Put a heaping table-spoonful of hops and a quart of hot water over the fire to boil. Have ready five or six large boiled potatoes, which mash fine. Strain the hops. Now put a pint of boiling water (that in which the potatoes were boiled) over three cupfuls of flour; mix in the mashed potatoes, then the quart of strained hot hop-water, a heaping tea-spoonful of sugar, and the same of salt. When this is lukewarm, mix in one and a half Twin Brothers' yeast-cakes (softened). Let this stand overnight in a warm place.
In the morning, a new process is in order: First, pour over the yeast a table-spoonful of warm water, in which is dissolved half a spoonful of soda; mix in lightly about ten and a half heaping tea-cupfuls of sifted flour. No more flour is added to the bread during its kneading. Instead, the hands are wet in lukewarm water. Now knead the dough, giving it about eight or ten strokes; then taking it from the side next to you, pull it up into a long length, then double it, throwing it down snappishly and heavily. Wetting the hands again, give it the same number of strokes, or kneads, pulling the end toward you again, and throwing it over the part left in the pan. Continue this process until large bubbles are formed in the dough. It will take half an hour or longer. The hands should be wet enough at first to make the dough rather supple. If dexterously managed, it will not stick to the hands after a few minutes; and when it is kneaded enough, it will be very elastic, full of bubbles, and will not stick to the pan. When this time arrives, put the dough away again in a warm place to rise. This will take one or two hours.
Now comes another new process. Sprinkle plenty of flour on the board, and take out lightly enough dough to make one loaf of bread, remembering that the French loaves are not large, nor of the same shape as the usual home-made ones. With the thumb and forefinger gather up the sides carefully (to prevent doubling the meshes or grain of the dough) to make it round in shape. Flour the rolling-pin, press it in the centre, rolling a little to give the dough the form of cut. Now give each puffed end a roll toward the centre, lapping well the ends. Turn the bread entirely over, pulling out the ends a little, to give the loaf a long form, as in cut.
Sprinkle plenty of flour on large baking-pans turned bottom side up, upon which lay this and the other loaves, a little distance apart, if there is room for two of them on one pan. Sprinkle plenty of flour on the tops, and set the pans by the side of the fire to again rise a little. It will take twenty-five or thirty minutes longer. Then bake.
Kneading bread in the manner just described causes the grain of the bread to run in one direction, so that it may be pealed off in layers. Kneading with water instead of flour makes the bread moist and elastic, rather than solid and in crumbs.
Petits Pains are made as in last receipt, by lightly gathering a little handful of dough, picking up the sides, and turning it over in the form of a ball or a biscuit. They are baked as described for French bread, placing them a little distance apart, so that they may be separate little breads, each one enough for one person at breakfast.