To shape biscuits or rolls,first make smooth round balls, then by gentle rolling and pressure make the finger rolls - then farther extend till the strips can be twisted or left as sticks for soup. Thus one form may be developed from another.
When rolls are to be cut out and folded, the pressure of the rolling pin will equalize the air bubbles without previous kneading. Instead of making the dough for rolls rich with butter or lard, it is wiser to brush over the outside of the rolls with melted fat when they are put in the pan.
Again the dough must be allowed to double in bulk and then it is ready to bake.
Bread Making Machine
To summarize the points already covered. - The time required depends upon the quantity of yeast used, and the temperature at which the dough is kept. One measure of liquid to three of flour is the usual proportion. For fancy breads make a sponge first, and let the mixture rise three times. Large quantities of sugar and butter tend to retard the growth of the yeast plant. For bread add all the flour at once. Small shapes are preferable to large ones, as thus more thorough cooking is insured.
The baking of bread is not easily disposed of in a few words. Yeast doughs having risen before being put in the oven will bear rather a higher degree of heat at first than other doughs. A more moderate oven is required for loaves than for rolls that the heat may penetrate evenly, but the loaf must remain a sufficient time to raise the center to a degree of heat that will insure the destruction of the yeast. A moderate temperature might allow the dough to continue rising and even to sour from the growth of bacteria when in the oven.
When thoroughly baked, a loaf of bread will seem light and hollow and no steam will come from it to burn the hand as it is turned from the pan.
The usual temperature for baking bread is about 4000 F, though a good result may be reached by a more moderate heat continued for a longer time.
Experiment. Three or four glass tubes or common tumblers are all the apparatus needed for some practical experiments which will make the use of these leavening agents much clearer than does the ordinary cookbook. Dissolve some soda in half a tumbler of water ; in another tumbler dissolve some cream of tartar, in a third have a little molasses; in a fourth place some sour milk, and in a fifth some vinegar.
Now put a part of the soda water into each of the other glasses, stir well, and watch the result. Leave these till later to see how soon the gas escapes and that it cannot be revived. By tasting soda and cream of tartar we shall see that it is desirable to combine them in such proportions that each may neutralize the other. This is done in baking powders.
In another glass dissolve some baking powder, first in cold and then in warm water to show that the gas escapes more rapidly at a high temperature.
Buns - Separate And In Loaf
These experiments show us why we should sift cream of tartar and soda or baking powder with the flour instead of dissolving it in liquid. The gas which is to make the dough light begins to escape from the soda when it comes in contact with an acid liquid.
Some baking powder manufacturers try to convince us that their product is so perfect that it is useless for the housekeeper to continue to keep soda and cream of tartar in her store closet. But much as we owe to their perfect methods' of grinding, and sifting and combining these substances in the right proportions, there are times when we must use them separately.
Angel cake, for example, requires the addition of cream of tartar to stiffen the egg-white which is its foundation. This aids in holding up the spongy mass until it is made firm by heat. In any case where there is a large proportion of egg-white a slight excess of cream of tartar is desirable.
That molasses is acid in spite of its sweetness is evident by testing it with a bit of soda. For this reason soda is added to molasses candy since if it is filled with air bubbles it will be more brittle. The acidity varies in different grades of molasses, and modern methods of manufacture and quick transportation give us a less acid product than that of the past. This explains why many of the recipes of our great-grandmothers called for such large quantities of soda in gingerbread, etc. In such recipes it is usually wise to reduce the quantity of soda and use a small amount of baking powder. Brown bread and all cakes and puddings containing molasses, because of its acidity, are usually more palatable if some soda is used to make them light instead of baking powder only.
Butter contains so much buttermilk that, unless it is washed before using, a bit of soda is essential for all rich cakes and cookies which are to be kept for any length of time.
Because of the tendency to use an excess of soda with it, the use of sour milk has been condemned. But thick, sour milk is not very variable in acidity, and the use of one even teaspoonful of soda with each pint of sour milk is safe. Soda is inexpensive and sour milk is also, while cream of tartar and baking powder are costly. One half level teaspoon of soda is usually enough when one cup of molasses is used, as it is with one cup of sour milk. When it is more convenient to substitute sweet milk for sour, we retain the soda and add one slightly rounding teaspoonful of cream of tartar.
Baking powder contains* some starch, but two or three level teaspoonfuls of baking powder are equal in effect to one rounding teaspoonful of cream of tartar and the half level teaspoonful of soda.
Just why some good old recipes recommend dissolving soda in hot water before adding it to the other ingredients, or mixing it with hot molasses, is uncertain. Perhaps the housewives wanted to "see with their eyes" that action would result. Or the habit might have been the result of the impure quality of the alkaline substance. The "pearl ash," as saleratus was called, was not as finely pulverized as is the soda of today, and may not have been as thoroughly purified from other ash. Hot water would dissolve it quickly, any impurities would settle, and even if some gas escaped enough was left to do the work of puffing up the dough.
Such small quaniities relatively of soda, cream of tartar, and baking powder are used in a dough that it has been a question how they should be mixed with the other ingredients to secure the most perfect result. The dough should be light throughout, not here a solid streak,.and there large bubbles.
Some teachers of cookery have recommended sifting the one or two teaspoonfuls of baking powder over a cake after it was mixed and beating thoroughly just before pouring into the pan in which it is to be baked. But as soon as the powder comes in contact with the moist surface of the dough some gas will be lost, and moreover, it is doubtful whether two teaspoonfuls of baking powder can be evenly mixed through a quart of cake batter without much beating which does not improve the quality of the cake at that stage and delays the baking.
The accepted plan at present is to sift with the flour the baking powder or cream of tartar and soda or the soda alone when it is to be used with some sour milk or molasses.
The sooner the process is completed after the acid and soda meet each other the better. Therefore we keep all the materials dry until the last moment, then mix quickly and bake at once.
Similar recipes are found in all cook books, and once the general, proportions and the office of each ingredient are learned, it is easy to make many variations. The process of mixing is practically the same in all cases. Prepare the fire and dishes for cooking, before mixing any of the ingredients measure everything, sift all dry materials together, add liquids, mix all thoroughly, and cook immediately.
Boston Brown Bread
Changes in the proportions of materials often lead to a change in the manner of mixing them. For example, when a small quantity of shortening is used in batters, it may be melted and beaten in, but if a large proportion is required, it should be rubbed till creamy and blended with the sugar as for cake, or mixed into the flour as in pastry making. For stiff doughs which are to be rolled, it is essential that the fat should be put in cold since even a small quantity, if warm, will tend to make the dough soft and sticky. We grease pans, griddles, etc., because fat prevents adhesion; in the same way fat in a dough keeps the particles separate and makes it break apart readily, so that we call it "short" or "tender." Hence shortening is any form of fat that will accomplish such a result. To give like results, more shortening is required with bread flour high in gluten than with pastry flour low in gluten.
Eggs in doughs, as in other cases, have the quality of making particles hold together, just the reverse of shortening. Any dough containing much egg will be elastic and spongy, and if cooked too quickly will be tough. Doughs to be made rich with butter, like pound cake, may be saved from heaviness by the use of eggs.