This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
Bread may be made in such infinite variety that it seems a great waste of opportunity to confine it wholly to the usual "white bread." The latter has a definite place in the dietary, if it is used as a starch, rather than a protein or mineral food, but white bread is a decidedly unstable "staff of life" if used alone. On the other hand many of the so-called wheat flours, although highly advertised, are little better, because a large part of the wheat has also been removed from them. When a real wholewheat flour or meal can be obtained - one made of un-denatured or unrobbed wheat - bread becomes more than a starch; it is a true nerve, blood and bone food. At the same time it is particularly rich in vitamins, the life-giving principles.
Bran bread also has a place in the diet, for it brings bulk to help overcome constipation and minerals as a nerve tonic. Moreover, bran bread at least twenty-four hours old, toasted until crisp, will be found an excellent substitute for white bread toast to be used by those troubled with obesity. Rye bread is easily made and is a good alternative for whole-wheat bread. Rice bread, made of brown rice, is substantial, and offers splendid nutritive properties, especially if combined with raisins or dates. Rice bread, of uncoated or brown rice and white flour, is an excellent starch food, and bread of unrobbed cornmeal, whether in the form of raised brown bread or in combination with whole-wheat flour and nuts, is a remarkable protein, starch and nerve food. However, in making breads of rice and these various meals, it is necessary for best results to use a little white or whole-wheat flour. The proportion may be varied as desired, but it should never be less than one-fourth..
White flour is sifted a multitude of times at the mill until it is of the desired fineness, the husks are discarded as bran, and the heart, which contains most of the fat, is sold as shorts or middlings. Each of these products is a valuable food for farm stock, the animals being kept in fine condition on what we discard. Undoubtedly one reason white flour is so popular with the American housewife is because it keeps longer than flour made with the whole grain. Any honest miller who grinds up the whole of the grain will not guarantee the flour to keep more than three weeks, as the large amount of fat which it contains is liable to cause rancidity. It is, therefore, necessary to renew the supply of cornmeal or whole-wheat meal frequently.
Another reason whole-wheat bread and those made of allied, unrobbed flours are not more frequently used is that modern housewives are not acquainted with the proper methods of making them and because they are disappointed in the slightly coarse texture which is liable to result. This coarseness is really of advantage, as it makes possible quicker access of the digestive juices, and thus hasten digestion.
The best flour for white bread-making is that made from spring wheat as it contains a large proportion of gluten which makes the dough more elastic than when pastry or winter-wheat flour is used. At the same time a little less flour is needed and the loaf is whiter. Winter-wheat or pastry flour contains more starch and is frequently less strong; that is, it does not have equivalent elastic powers. Bread flour is slightly granular; pastry flour is more solid and cakes when pressed in the hand.