Yeast is the first factor to be looked after in preparing fermented bread; therefore I will give a few suggestions and formulas relating to its preparation and use. Where home made yeast is made, almost every baker has his own formula, and knows just how it will work. But, as a rule, given a certain recipe for stock yeast, it is necessary to give the whole process of baking with it. With the astonishingly perfect system with which compressed yeast is now delivered and shipped fresh to any part of the country, there is hardly an excuse for not using it. To bake a perfect, sweet, flaky loaf of bread every season in the year and every day alike, requires considerably more technical skill and experience than if compressed yeast is used. For coffee cakes and other sweet bread baking, the old fashioned stock yeast is almost entirely out of date.
Over two ounces of sweet fresh hops pour seven quarts of boiling water. Let it stand a while, then add one more quart of water until all the strength seems boiled out of the hops, at which point they commence to settle down below the surface. Mix enough of this liquid with eighteen ounces of bread flour and one-fourth of a pound of corn meal, one-fourth of a pound of rice flour, two ounces of crushed malt, into a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the liquid, and set aside. When partly cooled off, add three or four handfuls of white sugar and one ounce of compressed yeast, or one pint of fresh, ready fermented yeast to start it. Set aside, where I will not be disturbed for at least twenty hours. Then strain and mix with sufficient flour into a stiff sponge. When well ripened, throw out on a bench dusted with corn meal, and roll or press out and cut in small, thick cakes, which are then dried in the fresh air, in a shady place. When thoroughly dry, pack away for future use. Keep away from heat and dampness. This is now used as mother yeast to start fresh ferment or new stock. One ounce to each gallon is sufficient in warm weather; in winter one and one half ounces may be needed.
Wash about two quarts (six pounds) of potatoes, and boil them soft, with plenty of water to cover them well. In a very clean tub place the boiled potatoes, add one and one-half pounds of white flour, one handful of corn meal, and mash up fine with the potatoes. Add a little at a time of the boiling hot potato water. Let both now cool a little more, then add all the liquid from the potatoes and enough water to make about four gallons in all. When blood warm in winter or luke warm in summer, add three and one-half to five ounces of dry stock yeast (or two and one-half ounces of fresh compressed yeast). Set away in quiet place, not too warm, where it will not be shaken up or disturbed for about eight hours. In very hot days, you may cool it down first, with a piece of ice. If it is ready, you will notice on the side of the tub that it had risen some inches and fallen back again. If you cannot notice that, it is not ready yet. Then strain and set into the sponge with sufficient flour, not too stiff. This sponge does not need to rise the second time, like compressed yeast sponge. Take as soon as it has fallen once.