Many object to the use of sugar in bread. Flour in its natural state contains sugar; this sugar is changed in fermentation. Just enough sugar to restore the natural sweetness, but not enough to give a really sweet taste, is necessary in fermented bread.
Potatoes are sometimes added to bread dough. Where the flour is of an inferior quality, the bread is very much improved by their use; but with good flour they are unnecessary, and the use of them increases the labor of making bread.
Whether bread shall be "shortened or not shortened," is another question on which there is great diversity of opinion. Those who disapprove of fat of any kind in bread claim that we eat fat enough in other forms of food, and also that the same crisp tenderness of texture may be produced by skilful kneading. Bread made with new or unskimmed milk, and kneaded well, requires no other shortening; but water bread, when shortened, is made more tender, and therefore is more easily penetrated by the digestive fluids. The latest decision of the best physicians is that fat is absolutely necessary as an element of food, and it is often given as a remedy for some diseases. The proportion which one person would receive from one tablespoonful of butter, or drippings, or lard, in two loaves of bread would not harm the most deli-cate stomach. Butter tastes best; drippings are cheapest. Lard has for its chief merit that of making whiter bread than either of the others. The shortening may be rubbed into the flour, or, better still, melted in the warm liquid. Too much shortening clogs the glutinous cell-walls, and therefore checks the rising. Rolls, rusks, and buns, which are usually shortened more than loaf bread, should have the butter added at the last kneading.
The bread should be mixed in a deep stone-china or granite bowl; wooden bowls are difficult to keep sweet and clean. Brown earthenware is awkward in shape and clumsy to handle, while tinware, being a better conductor than china, lets the heat within the mass escape, and the tin rubs off from the constant friction. Use a wooden spoon, or a wooden-handled iron spoon, or a broad-bladed knife.