The yeast procured from a public brewery is often so extremely bitter that it can only be rendered fit for use by frequent washings, and after these even it should be cautiously employed. Mix it, when first brought in, with a large quantity of cold water, and set it by until the following morning in a cool place; then drain off the water, and stir the yeast up well with as much more of fresh; it must again stand several hours before the water can be poured clear from it. By changing this daily in winter, and both night and morning in very hot weather, the yeast may be preserved fit for use much longer than it would otherwise be; and should it ferment rather less freely after a time, a small portion of brown sugar stirred to it before the bread is made will quite restore its strength.
German yeast, imported in a solid state, is now much sold in London, and answers, we are told, remarkably well; but we have not ourselves had an opportunity of proving it.
A brick oven, heated with wood, is far superior to any other for baking bread, as well as for most other purposes, the heat of an iron one being much less easy to regulate; but those attached to the kitchen ranges are convenient, for the facility they afford at all times of baking in a small way. They are, however, we should say, far from economical as regards the proportion of fuel required to heat them; and the same objection may be made to the American oven also; the strong smell, too, emitted from the iron ones, and diffused often entirely through a house, is peculiarly unpleasant. A brick oven should be well heated with faggot wood, or with a faggot, and two or three solid logs; and after it is cleared, the door should be closely shut for quite half an hour before the baking commences; the heat will then be well sustained for a succession of bread, pies, cakes, and small pastry. The servant who habitually attends at an oven will soon become acquainted with the precise quantity of fuel which it requires, and all other peculiarities which may be connected with it.
In general more time must be allowed to bake any thing in an iron than in a brick oven.
Make this by any of the foregoing receipts, with meal, as it is called (that is to say, the wheat just as it is ground, either separated from the coarse bran or not, according to the quality of the bread required), instead of flour. It ferments easily, and does not, therefore, require a very full proportion of yeast; and it absorbs more moisture than the flour; it also retains it longer, if properly baked. The loaves should be well soaked in the oven, but not over-dried.
The best bread we ever tasted was made in great part with rye-flour: this was in a provincial town in France.
One pound of good mealy potatoes, steamed or boiled very dry, in the ordinary way, or prepared by Captain Kater's receipt (see Chapter XV (Vegetables).), and rubbed quite hot, through a coarse sieve, into a couple of pounds of flour, with which they should be well mixed, will produce excellent bread, which will remain moist much longer than wheaten bread made as usual. The yeast should be added immediately after the potatoes. An ounce or two of butter, an egg, and some new milk, will convert this bread into very superior rolls.
Take a half-baked loaf from the oven, and tear it into small rough bits with a couple of forks; lay these on a tin, and put them back into the oven for ten minutes. If a light loaf be made for the purpose, with a couple of ounces of butter and new milk, they will quite resemble rusks.
Make some fine white flour into a smooth paste with new milk; divide it into small balls; roll, and afterwards pull them with the fingers as thin as possible; prick them all over, and bake them in a somewhat brisk oven from eight to twelve minutes. Thin cream may be used for them on occasion, instead of milk, or a morsel of butter may be worked into the flour; but they are very good without this last.
Take one pint of milk, three eggs, a piece of butter as large as an egg, two spoonsful of yeast, and flour enough to make a stiff batter; bake them in tin hoops or on a griddle, let them stand and rise all night, but not in a very warm place.
Rub into a pound of flour, an ounce of butter, a beaten egg, and half a teaspoonful of salt; wet it with warmed milk; make the paste rather stiff, and let it remain before the fire, where it will be kept warm for an hour or two; then roll it thin and cut it with the top of a tumbler; bake it quick.