A little over a week ago I wrote two posts on old/new/enduring ideas related to bread (here, and here). Bread, of course, requires yeast to make it rise. Sometimes the rising agent is added in the form of sourdough ferment or a lump of dough from a previous baking. I have never understood why cookery book instructions often distinguish this from ‘yeast,’ as if it was an entirely different thing rather than simply another form of the very same thing.
There are many recipes for making yeast from all sorts of fermentable materials, and I have previously given them for potato, lemon, and hops amongst other things (see links below). The following method of making “Temperance Yeast” was an intriguing concept until I realised that the title says nothing about the ingredients or method of making leaven, but was purely to relieve the anxiety of temperance advocates reluctant to purchase brewers’ yeast to rise their bread, as was common practice at the time.
The recipe also demonstrates the scale of the household bread-making operation at the time, in that the instructions tell how much of the Temperance Yeast to use for thirty pounds of flour.
On Monday morning boil for half an hour, 2 ounces of the best hops in 4 quarts of water. Let the liquor cool down to a milk-warm heat, and then put in a small handful of salt and half a pound of brown sugar. Beat up one pound of the best flour with some of this liquid, and then mix all well together.
Wednesday morning boil and well mash 3 pounds of mealy potatoes, and mix with the above. While the yeast is being made, (that is up to Thursday morning, ) it should be kept in a warm place, but not too warm, and stirred often, every half hour if possible.
Thursday morning sieve the mixture carefully, then put the liquid in a large stone bottle, when it will be fit for use. After it is made it must be kept in a cool place and corked tightly.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE.- Before you take the yeast out for use, it must be stirred well round with a peeled stick or willow. Mix the barm or yeast the night before it is used, with a quart of water and a little flour; set and work your sponge and knead your dough the same as with brewer’s yeast, but let it rise for 2 or 3 hours, or more if convenient, after kneading, before it is baked. This yeast will keep for 2 or 3 months, according to the weather. Half a pint of it will raise thirty pounds of good flour.
The Family Economist: A Penny Monthly Magazine, devoted to the Moral, Physical, and Domestic Improvement of the Industrious Classes, Vol 4, (London,1851)
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