Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Extreme Kitchen DIY: Cornflakes.

John Harvey Kellogg, of Battle Creek, Michigan, was granted Patent No. 558,393 on April 14, 1896, for “Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same.” He described the end product of his process in the documents:

The improved cooked alimentary product, from grain such as wheat, hereinbefore described, which exists in the form of large, attenuated, baked, crisp and slightly brown flakes of practically uniform thickness, the same being readily soluble and containing dextrin, as specified.

Kellogg’s Cornflakes were born.

If you want to make your own cornflakes, the instructions are right there, in the patent application. Of course, you would need some heavy duty rollers if you wanted to get the flakes really thin, but there are always some compromises (but not necessarily deficiencies) with DIY, aren’t there?.

Kellogg says in the patent specifications:

In carrying out my invention I use as a material from which to produce my improved alimentary product wheat, which is preferably in its natural state, although it may be slightly pearled without materially affecting the desired result, barley or oats prepared by the removing of a portion of the outer husks, corn, and other grains.
The steps of the process are as hereinafter described.
First. Soak the grain for some hours - say eight to twelve - in water at a temperature which is either between 40° and 60° Fahrenheit or 110° and 140° Fahrenheit, thus securing a preliminary digestion by aid of cerealin, a starch-digesting organic ferment contained in the hull of the grain or just beneath it. The temperature must be either so low or so high as to prevent actual fermentation while promoting the activity of the ferment. This digestion adds to the sweetness and flavor of the product.
Second. Cook the grain thoroughly. For this purpose it should be boiled in water for about an hour, and if steamed a longer time will be required. My process is distinctive in this step - that is to say, that the cooking is carried to the stage when all the starch is hydrated. If not thus thoroughly cooked, the product is unfit for digestion and practically worthless for immediate consumption.
Third. After steaming the grain is cooled and partially dried, then passed through cold rollers, from which it is removed by means of carefully-adjusted scrapers. The purpose of this process of rolling is to flatten the grain into extremely thin flakes in the shape of translucent films, whereby the bran covering (or the cellulose portions thereof) is disintegrated or broken into small particles, and the constituents of the grain are made readily accessible to the cooking process to which it is to be subsequently subjected and to the action of the digestive fluids when eaten.
Fourth. After rolling the compressed grain or flakes having been received upon suitable trays is subjected to a steaming process, whereby it is thoroughly cooked and is then [Fifth] baked or roasted in an oven until dry and crisp.
The finished product thus consists of extremely thin flakes, in which the bran (or the cellulose portions thereof) is disintegrated and which have been thoroughly cooked and prepared for the digestive processes by digestion, thorough cooking, steaming, and roasting. In this respect it differs from any similar alimentary article which has been heretofore produced.

I am now most interested to know when cornflakes became an ingredient in biscuits (by which I mean cookies, for those of you who use the “other” form of the English language.)  I have not made a thorough search for the earliest use, that would take some time, but the following recipe is interesting in that it was given as wheat-saving recipe in World War I.

Cornflake Cookies.
2 eggs; 1 cup sugar; 4 cups corn flakes; 1 cup nut meats; ¼ teaspoon salt; flavor with nutmeg.
Drop from end of a teaspoon on baking sheet; bake in a quick oven.

Attica Daily Ledger April 20, 1918

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