Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Milk Toast, Milk Biscuits & Yeast

Today I'm including an old recipe for Milk Toast and Milk Biscuits from Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book ©1857

Milk Toast.—Boil a pint of rich milk;  then take it off the fire and stir into it a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, with a small tablespoonful of flour, and a teaspoonful of salt. Let it come again to a boil. Have ready two deep plates with 6 slices of toasted bread in each. Pour the milk over them hot, and keep them covered till they go to table. Milk toast is generally eaten at breakfast.

Milk Biscuit—Take three-quarters of a pound of flour, and put in a wine-glassful of yeast, half a pint of milk, and a little salt. Roll the dough into small balls, and set them to rise. When risen sufficiently, bake them in a quick oven.

I have to wonder from the above recipe what the size of their wine-glasses were. It seems like a lot of yeast. Today, I use one or two teaspoons for an entire love of whole-wheat bread. Mrs. Cornelius in The Young Housekeeper's friend ©1846 says 1 teaspoonful of saleratus (baking soda) for butter-milk biscuits. However in The Improved Housewife ©1847 it says a half pint of yeast.

So I searched further and found this information in Mrs. Hale's cookbook about Yeast:
Yeast.—It is impossible to have good light bread, unless you have lively, sweet yeast. When common family beer is well brewed and kept in a clean cask, the settlings are the best of yeast. If you do not keep beer, then make common yeast by the following method :—
Take 2 quarts of water, 1 handful of hops, 2 of wheat bran: boil these together 20 minutes ; strain off the water, and while it is boiling hot, stir in either wheat or rye flour, till it becomes a thick batter; let it stand till it is about blood-warm; then add a half pint of good smart yeast and a large spoonful of molasses, if you have it, and stir the whole well. Set it in a cool place in summer, and a warm one in winter. When it becomes perfectly light, it is fit for use. If not needed immediately, it should, when it becomes cold, be put in a clean jug or bottle; do not fill the vessel, and the cork must be left loose till the next morning, when the yeast will have done working. Then cork it tightly, and set in a cool place in the cellar. It will keep 10 or 12 days.
Obs.—Never keep yeast in a tin vessel. If you find the old yeast sour, and have not time to prepare new, put in saleratus, a tea-spoonful to a pint of yeast, when ready to use it. If it foams up lively, it will raise the bread ; if it does not, never use it.
To Preserve Yeast.—Lay the yeast with a brush on a board or tub, and as it dries, lay on more, and continue to do so till it cracks and falls off; put it into clean bottles, and cork it well. This is excellent for taking to sea, where sugar-beer with little trouble might be made in any quantity, and always fr«sh.
To Assist Yeast.—When there is a scarcity of yeast, use the following method: Work into half a pint of water a spoonful of flour, until it becomes smooth, and boil it; put it into a jug, and stir it till it cools. When milk-warm, put in a spoonful of yeast, and a spoonful of moist sugar; stir them well, and put in a warm place, and if well made, there will be as much in a short time as will raise 3 pecks of flour; the bread made of this yeast requires to be laid 5 hours before it is baked.
To Extract Bitter from Yeast.—Beat it up with the white of an egg; add a double quantity of water; beat all well together : cover it; let it stand all night, and pour off the water, when it will be sweet; 1 egg is sufficient for a quart of yeast.
Milk Yeast.—Take 1 pint of new milk; 1 tea-spoonful of fine salt, and a large spoon of flour—stir these well together: get the mixture by the fire, and keep it just lukewarm ; it will be fit for use in an hour. Twice the quantity of common yeast is necessary ; it will not keep long. Bread made of this yeast dries very soon; but in the summer it is sometimes convenient to make this kind when yeast is needed suddenly.
Hard Yeast.—Boil 3 ounces of hops in 6 quarts of water, till only 2 quarts remain. Strain it, and stir in while it is boiling hot, wheat or rye meal till it is thick as batter. When It is about milk-warm, add half a pint of good yeast, and let it stand till it is very light, generally about 3 hours; then work in sifted Indian meal till it is a stiff dough. Roll it out on a board; cut it into oblong cakes about 3 inches by 2, and half an inch thick. Lay these cakes on a smooth board, over which a little flour has been dusted; prick them with a fork, and place the board in a dry clean room, where the sun and air may be freely admitted. Turn them every day. They will dry in a fortnight, unless the weather be damp. When the cakes are perfectly dry, put them in a coarse cotton bag ; hang it up in a cool, dry place. If rightly prepared these cakes will keep a year.
Two cakes will make yeast enough for a peck of flour. Break them into a pint of lukewarm water, and stir in a table-spoonful of flour, the evening before you bake. Set the mixture where it ceo be kept moderately warm. In the morning it will be fit for use.


  1. Oh milk toast. Bane of my existence. Every time I was sick as a kid, I got milk toast. Not so much because I liked it, it was more of a threat to prevent my siblings and I from faking illness. Probably why I only stayed home about once a year.