All About Bread
( Originally Published 1904 )
The three essentials to good breadmaking are:
1. The right kind of flour.
2. Good yeast.
3. Proper baking.
Bread may be made from any sort of flour, but wheat flour is the best, as it contains the proper proportion of gluten to make the bread of a sufficiently sticky mass. Rye flour alone makes a moist, heavy bread, and corn flour a dry crumbly bread. Either of the latter may be advantageously mixed with wheat flour to make good bread.
As a food, wheat is preferable to any of the other vegetable products, as it is more agreeable than corn and more nutritious than rice. It contains nearly all of the essential elements of nutrition. There are two varieties: red wheat and white wheat. The red is smaller, harder, more nutritive, though the flour made from. it is not as white as that from the white wheat.
The chief adulterants of wheat flour are: rice flour, potato starch, pea meal, alum, plaster of Paris, and sulphate of copper, the latter being heavy and used to increase the weight. The great test for good pure flour is to press a handful tightly. On relaxing, the impression of the marks in the skin and the lines of the hand may be plainly seen on it.
Yeast is a vegetable growth of a fungous nature, easily seen under a microscope. It consists of. a mass of circular, or oval, bodies, which increase or multiply at an astonishing rate, but are easily killed by heat, cold, pressure, or chemical agents. Brewer's or distillery yeast is that which rises to the top of fermenting malt liquors. It is about eight times as strong as ordinary yeast. The ordinary yeast is made from hops or potatoes.
The first process of bread-making is mixing: Place 1/2 teaspoonful of salt, 1/2 teaspoonful of sugar, and 1/4 cupful of yeast, or 1/8 yeast cake dissolved in 1/4 cupful of water, in a mixing. bowl. Add 3 cupfuls of flour, and mix. Add flour enough to make the mass: stiff enough to knead.
Kneading is the next process. This is done for the purpose of making the gluten elastic, of causing the parts to adhere to one another and to make the dough fine and even-grained. The better the ingredients are mixed, the less kneading is required. The kneading must be kept up until the mass is quite elastic and until all stickiness has disappeared. Much depends on thorough kneading.
The next process is that of rising. The mass is placed in the mixing bowl again, covered with a cloth and a tin. cover, and placed in a warm place (about 80 degrees) and allowed to rise. This will take longer-in winter and in cold than in warm weather. In winter it may set over-night; in summer, from three to four hours. The rising of bread is caused by the growth of the yeast plant. The warmth and moisture cause it to grow. Boiling water will kill it; hence this must never be used in bread-making. As the yeast plant grows, the starch in the flour changes into sugar. The yeast plant changes the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, or carbonic-acid gas. This is fermentation. The carbonic-acid gas, in its efforts to escape from the mass of elastic gluten, fills the dough with air-cells which make the mass light and spongy. When it has increased to twice its original size, it is again worked over or kneaded, in the bowl. It is again allowed to rise, when it is moulded or shaped into loaves, and is then baked in an oven of about 400 degrees. This heat has the effect of killing the yeast germ and thereby stopping the fermentation. If this was allowed to go on, it would reach a point when the alcoholic fermentation would pass into the acetic fermentation and the dough would become sour. In baking, the alcohol passes into the oven, and the outer starch changes into gum, which forms the crust and is browned by the intense heat.
Yeast is a plant, not the flowering plant to which most of us are accustomed, but one of the lower forms of vegetation referred to as germ plants. It is microscopic, and when magnified is seen as small rounded bodies. These increase very rapidly under proper conditions of heat and moisture. They remain inactive, however, both in a cool place and while they have nothing to feed upon. When mixed with warm water and flour they feed upon the flour and start to grow and to multiply. This growth sets upon a fermentation. During fermentation, which is aided by the diastase of the flour, alcohol and carbon dioxide are given off.- The carbon di-oxide is a gas, and as this gas tries to escape through the tough tissues of the flour, bubbles are formed in the dough. This has the effect . of making the bread light, and also of causing the bread to rise.. Boiling water causes the death, of the yeast plant. For this reason boil ing water roust never be used in bread-making. A certain degree of heat is necessary to. the growth of the plant, so cold water or a cool place will retard the rising of the bread. There are two sorts of fermentation possible in bread-making: alcoholic and acetic. Acetic or sour fermentation is caused by the formation of acetic acid, which is the basis of vinegar. It is this that causes sour bread; therefore bread must not be allowed to rise too long. The heat of the oven has the effect of stopping the fermentation. If the bread is put into the oven too soon, the bread will be heavy. If too late, it will be sour. The perception of the proper time comes only from experience and practice.
In the making of yeast it is necessary to have some old yeast in order to supply a small quantity of the plant to the new mixture. This acts as the seed, and the other materials are the favorable conditions to the growth of the plants.
There are such good and cheap cultivated yeasts made by manufacturers in these days that it is hardly worth while to bother about making home-made yeast any longer. It can hardly be made so uniform as that prepared by brewers and distillers, and we recommend the use of this cultivated yeast at all times.
LESSON RECIPES FOR BREAD
1 cup lukewarm milk, or 1 cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoonfui butter; 1 teaspoonful sugar; 1 teaspoonful salt; 1/4 cake yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup lukewarm water or 1/4 cup liquid yeast; flour to make a stiff dough ( 3 1/4 to 3½ cups).
Scald the milk, add the sugar and salt, and cool it _until lukewarm. Dissolve the compressed yeast in the lukewarm water, and add it. Stir in flour to make a, dough stiff _ enough to handle. Scrape the dough out on a floured board, leaving the bowl clean, and knead the dough about fifteen minutes until smooth and elastic,- so that, when pressed with the finger, the dough springs back., Place the dough in the bowl, grease the top with melted butter or dripping, to prevent a tough crust from forming and keeping the dough from rising. Cover the bowl with a towel, and set it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until double its bulk. Lay it on a board, and knead it again about fifteen minutes, being careful not to work in much flour, until the dough is smooth, even, and fine-grained. Shape it into biscuits or loaves, lay them in a greased pan, let them rise in a warm place, until double their bulk, and bake on the floor of a hot oven. Biscuit will require from twenty to thirty minutes, and loaves from forty-five minutes to one hour. If the dough is mixed with water, butter may be added to prevent the bread from being tough. The butter should be melted and added to the lukewarm water. The . quantity of yeast in the recipe will raise the dough to double its bulk in about six hours; '/3 of a cake of yeast will raise it in about four hours, and 1/8 of a cake will raise it in about twelve hours.
BREAD MADE WITH A SPONGE
Use the bread recipe, mixing in only enough flour to make a thick batter. If liked, boil a potato, mash it, and stir it in. Let the batter rise overnight. In the morning, stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough, and knead or chop it until it is smooth and free from stickiness. Mould it lightly into loaves or biscuit. Let them rise until double their bulk, and bake. The potato is an advantage, since yeast acts quickly on cooked starch.
ENTIRE-WHEAT OR GRAHAM BREAD
- Use the above recipe, doubling the quantity of sugar, and using for each cupful of flour, 2/3 cup of entire wheat or Graham flour, and 1/3 cup white flour. Proceed as in the preceding recipe, handling the dough lightly when kneading, since . it is apt to be sticky.
2 cupfuls yellow corn meal; ½ cake of yeast, and 1% cupful lukewarm water; I/2 cupful molasses; 1/2 teaspoonful salt; 1/4 teaspoonful soda; 2 cupfuls rye meal.
Sift the corn meal into the mixing-bowl, and scald it with 1 cup boiling water, just enough to wet it; let it stand ten minutes, and add 1 cup cold water, enough to make a batter. Add the molasses, yeast, salt, soda, and rye. Beat well, cover, and let it rise in a warm place all night, or until it cracks open. Stir thoroughly, but-ter and flour tins, fill them one-half full, let the mixture rise to the top, and bake in a moderate oven two hours.
2 cupfuls milk; 1 tablespoonful butter;.3 cupfuls flour; 1/4 cake yeast or 1/2 cake yeast; 1 tea-spoonful salt.
Scald the milk, add the butter, and cool. When lukewarm, stir in the yeast, salt, and flour, and beat well for five minutes. Cover, and' set to rise about two hours', until double its bulk. Add sufficient flour to make a soft dough. Divide into. small balls, and place in a deep gem-pan, cover and let rise to double their bulk. Bake. about one-half hour. When served, pull them open, since cutting makes them heavy.