The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

The following observations on bread-making are extracted from a valuable work on that subject and may be found very useful to housekeepers:
The first thing required for making wholesome bread is the ut­most cleanliness; the next is the soundness and sweetness of all ingredients used for it, and, in addition to these, there must be at­tention and care through the whole process.
An almost certain way of spoiling dough is to leave it half-made and allow it to become cold before it is finished. The other most common causes of failure are using yeast no longer sweet, which has been frozen, or has had hot liquor poured over it.
Too small a proportion of yeast or insufficient time allowed for dough to rise will cause the bread to be heavy. Heavy bread will also most likely be the rosult of making dough very hard and letting it become quite cold, particularly in winter.
If either the sponge or the dough be permitted to overwork Itself, that is to say, if the mixing and kneading be neglected when it has reached the proper point for either, sour bread will probably be the consequence in warm weather and bad bread in any weather. The goodness will also be endangered by placing it so near a fire or stove as to make any part of it hot, instead of maintaining the gentle and equal degree of heat required for its due fermentation.
Milk which is not perfectly sweet will not only injure the flavor of the bread, but, in sultry weather, will often cause it to be quite un­eatable, yet, if milk or butter be fresh and good, its quality will ma­terially improve. But the acidity of the milk can be neutralized with a little soda, and the quality of the butter sweetened by boiling it very gently with sippets of bread in it, which will absorb its rancid­ity and leave the butter sweet.
To keep bread sweet and fresh, as soon as it is cold it should be placed in a clean earthen jar, with a cover on it; this pan should be placed a little distance from the ground to allow a current of air to pass underneath it. Some prefer it to be kept in a box lined with zinc; other persons, on clean wooden shelves without being cov­ered, so that the crust may not soften. Stale bread may be freshened by warming it through in a gently heated oven. Stale pastry, cakes, etc., may also be improved by this method.