Friday, January 24, 2014

How to Make Good Household Bread

If you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll know I often put in recipes from the 19th Century. There are several things I find interesting with regard to this recipe. One, how basic it is. Two, how the measurements or lack there of are mentioned. And finally, three how you have to adapt your recipe according to the time of year and location.

To ten pounds of flour in your kneading-trough put a sm ill han lful of rait. Stir into this about two quarts of water, more or less; but somo flours will soak up more water tliau others. For very white bread, maio with superfine flour, the dough should bo softer thau for seemdj or brown bread. In summer the water may be milk-warm; iu winter, couEidcrably warmer, but ntrer hot enough to kill the, nca t. After the water is mixed with the flour, add the yeast. Much depends oa the quality of the yeast. Then knead your bread. After kiioadiny, lcavo it t J rise in a warm place, covered with a cloth. If all goes well, it will have risen in something between an hour and an hour and a half. Then divide it into rolls, loaves, or tin-breads, as wanted, and bake.
For a three-pound loaf you must t ike three pounds and n ha'.f of dough: for a four-pound loaf, four pounds eleven ounces; for a Fixpound loaf, six pounds and three-quarters; and for an eight-pound loaf, nine pounds of dough
You cannot make good bread without good waUr. The water should be good drinking water, pure both to the taste* and smell—water which (Involves soap without curdling, and which boils fresh vegetables green, and dry vegetables fas peas and haricots) tender. None is better than rain-water, when it can be had clean and without the taste of soot. Stagnant water, hard water, and water from melted ice or snow, are all to be avoided. The quali'y of the wnter has a considerable effect on the <■ ■.<-#. v , of it which the flour will take up. TIic quantity varies according to the kind of bread yon want to make, and even according to the season. You con put in more water in winter th iu i:i summer, because the dongh remains firmer in winter tlinn in summer. It takes more water to make soft bread, like the French, than to make kneaded with salt and yen at, as for mailing unusually light rolls, there enters into the composition of the dough almost as much water as flour. The smaller the rolls are, the less stiff the dough should be. But, as we have already stated, exact precision in these matters is not possible. In kneading dourh, to:> much water is less inconvenient than too little. Nevertheless, when the dough is too moist, the "eyes" iu the bread become too big, irregular, and unequal; and the crust is apt to separate from the bread and get burnt.
Oaten bread requires to be made with warm water, good yeast and plenty of it, and to be well kneaded; to be thoroughly baked in a hot oven, and left there some time, according to the size of the loaf, because the insido is apt to be pasty. Barley-broad takes less yeast, but should also bo thoroughly baked in a brisk ovrn. The German peasantry make bread with a mixture of barley-flour and potatoes, which they highly relish, custom being second nature. For rye-bread, make a stiff dough with cold water and plenty of good yeast; knead well; when risen, put it into a smart oven, and 1« in no hurry to tike it out. In Sweden, bread is made with a mixture of flour and barley: in some districts, buckwhoat-flour is mixed with rye-flourWhen yea?t cannot be got, wo recommend the following way cf making :—
Bread Without Yfast.—To every half-quartern of flour, odd one tcaspoonful of carbonate of sod \, and balf a teaspoonful of salt. M'x all together; then, to iho water sufficient to make a dough, odd half a teaspoonful of muriatic acid. Set into the oven at once. This makes beautiful sweet bread, and i* wholesome. Some use tartaric acid; iu which case the bread will contain tartrate of soda, which, although not poisonous, is medicinal—slightly purgative even. On the other hand, muriatic acid neutralises soda just as well as tartaric aoid, and the resulting compound is only common salt.—From "cassell's House
Source: 1871 Cassell's Illustrated Almanac ©1871

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