This section is from the book "The American Woman's Cook Book", by Ruth Berolzheimer. Also available from Amazon: The Domestic Arts Edition of the American Woman's Cook Book.
Cereals were formerly bought uncooked, but by modern methods of manufacture they may be partly or entirely cooked. Thus we have, in oats or wheat, a partly cooked product; and the long list of ready-to-eat cereals or entirely cooked products which need only a few minutes of reheating to be ready for the table.
Cereals may be cooked in milk instead of water, or a part of the water may be replaced by milk. This method offers an easy way of increasing the milk content of a meal and makes the cereal dish more nutritious. Raisins, dried fruit or fresh fruit supply a pleasing addition to cooked cereals. Dates or figs cut into pieces and stirred into the cereal before serving make a very appetizing change.
To prevent a hardening over of the cereal due to standing, two or three tablespoons of water may be poured over the top of the cereal after the cooking process at night is finished.
Bread as a universal article of food has much in its favor. Flour, its chief ingredient, is not quickly perishable and is rather easily stored and transported. Bread itself keeps well, is mild in flavor, is inexpensive and furnishes material needed by the human machine.
Excellent bread can be made of good bread flour, salt, water and yeast. Better bread can be made if sugar and fat are added. It is in the handling of the dough, not in the proportions of ingredients, that much bread is ruined.
For one cup of liquid use approximately three cups of flour. This proportion varies widely because of differences in the absorptive powers of different flours. A good bread flour will take up more water than a poor bread flour. Flour, except graham or whole wheat, should always be sifted before being measured.
From one-sixth of a cake to four cakes of compressed yeast may be used to one cup of liquid in making bread. The amount of yeast within this range does not affect the flavor of the bread if the dough is handled properly. With the minimum amount of yeast, the process will take six hours or more; with the maximum amount of yeast, it may, with skillful handling, be completed in one hour and twenty minutes. From two tablespoons to one cup liquid yeast may be used for each loaf of bread.
Compressed or dry yeast should be softened in from one-fourth to one-half cup of lukewarm water to which one teaspoon of sugar has been added. The compressed yeast may be used immediately. The dry yeast may be set aside in a warm place for an hour before it is added to the batter.
All liquids should be boiled or scalded before being used, to kill any organisms which might develop in the dough.
Milk is the best liquid because of its contribution to the food value as well as to the appearance of the loaf. It gives a white crumb and a rich golden brown crust. The loaf retains its moisture better than when no milk is used.
Water is cheap, but has no food value. It produces a satisfactory loaf, however.
Potato Water produces a characteristic crust excellent in flavor and hastens the action of the yeast. It darkens the bread slightly but gives a loaf which retains its moisture and does not get stale as quickly as when water alone is used.