I have a final (for the time being) post on bread for you today. It is an extract from A new and cheap art of bread-making: the rich man's guide, the poor man's friend: instructions for making unfermented bread, being a compilation from various authors, with notes and additions, by Henry L.B. Lewis (New York, 1847)
This treatise is designed more particularly for the use of private families; from which it is hoped it will be the means of bringing certain gentlemen manufacturers of parent bread to their proper senses, to provide in future, not only a pure article, from good flour, but of full weight.
THE ART OF BREAD-MAKING.
Much has been written of late years in relation to the subject of bread-making, with a view of obtaining a good article, unadulterated with the pernicious "stuffs" commonly used by the bakers, to shield the quality of an inferior article of flour, making it appear, by its whiteness, when manufactured into the staff of life, as pure and genuine.
The old and received method of bread-making by fermentation, is generally supposed to be the only way to produce a good and wholesome quality of bread: but nothing can be farther from the truth, as will be shown in the few following pages.
It is a well-ascertained fact, that the only purpose served by fermentation in bread-making, is the generation of the carbonic acid required to raise the dough.
To make unfermented bread, the two following recipes are found to answer best :
No. 1. To make white bread.
Take of flour finely bolted, 3 pounds; bi-carbonate of soda, in powder, 9 drachms; hydro-chloric (muriatic) acid, 11 ¼ fluid drachms; water, about 25 fluid ounces.
No. 2. To make brown bread.
Take of wheat meal, (unbolted,) 3 pounds avoirdupois; bi-carbonate of soda, in powder, 10 drachms; hydro-chloric (muriatic) acid, 12 ½ fluid drachms; water, about 28 fluid ounces.
Bread made in this way will be both more wholesome and economical than that made by fermentation.
Mode of manufacturing the bread: first, mix the soda and the meal or flour as thoroughly as possible. This is best done by shaking the soda from a small sieve over the meal or flour with one hand, while they are stirred together with the other, and then passing the mixture once or twice through the sieve. Next, pour the acid into the water, and diffuse it perfectly, by stirring them well with a rod of glass or wood. Then mix intimately the meal or flour and the water so prepared as speedily as possible, using a wooden spoon or spatula for the purpose. The dough thus formed will make two loaves, weighing over two pounds each. They should be put into a quick or very hot oven without loss of time.
This is most conveniently done in tins, iron or earthen pots or pans. The earthen deserve the preference, as they yield a better bread than either the tin or the iron. Common flower-pots suit particularly well. Iron does better than tin. But the loaves may be made into a batch and baked in the same way as fermented bread; and if a thin flat tile be placed between each loaf, the tendency to cohere, which, however, is not greater in this than in other dough, will be obviated, and the bread will be, in all respects, equal, or rather superior, to that baked even in earthen pans.
The dough may also be formed and baked like family loaves.
The oven should be made hotter than for fermented bread.
About an hour and a half will be required for the baking.
The proportions of soda and acid are those which make common culinary salt, when united chemically. This union takes place as soon as heat is applied; and then the carbonic acid, being set free in its state of gas, expands the dough, or raises it, so as to form bread. If either the soda or the acid be in excess, the bread will taste of the one or the other accordingly; but it will not be on that account unwholesome. The salt so formed is sufficient to flavor the bread for most palates; but if more be desired, the soda and acid may be somewhat increased, or a small portion of common salt may be superadded, by dissolving it in the water before that is mixed with the acid. The addition of a quarter of an ounce may render the white bread more agreeable in the estimation of some persons. Much handling, and hot water, are hurtful, by causing the union to take place before the proper time.
For this reason, the water should be as cold as possible; and more or less of it must be used, as experience will readily direct, to suit the varying quality of the flour, which necessarily differs with seasons, soils, and other circumstances. The dough should not be made stiff; the thinner it is, so it can be handled conveniently, the lighter will be the bread. When too much water has been used, the bread will be unpleasantly moist. Milk (and it answers best when skimmed) may be used on particular occasions, either wholly or in part, instead of water. The soda should be diffused equally through the flour. If it be deficient in any part, the dough will not rise there ; and if in another it be too much, or in a little lump, in that place the bread will show a yellowish spot; such marks are disagreeable to the eye, but not otherwise injurious. The largest quantity of flour that can be mixed with ease at one time by a beginner, is twelve pounds; but three times that amount will not be too much tor an experienced workman. The whole process of preparation for the oven need not exceed a quarter of an hour; and any person capable of ordinary attention may conduct it: for, on a small scale, it is as simple and as easy as the making of a common pudding, except perhaps the accuracy in quantities is more important. A cook has seldom been known to fail, even on her first trial, when carefully instructed. The only apparatus required, in addition to the usual kitchen furniture, is a graduated glass measure, to measure the acid, a small set of apothecaries weights, to weigh the soda, a small sieve and a wooden spatula.
Two sieves will be wanted when both kinds of bread are made, one adapted for flour and another for meal. As just observed, accuracy in measuring and weighing is essential; but this requires no qualification beyond the most common attention.
It will be convenient to keep some acid, diluted with water, in a bottle for use, since by this means a trivial error in measuring will be of less consequence than when it is in a concentrated state. Add, for example, one part of acid to three of water, or say, six ounces of the former to eighteen of the latter ; and then five ounces and five drachms of the diluted acid will be the proportion for three pounds of flour, and six ounces and two drachms for three pounds of meal.*
Recipe for making a plain pudding, which may be enriched as desired,
by the addition of fruit, etc.
Flour, 1 ½ pounds ; bi-carbonate of soda, ½ ounce, apothecaries weight; muriatic acid, 5 fluid drachms ; suet, ¼ pound, or more or less; ginger, in powder, ½ . a drachm; water, about one pint.
Mix according to the directions given above, and boil in the usual way.
* To simplify this matter and to guard against mistakes in the hands of the unskilful, single weights may be prepared for the exact quantity of soda required for three pounds of flour, and for the like of meal, or corn meal, as well also for a mixture of rye and corn meal ; and a glass measure, graduated for the corresponding proportions of acid — diluted as advised in the text. These weights and measures are cheap, and. may be procured from the apothecary.