At least an hour before the time for baking, scrape the dough from the bowl, and turn it out upon the board, which should be dusted with flour; knead it slightly, and divide into the proper proportion for loaves.
The measures given in the following receipts fill two brickloaf pans, which are eight inches long by four inches broad and five inches deep, with nearly straight sides. This shape gives small uniform slices. Small round pans were formerly considered best for baking both bread and cake; and there is some truth in the reason given, namely, that the cells which are formed by the gas are circular in form, and are much more uniform in a round than in an oblong loaf, in which the corner cells are easily flattened or compressed, forming heavy streaks around the edges. But many people dislike the shape of the slices in a round loaf, and oblong pans have been more generally adopted. . They should be greased with lard or drippings. It is better to divide the dough into four equal parts and put two in each pan, for several reasons: a small round loaf is more easily shaped, and can be broken, if wanted, while fresh, better than a long loaf; two small loaves rise and fill the pan more evenly than one long loaf; and unless great care be taken in shaping to have the one loaf of uniform thickness, it will rise more in the middle and give uneven slices. Many make a deep cut through the middle to prevent this; but that spoils the smooth round effect which adds so much to the looks of the crust.
Use the merest dusting of flour in shaping, and knead just enough to work out the large bubbles of gas by folding the mass over into the middle, then letting it spring open. Pat, coax, and work it with the hand and fingers until there are no wrinkles, and the loaves are smooth. Greasing the hands slightly with butter helps. All the flour added at this kneading rises but once, and too much will make the loaf burst out unevenly at the sides. Some careless kneaders merely fold it over, and if it look smooth on the top they think that enough; but their loaf will sometimes have a seam or crack through it, which will cause the slices to fall apart easily.
The loaves should come nearly half-way up the pan; and the same rule follows as for the first rising, namely, let it come to the top, or till the bulk is doubled. Cover with cloth and tin cover, or a large tin pan. The time for rising varies with the lightness of the dough and the temperature of the room. It is impossible to give a definite rule; but should it rise too far and stick to the cloth, or look "tumbled in," cut it down, knead, and let it rise again. Never bake it in the above state, as it will be coarse-grained, if not hollow. It is better to bake it a little too soon than to let it rise too long.
Rolls and small biscuit should rise in the pans longer and be baked in a hotter oven than the loaf, because the loaf rises in the oven until the heat has penetrated to the centre; while in the rolls the air cells are very quickly fixed by the intense heat needed to perfect the crust, and fermentation is almost immediately checked. This is contrary to the usual practice; but it is the correct way. Many people prepare biscuit for breakfast by letting them rise ten or fifteen minutes in a very hot place while the oven is heating. They are often only half baked, and then eaten smoking hot; and those who have never had anything else think them just right. The evil effects of this practice have been the occasion for much of the outcry against hot, or even fresh, biscuit. Such are entirely different from the dry, light, delicious biscuit which have had a natural, not a forced, rising, are of the proper texture, have been baked quickly, and allowed to stand at least half an hour before being eaten. The moral of the above is. never try to have raised biscuit for breakfast without rising at least three hours before breakfast-time, unless you wish your family to become slaves to indigestion.