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.
Shape these from white bread-dough after its first rising. For bread rolls, cut or pull off pieces the size of an egg; draw up and pinch the edges together, forming balls; then with your hand roll each into a cylindrical shape on the board. Put into French roll-pans, let rise until more than doubled in bulk, and bake from twelve to fifteen minutes. Or, put the balls on a flat pan, and when they have risen cut a cleft nearly an inch deep across the top of each one. Bake twelve to fifteen minutes. For finger rolls, roll pieces of dough half the size of an egg into cylinders five inches long. For bread sticks, roll out sticks of dough about half an inch thick and from six to ten inches long. Bake these and finger rolls ten minutes. The oven may be a little hotter for rolls than for loaves. (Plate VII, facing p. 104.)
Bread may be allowed to rise once when only a part of the flour has been added. This method is called sponging, or setting a sponge. It makes the bread finer-grained, but lengthens the process for white bread which requires two more risings after the rest of the flour is added. Sponge rises faster than dough. Why? It is desirable to set a sponge (l) if you have to make bread with a scant quantity of yeast; (2) when using home-made or dried yeast; (3) if there is no warm place for the bread to rise in; (4) when butter and eggs are to be added, as these can be mixed more easily with sponge than with dough. It is a good method to use with whole-wheat bread.
Sugar, 2 tb.
Mix the yeast smoothly with one-fourth of a cupful of the water; dissolve the salt and sugar in the rest of the water in a bowl; stir the yeast into this ; and then stir in enough flour to make a drop-batter. Beat until the batter is full of bubbles (not less than five minutes), cover the bowl, and let the batter, or sponge, rise until doubled in bulk. Stir in the rest of the flour, and beat thoroughly. Turn into pans, and let rise until not quite doubled in bulk, and bake like white bread. If whole-wheat dough were made stiff enough to be kneaded, the bread would be tough and hard. If the sponging method is not used, beat in all the flour at once, let rise, beat again, and turn into pans.
Either white or wholewheat bread may be mixed with water, milk, or half milk and half water, as may be preferred. Water bread is sweeter, tougher, and keeps longer than "half-and-half'" or all-milk bread. Bread requires neither shortening nor sweetening, but most people like to add one tablespoonful of shortening (butter, lard, or other fat) for each cupful of liquid. Melt shortening in hot milk or water. Wait till it is lukewarm before adding yeast.
Yeast is a mass of tiny plants, each a single, rounded cell consisting of a sac filled with watery matter. Under a microscope new cells may be seen budding out of old ones, forming branching chains. Each cell, however, lives and grows independently. Sometimes bodies known as spores form inside of mother-cells and burst out. Like seeds, spores can keep alive under conditions under which the plants they came from would die. Sometimes under unfavorable conditions resting-cells with thick walls are formed. These live, but do not bud till conditions are right again. The home of yeast is on the skin of grapes and on parts of some other plants.