The flour best adapted for bread-making is that from wheat, because it will produce the most appetizing and nutritious loaf at the least cost. The quality of wheat bread depends to a great extent upon the kind of flour used, whether whole-wheat, Graham, or bread flour (as the ordinary flour is called).
The so-called bread flour is made by grinding the wheat, screening out the bran and sifting the flour through linen or bolting cloth several times, thus making a fine white flour composed chiefly of starch and gluten. The whole-wheat flour differs from this in that the whole grain is ground fine, thus obtaining more gluten and some mineral matter, both of which lie close to the bran.
Graham flour is made from the whole grain ground coarse.
Both the whole-wheat flour and the Graham are dark in color and make dark bread.
There are certain general rules by which good bread flour can be tested.
First. It should have a yellowish tinge.
Second. When pressed in the hand it should fall loosely apart.
Third. When rubbed between the fingers it should feel slightly granular.
In bread-making an indispensible re-quisite is good yeast; and though modern bread and cake makers avail themselves largely of baking powders, a recipe for satisfactory yeast is of the first importance. The one given below has the warrant of experienced housekeepers;
Boil two ounces of the best hops in four quarts of water for half an hour; then strain and let stand until lukewarm. Put it in an earthen bowl, add half a cupful each of salt and brown sugar, and a quart of flour; mix all well together, and let it stand forty-eight hours. Now add six medium sized potatoes, which have been boiled and mashed through a colander, and let stand for another day, then strain and bottle and it is fit for use. While making it must be kept near a fire and often stirred. This yeast ferments of itself and needs the aid of no old yeast. If care be taken to let it ferment sufficiently in the bowl, it may immediately be corked tightly. Be careful to keep it in a cool place, and before using shake the bottle briskly. It will keep in a cool place two months, and is best the latter part of the time. Use about the same quantity as of other yeast.
Boil one quart pared and sliced potatoes and a double handful of hops (tied in a muslin bag) in two quarts of water for nearly an hour. Then take out the hops and strain the remainder through a colander into a bowl. Stir into the hot liquid flour enough to make a stiff batter, beat up well, add two tablespoonfuls of lively yeast, and set to rise in a warm place. When light stir in a cup of Indian meal, roll into a thin sheet, and cut into round cakes. Dry these in a very moderate heat, and when quite dry and cold place them in a cool dry place. For a fair-sized loaf use a cake three inches in diameter, soaking until soft and adding a little soda.
These cakes will keep a month in summer, two months in winter.