This section is from the book "Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery", by Mary E. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery; A Textbook Of Domestic Science For Use In Schools.
The perfect loaf of bread is regular in shape, has a crisp crust, evenly browned, and a tender, but rather firm crumb of even grain. It tastes sweet and nutty, smells fresh, and keeps good for several days. How may we make such a loaf ? The ingredients are few; the process is simple; and, with care, skill is not hard to acquire.
Flour, from 3 to 3 1/2 c.
Lukewarm 1 water, 2 tb.
Cold water, 1/2 c.
Compressed yeast, \ cake.
Milk, 1/2 c.
Salt, 3/4 t.
Scald the milk2; sift and measure the flour (three and one-half cupfuls); put the salt in a bowl and pour the milk upon it. Add the cold water, then the yeast mixed smoothly with the lukewarm water. Having stirred all together, stir in enough flour (about two and three-fourths cupfuls) to make a drop-batter. Beat this batter until it is full of bubbles; then beat in gradually enough more flour to make a rather soft dough. When too stiff to beat, rub a little flour on the molding-board, and turn the dough out.
1 Of the same temperature as your hand, 98° F.
2 To kill bacteria in it. (P. 97.)
Separating Gluten from Flour.
First Rise of Bread Dough ; taking the Temperature of the Water.
Dust a little flour on the dough and on the palms of your hands. Fold the edge of the dough farthest from you toward the centre of the mass, immediately pressing the dough down and away from you with a gentle rolling motion of the palms of the hands, twice repeated. Turn the dough so that what was the right-hand part of it shall be farthest away from you; fold over and knead as before; continue to do this, turning the dough and flouring your hands, the board, and the dough, to keep the dough from sticking. Should it stick to the board, scrape it free with a dull knife and flour the board anew. Knead the dough until it does not stick to your hands or the board, is smooth on the surface, feels spongy and elastic, and rises quickly after being indented.
The use of a bread-mixer saves labor and is more sanitary than kneading by hand.
Replace the dough-ball in a wet bowl, brush the top with water, cover the bowl with several thicknesses of cloth, and set it near the stove or in a pan of warm water, turning another pan over it.
When the dough has risen to twice its original bulk, lift it on to the board and shape into small loaves, handling lightly and using no additional flour. Put into pans, and let it stand in a warm place covered with a thick, clean cloth, until it has again doubled in bulk.
When the dough is nearly risen, test the oven; it should be hot enough to turn a piece of writing paper dark brown in six minutes. Bake small French loaves thirty-five minutes; brick loaves, four inches thick, fifty to sixty minutes. Turn the pans if the bread does not bake evenly.