight, guests can see a variety of crafts and cooking demonstrations. Below, you will find an assortment of historical receipt (recipes) and Christmas craft projects that you can do at home!

Baking Gingerbread

Recipes

During Christmas by Candleight, guests will see a variety of holiday dishes being prepared. Find the recipes for all of these holiday treats (and more!) below.

Polish Gingerbread (Piernik)

As we highlight some Polish Christmas tradition in 2023, guests can sample Polish Gingerbread, made from the recipe below. Recipe used with permission from Polish Your Kitchen

Ingredients:

Additionally:

Instructions:

  1. In a small sauce pan place honey, marmalade, orange zest and spices and heat through. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line a bread loaf pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar. Add eggs one by one and then honey mixture once it has cooled off, and milk. Stir well.
  4. Mix flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour to sugar/butter mixture gradually and let combine well.
  5. Transfer mixture into loaf pan and bake for 50-60 min, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool bread completely before slicing in half horizon- tally from end to end. Spread jam onto the cut bottom part and return the top back onto it.
  7.  Remove from heat and add broken-up chocolate.  Mix until melted and smooth.  Cool glaze slightly before pouring over gingerbread.

 

Notes:

* you can skip this step, and spread some marmalade on each slice before serving.

Nuremberg Gingerbread (Demonstrated in 2022)

One goal of our Christmas by Candlelight program has been to look back to the earliest possible histories of holiday traditions. The recipe below is one of the oldest written recipes on record that came to us from the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg, a city known as “the gingerbread capital of the world.”

Ingredients:

Full Receipt:

Quarter Receipt:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together thoroughly.  Add honey and mix well.  Add water a little at a time, mixing well, until dough forms a ball.
  3. On a floured surface, roll dough out to about ¼“ thickness.  Flour mold and background well.  Press mold firmly into dough.  Cut around image with a knife.
  4. Tranfer to a greased pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Move to a rack and cool thoroughly.  Spice flavour will increase after resting for a day.

Soft Gingerbread (19th-century Receipt)

Hard and soft gingerbread has been baked in Europe and the United States for centuries. While the precise origins are murky, gingerbread was a relatively popular treat in medieval Europe.

Original Receipt:

“Six teacups of flour, three cups of molasses, three cups of cream, two of butter, one tablespoon of pearlash, and the same of ginger.  Bake in a quick oven about half an hour.”

The Good Housekeeper by Sarah Josepha Hale, 1841

Modern Adaptation:

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour and ginger.
  3. Dissolve baking soda and cream of tartar in the cream.
  4. Cut butter into dry ingredients and blend thoroughly.
  5. Stir in cream mixture and molasses into dry ingredients.
  6. Pour into two greased 9-inch pans.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

 

Mulled Cider

mulling cider with a hot pokerCider was a very common drink in early 19th-century New England since apples were abundant in the region. This cider was hard cider, with an alcohol content of 4-8 percent. Common drinks like this could be made festive for special occasions by spicing and mulling.

The mulling iron that our costumed historians use to mull cider during Christmas by Candlelight is heated to approximately 1000 degrees Fahrenheit before placing it in the cider. The hot poker caramelizes the sugars in fresh cider and makes the drink sweeter while blending the spices without having their oils turn bitter. If using hard cider, the mulling iron will caramelize sugars without evaporating too much of the alcohol.


Ingredients:

*If using hard cider, add a ½ cup of sugar to a gallon (or more to your taste) and stir until dissolved if you desire sweet cider.

Instructions:

  1. Add spices to a gallon pitcher of cider.
  2. Heat a mulling iron to cherry red in your hearth and quench it in the cider until it ceases to bubble.  Do this once or twice more, immediately before serving.

The hot poker will caramelize the sugars in fresh cider and make the drink sweeter while blending the spices without having their oils turn bitter. If you use hard cider, the action of mulling with the iron will caramelize sugars without evaporating much of the alcohol content. You may mull hard or fresh cider with the addition of the spirits of your choice without compromising their strength.

Dundee Cake

The recipe for creating samples of Dundee Cake during Christmas by Candlelight 2023 was adapted from Tasha Tudor’s recipe at www.tashatudorandfamily.com/. Village bakers chose to omit the almonds since nuts are a common allergen. Due to the nature of cutting sample-size pieces for this program, decorative candied cherries were also omitted.

Visit the Tasha Tudor and Family site for the full recipe.

 

Marchpane (Marzipan)

marzipan by candlelight“Take two pounds of almonds, being blanched and dried in a sieve over the fire, beate them in a stone mortar, and when they bee small mixe them with two pounds of sugar being finely beaten, adding two or three spoonfuls of rose water, and that will keep your almonds from oiling.”

Delightes for Ladies, London, 1603.


Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Grind almonds to as fine as a powder as possible
  2. Grinder sugar (19th c “powdered sugar”) to powder (19th c “pounded sugar”). It will look softer and be less reflective in the light
  3. Grind the two together as smooth as possible in equal proportions.
  4. Add rosewater—and suggestion, water in equal proportions to make the flavor less strong and the almond more tastable—by degrees, a couple drops at a time until it all comes together in a paste.
  5. Grind paste smooth.
  6. Color and shape as desired.

Marzipan shaped into fruits, vegetables, flowers, and pigs

Polish Shortbread Cookies (Ciastka Kruche)

Recipe used with permission from Polish Your Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Place flour in a mixing bowl, add butter cut into small pieces and the rest of the ingredients. Gently mix with hands until just combined and form a dough ball. Don’t work it too much, as it will make for a dense cookie.
  2. When the mixture is combined, if you still see bits of butter, that’s okay. Butter will melt while baking and make for a flaky cookie. Wrap the dough ball in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. When ready, preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C, divide the ball into smaller portions and roll out onto a floured surface to about a ⅜ – ¼ inch / 4-5 millimeters thickness. Using your favorite cookie cutter cut out shapes and place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  4. Slightly beat egg whites with a fork and, using a kitchen brush, brush each cookie with egg whites and sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar.
  5. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Mince-Pie Cookies

A couple dozen mince pie cookies on a blue and white plate

Recipe from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, 1993

Ingredients:

To ensure crispness, store the mince cookies in their own tin or crock. Use the basic Christmas Cookie dough receipt (see below) to make Mince-Pie Cookies. In addition, you will need:

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Flour the cutter and use it to make 2 rounds for each cookie. Place half of the rounds on a cookies sheet, put 1 teaspoon of mincemeat on each round, top it with the second round, crimp the edges with a fork, sprinkle lightly with sugar and nutmeg, and prick the top with a fork as you would a pie.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are a delicate brown on the edges. Do not store with other cookies, as they will soften them.

Yields approximately 8 dozen.

Christmas Cookies (Dough for Mince-Pie Cookies)

Recipe from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, 1993

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Line 2 heavy-gauge aluminum cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the milk in a measuring cup. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then mix. Sift in the flour and salt. Add the milk and mix by hand until the ball of dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for several hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as possible (a marble rolling pin works best) and cut out the cookies with your best cookie cutters. Place them on the cookie sheets, leaving room for the cookies to spread as they bake. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg before placing them in the oven.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. 

Yields 3 – 4 dozen.

Christmas Crafts & Other Projects

Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments

Ingredients & Materials:

Instructions:

* These ornaments are not edible!

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.
  3. Add water and mix all ingredients together until it forms a ball of dough.
  4. Knead dough for a few minutes until it feels elastic.
  5. Roll out the dough to 1/4“ thickness.
  6. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough.
  7. Make a small hole at the top of the ornament with a skewer or chopstick.
  8. Place the ornaments face down on the baking sheet. (The top side will be a lighter color as the salt is pulled out during baking.  The side touching the baking sheet will be a darker color.)
  9. Bake for 1 hour or until hard.
  10. Place ornaments on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together.
  12. Put the folded end of the ribbon through the hole in the ornament.
  13. Pull the knotted end of the ribbon through the fold to create a hanger.
  14. Hang your ornament on your tree and enjoy!

* Optional: After the ornament is cool, decorate with paint or glitter.  To preserve ornament for a long time, spray with polyurethane.

Pine Cone Ornament

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. Using the narrow ribbon, wrap it around the cone, through one of the upper rows of the scales, leaving ends of even length.
  2. Tie a square knot in the ribbon, so that it is tight against the cone and hides under the scales. Tie the two end together to create a hanger.
  3. Using the wider ribbon, tie a bow around the pieces of the narrow ribbon, close to the pinecone.

Ribbon Tree Ornament

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. Tie one ribbon tightly around the twig, close to one end.
  2. Add another ribbon as close to the first as you like.
  3. Continue tying ribbons to the twig until you have filled all but the last inch. This bare end will become the base or trunk of the tree.
  4. Use the scissors to trim the ribbons to form the shape of a Christmas tree, with the ribbons wider at the base and narrower at the top.
  5. Push the end of the cord or narrow ribbon under the shortest ribbon at the top of the tree.
  6. Knot the cord tightly against the ribbon.
  7. Tie the ends of the cord together to form a hanger for the ornament.

Dried Fruit Slice Ornaments

In the 19th century, oranges were a very special seasonal treat, coming from as far away as Seville and Valencia in Spain.  Often, the peel would be saved and dried for future baking while family members would share the sections of the orange.  On Christmas Eve, stockings were hung by the fire with the hope that they would be filled with delights such as small toys, books, sweets, or oranges.  The dried orange slice ornament is a modern decoration that celebrates how special it was to have or receive an orange in the winter.

Materials:

Optional:

Instructions:

To dry the fruit:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 – 200 degrees.
  2. Choose one type of fruit per batch.
  3. Lay fruit on its side, cut off and discard ends, and slice across the fruit into ¼” slices. (Each slice should look like a star, with the seeds in the center of the slice.)
  4. Place on baking sheets about ½” apart.
  5. Bake for 2 -3 hours or until dry to the touch. Oranges and lemons should look glassy. Apples and pears will have a matte appearance.
  6. Using a spatula, remove fruit slices from baking sheet and transfer to a rack. Cool completely overnight.

Optional Decorating:

  1. Coat one side of each slice with a thin layer of Mod Podge.
  2. Dust with craft glitter, cinnamon, or other spices.
  3. Allow to dry thoroughly.
  4. Repeat on the other side of each slice.

Finishing the Ornament:

  1. Using a knitting needle or pencil, make a hole into the dried fruit about ¼” from the edge.
  2. Cut a piece of ribbon 8” long, push through the hole, and tie the ends together to create a hanger for your ornament.

 

Making an Evergreen Wreath

Materials:

Instructions:

  1.  Make a hanging loop by cutting a piece of wire 12 inches long. Fold the wire in half.  Twist the two pieces together.  Place the wire on the base, folding 1 inch under the base.  Twist the end around the rest of the wire.  Bend the wire into an arc of the desired length.  Fold the end under the base and then wrap it securely around the hanger.  If the end is too long, trim it to 1 inch.
  2. Tightly wrap the end of the spool of wire around the base to secure it, anywhere away from the hanger.
  3. Place 3-6 sprigs of greens on the base. Wrap the wire around the sprigs and the frame several times.
  4. Place another sprig of greens overlapping the stem end of the previous group 2-3 inches from the end of the greens. Wire in place.
  5. Continue in this manner until you have covered the entire frame.
  6. Attach the last group of greens by lifting the first group and wiring the last group underneath it.
  7. Cut the wire and wrap the end around the frame
  8. Wire the bow in the desired location.
  9. Place decorations around the wreath and then wire in place.

Wiring Pine cones:

  1. Cut a piece of wire and fold in half.
  2. Place the folded end around the pine cone, wrapping it under the scales close to the base of the cone.
  3. Twist the wire together tightly near the cone, making sure that the wire is hidden by the scales of the pine cone.

Making a Pine Cone Wreath

Materials:

Instructions:

Preparing Pine Cones:

Any pine cone wreaths can last for many years if well cared for.  The cones should be washed to remove dirt and bugs.  They are then baked to melt the sap.

  1. Soak pine cones for 30 minutes in a wash of 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water.
  2. Allow to drain in a colander and then dry fully overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  4. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  5. Place pine cones on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 30- 40 minutes. The sap will coat the scales of the pinecone and no longer be sticky.
  7. (Note – do not leave pine cones unattended while baking because they are flammable and there is always a risk of them burning.)

Wiring Pine Cones:

  1. Cut a piece of wire and fold in half.
  2. Place the folded end around the pinecone, wrapping it under the scales close to the base of the cone for small cones or near the middle for larger cones.
  3. Twist the wire together tightly near the cone, making sure that the wire is hidden by the scales of the pinecone.

Directions for Making the Wreath:

To give the wreath a full, three-dimensional look, each row of pine cones is placed in a different direction.

  1. Make a hanging loop by cutting a piece of wire 12 inches long. Fold the wire in half.  Twist the two pieces together.  Place the wire on the base, folding 1 inch under the base.  Twist the end around the rest of the wire.  Bend the wire into an arc of the desired length.  Fold the end under the base and then wrap it securely around the hanger.  If the end is too long, trim it to 1 inch.
  2. Attach the first row of pine cones to the inner wires of the base. If you have smaller cones, place all the cones facing the center of the wreath. If you are using larger cones, place them on their sides facing the same direction around the center of the wreath.
  3. If using smaller cones, the middle row of pine cones is attached with the cones standing upright. If using larger cones, face them the opposite direction from the inner row. To make the cones more secure, wire them to both wires of the base.
  4. The outer row of pine cones are all placed on their sides, in the same direction as the inner row, around the outside of the wreath. Wire them to the outer wire of the base.
  5. Optional: When completed, spray with a clear lacquer and allow to dry.
  6. Wire bow to the wreath and wire on any decorations.

 

OSV Christmas Stockings

Materials

Needles:

No. 8 double-pointed needles (5 needles)

Gauge:

4 sts. = 1”

6 rows = 1”

 

Pattern Notes:

Instructions:

Leg:

Heel:

Row 1 – Working in CC with 24 sts., slip 1; purl across the row

Row 2 –Slip 1 & knit one across the row

Turn the Heel:

Row 1: Slip 1, purl 16 sts., purl 2 together, and turn the work

Row 2: Slip 1, knit 10, knit 2 together, and turn the work

Row 3: Slip 1, purl 10, purl 2 together, and turn the work

Heel Gusset:

(54 sts total – 15sts., 12 sts., 12 sts., 15sts.),

Round 1: Needle 1 – Knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 1

Needle 2 – Knit 12

Needle 3 – Knit 12

Needle 4 – Knit 1, slip1, knit 1, pass slip stitch over (psso), knit 6, knit 6 sts. from 1st needle

Rounds 2 & 3: Knit all needles

Round 4: Needle 1 – Knit 11, knit 2 together, knit 1

Needle 2 – Knit 12

Needle 3 – Knit 12

Needle 4 – Knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, psso, knit 11

Rounds 5 & 6: Knit all needles

Round 7: Needle 1 – Knit 10, knit 2 together, knit 1

Needle 2 – Knit 12

Needle 3 – Knit 12

Needle 4 – Knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, psso, knit 10

(48 sts. total – 12 per needle)

Foot:

Knit plain until foot measures 4” from beginning of heel gusset (24 rounds)

Toe: Using CC

Round 1: Knit all stitches

Round 2: Needle 1- Knit 9 sts., knit 2 together, knit 1

Needle 2 – Knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, psso, knit 9 sts.

Needle 3 – Knit 9 sts., knit 2 together, knit 1

Needle 4 – Knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, psso, knit 9 sts.

Round 3: Knit all stitches


Fox and Geese Pattern:

[Pattern adapted from mittens OSV 26.45.31 a-b]

 

Repeat pattern twice around the leg (48 stitches)

Sawtooth Pattern:

[Pattern adapted from mittens OSV 26.45.78 a-b]

Repeat pattern twice around the leg (50 stitches)

Striped Pattern:

[Pattern adapted from mittens OSV 26.45.10 a-b]

Repeat pattern twice around the leg (48 stitches)

 

Nine Men's Morris Game

History:

Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy board game for two players about 2,000 years old, dating at least to the Roman Empire, although some date it was far back as Egypt c. 1400 BCE. The game is also known in English as Nine-Man Morris, Mill, Mills, the Mill Game, Merels, Merrills, Merelles, Marelles, Morelles, and Ninepenny Marl. The name probably derives from the Latin word Merellus, meaning “gamepiece,” corrupted in English to “morris,” while Miles (English corruption “mills”) is Latin for “soldier,” since the game was widely played by Roman soldiers, and the goal is to line pieces up in rows.

Instructions:

Download a printable gameboard here.

The game board consists of three squares inside of each other, corners and centers connected by lines. Each player has nine men. Play begins by putting men alternately down on the dots, where the lines meet. The purpose is to form a row of three men along any line, while preventing your opponent from forming a row of three. Each time you make a row of three on a line, you remove one of your opponent’s men from the board. The only opponent’s men that are protected, when this happens, are those already in a row of three. If your opponent only has pieces in rows of three, then one of the men from a row of three may be taken.

When the nine men on each side have been put on the board, you then begin to take turns moving any of your men from one dot to another, along the lines, to the nearest vacant dot. For each new row of three that you make, you take another opposing man off the board. When your opponent makes a new row of three, he will take one of your men off the board. You may not move a man in and out of the same row of three and claim it as a new row. To be a new row, at least one of the men in the row must be new, or you may move the same three men to a new line. You win the game when your opponent has less than three men left.

Adapted from The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England by Joseph Strutt, London, 1845. Old Sturbridge Village, 2021

Christmas Music

Music is also a hallmark of Christmas by Candlelight! Many of today’s “traditional” carols hail from the 19th century originally. Listen to a sampling of 19th-century Christmas tunes, played by OSV musicians, on our YouTube here.

A Sampling of 19th-century Christmas Music

Listen Now!

2023 Virtual Gingerbread House Exhibit

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