Much of the health, and consequently much of the happiness, of the family depends upon good bread: therefore no pains should be spared in learning the best method of making, which will prove easiest in the end.
The old and the new process flour—the former being known as the St. Louis, and the latter as Haxall flour—are now to be had at all good grocers; and from either good bread may be made, though that from the latter keeps moist longer. Potapsco flour is of the same quality as the St. Louis. It contains more starch than the St. Louis, and for this reason requires, even more than that, the use in the family of coarser or graham flour at the same time; white bread alone not being as nutritious or strengthening, for reasons given in Part I. Graham flour is fast being superseded by a much better form, prepared principally by the Health Food Company in New York, in which the entire grain, save the husk, is ground as fine as the ordinary flour, thus doing away with the coarseness that many have objected to in graham bread.
Flour made by the new process swells more than that by the old, and a little less quantity—about an eighth less—is therefore required in mixing and kneading. As definite rules as possible are given for the whole operation; but experience alone can insure perfect bread, changes of temperature affecting it at once, and baking being also a critical point.
Pans made of thick tin, or, better still, of Russia iron, ten inches long, four or five wide, and four deep, make the best-shaped loaf, and one requiring a reasonably short time to bake.
Ingredients: One teacupful of lightly broken hops; one pint of sifted flour; one cupful of sugar; one tablespoonful of salt; four large or six medium-sized potatoes; and two quarts of boiling water.
Boil the potatoes, and mash them fine. At the same time, having tied the hops in a little bag, boil them for half an hour in the two quarts of water, but in another saucepan. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt well together in a large mixing-bowl, and pour on the boiling hop-water, stirring constantly. Now add enough of this to the mashed potato to thin it till it can be poured, and mix all together, straining it through a sieve to avoid any possible lumps. Add to this, when cool, either a cupful of yeast left from the last, or of baker's yeast, or a Twin Brothers' yeast cake dissolved in a little warm water. Let it stand till partly light, and then stir down two or three times in the course of five or six hours, as this makes it stronger. At the end of that time it will be light. Keep in a covered stone jar, or in glass cans. By stirring in corn-meal till a dough is made, and then forming it in small cakes and drying in the sun, dry yeast is made, which keeps better than the liquid in hot weather. Crumb, and soak in warm water half an hour before using.
Potato yeast is made by omitting hops and flour, but mashing the potatoes fine with the same proportion of other ingredients, and adding the old yeast, when cool, as before. It is very nice, but must be made fresh every week; while the other, kept in a cool place, will be good a month.
For four loaves of bread of the pan-size given above, allow as follows: Four quarts of flour; one large cup of yeast; one tablespoonful of salt, one of sugar, and one of butter or lard; one pint of milk mixed with one of warm water, or one quart of water alone for the "wetting."
Sift the flour into a large pan or bowl. Put the sugar, salt, and butter in the bottom of the bread pan or bowl, and pour on a spoonful or two of boiling water, enough to dissolve all. Add the quart of wetting, and the yeast. Now stir in slowly two quarts of the flour; cover with a cloth, and set in a temperature of about 75° to rise until morning. Bread mixed at nine in the evening will be ready to mould into loaves or rolls by six the next morning. In summer it would be necessary to find a cool place; in winter a warm one,—the chief point being to keep the temperature even. If mixed early in the morning, it is ready to mold and bake in the afternoon, from seven to eight hours being all it should stand.
This first mixture is called a sponge; and, if only a loaf of graham or rye bread is wanted, one quart of it can be measured, and thickened with other flour as in the rules given hereafter.
To finish as wheat bread, stir in enough flour from the two quarts remaining to make a dough. Flour the molding-board very thickly, and turn out. Now begin kneading, flouring the hands, but after the dough is gathered into a smooth lump, using as little flour as may be. Knead with the palm of the hand as much as possible. The dough quickly becomes a flat cake. Fold it over, and keep on, kneading not less than twenty minutes; half an hour being better.
Make into loaves; put into the pans; set them in a warm place, and let them rise from thirty to forty-five minutes, or till they have become nearly double in size. Bake in an oven hot enough to brown a teaspoonful of flour in one minute; spreading the flour on a bit of broken plate, that it may have an even heat. Loaves of this size will bake in from forty-five to sixty minutes. Then take them from the pans; wrap in thick cloths kept for the purpose and stand them, tilted up against the pans till cold. Never lay hot bread on a pine table, as it will sweat, and absorb the pitchy odor and taste; but tilt, so that air may pass around it freely. Keep well covered in a tin box or large stone pot, which should be wiped out every day or two, and scalded and dried thoroughly now and then. Pans for wheat bread should be greased very lightly; for graham or rye, much more, as the dough sticks and clings.
Instead of mixing a sponge, all the flour may be molded in and kneaded at once, and the dough set to rise in the same way. When light, turn out. Use as little flour as possible, and knead for fifteen minutes; less time being required, as part of the kneading has already been done.
One quart of wheat sponge; one even quart of graham flour; half a teacupful of brown sugar or molasses; half a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a little hot water; and half a teaspoonful of salt.
Pour the sponge in a deep bowl; stir in the molasses, &c, and lastly the flour, which must never be sifted. The mixture should be so stiff, that the spoon moves with difficulty. Bake in two loaves for an hour or an hour and a quarter, graham requiring longer baking than wheat.
If no sponge can be spared, make as follows: One pint of milk or water; half a cup of sugar or molasses; half a cup of yeast; one teaspoonful of salt; one cup of wheat flour; two cups of graham. Warm the milk or water; add the yeast and other ingredients, and then the flour; and set in a cool place—about 60° Fahrenheit—over-night, graham bread souring more easily than wheat. Early in the morning stir well; put into two deep, well-greased pans; let it rise an hour in a warm place, and bake one hour.
These are made by the same rule as the bread. Fill the muffin-pans two-thirds full; let them rise till even with the top of the pans, which will take about an hour; and bake in a quick oven twenty minutes. To make them a little nicer, a large spoonful of melted butter may be added, and two beaten eggs. This will require longer to rise, as butter clogs the air-cells, and makes the working of the yeast slower. The quantities given for bread will make two dozen muffins.
This bread is made by nearly the same rule as the graham, either using wheat sponge, or setting one over-night, but is kneaded slightly. Follow the rule just given, substituting rye for graham, but use enough rye to make a dough which can be turned out. It will take a quart. Use wheat flour for the molding-board and hands, as rye is very sticky; and knead only long enough to get into good shape. Raise, and bake as in rule for graham bread.
Make by above rule, but use only one pint of rye flour, adding two eggs and a spoonful of melted butter, and baking in the same way. A set of earthen cups are excellent for both these and graham muffins, as the heat in baking is more even. They are used also for pop-overs, Sunderland puddings, and some small cakes.
Sift together into a deep bowl one even cup of Indian meal, two heaping cups of rye flour, one even teaspoonful of salt, and one of soda. To one pint of hot water add one cup of molasses, and stir till well mixed. Make a hole in the middle of the meal, and stir in the molasses and water, beating all till smooth. Butter a tin pudding-boiler, or a three-pint tin pail, and put in the mixture, setting the boiler into a kettle or saucepan of boiling water. Boil steadily for four hours, keeping the water always at the same level. At the end of that time, take out the boiler, and set in the oven for fifteen minutes to dry and form a crust. Turn out, and serve hot.
Milk may be used instead of water, or the same mixture raised over-night with half a cup of yeast, and then steamed.
A pint-bowlful of bread dough will make twelve small rolls. Increase amount of dough if more are desired. Flour the molding-board lightly, and work into the dough a piece of butter or lard the size of an egg. Knead not less than fifteen minutes, and cut into round cakes, which may be flattened and folded over, if folded or pocket rolls are wanted. In this case put a bit of butter or lard the size of a pea between the folds. For a cleft or French roll make the dough into small round balls, and press a knife-handle almost through the center of each. Put them about an inch apart in well-buttered pans, and let them rise an hour and a half before baking. They require more time to rise than large loaves, as, being small, heat penetrates them almost at once, and thus there is very little rising in the oven.
Two quarts of flour; one pint of milk; butter the size of an egg; one tablespoonful of sugar; one teacupful of good yeast; one teaspoonful of salt.
Boil the milk, and add the butter, salt, and sugar. Sift the flour into a deep bowl, and, when the milk is merely blood-warm, stir together with enough of the flour to form a batter or sponge. Do this at nine or ten in the evening, and set in a cool place, from 50° to 60°. Next morning about nine mix in the remainder of the flour; turn on to the molding-board; and knead for twenty minutes, using as little flour as possible. Return to the bowl, and set in cool place again till about four in the afternoon. Knead again for fifteen minutes; roll out, and cut into rounds, treating them as in plain rolls. Let them rise one hour, and bake twenty minutes. One kneading makes a good breakfast roll; but, to secure the peculiar delicacy of a "Parker-House," two are essential, and they are generally baked as a folded or pocket roll. If baked round, make the dough into a long roll on the board; cut off small pieces, and make into round balls with the hand, setting them well apart in the pan.
SODA AND CREAM OF TARTAR BISCUIT.
One quart of flour; one even teaspoonful of salt; one teaspoonful of soda, and two of cream of tartar; a piece of lard or butter the size of an egg; and a large cup of milk or water.
Mix the soda, cream of tartar, and salt with the flour, having first mashed them fine, and sift all together twice. Rub the shortening in with the hands till perfectly fine. Add the milk; mix and roll out as quickly as possible; cut in rounds, and bake in a quick oven. If properly made, they are light as puffs; but their success depends upon thorough and rapid mixing and baking.
Make as above, using two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder, instead of the soda and cream of tartar.
Three pints of sifted flour; one cup of lard; one teaspoonful of salt. Rub the lard and flour well together, and make into a very stiff dough with about a cup of milk or water: a little more may be necessary. Beat the dough with a rolling-pin for half an hour, or run through the little machine that comes for the purpose. Make into small biscuit, prick several times, and bake till brown.
One pint of sifted flour; a piece of butter the size of a walnut; half a teaspoonful of salt.
Rub butter and flour together, and make into dough with half a cup of warm milk. Beat half an hour with the rolling-pin. Then take a bit of it no larger than a nut, and roll to the size of a saucer. They can not be too thin. Flour the pans lightly, and bake in a quick oven from five to ten minutes.
One pint of flour; one teaspoonful of baking powder; half a teaspoonful of salt; three eggs; butter the size of an egg; and one and a quarter cups of milk.
Sift salt and baking powder with the flour; rub in the butter. Mix and add the beaten yolks and milk, and last stir in the whites which have been beaten to a stiff froth. Bake at once in well-greased waffle-irons. By using two cups of milk, the mixture is right for pancakes. If sour milk is used, substitute soda for the baking powder. Sour cream makes delicious waffles.
RICE OR HOMINY WAFFLES.
One pint of warm boiled rice or hominy; one cup of sweet or sour milk; butter the size of a walnut; three eggs; one teaspoonful of salt and one of soda sifted with one pint of flour.
Stir rice and milk together; add the beaten yolks; then the flour, and last the whites beaten stiff. By adding a small cup more of milk, rice pancakes can be made. Boiled oatmeal or wheaten grits may be substituted for the rice.
BREAKFAST PUFFS OR POP-OVERS.
One pint of flour, one pint of milk, and one egg. Stir the milk into the flour; beat the egg very light, and add it, stirring it well in. Meantime have a set of gem-pans well buttered, heating in the oven. Put in the dough (the material is enough for a dozen puffs), and bake for half an hour in a very hot oven. This is one of the simplest but most delicate breakfast cakes made. Ignorant cooks generally spoil several batches by persisting in putting in baking powder or soda, as they can not believe that the puffs will rise without.
One quart of flour; one teaspoonful of salt and two of baking powder sifted with the flour; one cup of butter, or half lard and half butter; one large cup of hot milk. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the milk, and roll out the dough, cutting in small square cakes and baking to a light brown.
For a strawberry or peach short-cake have three tin pie-plates buttered; roll the dough to fit them, and bake quickly. Fill either, when done, with a quart of strawberries or raspberries mashed with a cup of sugar, or with peaches cut fine and sugared, and served hot.
Two cups of corn meal; one cup of flour; one teaspoonful of soda and one of salt; one heaping tablespoonful of butter; a teacup full of sugar; three eggs; two cups of sour milk, the more creamy the better. If sweet milk is used, substitute baking powder for soda.
Sift meal, flour, soda, and salt together; beat the yolks of the eggs with the sugar; add the milk, and stir into the meal; melt the butter, and stir in, beating hard for five minutes. Beat the whites stiff, and stir in, and bake at once either in one large, round loaf, or in tin pie-plates. The loaf will need half an hour or a little more; the pie-plates, not over twenty minutes.
This can be baked as muffins, or, by adding another cup of milk, becomes a pancake mixture.
One quart of corn meal; one teaspoon full of salt; one tablespoonful of melted lard; one large cup of boiling water. Melt the lard in the water. Mix the salt with the meal, and pour on the water, stirring it into a dough. When cool, make either into one large oval cake or two smaller ones, and bake in the oven to a bright brown, which will take about half an hour; or make in small cakes, and bake slowly on a griddle, browning well on each side. Genuine hoe-cake is baked before an open fire on a board.
Two cups of buckwheat flour; one of wheat flour; one of corn meal; half a cup of yeast; one teaspoonful of salt; one quart of boiling water. Mix the corn meal and salt, and pour on the boiling water very slowly, that the meal may swell. As soon as merely warm, stir in the sifted flour and yeast. All buckwheat may be used, instead of part wheat flour. Beat well, cover, and put in a cool place,—about 60°. In the morning stir well, and add half a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a little warm water. Grease the griddle with a bit of salt pork on a fork, or a very little drippings rubbed over it evenly, but never have it floating with fat, as many cooks do. Drop in large spoonfuls, and bake and serve few at a time, or they will become heavy and unfit to eat. If a cupful of the batter is saved, no yeast need be used for the next baking, and in cold weather this can be done for a month.
One quart of flour; one teaspoonful of salt and two of baking powder sifted with the flour; one pint of huckleberries; half a cup of butter; two eggs; two cups of sweet milk; two cups of sugar.
Cream the butter, and add the sugar and yolks of eggs; stir in the milk, and add the flour slowly; then beating the whites of the eggs stiff, and adding them. Have the huckleberries picked over, washed, dried, and well dusted with flour. Stir them in last of all; fill the pans three-quarters full, and bake in a moderate oven for about half an hour.
Make as above; but, instead of huckleberries, use one pint of sour, tender apples, cut in thin slices. It is a delicious breakfast or tea cake.
Dry all bits of crust or bread in the oven, browning them nicely. To a pint of these, allow one quart of milk, half a cup of butter, and a teaspoonful of salt. Boil the milk; add the butter and salt, and then the browned bread, and simmer slowly for fifteen minutes, or until perfectly soft. It is very nice. Bits of white bread or sea biscuit can be used in the same way.
Split large soft crackers, what is called the "Boston cracker" being best; butter them well as for eating; lay the buttered halves in baking-pans, and brown in a quick oven. Good at any meal.
If, by any mishap, bread has soured a little, make into water toast or brewis, adding a teaspoonful of soda to the water or milk.
TO USE DRY BREAD.
Brown in the oven every scrap that is left, seeing that it does not scorch. Roll while hot and crisp, and sift, using the fine crumbs for croquettes, &c., and the coarser ones for puddings and pancakes. Keep dry in glass jars; or tin cans will answer.
One cup of coarse crumbs, soaked over-night in a quart of warm milk, or milk and water. In the morning mash fine, and run through a sieve. Add three eggs well beaten, half a cup of flour, a large spoonful of sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, and, if liked, a little nutmeg. If the bread was in the least sour, add a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a little warm water. Bake like pancakes, but more slowly.
TO FRESHEN STALE BREAD OR ROLLS.
Wrap in a cloth, and steam for ten or fifteen minutes in a steamer. Then dry in the oven. Rolls or biscuits may have the top crust wet with a little melted butter, and then brown a minute after steaming.
THE EASIEST WAY IN HOUSEKEEPING AND COOKING.
Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes