Wash beans and get them into boiling salted water, in the bean pot, as quickly as possible. For each pint of beans use 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 teaspn. of salt. Add plenty of water at first, perhaps three times the quantity of beans. Put into a hot oven until they begin to boil, then reduce the temperature to such a degree as will keep them just simmering for from 12 to 24 hours. The old-fashioned New England baked beans were kept in a brick oven for three days, and each day they were better than the last.
Do not stir the beans after the skins begin to break. When necessary to add more water, pour it boiling over the top and let it settle in gradually. A gentle shaking may be helpful. After they are swollen and softened they should not have too much water on at a time, nor be baked too fast; if so, they will be "mushy."
They are most generally liked slightly juicy when served-not too wet nor too dry, but just "juicy." They may be served with the Salad Entrée dressing, Improved Mayonnaise or French dressing, with oil or lemon juice or with Chili sauce, but they all spoil that delightful bean flavor in the rich, thick juice. Beans have a characteristic flavor which is destroyed by the addition of anything but salt and water. Molasses, cream, nut butter and tomato are all good in their place, but that is not in baked beans if we attain to the keenest enjoyment of the bean flavor. We get the rich red color, without the rank molasses taste, by prolonged baking. Cream and milk deaden the flavor, and nut butter and tomato change it.
Those who taste our baked beans for the first time exclaim, "I would not have believed it," and it is hard for them to believe that there is no meat in them.
For those who think they must have the molasses, use 1 teaspn. molasses (or 2 teaspns. for a very strong molasses flavor) 2 teaspns. oil and 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 teaspn. salt to each pint of beans.
Boil beans in salted water until the skins are broken. Put into a pudding dish with plenty of water and bake in a slow oven until dry and mealy and delicately browned over the top.
Add a little cream, turn into a baking dish and finish in the oven. Serve juicy.
A little thick cream poured over the lentils during the last of the baking gives a nice crusty finish to the top.