In winter the water or milk used in mixing should be lukewarm; and if the flour be kept in a very cold place, warm it before using. In summer the water need not be warmed, neither should it be ice-water; the milk should be scalded (not boiled), and cooled. After the bread is kneaded sufficiently it must be made into a smooth round ball, with no dry flour left on the surface, and put back in the mixing-bowl to rise. If you have learned the knack of scraping a bowl thoroughly, it need not be washed; otherwise it is well to wash and grease the bowl, that the dough may come out more easily after it has risen. Notice how it fills the bowl, and let it rise until it has a little more than doubled in size. Cover it, not with a cloth alone, as that serves merely to keep out the dust, but with several thicknesses of cloth, and a tightly fitting tin cover. It is important that the air be excluded, as it causes a hard crust to form, which will be difficult to mix thoroughly in the dough at the next kneading, and will also leave dark spots or streaks in the bread.
The dough should rise in a temperature of about 75°. Avoid a draught of cold air, or sudden alternations of extreme heat and cold. If it be placed on a mantel or near a stove, it must be turned frequently. When necessary to hasten the rising, place the bowl in a pan of warm (not hot) water, and keep the water at the same temperature until it begins to rise. After fermentation has been well established the temperature can be lowered without harm, provided it does not fall below 45°. In winter, bread should be mixed early in the evening; and if the kitchen become very cold before morning, keep the dough in a warmer room; it will be risen by six or seven in the morn-ing. In summer, mix it later at night, leave it in a cool place, and the next morning attend to it early if possible, by five o'clock. In very hot weather mix early in the morning, and bake by noon. It should never be allowed to rise to the point of "caving in," or settling, or running over the bowl. Even if it does not become sour, it loses the natural sweet flavor of the wheat, and is tasteless and insipid. It should rise in a light, puffy, well-rounded mass; and if it half filled the bowl at first, it will be ready, when risen nearly to the top of the bowl, "to cut down," as most cooks express it. This is done by cutting it away from the sides of the bowl, and working it over into the centre with the knife. This releases some of the gas, checks the fermentation, and reduces the bulk somewhat. It will rise again very quickly, and the cutting-down process can be repeated several times, and the bread will be the better for it, provided the rising does not go too far at any time. It takes but a moment, and should always be done when the dough is risen sufficiently, if you are not ready to shape it at once into loaves. If you do not wish to bake the bread for several hours, it can be kneaded again and put in the ice-chest or cellar. When the dough rises too long, and has soured, it will have a strong, tingling acid odor as 30U cut into it, and it will pull away from the bowl in long threads, having a watery appearance, quite unlike the proper spongy consistency and pungent alcoholic odor when it is just right. The practice of using soda to sweeten it, when in this state, cannot be too severely condemned. Chemists say that light sour bread is not unhealthful, although unpalatable to most Americans. Bread in that condition is eaten largely by the Germans. Sour bread sweetened by soda is unhealthful, as it is very rarely that the alkali is wholly neutralized by the acetic acid. Those who boast of never having sour bread because they always keep a bottle of soda dissolved and ready for instant use, should, instead, blush at the fact of such careless housewifely. With proper care, bread, even when made with milk, need never sour. But should the accident ever occur, it is better to eat the bread, or dry it for crumbs, or throw it away even, than to use the soda. This practice is so abominable that here it will receive neither aid nor encouragement.