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.
Add to the liquid-and-yeast mixture all the flour to be used or enough to make a dough of the desired stiffness and knead thoroughly until it no longer sticks to the board. This method may always be used with compressed yeast.
Kneading Bread - Press the dough away with the palms of your hands. Stretch the dough from the edge, folding the back edge over to the center. Press the dough away with the palms of your hands, exerting sufficient force to cause the part folded over to adhere to the mass under it, and repeat folding. Turn dough one-quarter around and repeat kneading. Continue turning, folding and kneading until dough is smooth and elastic and will not stick to an unfloured board.
First Rising of Dough - Put the dough into a greased receptacle large enough to hold at least three times the bulk of the dough. Grease the top of the dough, cover the receptacle and set in a warm place. Let the dough rise until it trebles its bulk.
Second Rising of Dough - Remove dough from receptacle, bring the top around the under side and fold edges together. This leaves a ball-shaped mass, round and smooth on the upper surface. Bread carefully shaped in this way seems to give a much better product than seamy rough dough. Put back in receptacle. Grease the dough, cover the receptacle, return to warm place to rise again. This second rising is not essential but is worth while because it improves both the texture and the flavor of bread.
Shaping into Loaves - Shape by folding the sides of a piece of dough under while pressing the dough so as to lengthen it. The top should be kept perfectly smooth and the only crease in the dough should be on the under side as the loaf is placed in the tin. If a soft crust is desired, grease the dough. To braid, cut into three, roll lengthwise, pinch together at one end, and proceed. Cover and allow to rise until double its bulk.
Baking Bread - A loaf of average size should bake from fifty to sixty minutes at a beginning temperature of about 400° F. After fifteen or twenty minutes, the temperature of the oven may be reduced. A moderate heat for sixty minutes produces better bread than a hot oven for thirty minutes.
The baking process may be divided into four periods:
First 15 minutes the dough should continue to rise.
Second 15 minutes the dough should crust over and brown slightly.
Third 15 minutes the center of the loaf should bake and the crust continue to brown.
Fourth 15 minutes the loaf should shrink from the sides of the tin and should be browned evenly over its entire surface. It should have a hollow sound when tapped.
Bread is baked to complete the rising, kill the yeast plants, drive off the carbon dioxide and alcohol, dextrinize the crust, harden the cell walls of the crumb and develop the desired flavor.