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(German) - (Pennsylvania Germans)

Bread, called the "Staff of Life," on account of its nutritive value,
should head the list of foods for human consumption. Bread making
should stand first in the "Science of Cooking," as there is no one
food upon which the comfort, health and well-being of the average
family so largely depends as upon good bread. There is absolutely no
reason why the housewife of the present day should not have good,
sweet, wholesome, home-made bread, if good yeast, good flour and
common-sense are used. The milk or water used to mix with flour for
making bread sponge should be lukewarm. If too hot, the loaves will be
full of holes and coarse grained. If too cold the bread, chilled, will
not rise as it should have done had the liquid used been the right
temperature. Good bread may be made by using milk, potato water or
whey (drained from thick sour milk), and good bread may be made by
simply using lukewarm water. I prefer a mixture of milk and water to
set sponge. Milk makes a fine-grained, white bread, but it soon dries
out and becomes stale. Bread rises more slowly when milk is used. When
mashed potatoes are used, the bread keeps moist a longer time. Should
you wish extra fine, white, delicate bread, add one cup of sweet cream
to the liquid when setting sponge. When milk is used the dough is
slower in rising, but makes a creamy-looking and fine-flavored bread.
When one Fleischman yeast cake is used in any recipe the ordinary
half-ounce cake of compressed yeast is intended, twenty-eight cakes in
a pound. These are usually kept in a large refrigerator in a
temperature of 44 degrees and should not be kept longer in the home
than three days in Summer or six days in Winter, and should always be
kept in a cool place until used, if the cook would have success when
Use the best hard, Spring wheat flour obtainable for baking bread, or
any sponge raised with yeast, as this flour contains a greater
quantity of gluten and makes bread of high nutritive value.
Winter wheat maybe used for cake-making and for baking pastry with
excellent results, although costing less than Spring wheat.
Always sift flour before using, when setting sponge for bread. When
mixing sponge use one quart liquid to about three pounds of flour.
"Aunt Sarah" always cut several gashes with a sharp knife on top of
loaves when ready to be placed in oven. She also made several cuts
across the top of loaves with a hot knife when set to rise to allow
gas to escape. If an impression made on a loaf of bread with the
finger remains, the bread is light. If the dent disappears, then the
loaf is not light enough to be placed in the oven; give it more time
to rise. An experienced cook, noted for the excellence and size of her
loaves of bread, said she always inverted a pail over the pan
containing loaves of bread when set to rise, and allowed the bread to
remain covered after being placed in the oven. Loaves will rise to a
greater height if this is done. Remove the covering to allow loaves to
brown a short time before taking them from the oven. "Aunt Sarah"
frequently placed four loaves in her large roasting pan, covered the
pan, when set to rise, and allowed the cover to remain until loaves
were nearly baked. She brushed the top and sides of loaves with melted
butter when set to rise to allow of their being broken apart easily. A
more crusty loaf is secured by placing each loaf singly in
medium-sized bread tins.
Aunt Sarah considered Fleischman's compressed yeast the best
commercial yeast in use, both quick and reliable, but thought better
bread was never made than that made by her mother, as she had been
taught to make it in years past, by the old-fashioned and slower
"sponge method." She was invariably successful in making sweet,
wholesome bread in that manner. She used home-made potato yeast or
"cornmeal yeast cakes," under different names, always with good
Good bread may be made either by the old-fashioned "sponge" method or
"straight." Sponge method consists of a batter mixed from liquid yeast
(usually home-made potato yeast is used) and a small part of the flour
required for making the bread. This batter was usually set to rise at
night and mixed up in the centre of a quantity of flour, in an
old-fashioned wooden dough tray. The following morning enough flour
was kneaded in to form a dough, and when well-raised and light, this
dough was formed into loaves and placed in pans for the final rising.
The more easily and more quickly made "straight" dough, when using
Fleischman's compressed yeast, is mixed in the morning and all the
ingredients necessary are added at one time. It is then set to rise
and, when the dough has doubled in bulk, it is kneaded down and when
risen to once and half its size, shaped into loaves, placed in pans to
rise and, when risen to top of pans, bake.
Better bread may be made from flour not freshly milled. Flour should
be kept in a dry place; it improves with moderate age. Stand flour in
a warm place to dry out several hours before using if you would have
good bread.
When baking bread the heat of the oven should not be _too great_ at
_first_, or the outside of the bread will harden too quickly and
inside the loaves will not be thoroughly baked before the crust is
thick and dark. The temperature of the oven and time required for
baking depend upon the size of the loaves, yet the bread should be
placed in rather a quick oven, one in which the loaves should brown in
about fifteen minutes, when the heat may be reduced, finishing the
baking more slowly.
Small biscuits and rolls can stand a much hotter oven and quicker
baking than large loaves, which must be heated slowly, and baked a
longer time. A one-pound loaf should bake about one hour. On being
taken from the oven, bread should be placed on a sieve, so that the
air can circulate about it until it is thoroughly cooled. In the
_Farmers' Bulletin_, we read: "The lightness and sweetness depend as
much on the way bread is made as on the materials used." The greatest
care should be used in preparing and baking the dough and in cooking
and keeping the finished bread. Though good housekeepers agree that
light, well-raised bread can readily be made, with reasonable care and
attention, heavy, badly-raised bread is unfortunately very common.
Such bread is not palatable and is generally considered to be
unwholesome, and probably more indigestion has been caused by it than
by any other badly-cooked food. As compared with most meats and
vegetables, bread has practically no waste and is very completely
digested, but it is usually too poor in proteins to be fittingly used
as the sole article of diet, but when eaten with due quantities of
other food, it is invaluable and well deserves its title of "Staff of
When the housewife "sets" bread sponge to rise over night, she should
mix the sponge or dough quite late, and early in the morning mold it
at once into shapely-looking loaves (should the sponge have had the
necessary amount of flour added the night before for making a stiff
Being aware of the great nutritive value of raisins and dried
currants, Aunt Sarah frequently added a cup of either one or the
other, well-floured, to the dough when shaping into loaves for the
final rising.
Aunt Sarah frequently used a mixture of butter and lard when baking on
account of its being more economical, and for the reason that a lesser
quantity of lard may be used; the shortening qualities being greater
than that of butter. The taste of lard was never detected in her bread
or cakes, they being noted for their excellence, as the lard she used
was home-rendered, almost as sweet as dairy butter, free from taste or
odor of pork. She always beat lard to a cream when using it for baking
cakes, and salted it well before using, and I do not think the small
quantity used could be objected to on hygienic principles.
I have read "bread baking" is done once every three or four weeks, no
oftener, in some of the farm houses of Central Europe, and yet stale
bread is there unknown. Their method of keeping bread fresh is to
sprinkle flour into a large sack and into this pack the loaves, taking
care to have the top crusts of bread touch each other. If they have to
lie bottom to bottom, sprinkle flour between them. Swing the sack in a
dry place. It must swing and there must be plenty of flour between the
loaves. It sounds more odd than reasonable, I confess.

Other Recipes


1 quart potato water.
1 mashed potato.
1 tablespoonful butter or lard.
1 tablespoonful sugar.
1 Fleischman yeast cake, or 1 cup good yeast.
1/2 tablespoonful salt.
Flour to stiffen (about three quarts).
At 9 o'clock in the evening put in a large bowl the mashed potato, the
quart of luke-warm potato water (water in which potatoes were boiled
for dinner), butter or sweet lard, sugar, salt, and mix with flour
into a batter, to which add the Fleischman's or any good yeast cake,
dissolved in a little luke-warm water. Beat well and stir in flour
until quite stiff, turn out on a well-floured bake-board and knead
well about 25 minutes, until the dough is smooth, fine-grained and
elastic, and does not stick lo the bake-board or hands. Chop a knife
through the dough several times; knead and chop again. This makes the
bread finer and closer-grained, or, so Aunt Sarah thought. Knead in
all the flour necessary when first mixing the bread. When sufficiently
kneaded, form into a large, round ball of dough, rub all over with
soft lard, or butter, to prevent forming a crust on top and keep from
sticking to bowl, and set to rise, closely-covered with a cloth and
blanket, in a warm place until morning. In the morning the bread
should be very light, doubled in quantity. Take out enough dough for
an ordinary loaf, separate this into three parts, roll each piece with
the hand on the bake-board into long, narrow pieces. Pinch the three
pieces together at one end and braid, or plait, into a narrow loaf.
Brush over top with melted butter; set to rise in a warm place in a
bread pan, closely-covered, until it doubles in size--or, if
preferred, mold into ordinary-shaped loaves, and let rise until
doubled in size, when bake in a moderately-hot oven with steady heat.
Frequently, when the "Twist" loaves of bread were quite light and
ready to be placed in the oven, Aunt Sarah brushed the tops with yolk
of egg, or a little milk, then strewed "Poppy Seeds" thickly over. The
poppy seeds give an agreeable flavor to the crust of the bread.

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