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(German) - (Pennsylvania Germans)

The Professor's wife seldom used any liquid except water to set a
sponge for bread. She seldom used any shortening. She taught Mary to
make bread by the following process, which she considered superior to
any other. From the directions given, housewives may think more time
devoted to the making of a couple of loaves of bread than necessary;
also, that too great a quantity of yeast was used; but the bread made
by "Frau Schmidt" was excellent, quickly raised and baked.
The whole process consumed only about four hours' time, and how could
time be more profitably spent than in baking sweet, crusty loaves of
bread, even in these strenuous days when the efficient housekeeper
plans to conserve strength, time and labor?
First, two Fleischman's compressed yeast cakes were placed in a bowl
and dissolved with 4 tablespoonfuls of luke-warm water; she then added
1 cup of lukewarm water, 1/2 tablespoonful of sugar and 1/2
teaspoonful of salt and stirred all well together. The bowl containing
this yeast foam was allowed to stand in a warm place, closely covered,
one hour.
At the end of that time the yeast mixture should be light and foamy.
It was then poured into the centre of a bowl containing about 4-1/2
cups of _warmed_ flour, mixing the foamy yeast with a _portion_ of the
flour to make a soft sponge, leaving a wall of flour around the inside
edge of bowl, as our grandmothers used to do in olden times when they
mixed a sponge for bread of liquid flour and yeast, in one end of the
old-fashioned wooden "dough tray," using a wooden stick or small
paddle for stirring together the mixture.
The bowl containing the sponge was placed in a warm place to rise. In
about 15 or 20 minutes 1/2 cup of lukewarm water was added to the
sponge, stirring in all the outside wall of flour until a dough, the
proper consistency for bread, was formed. The dough was turned out on
the molding board and given a couple of quick, deft turns with the
hands for several minutes, then placed in the bowl and again set to
rise in a warm place, free from draughts, for 25 or 30 minutes. When
light, with hands slightly greased with butter, she kneaded the dough
a short time, until smooth and elastic, divided the dough into two
portions, placed each loaf in warmed, well-greased bread pans and
stood in a warm place about 1/4 hour. Then turned the contents of
bread pans onto bake-board, one at a time. Cut each loaf into three
portions, rolled each piece into long, narrow strips with the palms of
the hands. Pinched ends of the three strips together and braided or
plaited them into a braid almost the length of bread pan. Placed each
braided loaf in a bread pan and set to raise as before. When
well-raised, brush the top of loaves with melted butter. Bake about
three-quarters of an hour in a moderately-hot oven. An old-fashioned
way of testing the heat of the oven was to hold the hand in the oven
while counting thirty. Should one be unable to bear the heat of oven a
longer time, then the temperature was correct for baking bread. Should
one be able to allow the hand to remain in the oven a longer time, the
heat of the oven should be increased.
As a result of carefully following these minute directions, even an
inexperienced housewife should have sweet, wholesome bread.
Frau Schmidt insisted that rolling portions of dough separately before
combining in a loaf, as for braided loaves, caused the bread to have a
finer texture than if just shaped into round loaves.

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