In making batter-cakes, the ingredients should be put together over night to rise, and the eggs and butter added in the morning; the butter melted and eggs well beaten. If the batter appears sour in the least, dissolve a little soda and stir into it; this should be done early enough to rise some time before baking.
Water can be used in place of milk in all raised dough, and the dough should be thoroughly light before making into loaves or biscuits; then when molding them use as little flour as possible; the kneading to be done when first made from the sponge, and should be done well and for some length of time, as this makes the pores fine, the bread cut smooth and tender. Care should be taken not to get the dough too stiff.
Where any recipe calls for baking powder, and you do not have it, you can use cream of tartar and soda, in the proportion of one level teaspoonful of soda to two of cream of tartar.
When the recipe calls for sweet milk or cream, and you do not have it, you may use in place of it sour milk or cream, and, in that case, baking powder or cream of tartar must not be used, but baking-soda, using a level teaspoonful to a quart of sour milk; the milk is always best when just turned, so that it is solid, and not sour enough to whey or to be watery.
When making biscuits or bread with baking powder or soda and cream of tartar, the oven should be prepared first; the dough handled quickly and put into the oven immediately, as soon as it becomes the proper lightness, to ensure good success. If the oven is too slow, the article baked will be heavy and hard.
As in beating cake, never stir ingredients into batter, but beat them in, by beating down from the bottom, and up, and over again. This laps the air into the batter which produces little air-cells and causes the dough to puff and swell as it comes in contact with the heat while cooking.
To freshen stale biscuits or rolls, put them into a steamer for ten minutes, then dry them off in a hot oven; or dip each roll for an instant in cold water and heat them crisp in the oven.
Dough after it has become once sufficiently raised and perfectly light, cannot afterwards be injured by setting aside in any cold place where it cannot freeze; therefore, biscuits, rolls, etc., can be made late the day before wanted for breakfast. Prepare them ready for baking by molding them out late in the evening; lay them a little apart on buttered tins; cover the tins with a cloth, then fold around that a newspaper, so as to exclude the air, as that has a tendency to cause the crust to be hard and thick when baked. The best place in summer is to place them in the ice-box, then all you have to do in the morning (an hour before breakfast time, and while the oven is heating) is to bring them from the ice-box, take off the cloth and warm it, and place it over them again; then set the tins in a warm place near the fire. This will give them time to rise and bake when needed. If these directions are followed rightly, you will find it makes no difference with their lightness and goodness, and you can always be sure of warm raised biscuits for breakfast in one hour's time.
Stale rolls may be made light and flakey by dipping for a moment in cold water, and placing immediately in a very hot oven to be made crisp and hot.