Lone Hand Western - Old West History

 Victorian Bread Recipes

Victorian Bread Recipes

Among all civilized people bread has become an article of food of the first necessity; and properly so, for it constitutes of itself a complete life sustainer, the gluten, starch and sugar which it contains representing ozotized and hydro-carbonated nutrients, and combining the sustaining powers of the animal and vegetable kingdoms in one product. As there is no one article of food that enters so largely into our daily fare as bread, so no degree of skill in preparing other articles can compensate for lack of knowledge in the art of making good, palatable and nutritious bread. A little earnest attention to the subject will enable any one to comprehend the theory, and then ordinary care in practice will make one familiar with the process.

Whole wheat bread - right out of the oven.
Whole Wheat Bread baked by Victorian style chef, Mark Bridge

GENERAL DIRECTIONS.

The first thing required for making wholesome bread is the utmost cleanliness; the next is the soundness and sweetness of all the ingredients used for it; and, in addition to these, there must be attention and care through the whole process.

Salt is always used in bread-making, not only on account of its flavor, which destroys the insipid raw state of the flour, but because it makes the dough rise better.

In mixing with milk, the milk should be boiled--not simply scalded, but heated to boiling over hot water--then set aside to cool before mixing. Simple heating will not prevent bread from turning sour in the rising, while boiling will act as a preventative. So the milk should be thoroughly scalded, and should be used when it is just blood warm.

Too small a proportion of yeast, or insufficient time allowed for the dough to rise, will cause the bread to be heavy.

The yeast must be good and fresh if the bread is to be digestible and nice. Stale yeast produces, instead of vinous fermentation, an acetous fermentation, which flavors the bread and makes it disagreeable. A poor, thin yeast produces an imperfect fermentation, the result being a heavy, unwholesome loaf.

I
f either the sponge or the dough be permitted to overwork itself--that is to say, if the mixing and kneading be neglected when it has reached the proper point for either--sour bread will probably be the consequence in warm weather, and bad bread in any. The goodness will also be endangered by placing it so near a fire as to make any part of it hot, instead of maintaining the gentle and equal degree of heat required for its due fermentation.

Heavy bread will also most likely be the result of making the dough very hard and letting it become quite cold, particularly in winter.

An almost certain way of spoiling dough is to leave it half made, and to allow it to become cold before it is finished. The other most common causes of failure are using yeast which is no longer sweet, or which has been frozen, or has had hot liquid poured over it.

As a general rule, the oven for baking bread should be rather quick and the heat so regulated as to penetrate the dough without hardening the outside. The oven door should not be opened after the bread is put in until the dough is set or has become firm, as the cool air admitted will have an unfavorable effect upon it.

The dough should rise and the bread begin to brown after about fifteen minutes, but only slightly. Bake from fifty to sixty minutes and have it brown, not black or whitey brown, but brown all over when well baked.

When the bread is baked, remove the loaves immediately from the pans and place them where the air will circulate freely around them, and thus carry off the gas which has been formed, but is no longer needed.

Never leave the bread in the pan or on a pin table to absorb the odor of the wood. If you like crusts that are crisp do not cover the loaves; but to give the soft, tender, wafer-like consistency which many prefer, wrap them while still hot in several thicknesses of bread-cloth. When cold put them in a stone jar, removing the cloth, as that absorbs the moisture and gives the bread an unpleasant taste and odor. Keep the jar well covered and carefully cleansed from crumbs and stale pieces. Scald and dry it thoroughly every two or three days. A yard and a half square of coarse table linen makes the best bread-cloth. Keep in good supply; use them for no other purpose.

Some people use scalding water in making wheat bread; in that case the flour must be scalded and allowed to cool before the yeast is added--then proceed as above. Bread made in this manner keeps moist in summer much longer than when made in the usual mode.

Home-made yeast is generally preferred to any other. Compressed yeast, as now sold in most grocery stores, makes fine light, sweet bread, and is a much quicker process, and can always be had fresh, being made fresh every day.

Batards baked by chef,  Mark Bridge
Batards baked using poolish as a pre ferment. Chef, Mark Bridge

WHEAT BREAD

Sift the flour into a large bread-pan or bowl; make a hole in the middle of it, and pour in the yeast in the ratio of half a teacupful of yeast to two quarts of flour; stir the yeast lightly, then pour in your "wetting," either milk or water, as you choose,--which use warm in winter and cold in summer; if you use water as "wetting," dissolve in it a bit of butter of the size of an egg,--if you use milk, no butter is necessary; stir in the "wetting" very lightly, but do not mix all the flour into it; then cover the pan with a thick blanket or towel, and set it, in winter, in a warm place to rise,--this is called "putting the bread in sponge." In summer the bread should not be wet over night. In the morning add a teaspoonful of salt and mix all the flour in the pan with the sponge, kneading it well; then let it stand two hours or more until it has risen quite light; then remove the dough to the molding-board and mold it for a long time, cutting it in pieces and molding them together again and again, until the dough is elastic under the pressure of your hand, using as little flour as possible; then make it into loaves, put the loaves into baking-tins. The loaves should come half way up the pan, and they should be allowed to rise until the bulk is doubled. When the loaves are ready to put into the oven, the oven should be ready to receive them. It should be hot enough to brown a teaspoonful of flour in five minutes. The heat should be greater at the bottom than at the top of the oven, and the fire so arranged as to give sufficient strength of heat through the baking without being replenished. Let them stand ten or fifteen minutes, prick them three or four times with a fork, bake in a quick oven from forty-five to sixty minutes.

If these directions are followed, you will obtain sweet, tender and wholesome bread. If by any mistake the dough becomes sour before you are ready to bake it, you can rectify it by adding a little dry super-carbonate of soda, molding the dough a long time to distribute the soda equally throughout the mass. All bread is better, if naturally sweet, without the soda; but _sour bread_ you should never eat, if you desire good health.

Keep well covered in a tin box or large stone crock, which should be wiped out every day or two, and scalded and dried thoroughly in the sun once a week.

COMPRESSED YEAST BREAD

Use for two loaves of bread three quarts of sifted flour, nearly a quart of warm water, a level tablespoonful of salt and an ounce of compressed yeast. Dissolve the yeast in a pint of lukewarm water; then stir into it enough flour to make a thick batter. Cover the bowl containing the batter or sponge with a thick folded cloth and set it in a warm place to rise; if the temperature of heat is properly attended to the sponge will be foamy and light in half an hour. Now stir into this sponge the salt dissolved in a little warm water, add the rest of the flour and sufficient warm water to make the dough stiff enough to knead; then knead it from five to ten minutes, divide it into loaves, knead again each loaf and put them into buttered baking tins; cover them with a double thick cloth and set again in a warm place to rise twice their height, then bake the same as any bread. This bread has the advantage of that made of home-made yeast as it is made inside of three hours, whereas the other requires from twelve to fourteen hours.

HOME-MADE YEAST

Boil six large potatoes in three pints of water. Tie a handful of hops in a small muslin bag and boil with the potatoes; when thoroughly cooked drain the water on enough flour to make a thin batter; set this on the stove or range and scald it enough to cook the flour (this makes the yeast keep longer); remove it from the fire and when cool enough, add the potatoes mashed, also half a cup of sugar, half a tablespoonful of ginger, two of salt and a teacupful of yeast. Let it stand in a warm place, until it has thoroughly risen, then put it in a large mouthed jug and cork tightly; set away in a cool place. The jug should be scalded before putting in the yeast.

Two-thirds of a coffeecupful of this yeast will make four loaves.

UNRIVALED YEAST

On one morning boil two ounces of the best hops in four quarts of water half an hour; strain it, and let the liquor cool to the consistency of new milk; then put it in an earthen bowl and add half a cupful of salt and half a cupful of brown sugar; beat up one quart of flour with some of the liquor; then mix all well together, and let it stand till the third day after; then add six medium-sized potatoes, boiled and mashed through a colander; let it stand a day, then strain and bottle and it is fit for use. It must be stirred frequently while it is making, and kept near a fire. One advantage of this yeast is its spontaneous fermentation, requiring the help of no old yeast; if care be taken to let it ferment well in the bowl, it may immediately be corked tightly. Be careful to keep it in a cool place. Before using it shake the bottle up well. It will keep in a cool place two months, and is best the latter part of the time. Use about the same quantity as of other yeast.

DRIED YEAST OR YEAST CAKES

Make a pan of yeast the same as "Home-Made Yeast;" mix in with it corn meal that has been sifted and dried, kneading it well until it is thick enough to roll out, when it can be cut into cakes or crumble up. Spread out and dry thoroughly in the shade; keep in a dry place. When it is convenient to get compressed yeast, it is much better and cheaper than to make your own, a saving of time and trouble. Almost all groceries keep it, delivered to them fresh made daily.

Julekage baked by chef, Mark Bridge
Julekage baked by chef, Mark Bridge

SALT-RAISING BREAD

While getting breakfast in the morning, as soon as the tea-kettle has boiled, take a quart tin cup or an earthen quart milk pitcher, scald it, then fill one-third full of water about as warm as the finger could be held in; then to this add a teaspoonful of salt, a pinch of brown sugar and coarse flour enough to make a batter of about the right consistency for griddle-cakes. Set the cup, with the spoon in it, in a closed vessel half-filled with water moderately hot, but not scalding. Keep the temperature as nearly even as possible and add a teaspoonful of flour once or twice during the process of fermentation. The yeast ought to reach to the top of the bowl in about five hours. Sift your flour into a pan, make an opening in the centre and pour in your yeast. Have ready a pitcher of warm milk, salted, or milk and water (not too hot, or you will scald the yeast germs), and stir rapidly into a pulpy mass with a spoon. Cover this sponge closely and keep warm for an hour, then knead into loaves, adding flour to make the proper consistency. Place in warm, well-greased pans, cover closely and leave till it is light. Bake in a steady oven, and when done let all the hot steam escape. Wrap closely in damp towels and keep in closed earthen jars until it is wanted.

This, in our grandmothers' time, used to be considered the prize bread, on account of its being sweet and wholesome and required no prepared yeast to make it. Nowadays yeast-bread is made with very little trouble, as the yeast can be procured at almost any grocery.

BREAD FROM MILK YEAST

At noon the day before baking, take half a cup of corn meal and pour over it enough sweet milk boiling hot to make it the thickness of batter-cakes. In the winter place it where it will keep warm. The next morning before breakfast pour into a pitcher a pint of boiling water; add one teaspoonful of soda and one of salt. When cool enough so that it will not scald the flour, add enough to make a stiff batter; then add the cup of meal set the day before. This will be full of little bubbles. Then place the pitcher in a kettle of warm water, cover the top with a folded towel and put it where it will keep warm, and you will be surprised to find how soon the yeast will be at the top of the pitcher. Then pour the yeast into a bread-pan; add a pint and a half of warm water, or half water and half milk, and flour enough to knead into loaves. Knead but little harder than for biscuit and bake as soon as it rises to the top of the tin. This recipe makes five large loaves. Do not allow it to get too light before baking, for it will make the bread dry and crumbling. A cup of this milk yeast is excellent to raise buckwheat cakes.

Nut Bread
Nut Bread

GRAHAM BREAD

One teacupful of wheat flour, one-half teacupful of Porto Rico molasses, one-half cupful of good yeast, one teaspoonful of salt, one pint of warm water; add sufficient Graham flour to make the dough as stiff as can be stirred with a strong spoon; this is to be mixed at night; in the morning, add one teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in a little water; mix well, and pour into two medium-sized pans; they will be about half full; let it stand in a warm place until it rises to the top of the pans, then bake one hour in a pretty hot oven.

This should be covered about twenty minutes when first put into the oven with a thick brown paper, or an old tin cover; it prevents the upper crust hardening before the loaf is well-risen. If these directions are correctly followed the bread will not be heavy or sodden, as it has been tried for years and never failed.

GRAHAM BREAD. (Unfermented.)

Stir together three heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder, three cups of Graham flour and one cup of white flour; then add a large teaspoonful of salt and half a cup of sugar. Mix all thoroughly with milk or water into as stiff a batter as can be stirred with a spoon. If water is used, a lump of butter as large as a walnut may be melted and stirred into it. Bake immediately in well-greased pans.

BOSTON BROWN BREAD

One pint of rye flour, one quart of corn meal, one teacupful of Graham flour, all fresh; half a teacupful of molasses or brown sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, and two-thirds of a teacupful of home-made yeast. Mix into as stiff a dough as can be stirred with a spoon, using warm water for wetting. Let it rise several hours, or over night; in the morning, or when light, add a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a spoonful of warm water; beat it well and turn it into well-greased, deep bread-pans, and let it rise again. Bake in a _moderate_ oven from three to four hours.

Palmer House, Chicago.

BOSTON BROWN BREAD. (Unfermented.)

One cupful of rye flour, two cupfuls of corn meal, one cupful of white flour, half a teacupful of molasses or sugar, a teaspoonful of salt. Stir all together _thoroughly_, and wet up with sour milk; then add a level teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a tablespoonful of water. The same can be made of sweet milk by substituting baking powder for soda. The batter to be stirred as thick as can be with a spoon, and turned into well-greased pans.

VIRGINIA BROWN BREAD

One pint of corn meal; pour over enough boiling water to thoroughly scald it; when cool add one pint of light, white bread sponge, mix well together, add one cupful of molasses, and Graham flour enough to mold; this will make two loaves; when light, bake in a moderate oven one and a half hours.

RHODE ISLAND BROWN BREAD

Two and one-half cupfuls of corn meal, one and one-half cupfuls of rye meal, one egg, one cup of molasses, two teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar, one teaspoonful of soda, a little salt and one quart of milk. Bake in a covered dish, either earthen or iron, in a moderately hot oven three hours.

STEAMED BROWN BREAD

One cup of white flour, two of Graham flour, two of Indian meal, one teaspoonful of soda, one cup of molasses, three and a half cups of milk, a little salt. Beat well and steam for four hours. This is for sour milk; when sweet milk is used, use baking powder in place of soda.

This is improved by setting it into the oven fifteen minutes after it is slipped from the mold. To be eaten warm with butter. Most excellent.

RYE BREAD

To a quart of warm water stir as much wheat flour as will make a smooth batter; stir into it half a gill of home-made yeast, and set it in a warm place to rise; this is called setting a sponge; let it be mixed in some vessel which will contain twice the quantity; in the morning, put three pounds and a half of rye flour into a bowl or tray, make a hollow in the centre, pour in the sponge, add a dessertspoonful of salt, and half a small teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in a little water; make the whole into a smooth dough, with as much warm water as may be necessary; knead it well, cover it, and let it set in a warm place for three hours; then knead it again, and make it into two or three loaves; bake in a quick oven one hour, if made in two loaves, or less if the loaves are smaller.

RYE AND CORN BREAD

One quart of rye meal or rye flour, two quarts of Indian meal, scalded (by placing in a pan and pouring over it just enough _boiling_ water to merely wet it, but not enough to make it into a batter, stirring constantly with a spoon), one-half cup of molasses, two teaspoonfuls salt, one teacup yeast, make it as stiff as can be stirred with a spoon, mixing with warm water and let rise all night. In the morning add a level teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a little water; then put it in a large pan, smooth the top with the hand dipped in cold water; let it stand a short time and bake five or six hours. If put in the oven late in the day, let it remain all night.

Graham may be used instead of rye, and baked as above.

This is similar to the "Rye and Injun" of our grandmothers' days, but that was placed in a kettle, allowed to rise, then placed in a covered iron pan upon the hearth before the fire, with coals heaped upon the lid, to bake all night.

FRENCH BREAD

Beat together one pint of milk, four tablespoonfuls of melted butter, or half butter and half lard, half a cupful of yeast, one teaspoonful of salt and two eggs. Stir into this two quarts of flour. When this dough is risen, make into two large rolls and bake as any bread. Cut across the top diagonal gashes just before putting into the oven.

TWIST BREAD

Let the bread be made as directed for wheat bread, then take three pieces as large as a pint bowl each; strew a little flour over the paste-board or table, roll each piece under your hands to twelve inches length, making it smaller in circumference at the ends than in the middle; having rolled the three in this way, take a baking-tin, lay one part on it, joint one end of each of the other two to it, and braid them together the length of the rolls and join the ends by pressing them together; dip a brush in milk and pass it over the top of the loaf; after ten minutes or so, set it in a quick oven and bake for nearly an hour.

NEW ENGLAND CORN CAKE

One quart of milk, one pint of corn meal, one teacupful of wheat flour, a teaspoonful of salt, two tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Scald the milk and gradually pour it on the meal; when cool add the butter and salt, also a half cup of yeast. Do this at night; in the morning beat thoroughly and add two well-beaten eggs, and a half teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in a spoonful of water. Pour the mixture into buttered deep earthen plates, let it stand fifteen minutes to rise again, then bake from twenty to thirty minutes.

GERMAN BREAD

One pint of milk well boiled, one teacupful of sugar, two tablespoonfuls of nice lard or butter, two-thirds of a teacupful of baker's yeast. Make a rising with the milk and yeast; when light, mix in the sugar and shortening, with flour enough to make as soft a dough as can be handled. Flour the paste-board well, roll out about one-half inch thick; put this quantity into two large pans; make about a dozen indentures with the finger on the top; put a small piece of butter in each, and sift over the whole one tablespoonful of sugar mixed with one teaspoonful of cinnamon. Let this stand for a second rising; when perfectly light, bake in a quick oven fifteen or twenty minutes.

CORN BREAD

Two cups of sifted meal, half a cup of flour, two cups of sour milk, two well-beaten eggs, half a cup of molasses or sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, two tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Mix the meal and flour smoothly and gradually with the milk, then the butter, molasses and salt, then the beaten eggs, and lastly dissolve a level teaspoonful of baking soda in a little milk and beat thoroughly altogether. Bake nearly an hour in well-buttered tins, not very shallow. This recipe can be made with sweet milk by using baking powder in place of soda.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans.

VIRGINIA CORN BREAD

Three cups of white corn meal, one cup of flour, one tablespoonful of sugar, one teaspoonful of salt, two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one tablespoonful of lard, three cups of milk and three eggs. Sift together the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and baking powder; rub in the lard cold, add the eggs well beaten and then the milk. Mix into a moderately stiff batter; pour it into well-greased, shallow baking pans (pie-tins are suitable). Bake from thirty to forty minutes.

BOSTON CORN BREAD

One cup of sweet milk, two of sour milk, two-thirds of a cup of molasses, one of wheat flour, four of corn meal and one teaspoonful of soda; steam for three hours, and brown a few minutes in the oven. The same made of sweet milk and baking powder is equally as good.

INDIAN LOAF CAKE

Mix a teacupful of powdered white sugar with a quart of rich milk, and cut up in the milk two ounces of butter, adding a saltspoonful of salt. Put this mixture into a covered pan or skillet, and set it on the fire till it is scalding hot. Then take it off, and scald with it as much yellow Indian meal (previously sifted) as will make it of the consistency of thick boiled mush. Beat the whole very hard for a quarter of an hour, and then set it away to cool.

While it is cooling, beat three eggs very light, and stir them gradually into the mixture when it is about as warm as new milk. Add a teacupful of good strong yeast and beat the whole another quarter of an hour, for much of the goodness of this cake depends on its being long and well beaten. Then have ready a tin mold or earthen pan with a pipe in the centre (to diffuse the heat through the middle of the cake). The pan must be very well-buttered as Indian meal is apt to stick. Put in the mixture, cover it and set it in a warm place to rise. It should be light in about four hours. Then bake it two hours in a moderate oven. When done, turn it out with the broad surface downwards and send it to table hot and whole. Cut it into slices and eat it with butter.

This will be found an excellent cake. If wanted for breakfast, mix it and set it to rise the night before. If properly made, standing all night will not injure it. Like all Indian cakes (of which this is one of the best), it should be eaten warm.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans.

 JOHNNIE CAKE

Sift one quart of Indian meal into a pan; make a hole in the middle and pour in a pint of warm water, adding one teaspoonful of salt; with a spoon mix the meal and water gradually into a soft dough; stir it very briskly for a quarter of an hour or more, till it becomes light and spongy; then spread the dough smoothly and evenly on a straight, flat board (a piece of the head of a flour-barrel will serve for this purpose); place the board nearly upright before an open fire and put an iron against the back to support it; bake it well; when done, cut it in squares; send it hot to table, split and buttered.

Old Plantation Style.

SPIDER CORN-CAKE

Beat two eggs and one-fourth cup sugar together. Then add one cup sweet milk and one cup of sour milk in which you have dissolved one teaspoonful soda. Add a teaspoonful of salt. Then mix one and two-thirds cups of granulated corn meal and one-third cup flour with this. Put a spider or skillet on the range and when it is hot melt in two tablespoonfuls of butter. Turn the spider so that the butter can run up on the sides of the pan. Pour in the corn-cake mixture and add one more cup of sweet milk, but do not stir afterwards. Put this in the oven and bake from twenty to thirty-five minutes. When done, there should be a streak of custard through it.

SOUTHERN CORN MEAL PONE OR CORN DODGERS

Mix with cold water into a soft dough one quart of southern corn meal, sifted, a teaspoonful of salt, a tablespoonful of butter or lard melted. Mold into oval cakes with the hands and bake in a very hot oven, in well-greased pans. To be eaten hot. The crust should be brown.

RAISED POTATO-CAKE

Potato-cakes, to be served with roast lamb or with game, are made of equal quantities of mashed potatoes and of flour, say one quart of each, two tablespoonfuls of butter, a little salt and milk enough to make a batter as for griddle-cakes; to this allow half a teacupful of fresh yeast; let it rise till it is light and bubbles of air form; then dissolve half a teaspoonful of soda in a spoonful of warm water and add to the batter; bake in muffin tins. These are good also with fricasseed chicken; take them from the tins and drop in the gravy just before sending to the table.

 

Back to Victorian recipes