Flour is moistened, or made into dough, with water or with milk. This softens the gluten and starch, dissolves the sugar, and cements all the particles together. Those who prefer water claim that water bread is cheaper, has more of the natural sweet taste of the wheat, and will keep longer; while those in favor of using milk are equally sure that milk bread is more nutritious, more tender, more agreeable to the taste and the eye, more easily made, and with proper care will keep sweet and moist longer.

Proportion

The proportion of liquid and flour varies both with the flour and the liquid. Bread made of St. Louis flour, or mixed with water, takes more flour to make the same amount, than when made of Haxall flour, or mixed with milk. The general rule is one scant measure of liquid, including the yeast, to three full measures of flour. Water bread will need about one cupful more; and milk bread, or whole-wheat bread, from one half to one cupful less of flour. Dough which is to be kneaded, or rolled and cut into special shapes, should be stiffer than that which is not kneaded, or is to be made into loaves; but in all cases it should be mixed just as soft as can be handled easily without sticking, and just as little extra flour as possible should be used. If the dough be too stiff, make several deep incisions, and work in a little more liquid. The proportion of yeast is half a cupful of fresh homemade yeast to a pint of liquid: a little less in warm weather; or when mixed at night, when the dough has a longer time to rise; or when made with a "sponge," or with whole-wheat flour, as the extra amount of gluten in this flour causes it to ferment more rapidly. A larger amount of yeast can be used when it is necessary to make bread in a limited time; but great care must be taken not to allow the dough to rise beyond the desired doubling in bulk. With compressed yeast, dissolve one fourth of a cake in half a cupful of lukewarm water, and use as home-made yeast. It will dissolve in one tablespoonful of water; but it is important to have the half-cupful, that the proportion of liquid may be the same.

Manner Of Mixing

Many people prefer to measure the flour, and add enough of the liquid to make it the desired consistency. The better way is to measure the liquid, and add flour, using more or less according to the quality of the flour, as the measure of the liquid determines the size of the loaf. All the flour may be added at first, and the dough raised in a mass; or a drop batter may be made with about half the flour, and when this has well risen, the remainder of the flour may be added, and the whole allowed to rise again. The latter method is preferable when it is inconvenient to knead at the first mixing, as is often the case in the evening, or when there is any doubt about the quality of the yeast, as, if the yeast will not raise three cups of flour, it certainly will not raise six. This method is advisable, also, when it is necessary to hasten the process of bread-making. Dough made by "setting a sponge," as this way is called, requires less yeast, the fermentation being more rapid in a batter than in a stiff dough; and this fermented batter acts like a double portion of yeast on the fresh flour, raising it very quickly. It is the best way of making bread with milk in the summer, as it may be mixed early in the morning and baked by noon; and as it may be easily watched, it need not become sour. The question of mixing at night or in the morning is one which every housekeeper can best answer for herself.

Many old receipts read," Make a hole in the flour, add the yeast, and then pour in the liquid." If the yeast be added to the milk or water, and well mixed with it, and the flour then stirred thoroughly into this liquid mixture, the yeast will be more evenly distributed through the dough, and less kneading will be required than when made by the old method.

The other ingredients added to the dough are salt and sugar, in the proportion of one even teaspoonful of salt and one even tablespoonful of sugar to three pints of flour, using a little less salt if butter is added, and a little more with compressed yeast, as that is not as salt as home-made yeast, and doubling the amount of sugar when using wholewheat flour.