Science in the Kitchen.
Mrs. E. E. Kellogg
Part 3 out of 17
water will be needed:--
TABLE SHOWING PROPORTION OF GRAIN AND LIQUID REQUIRED, WITH APPROXIMATE
TIME, WHEN A DOUBLE BOILER IS USED.
Quantity of Water Hours to
Grain. Required. Cook.
Graham Grits 1 part 4 parts 3 to 5
Rolled Wheat 1 " 3 " 3 to 4
Cracked " 1 " 4-1/2 " 3 to 4
Pearl " 1 " 4 " 4 to 5
Whole " 1 " 5 " 6 to 8
Rolled Oats 1 " 3 " 3 to 4
Coarse Oatmeal 1 " 4 " 4 to 6
Rolled Rye 1 " 3 " 3 to 4
Pearl Barley 1 " 5 " 4 to 5
Coarse Hominy 1 " 5 " 6 to 10
Fine Hominy 1 " 4 " 4 to 6
Cerealine 1 " 1 part 1/2
All grains should be carefully looked over before being put to cook.
In the cooking of grains, the following points should be observed:--
1. Measure both liquid and grain accurately with the same utensil, or
with two of equal size.
2. Have the water boiling when the grain is introduced, but do not
allow it to boil for a long time previous, until it is considerably
evaporated, as that will change the proportion of water and grain
sufficiently to alter the consistency of the mush when cooked. Introduce
the grain slowly, so as not to stop the sinking to the bottom, and the
whole becomes thickened. If the grain is cooked in a double boiler, this
first boiling should be done with the inner dish directly over the fire,
and when the grain has thickened or become "set," as it is termed, the
dish should at once be placed in the outer boiler, the water in which
should be boiling. It will then require no further care during the
entire cooking, safe to keep the outer boiler filled and the water
boiling. If the grain is to be cooked in a steam-cooker, as soon as set
it may be turned into a china or an earthen dish, suitable for use on
the table, and placed at once in the steamer to complete the cooking. If
an ordinary kettle is used, it is well to place it upon an iron ring or
brick on some part of the range were it will just simmer, for the
remainder of the cooking.
3. Stir the grain continuously until it has set, but not at all
afterward. Grains are much more appetizing if, while properly softened,
they can still be made to retain their original form. Stirring renders
the preparation pasty, and destroys its appearance. Grains cooked in a
double boiler will require no stirring, and there will be little danger
of their being lumpy, underdone on top, and scorched at the bottom, as
is so often the case when cooked in a single boiler.
4. Cook continuously. If it be necessary to replenish the water in the
outer boiler at anytime, let it be done with water of boiling
temperature. If it is desired to have the mush quite thick and dry, the
boiler should be left uncovered during the latter part of the cooking.
If preferred moist, keep the cover on.
In the preparation of all mushes with meal or flour, it is a good plan
to make the material into a batter with a portion of the liquid retained
from the quantity given, before introducing it into the boiling water.
This prevents the tendency to cook in lumps, so frequent when dry meal
is scattered into boiling liquid. Care must be taken, however, to add
the moistened portion very slowly, stirring vigorously meantime, so that
the boiling will not be checked. Use warm water for moistening. The
other directions given for the whole or broken grains are applicable to
the ground products.
GRAINS FOR BREAKFAST.--Since hasty preparation will not suffice for
the grains, they cannot be conveniently cooked in the morning in time
for breakfast. This difficulty may be obviated by cooking the day
previous, and reheating in the following way:--
Place the grain, when sufficiently cooked, in the refrigerator or in
some place where it will cool quickly (as slow cooling might cause
fermentation), to remain overnight. If cooked in a porcelain-lined or
granite-ware double boiler, it may be left undisturbed, if uncovered. If
cooked in tin or iron, turn the grain into a large earthen or china
dish. To heat in the morning, fill the outer boiler with boiling water,
place the inner dish containing the grain therein, and steam until
thoroughly heated. No stirring and no additional liquid will be
necessary, and if placed upon the stove when beginning the preparations
for breakfast, it will be ready for serving in good season. If the grain
has been kept in an earthen dish, it may best be reheated by placing
that inside the steam cooker or an ordinary steamer over a kettle of
Cracked wheat, pearl wheat, oatmeal, and other course grain preparations
to be reheated, require for cooking a half cup of water in addition to
the quantity given in the table. For rolled wheat, rolled oats, rolled
rye, and other crushed grains, no more is needed. Grains may be used for
breakfast without reheating, if served with hot milk or cream. If one
has an Aladdin oven, the problem of grains for breakfast may be easily
solved by cooking them all night, and if started late in the evening,
they may be thus cooked over a single burner oil stove with the flame
GRAINS AN ECONOMICAL FOOD.--While grains are pre-eminently among
the most nutritious of foods, they are also among the most economical,
the average price being from five to seven cents a pound, and even less
when purchased in bulk. If it be objected that they require much fuel to
secure the prolonged cooking necessary, we would say that a few cents'
worth of oil a week and a small lamp stove will accomplish the cooking
in a most efficient manner. For a hot-weather food there are few
articles which give greater satisfaction and require less time and labor
on the part of the housewife than grains, cooked by the aid of a small
DESCRIPTION.--Wheat is the most important of the grain foods. It is
probably a native of Southwestern Asia, though like most grains
cultivated from the earliest periods, its history is extremely obscure.
Wheat is of two principal kinds, characterized as soft and hard wheat,
though there are hundreds of named varieties of the grain. The
distinction between many of these is due to variation in the relative
proportions of starch and nitrogenous matter. Some contain not more than
eight per cent of nitrogenous elements, while others contain eighteen or
twenty per cent, with a corresponding decrease in carbonaceous elements.
This difference depends upon the soil, cultivation, season, climate, and
other conditions under which the grain is produced.
The structure of the wheat grain consists of an external tegument of a
hard, woody nature, so coherent that it appears in the form of scales or
bran when the wheat is ground, and an inner portion, more soft and
friable, consisting of several cellular layers. The layer nearest the
outer husk contains vegetable fibrin and fatty matter. The second layer
is largely composed of gluten cells; while the center comprising the
bulk of the grain, is chiefly made up of starch granules with a small
proportion of gluten.
The structure of a wheat kernel is well illustrated in the are situated
in different parts of the grain, and not uniformly distributed
throughout its structure. The outer husk of the berry is composed wholly
of innutritious and indigestible matter, but the thin layers which lie
next this outer covering contain the larger proportion of the
nitrogenous elements to be found in the entire kernel. The central
portion consists almost wholly of farinaceous matter.
[Illustration: Sectional View of Wheat Kernel.]
Phosphates and other mineral matter are present to some extent
throughout the entire grain, but preponderates in the external part.
Here is also found a peculiar, soluble, active principle called
diastase, which possesses the power of converting starch into sugar. The
dark color and marked flavor of Graham bread is undoubtedly due to the
influence of this element.
Until within a few years the unground grain was rarely used as an
article of food, but people are beginning to appreciate its
wholesomeness, and cracked, rolled, and pearled wheats are coming
rapidly into favor. Cracked wheat is the grain cleaned and then cut into
two or more pieces; in rolled wheat the grains are mashed between
rollers, by which process they are thoroughly softened in every part,
and are then easily cooked. Pearl wheat is the whole grain cleaned and
dressed. The whole grain is also cooked sometimes in its natural state.
PREPARATION AND COOKING.--Few articles of food show greater
difference between good and poor cooking than the various grains. Dry,
harsh, or underdone, they are as unwholesome as unpalatable. Like most
of the grains, wheat, with the exception of new wheat boiled whole,
should be put into boiling water and allowed to cook continuously but
slowly until done. Any of the unground preparations require prolonged
cooking. The average length of time and the approximate amount of water
needed in cooking _one cupful_ of the various wheat preparations in a
double boiler is stated on page 82.
PEARL WHEAT.--Heat a quart of water to boiling in the inner dish of
a double boiler, and stir into it one cup or one-half pint of pearl
wheat. Let it boil rapidly until thickened and the wheat has ceased
settling, then place in the outer boiler, in which the water should be
boiling, and cook continuously from three to four hours.
CRACKED WHEAT.--Cracked wheat may be cooked in the same manner as
pearl wheat, by using four and one-half parts of water to one of grain.
The length of time required to cook it thoroughly is about the same as
for pearl wheat.
ROLLED WHEAT.--This preparation of wheat requires only three parts
water to one of wheat. It should be cooked in the same way as pearled
wheat, but requires only three hours' cooking.
BOILED WHEAT (sometimes called frumenty).--Select newly-cut wheat,
well rubbed or threshed out. Look it over carefully, wash, and put to
cook in five times its measure of cold water. Let it come to a boil, and
cook gently until the grains burst open, and it can be readily mashed
between the thumb and finger. This will require from four to ten hours,
depending upon the age and variety of the wheat used. When done, it
should be even full of a rich, thick liquor. If necessary, add more
boiling water, but stir as little as possible. It may be served with
cream, the same as other wheat preparations. It is also excellent served
with lemon and other fruit sauces.
WHEAT WITH RAISINS.--Raisins or Zante currants may be added to any
of the foregoing recipes, if desired. The raisins or currants should be
well steamed previously, however, and stirred in lightly and evenly just
before dishing. If cooked with the grain, they become soft, broken, and
insipid. Figs, well steamed and chopped, may be added in the same way.
WHEAT WITH FRESH FRUIT.--Fresh whortleberries, blueberries, and
blackberries stirred into any of the well-cooked wheat preparations just
before serving, make a very desirable addition. A most delicious dish
may be prepared by stirring into well-cooked cracked wheat a few
spoonfuls of rather thick cream and some fresh wild blackberries. Serve
MOLDED WHEAT.--Cracked wheat, rolled wheat, or pearl wheat, cooked
according to the foregoing recipes, and turned into molds until cold,
makes a very palatable dessert, and may be served with sugar and cream
or with fruit juice. Bits of jelly placed on top of the molds in the
form of stars or crosses, add to the appearance. Molded grains are also
very nice served with fresh berries, either mashed or whole, arranged
around the mold.
FINER MILL PRODUCTS OF WHEAT.
The grain of wheat is inclosed in a woody envelope. The cellular layers
just beneath contain the largest proportion of nitrogenous matter, in
the form of gluten, and are hard of pulverization, while the starchy
heart of the grain is easily crumbled into fine dust. Thus it will be
readily understood that when the grain is subjected to an equal
pulverizing force, the several portions will be likely to be crushed
into particles of different sizes. The outer husk being toughest, will
be the least affected, the nitrogenous or glutenous portion will be much
finer, while the brittle starch will be reduced to powder. This first
simple product of grinding is termed wheat meal, unbolted, or Graham
flour, and of course contains all the elements of the grain. In ordinary
milling, however, this is subjected to various siftings, boltings, or
dressings, to separate the finer from the coarser particles, and then
subdivided into various grades of flour, which vary much in composition
and properties. The coarser product contains the largest proportion of
nutrients, while in the finer portions there is an exclusion of a large
part of the nitrogenous element of the grain. The outer portions of the
wheat kernel, which contain the greater part of the nitrogenous element,
are darker in color than the central, starchy portion. It will be
apparent, then, that the finer and whiter the flour, the less nutriment
it is likely to contain, and that in the use of superfine white flour
the eye is gratified at the expense of the body.
A preparation called farina, is made from the central portion of wheat,
freed from bran, and crushed into granules. Another preparation, called
Graham grits, is prepared by granulating the outer layers of the kernel
together with the germ of the wheat. This preparation, comparatively a
new one, includes the most nutritious properties of the grain, and its
granular form renders it excellent for mushes as well as for other
purposes. Farina is scarcely more nutritious than white flour, and
should not be used as a staple food. Graham grits contains the best
elements of the wheat grain in good proportion, and is one of the best
preparations of wheat. Other preparations of wheat somewhat similar in
character are farinose, germlet, etc.
FARINA.--Heat a pint of milk and one of water, or if preferred, a
quart of milk, in the inner cup of a double boiler; and when boiling,
stir in five tablespoonfuls of farina, moistened evenly with a little
milk. Let it boil rapidly until well set, which will be in about five or
eight minutes; then place in the outer boiler, and cook one hour. Serve
cold or hot with a dressing of cream or fruit juices. Farina may be
cooked in water alone, but on account of its lack of nutritive elements,
it is more valuable if prepared with milk.
FARINA WITH FIG SAUCE.--Cook the farina as in the foregoing recipe,
and serve hot with a fig sauce prepared as follows:--
Carefully look over, washed, and chop or cut quite finally, enough good
figs to make a cupful. Stew in a pint of water, to which has been added
a tablespoonful of sugar, until they are one homogeneous mass. If the
figs are not of the best quality and do not readily soften, it is well,
after stewing for a time, to rub them through a colander or vegetable
press to break up the tough portions and make a smooth sauce. Put a
spoonful of the hot fig sauce on each individual dish of farina, and
serve with cream or without dressing.
FARINA WITH FRESH FRUIT.--Cook the farina as previously directed.
Have some sliced yellow peaches, mellow sweet apples, or bananas in a
dish, turn the farina over them, stir up lightly with a fork, and serve
hot with cream.
MOLDED FARINA.--Farina to be used cold may be cooked in the same
manner as before described, with two or three tablespoonfuls of sugar
added at the same time with the farina, and when done, molded in cups
previously wet with a little cold water. Serve with a dressing of fruit
juice, whipped cream flavored with lemon, or mock cream flavored with
GRAHAM GRITS.--To four parts of water boiling in the inner dish of
a double boiler add slowly, so as not to stop the boiling of the water,
one part of Graham grits. Stir until thickened, then place in the outer
boiler, and steam from three to five hours. Serve hot with cream, or
mold in cups previously dipped in cold water, and serve with a dressing
of fruit juice. The fig sauce prepared as previously directed, is also
excellent with Graham grits.
GRAHAM MUSH NO. 1.--Good flour is the first requisite for making
good Graham mush. Poor Graham flour cannot be made into first-class
mush. Flour made from the best white winter wheat is perhaps the best.
It may be used either sifted or unsifted, as preferred. The proportion
of flour and liquid to be used will necessarily vary somewhat with the
quality of the flour, but in general, three parts water to one of flour
will be needed. Too much flour not only makes the mush too thick, but
gives it an underdone taste. Stir the dried flour rapidly into boiling
water, (which should not cease to boil during the process), until a
thick porridge is obtained. It is well to have it a little thinner at
first than is desirable for serving, as it will thicken by cooking. Cook
slowly at least one hour. A longer time makes it more digestible.
Left-over Graham mush is nice spread on rather shallow tins, and simply
heated quickly in a hot oven.
GRAHAM MUSH NO. 2.--Moisten one pint of good Graham flour with a
pint of warm water, or enough to make a batter thin enough to pour. (The
quantity of water needed will vary a little with the fineness and
quality of the flour.) Pour this batter into a quart of water boiling in
the inner cup of a double boiler. Remember to add the batter
sufficiently slow, so as not to stop the boiling of the water. When
thickened, put into the outer boiler, and cook for one hour.
GRAHAM MUSH NO. 3.--Prepare in the same way as above, using milk or
part milk in the place of water. Left-over Graham mush at breakfast,
which has been prepared with water, is very nice if, while it is still
warm, a small quantity of hot milk is well stirred into it, and it is
then set by to be reheated in a double boiler for dinner.
GRAHAM MUSH WITH DATES.--Prepare a mush as for Graham mush No. 2.
When done, place in the dish in which the mush is to be served, some
nice, fresh dates from which the stones have been removed. Pour the mush
over them, and stir up lightly, taking care not to break the fruit, and
serve. Raisins previously steamed, or figs steamed and cut into pieces,
may be used instead of dates. Serve hot with cream, or mold, and serve
PLUM PORRIDGE.--Prepare a Graham mush as previously directed, and
when done, add to it a cup of well-steamed raisins and sufficient rich
milk to thin it to the consistency of porridge.
GRAHAM APPLE MUSH.--Prepare a smooth apple sauce of rather tart
apples. Sweeten it slightly, and thin with boiling water. Have this
mixture boiling, and add to it Graham flour, either sprinkled in dry or
moistened with water, sufficient to make a well-thickened mush. Cook,
and serve hot with cream.
GRANOLA MUSH.--Granola, a cooked preparation of wheat and oats,
manufactured by the Sanatarium Food Co., makes a most appetizing and
quickly prepared breakfast dish. Into a quart of boiling water sprinkle
a pint of granola. Cook for two or three minutes, and serve hot with
GRANOLA FRUIT MUSH.--Prepare the mush as directed, and stir into
it, when done, a large cupful of nicely-steamed, seedless raisins. Serve
hot with cream. Milk may be used instead of water, if preferred.
GRANOLA PEACH MUSH.--Instead of the raisins as directed in the
foregoing recipe, add to the mush, when done, a pint of sliced yellow
peaches. Finely-cut, mellow sweet apples, sliced bananas, and
blueberries may be used in a similar way.
BRAN JELLY.--Select some clean wheat bran, sprinkle it slowly into
boiling water as for Graham mush, stirring briskly meanwhile with a
wooden spoon, until the whole is about the consistency of thick gruel.
Cook slowly in a double boiler for two hours. Strain through a fine wire
sieve placed over the top of a basin. When strained, reheat to boiling.
Then stir into it a spoonful or so of sifted Graham flour, rubbed smooth
in a little cold water. Boil up once; turn into molds previously wet in
cold water, and when cool, serve with cream or fruit juice.
THE OAT, OR AVENA.
DESCRIPTION.--The native country of the plant from which our common
varieties of the oat are derived, is unknown. Oat grains have been found
among the remains of the lake-dwellers in Switzerland, and it is
probable that this plant was cultivated by the prehistoric inhabitants
of Central Europe.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used oats, ranking them next in value to
barley, which they esteemed above all other cereals. Although
principally grown as food for horses, the oat, when divested of its husk
and broken by a process of milling, is an exceedingly nutritious and
valuable article of diet for human beings; and there is no article of
food that has increased in general favor more rapidly in the last few
years than this grain.
The Scotch have long been famed for their large consumption of oatmeal.
It forms the staple article of diet for the peasantry, to which fact is
generally attributed the fine physique and uniform health for which
they, as a race, are particularly noted. It is related that Dr. Johnson,
of dictionary fame, who never lost an opportunity to disparage the
Scotch, on one occasion defined oats as, "In Scotland, food for men; in
England, food for horses." He was well answered by an indignant
Scotchman who replied, "Yes; and where can you find such fine men as in
Scotland, or such horses as in England?"
Oatmeal justly ranks high as an alimentary substance. It contains about
the same proportion of nitrogenous elements as wheat, and with the
exception of maize, is richer in fatty matter than any other of the
cultivated cereals. In general structure the oat resembles wheat.
To prepare oats for food, the husk, which is wholly indigestible in
character, must be thoroughly removed. To accomplish this, the grain is
first kiln-dried to loosen the husk, and afterward submitted to a
process of milling. Denuded of its integument, the nutritive part of the
grain is termed groats; broken into finer particles, it constitutes what
is known as oatmeal; rolled oats, or avena, is prepared by a process
which crushes the kernels. Oatmeal varies also in degrees of
trituration, some kinds being ground much finer than others. The more
finely-ground products are sometimes adulterated with barley meal, which
is cheaper than oatmeal and less nutritious. The black specks which are
sometimes found in oatmeal are particles of black oats which have been
ground in connection with the other.
Oatmeal lacks the tenacity of wheaten flour, and cannot, without the
addition of some other flour, be made into light bread. It is, however,
largely consumed by the inhabitants of Scotland and the north of
England, in the form of oatcakes. The oatmeal is mixed with water,
kneaded thoroughly, then rolled into very thin cakes, and baked on an
iron plate or griddle suspended over a fire. So much, however, depends
upon the kneading, that it is said that the common inquiry before the
engagement of a domestic servant in Scotland, is whether or not she is a
good kneader of oatcakes.
The most common use of oatmeal in this country is in the form of mush or
porridge. For this the coarser grades of meal are preferable. For people
in health, there is no more wholesome article of diet than oatmeal
cooked in this way and eaten with milk. For growing children, it is one
of the best of foods, containing, as it does, a large proportion of bone
and muscle-forming material, while to almost all persons who have become
accustomed to its use, it is extremely palatable. The time required for
its digestion is somewhat longer than that of wheaten meal prepared in
the same manner. It is apt to disagree with certain classes of
dyspeptics, having a tendency to produce acidity, though it is
serviceable as an article of diet in some forms of indigestion. The
manner of its preparation for the table has very much to do with its
wholesomeness. Indeed, many objectionable dishes are prepared from it.
One of these, called _brose_, much used in Scotland, is made by simply
stirring oatmeal into some hot liquid, as beef broth, or the water in
which a vegetable has been boiled. The result is a coarse, pasty mass of
almost raw oatmeal, an extremely indigestible compound, the use of which
causes water brash. A preparation called _sowens_, or flummery, made by
macerating the husks of the oats in water from twenty-four to thirty-six
hours, until the mixture ferments, then boiling down to the consistency
of gruel, is a popular article of food among the Scotch and Welsh
peasantry. When boiled down still more, so it will form a firm jelly
when cold, the preparation is called _budrum_.
PREPARATION AND COOKING.--Oatmeal requires much cooking in order to
break its starch cells; and the coarser the meal, the longer it should
be allowed to cook. A common fault in the use of oatmeal is that it is
served in an underdone state, which makes a coarse, indigestible dish of
what, with more lengthy preparation, would be an agreeable and
nutritious food. Like most of the grains, it is best put into boiling
soft water, and allowed to cook continuously and slowly. It is greatly
injured by stirring, and it is therefore preferably cooked in a double
boiler or closed steamer. If it is necessary to use an ordinary kettle,
place it on some part of the range where the contents will only simmer;
or a hot brick may be placed under it to keep it from cooking too fast.
It may be cooked the day previous, and warmed for use the same as other
OATMEAL MUSH.--Heat a quart of water to boiling in the inner dish
of a double boiler, sift into it one cup of coarse oatmeal, and boil
rapidly, stirring continuously until it sets; then place in the outer
boiler, the water in which should be boiling, and cook three hours or
longer. Serve with cream.
OATMEAL FRUIT MUSH.--Prepare the oatmeal as directed above, and
stir in lightly, when dishing for the table, some sliced mellow and
juicy raw sweet apples. Strawberry apples and other slightly tart apples
are likewise excellent for the purpose. Well-ripened peaches and bananas
may also be used, if care is taken to preserve the slices whole, so as
to present an appetizing appearance. Both this and the plain oatmeal
mush are best eaten with toasted whole-wheat wafers or some other hard
OATMEAL BLANCMANGE NO. 1.--Soak a cupful of coarse oatmeal over
night in a pint and a half of water. In the morning, beat the oatmeal
well with a spoon, and afterwards pass all the soluble portion through a
fine strainer. Place the liquid in the inner dish of a double boiler,
and cook for half an hour. Turn into cups, cool fifteen or twenty
minutes, and serve warm with cream and sugar, or a dressing of fruit
juice. A lemon sauce prepared as directed on page 354 likewise makes an
OATMEAL BLANCMANGE NO. 2.--Take a pint of well-cooked oatmeal, add
to it a pint of milk, part cream if obtainable. Beat well together, and
strain through a fine wire sieve. Turn the liquid into a saucepan, and
boil for a few moments, until it is thick enough to drop from the point
of a spoon; then turn into cups previously wet in cold water, and mold.
Serve with a dressing of fruit juice or whipped cream slightly sweetened
and flavored with lemon.
JELLIED OATMEAL.--Cook oatmeal or rolled oats with an additional
cup or cup and a half of water, and when done, turned into cups and
mold. Serve cold with hot cream.
MIXED MUSH.--A cup and a half of rolled wheat, mixed with one-half
cup of coarse oatmeal, and cooked the same as oatmeal, forms a mush
preferred by some to oatmeal alone.
ROLLED OATS.--This preparation of oats should be cooked the same
as oatmeal, but requires only three parts water to one of rolled oats,
when cooked in a double boiler.
OATMEAL WITH APPLE.--Cold oatmeal which has been left over may be
made into an appetising dish by molding in alternate layers with
nicely-steamed tart apple, sprinkled lightly with sugar. Serve with
cream. Other cooked fruit, such as cherries, evaporated peaches, and
apricots may be used in the same way. A very pleasing dish is made by
using between the layers ripe yellow peaches and plums sliced together,
and lightly sprinkled with sugar.
OATMEAL PORRIDGE.--Into a quart and a half of water, which should
be boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler, sprinkle one cup of
rather coarse oatmeal. Boil rapidly, stirring meanwhile until the grain
is set; then place in the outer boiler, and cook continuously for three
hours or longer. A half cup of cream added just before serving, is a
DESCRIPTION.--Barley is stated by historians to be the oldest of
all cultivated grains. It seems to have been the principal bread plant
among the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. The Jews especially held
the grain in high esteem, and sacred history usually uses it
interchangeably with wheat, when speaking of the fruits of the Earth.
Among the early Greeks and Romans, barley was almost the only food of
the common people and the soldiers. The flour was made into gruel, after
the following recipe: "Dry, near the fire or in the oven, twenty pounds
of barley flour, then parch it. Add three pounds of linseed meal, half a
pound of coriander seeds, two ounces of salt, and the water necessary."
If an especially delectable dish was desired, a little millet was also
added to give the paste more "cohesion and delicacy." Barley was also
used whole as a food, in which case it was first parched, which is still
the manner of preparing it in some parts of Palestine and many districts
of India, also in the Canary Islands, where it is known as _gofio_. Of
this custom a lady from Palestine writes: "The reapers, during barley
harvest, take bunches of the half-ripe grain, and singe, or parch, it
over a fire of thorns. The milk being still in the grain, it is very
sweet, and is considered a delicacy."
In the time of Charles I, barley meal took the place of wheat almost
entirely as the food of the common people in England. In some parts of
Europe, India, and other Eastern countries, it is still largely consumed
as the ordinary farinaceous food of the peasantry and soldiers. The
early settlers of New England also largely used it for bread making. At
the present day only a very insignificant quantity of barley is used for
food purposes in this country, and most of this in the unground state.
Barley is less nutritious than wheat, and to many people is less
agreeable in flavor. It is likewise somewhat inferior in point of
digestibility. Its starch cells being less soluble, they offer more
resistance to the gastric juice.
There are several distinct species of barley, but that most commonly
cultivated is designated as two-rowed, or two-eared barley. In general
structure, the barley grain resembles wheat and oats.
Simply deprived of its outer husk, the grain is termed _Scotch milled_
or _pot barley_. Subjected still further to the process by which the
fibrous outer coat of the grain is removed, it constitutes what is known
as _pearl barley_. Pearl barley ground into flour is known as _patent
barley_. Barley flour, owing to the fact that it contains so small a
proportion of gluten, needs to be mixed with wheaten flour for
bread-making purposes. When added in small quantity to whole-wheat
bread, it has a tendency to keep the loaf moist, and is thought by some
to improve the flavor.
The most general use made of this cereal as a food, is in the form of
pearl, or Scotch, barley. When well boiled, barley requires about two
hours for digestion.
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS FOR COOKING BARLEY.--The conditions requisite
for cooking barley are essentially the same as for oatmeal. It is best
cooked slowly. Four parts of water to one of grain will be needed for
steaming or cooking in a double boiler, and from four to five hours'
time will be required, unless the grain has been previously soaked for
several hours, in which case three hours will do. If the strong flavor
of the grain is objected to, it may be soaked over night and cooked in
fresh water. This method will, however, be a sacrifice of some of the
nutriment contained in the grain. Barley thus soaked will require only
three parts water to one of barley for cooking.
BAKED BARLEY.--Soak six tablespoonfuls of barley in cold water over
night. In the morning, turn off the water, and put the barley in an
earthen pudding dish, and pour three and one half pints of boiling water
over it; add salt if desired, and bake in a moderately quick oven about
two and one half hours, or till perfectly soft, and all the water is
absorbed. When about half done, add four or five tablespoonfuls of sugar
mixed with grated lemon peel. It may be eaten warm, but is very nice
molded in cups and served cold with cream.
PEARL BARLEY WITH RAISINS.--Carefully look over and wash a cupful
of pearl barley. Cook in a double boiler in five cups of boiling water
for four hours. Just before serving, add a cupful of raisins which have
been prepared by pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to
stand until swollen. Serve hot, with cream.
PEARL BARLEY WITH LEMON SAUCE.--Pearl barley cooked in the same
manner, but without the addition of the raisins, is excellent served
with cream or with a lemon sauce prepared as directed on page 354.
DESCRIPTION.--Rice is one of the most abundantly used and most
digestible of all the cereals. It grows wild in India, and it is
probable that this is its native home. It is, however, now cultivated in
most tropical and sub-tropical climates, and is said to supply the
principal food for nearly one third of the human race. It is mentioned
in history several hundred years before Christ. According to Soyer, an
old writer on foods, the Greeks and Romans held rice in high esteem,
believing it to be a panacea for chest and lung diseases.
The grain is so largely grown and used by the Chinese that "fan," their
word for rice, has come to enter into many compound words. A beggar is
called a "tou-fan-tee," that is, "the rice-seeking one." The ordinary
salutation, "Che-fan," which answers to our "How do you do?" means,
"Have you eaten your rice?"
Rice requires a wet soil, and the fields in which the grain is raised,
sometimes called "paddy" fields, are periodically irrigated. Before
ripening, the water is drained off, and the crop is then cut with a
sickle, made into shocks, stacked, threshed, and cleaned, much like
wheat. The rice kernel is inclosed within two coverings, a course outer
husk, which is easily removed, and an inner, reddish, siliceous coating.
"Paddy" is the name given in India to the rice grain when inclosed in
its husk. The same is termed "rough rice" in this country. The outer
husk of the rice is usually removed in the process of threshing, but the
inner red skin, or hull, adheres very closely, and is removed by rubbing
and pounding. The rough rice is first ground between large stones, and
then conveyed into mortars, and pounded with iron-shod pestles. Thence,
by fanning and screening, the husk is fully removed, and the grain
divided into three different grades, whole, middlings, and small whole
grains, and polished ready for market. The middlings consist of the
larger broken pieces of the grain; the small rice, of the small
fragments mixed with the chit of the grain. The broken rice, well dried,
is sometimes ground into flour of different degrees of fineness. The
small rice is much sweeter and somewhat superior in point of nutritive
value to the large or head rice usually met with in commerce.
Rice is characterized by a large percentage of starch, and is so
deficient in other food elements that if used alone, unless consumed in
very large quantities, it will not furnish the requisite amount of
nitrogenous material necessary for a perfect health food. For this
reason, it is necessary to supplement its use with some other food
containing an excess of nitrogenous elements, as peas, beans, milk, etc.
Associated with other articles rich in albuminous elements, rice is
exceedingly valuable, and one of the most easily digested foods. Boiled
or steamed rice requires but a little over one hour for digestion.
PREPARATION AND COOKING.--Rice needs to be thoroughly washed to
remove the earthy taste it is so apt to have. A good way to do this is
to put it into a colander, in a deep pan of water. Rub the rice well
with the hands, lifting the colander in and out the water, and changing
the water until it is clear; then drain. In this way the grit is
deposited in the water, and the rice left thoroughly clean.
The best method of cooking rice is by steaming it. If boiled in much
water, it loses a portion of its already small percentage of nitrogenous
elements. It requires much less time for cooking than any of the other
grains. Like all the dried grains and seeds, rice swells in cooking to
several times its original bulk. When cooked, each grain of rice should
be separate and distinct, yet perfectly tender.
STEAMED RICE.--Soak a cup of rice in one and a fourth cups of water
for an hour, then add a cup of milk, turn into an earthen dish suitable
for serving it from at table, and place in a steam-cooker or a covered
steamer over a kettle of boiling water, and steam for an hour. It should
be stirred with a fork occasionally, for the first ten or fifteen
BOILED RICE (Japanese method).--Thoroughly cleanse the rice by
washing in several waters, and soak it overnight. In the morning, drain
it, and put to cook in an equal quantity of boiling water, that is, a
pint of water for a pint of rice. For cooking, a stewpan with tightly
fitting cover should be used. Heat the water to boiling, then add the
rice, and after stirring, put on the cover, which is not again to be
removed during the boiling. At first, as the water boils, steam will
puff out freely from under the cover, but when the water has nearly
evaporated, which will be in eight to ten minutes, according to the age
and quality of the rice, only a faint suggestion of steam will be
observed, and the stewpan must then be removed from over the fire to
some place on the range, where it will not burn, to swell and dry for
fifteen or twenty minutes.
Rice to be boiled in the ordinary manner requires two quarts of boiling
water to one cupful of rice. It should be boiled rapidly until tender,
then drained at once, and set in a moderate oven to become dry. Picking
and lifting lightly occasionally with a fork will make it more flaky and
dry. Care must be taken, however, not to mash the rice grains.
RICE WITH FIG SAUCE.--Steam a cupful of best rice as directed
above, and when done, serve with a fig sauce prepared as directed on
page 89. Dish a spoonful of the fig sauce with each saucer of rice, and
serve with plenty of cream. Rice served in this way requires no sugar
for dressing, and is a most wholesome breakfast dish.
ORANGE RICE.--Wash and steam the rice according to directions
already given. Prepare some oranges by separating into sections and
cutting each section in halves, removing the seeds and all the white
portion. Sprinkle the oranges lightly with sugar, and let them stand
while the rice is cooking. Serve a portion of the orange on each
saucerful of rice.
RICE WITH RAISINS.--Carefully wash a cupful of rice, soak it, and
cook as directed for Steamed Rice. After the rice has began to swell,
but before it has softened, stir into it lightly, using a fork for the
purpose, a cupful of raisins, or Zante currents. Serve with cream.
RICE WITH PEACHES.--Steam the rice as previously directed, and when
done, serve with cream and a nicely ripened peach pared and sliced on
each individual dish.
BROWNED RICE.--Spread a cupful of rice on a shallow baking tin, and
put into a moderately hot oven to brown. It will need to be stirred
frequently to prevent burning and to secure a uniformity of color. Each
rice kernel, when sufficiently browned, should be of a yellowish brown,
about the color of ripened wheat. Steam the same as directed for
ordinary rice, using only two cups of water for each cup of browned
rice, and omitting the preliminary soaking. When properly cooked, each
kernel will be separated, dry, and mealy. Rice prepared in this manner
is undoubtedly more digestible than when cooked without browning.
DESCRIPTION.--Rye is much more largely grown and used in European
countries that in America. In appearance it closely resembles wheat,
although somewhat darker in color and smaller in size. Bread made from
rye constitutes the staple food of the people in many parts of Europe.
In nutritive value such bread nearly equals that made from wheat, but it
has an acid taste not relished by persons unaccustomed to its use.
Rye is found in market deprived of its husk and crushed or rolled, and
also in the form of meal and flour.
ROLLED RYE.--Into three parts water boiling in the inner dish of a
double boiler, stir one part rolled rye. Boil rapidly until set,
stirring meanwhile, then place in the outer boiler, and cook for three
or more hours.
RYE MUSH.--Stir a cupful of rye meal to a smooth batter with a
cupful of water, then turn it slowly into three cupfuls of water, which
should be boiling on the range, in the inner dish of a double boiler.
Stir until thickened, then place in the outer boiler, and cook for an
hour or longer.
MAIZE, OR INDIAN CORN.
DESCRIPTION.--There can be little doubt that maize is of American
origin. The discoverers of the new world found it cultivated by the
aborigines, and from the fact that corn was the generic term then
largely used to designate grain (in old English, "corn" means grain),
they named it "Indian corn." Since that time it has been carried to
nearly every part of the globe, and probably it is more extensively used
than any other one of the cereals, with the exception of rice. This is
undoubtedly due to the fact that it is the most prolific of the grains,
and is adapted to the widest range of climate.
Maize was the chief food of the slaves of Brazil, as it used to be of
those in our own Southern States, and is very largely consumed in Mexico
and Peru. It was used very little in Europe until the Irish famine in
1847; since then, it has become a staple food with the poorer classes.
The varieties of corn are almost too numerous to be counted. For general
purposes, however, they may be classified as field corn, sweet corn, and
Corn is characterized by an excess of fatty matter, containing upwards
of three times the amount of that element to be found in wheat. Corn
requires stronger powers of digestion than wheat, and is unsuited to
The skin of the corn kernel is thin, and when subjected to milling
processes, is included in the grinding. When well ground, it can be
digested, with the exception of the siliceous coating.
Sweet corn and some of the field varieties, form a nutritious and
favorite food while green. The mature grain is used in many forms. The
whole grain, hulled, is an agreeable food. Hulled, broken, or split to
various degrees of fineness, it is known according to the size to which
the grain has been reduced as hominy, fine hominy, or grits; or, if
finer still, as samp. Subjected to a process of still finer trituration,
it forms meal. Cornstarch consists of the farinaceous portions of the
On account of the large proportion of fatty matter contained in maize,
it acquires, if kept for some time and unpleasant, rancid taste,
occasioned by the usual change which takes place in fat when exposed to
The new process granular meal, which is prepared from corn dried for a
long period before grinding, becomes rank less quickly than that ground
in the old way.
Maize meal is very largely consumed in the form of mush or porridge.
This, in Ireland, is termed "stirabout;" in Italy it is called
"polenta;" and in British Honduras it is known as "corn lob."
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS FOR COOKING.--Most of the various preparations
from maize require prolonged cooking to render them wholesome; this is
equally true respecting mushes prepared from samp or meal, a dish which
unfortunately some cook in bygone days saw fit to term "hasty pudding."
Unthinking people since, supposing it to have been so named because of
the little time required to cook it, have commonly prepared it in
fifteen or twenty minutes, whereas from one to two hours, or even
longer, are necessary to cook it properly. Hulled corn, hominy, and
grits, all require prolonged cooking. The time for cooking these
preparations may be somewhat lessened if they are previously soaked over
night. They should, however, be cooked in the same water in which they
CORN MEAL MUSH.--stir together one pint of cornmeal, one
tablespoonful of flour, and one pint of cold milk. Turn this slowly,
stirring well meanwhile, into one quart of boiling water, which should
not cease to boil during the introduction of the batter. Cook three or
four hours. If milk is not obtainable, water alone may be used, in which
case two tablespoonfuls of flour will be needed. Cook in a double
CORN MEAL MUSH WITH FRUIT.--Mush prepared in the above manner may
have some well-steamed raisins or chopped figs added to it just before
CORN MEAL CUBES.--Left-over corn meal mush may be made into an
appetizing dish by first slicing into rather thick slices, then cutting
into cubes about one inch squares. Put the cubes into a tureen and turn
over them a quantity of hot milk or cream. Cover the dish, let them
stand until thoroughly heated through, then serve.
BROWNED MUSH.--Slice cold corn meal mush rather thin, brush each
slice with thick, sweet cream, and brown in a moderate oven until well
SAMP.--Use one part of samp to four and one half parts of boiling
water. It is the best plan to reserve enough of the water to moisten the
samp before adding it to the boiling water, as it is much less likely to
cook in lumps. Boil rapidly, stirring continuously, until the mush has
well set, then slowly for from two to three hours.
CEREALINE FLAKES.--Into one measure of boiling liquid stir an equal
measure of cerealine flakes, and cook in a double boiler from one half
to three fourths of an hour.
HULLED CORN.--_To Hull the Corn._--Put enough wood ashes into a
large kettle to half fill it; then nearly fill with hot water, and boil
ten minutes. Drain off the water from the ashes, turn it into a kettle,
and pour in four quarts of clean, shelled field corn, white varieties
preferred. Boil till the hulls rub off. Skim the corn out of the lye
water, and put it into a tub of fresh cold water. To remove the hulls,
scrub the corn well with a new stiff brush broom kept for the purpose,
changing the water often. Put through half a dozen or more waters, and
then take the corn out by handfuls, rubbing each well between the hands
to loosen the remaining hulls, and drop again into clear water. Pick out
all hulls. Cleanse the corn through several more waters if it is to be
dried and kept before using. Well hulled corn is found in the markets.
_To Cook._--If it is to be cooked at once, it should be parboiled in
clear water twice, and then put into new water and cooked till tender.
It should be nearly or quite dry when done. It may be served with milk
COARSE HOMINY.--For coarse hominy use four parts of water or milk
and water to one of grain. It is best steamed or cooked in a double
boiler, though it may be boiled in a kettle over a slow fire. The only
objection to this method is the need of frequent stirring to prevent
sticking, which breaks and mashes the hominy. From four to five hours'
slow cooking will be necessary, unless the grain has been previously
soaked; then about one hour less will be required.
FINE HOMINY OR GRITS.--This preparation is cooked in the same
manner as the foregoing, using three and one half or four parts of water
to one of the grain. Four or five hours will be necessary for cooking
the unsoaked grits.
POPPED CORN.--The small, translucent varieties of maize known as
"pop corn," possessed the property, when gently roasted, of bursting
open, or turning inside out, a process which is owing to the following
facts: Corn contains an excess of fatty matter. By proper means this fat
can be separated from the grain, and it is then a thick, pale oil. When
oils are heated sufficiently in a vessel closed from the air, they are
turned into gas, which occupies many times the bulk of the oil. When pop
corn is gradually heated, and made so hot that the oil inside of the
kernel turns to gas, being unable to escape through the hull of the
kernel, the pressure finally becomes strong enough to burst the grain,
and the explosion is so violent as to shatter it in a most curious
Popped corn forms an excellent food, the starch of the grain being will
cooked. It should, however, be eaten in connection with other food at
mealtime, and not as a delicacy between meals. Ground pop corn is
considered a delectable dish eaten with milk or cream; it also forms the
base of several excellent puddings.
To pop the corn, shell and place in a wire "popper" over a bed of bright
coals, or on the top of a hot stove; stir or shake continuously, so that
each kernel may be subjected to the same degree of heat on all sides,
until it begins to burst open. If a popper is not attainable, a common
iron skillet covered tightly, and very lightly oiled on the bottom, may
be used for the purpose. The corn must be very dry to begin with, and if
good, nearly every kernel will pop open nicely. It should be used within
twenty-four hours after popping.
DESCRIPTION.--Macaroni is a product of wheat prepared from a hard,
clean, glutenous grain. The grain is ground into a meal called
_semolina_, from which the bran is excluded. This is made into a tasty
dough by mixing with hot water in the proportion of two thirds
_semolina_ to one third water. The dough after being thoroughly mixed is
put into a shallow vat and kneaded and rolled by machinery. When well
rolled, it is made to assume varying shapes by being forced by a
powerful plunger through the perforated head of strong steel or iron
cylinders arranged above a fire, so that the dough is partially baked as
it issues from the holes. It is afterwards hung over rods or laid upon
frames covered with cloth, and dried. It is called by different names
according to its shape. If in the shape of large, hollow cylinders, it
is _macaroni;_ if smaller in diameter, it is _spaghetti;_ if fine,
_vermicelli;_ if the paste is cut into fancy patterns, it is termed
Macaroni was formerly made only in Italy, but at present is manufactured
to a considerable extent in the United States. The product, however, is
in general greatly inferior to that imported from Italy, owing to the
difference in the character of the wheat from which it is made, the
Italian macaroni being produced from a hard, semi-translucent wheat,
rich in nitrogenous elements, and which is only grown successfully in a
hot climate. Like all cereal foods, macaroni should be kept in a
perfectly dry storeroom.
TO SELECT MACARONI.--Good macaroni will keep in good condition for
years. It is rough, elastic, and hard; while the inferior article is
smooth, soft, breaks easily, becomes moldy with keeping. Inferior
macaroni contains a large percentage of starch, and but a small amount
of gluten. When put into hot water, it assumes a white, pasty
appearance, and splits in cooking. Good macaroni when put into hot water
absorbs a portion of the water, swells to nearly double its size, but
perfectly retains its shape. Inferior macaroni is usually sold a few
cents cheaper per pound than the genuine article. It contains a much
smaller amount of gluten. The best quality of any shape one pleases can
be bought in most markets for ten or fifteen cents a pound.
TO PREPARE AND COOK MACARONI.--Do not wash macaroni. If dusty, wipe
with a clean, dry cloth. Break into pieces of convenient size. Always
put to cook in boiling liquid, taking care to have plenty of water in
the saucepan (as it absorbs a large quantity), and cook until tender.
The length of time required may vary from twenty minutes, if fresh, to
one hour if stale. When tender, turn into a colander and drain, and pour
cold water through it to prevent the tubes from sticking together. The
fluid used for cooking may be water, milk, or a mixture of both; also
soup stock, tomato juice, or any preferred liquid.
Macaroni serves as an important adjunct to the making of various soups,
and also forms the basis of other palatable dishes.
HOME-MADE MACARONI.--To four cupfuls of flour, add one egg well
beaten, and enough water to make a dough that can be rolled. Roll thin
on a breadboard and cut into strips. Dry in the sun. The best
arrangement for this purpose is a wooden frame to which a square of
cheese-cloth has been tightly tacked, upon which the macaroni may be
laid in such a way as not to touch, and afterwards covered with a
cheese-cloth to keep off the dust during the drying.
BOILED MACARONI.--Break sticks of macaroni into pieces about an
inch in length, sufficient to fill a large cup; put it into boiling
water and cook until tender. When done, drained thoroughly, then add a
pint of milk, part cream if it can be afforded, a little salt and one
well-beaten egg; stir over the fire until it thickens, and serve hot.
MACARONI WITH CREAM SAUCE.--Cook the macaroni as directed in the
proceeding, and serve with a cream sauce prepared by heating a scant
pint of rich milk to boiling, in a double boiler. When boiling, add a
heaping tablespoonful of flour, rubbed smoothed in a little milk and one
fourth teaspoonful of salt. If desired, the sauce may be flavored by
steeping in the milk before thickening for ten or fifteen minutes, a
slice of onion or a few bits of celery, and then removing with a fork.
MACARONI WITH TOMATO SAUCE.--Break a dozen sticks of macaroni into
two-inch lengths, and drop into boiling milk and water, equal parts. Let
it boil for an hour, or until perfectly tender. In the meantime prepare
the sauce by rubbing a pint of stewed or canned tomatoes through a
colander to remove all seeds and fragments. Heat to boiling, thicken
with a little flour; a tablespoonful to the pint will be about the
requisite proportion. Add salt and if desired, a half cup of very thin
sweet cream. Dish the macaroni into individual dishes, and serve with a
small quantity of the sauce poured over each dish.
MACARONI BAKED WITH GRANOLA.--Break macaroni into pieces about an
inch in length sufficient to fill a large cup, and cook until tender in
boiling milk and water. When done, drain and put a layer of the macaroni
in the bottom of an earthen pudding dish, and sprinkle over it a scant
teaspoonful of granola. Add a second and third layer and sprinkle each
with granola; then turn over the whole a custard sauce prepared by
mixing together a pint of milk, the well beaten yolks of two eggs or one
whole egg, and one-fourth of a teaspoonful of salt. Care should be taken
to arrange the macaroni in layers loosely, so that the sauce will
readily permeate the whole. Bake for a few minutes only, until the
custard has well set, and serve.
EGGS AND MACARONI.--Break fifteen whole sticks of macaroni into
two-inch lengths, and put to cook in boiling water. While the macaroni
is cooking, boil the yolks of four eggs until mealy. The whole egg may
be used if caught so the yolks are mealy in the whites simply jellied,
not hardened. When the macaroni is done, drain and put a layer of it
arranged loosely in the bottom of an earthen pudding dish. Slice the
cooked egg yolks and spread a layer of them over the macaroni. Fill the
dish with alternate layers of macaroni and egg, taking care to have the
top layer of macaroni. Pour over the whole a cream sauce prepared as
follows: Heat one and three fourths cup of rich milk to boiling, add one
fourth teaspoonful of salt and one heaping spoonful of flour rubbed
smooth in a little cold milk. Cook until thickened, then turn over the
macaroni. Sprinkle the top with grated bread crumbs, and brown in a hot
oven for eight or ten minutes. Serve hot.
Sir Isaac Newton, when writing his grail work, "Principia," lived
wholly upon a vegetable, diet.
ROBERT COLLYER once remarked; "One great reason why I never had a
really sick day in my life was that as boy I lived on oatmeal and
milk and brown bread, potatoes and a bit of meat when I could get
it, and then oatmeal again."
HOT-WEATHER DIET.--The sultry period of our summer, although
comparatively slight and of short duration, is nevertheless felt by
some people to be extremely oppressive, but this is mainly due to
the practice of eating much animal food or fatty matters, conjoined
as it often is with the habit of drinking freely of fluids
containing more or less alcoholics. Living on cereals, vegetables,
and fruits, and abstaining from alcoholic drinks, the same persons
would probably enjoy the temperature, and be free from the thirst
which is the natural result of consuming needlessly heating
food.--_Sir Henry Thompson._
_Mistress_ (arranging for dinner)--"Didn't the macaroni come from
the grocer's, Bridget?"
_Bridget_--"Yis, mum, but oi sint it back. Every won av thim leetle
stims wuz impty."
Some years since, a great railroad corporation in the West, having
occasion to change the gauge of its road throughout a distance of
some five hundred miles, employed a force of 3,000 workmen upon the
job, who worked from very early in the morning until late at night.
Alcoholic drinks were strictly prohibited, but a thin gruel made of
oatmeal and water was kept on hand and freely partaken of by the men
to quench their thirst. The results were admirable; not a single
workmen gave out under the severe strain, and not one lost a day
from sickness. Thus this large body of men were kept well and in
perfect strength and spirits, and the work was done in considerably
less time than that counted on for its completion.
In Scotch households oatmeal porridge is as inevitable as breakfast
itself, except perhaps on Sundays, as this anecdote will illustrate.
A mother and child were passing along a street in Glasgow, when this
conversation was overheard:--
"What day is the morn, mither?"
"An' will wi hae tea to breakfast, mither?"
"Aye, laddie, gin we're spared."
"An' gin we're no spared, will we hae parrich?"
BREADSTUFFS AND BREADMAKING
Although the grains form most nutritious and palatable dishes when
cooked in their unground state, this is not always the most convenient
way of making; use of them. Mankind from earliest antiquity has sought
to give these wonderful products of nature a more portable and
convenient form by converting them into what is termed bread, a word
derived from the verb _bray_, to pound, beat, or grind small, indicative
of the ancient manner of preparing the grain for making bread. Probably
the earliest form of bread was simply the whole grain moistened and then
exposed to heat. Afterward, the grains were roasted and ground, or
pounded between stones, and unleavened bread was made by mixing this
crude flour with water, and baking in the form of cakes. Among the many
ingenious arrangements used by the ancients for baking this bread, was a
sort of portable oven in shape something like a pitcher, in the inside
of which a fire was made. When the oven was well heated, a paste made of
meal and water was applied to the outside. Such bread was baked very
quickly and taken off in small, thin sheets like wafers. A flat cake was
the common form in which most of the bread of olden times was baked;
being too brittle to be cut with a knife, the common mode of dividing it
was by breaking and hence the expression "breaking bread" so common in
Various substances have been and are employed for making this needful
article. Until the last few decades, barley was the grain most
universally used. Chestnuts, ground to a flour, are made into bread in
regions where these nuts abound. Quite recently, an immense peanut crop
in the Southern States was utilized for bread-making purposes. In
ancient times, the Thracians made to bread from a flour made from the
_water coltran_, a prickly root of triangular form. In Syria, mulberries
were dried and grounded to flour. Rice, moss, palm tree piths, and
starch producing roots are used by different nationalities in the
preparation of bread. In many parts of Sweden, bread is made from dried
fish, using one half fish flour and one half barley flour; and in
winter, flour made from the bark of trees is added. Desiccated tomatoes,
potatoes, and other vegetables are also mixed with the cereals for
bread-making. In India, the lower classes make their bread chiefly from
millet. Moss bread is made in Iceland from the reindeer moss, which
toward autumn becomes soft, tender, and moist, with a taste like wheat
bran. It contains a large quantity of starch, and the Icelanders gather,
dry, pulverize it, and thus prepare it for bread-making. The ancient
Egyptians often made their bread from equal parts of the whole grain and
The breadstuff's most universally used among civilized nations at the
present time are barley, rye, oats, maize, buckwheat, rice, and wheat,
of which the last has acquired a decided preference.
If made in the proper manner and from suitable material, bread is, with
the exception of milk, the article best fitted for the nourishment of
the body, and if need be, can supply the place of all other foods. Good
bread does not cloy the appetite as do many other articles of food, and
the simplest bill of fare which includes light, wholesome bread, is far
more satisfying than an elaborate meal without it. Were the tables of
our land supplied with good, nutritious, well-baked bread, there would
be less desire for cake, pastry, and other indigestible particles,
which, under the present system of cookery, are allowed to compensate
for the inferior quality and poor preparation of more wholesome foods.
Bread has been proverbially styled the "staff of life." In nearly all
ancient languages the entomology of the word "bread" signifies all,
indicating; that the bread of earlier periods was in truth what it
should be at the present time,--a staff upon which all the functions of
life might with safety depend.
Notwithstanding the important part bread was designed to play in the
economy of life, it would be hardly possible to mention another aliment
which so universally falls below the standard either through the manner
of its preparation or in the material used.
Bread, to answer the requirements of a good, wholesome article of food,
beside being palatable, must be light, porous, and friable, so that it
can be easily insalivated and digested. It should not contain
ingredients which will in any way be injurious if taken into the system,
but should contain as many as possible of the elements of nutrition.
Wheat, the substance from which bread is most generally made, contains
all the necessary food elements in proper proportions to meet the
requirements of nutrition, and bread should also contain them. The
flour, however, must be made from the whole grain of the wheat, with the
exception of the outer husk.
What is ordinarily termed fine flour has a large part of the most
nutritive properties of the grain left out, and unless this deficiency
is made up by other foods, the use of bread made from such material will
leave the most vital tissues of the body poorly nourished, and tend to
produce innumerable bad results. People who eat bread made from fine
white flour naturally crave the food elements which have been eliminated
from the wheat, and are thus led to an excessive consumption of meat,
and the nerve-starvation and consequent irritability thus induced may
also lead to the use of alcoholic drinks. We believe that one of the
strongest barriers women could erect against the inroads of intemperance
would be to supply the tables of the land with good bread made from
flour of the entire wheat.
The superiority of bread made from the entire wheat or unbolted meal has
been attested by many notable examples in history. In England, under the
administration of William Pitt, there was for several years such a
scarcity of wheat that to make it hold out longer, a law was passed by
Parliament that the army should be supplied with bread made of unbolted
flour. This occasioned much murmuring on the part of the soldiers, but
nevertheless the health of the army improved so greatly as to be a
subject of surprise. The officers and the physicians at last publicly
declared that the soldiers had never before been so robust and healthy.
According to the eminent Prof. Liebig, whole-wheat bread contains 60 per
cent more of the phosphate or bone forming material than does meat, and
200 per cent more gluten than white bread. To the lack of these elements
in a food so generally used as white flour bread, is undoubtedly due the
great prevalence of early decaying teeth, rickets, and other bone
diseases. Indeed, so many are the evils attendant upon a continued use
of fine flour bread that we can in a great measure agree with a writer
of the last century who says, in a quaint essay still to be seen at the
British Museum, that "fine flour, spirituous liquors, and strong
ale-house beer are the foundations of almost all the poverty and all the
evils that affect the labouring part of mankind."
Bread made from the entire wheat is looked upon with far more favor than
formerly, and it is no longer necessary to use the crude products of the
grain for its manufacture, since modern invention has worked such a
revolution in milling processes that it is now possible to obtain a fine
flour containing all the nutritious elements of the grain. The old-time
millstone has been largely superceded by machinery with which the entire
grain may be reduced to fine flour without the loss of any of its
valuable properties. To be sure, the manufacture of fine white flour of
the old sort, is still continued, and doubtless will be continued so
long as color takes precedence over food value. The improved processes
of milling have, however, enabled the millers to utilize a much larger
proportion of the nutritious elements of the grain than formerly, and
still preserve that whiteness is so pleasing to many consumers. Although
it is true that there are brands of white flour which possess a large
percentage of the nutrient properties of the wheat, it is likewise true
that flour which contains _all_ the nutritive elements is _not_ white.
Of flours made from the entire grain there are essentially two different
varieties, that which is termed _unbolted wheat meal_ or _Graham_ flour,
and that called _wheat-berry, whole-wheat_, or _entire-wheat_ flour. The
principal difference between the two consists in the preliminary
treatment of the wheat kernel before reduction, Graham flour containing
more or less of the flinty bran, which is wholly innutritious and to a
sensitive stomach somewhat irritating. In the manufacture of _whole_ or
_entire_-wheat flour, the outer, flinty bran is first removed by special
machinery, and then the entire grain pulverized, by some of approved
method, to different grades of fineness. The absence of the indigestible
bran renders the entire-wheat flour superior in this respect to Graham,
though for many persons the latter is to preferred.
HOW TO SELECT FLOUR.--The first requisite in the making of good
bread is good flour. The quality of a brand of flour will of course
depend much upon the kind of grain from which it is prepared--whether
new or old, perfect, or deteriorated by rust, mold, or exposure, and
also upon the thoroughness with which it has been cleansed from dust,
chaff, and all foreign substances, as well as upon the method by which
it is ground. It is not possible to judge with regard to all these
particulars by the appearance of the flour, but in general, good flour
will be sweet, dry, and free from any sour or musty smell or taste. Take
up a handful, and if it falls from the hand light and elastic, it is
pretty sure to be good. If it will retain the imprint of the fingers
and falls and a compact mass or a damp, clammy, or sticky to the touch,
it is by no means the best. When and knead a little of it between the
fingers; if it works soft and sticky, it is poor. Good flour, when made
into dough, is elastic, and will retain its shape. This elastic property
of good flour is due to the gluten which it contains. The more gluten
and the stronger it is, the better the flour. The gluten of good flour
will swell to several times its original bulk, while that of poor flour
In buying white flour, do not select that which is pure white with a
bluish tinge, but that which is of a creamy, yellowish-white tint. While
the kinds of flour that contain the entire nutritive properties of the
wheat will necessarily be darker in color, we would caution the reader
not to suppose that because flour is dark in color it is for that reason
good, and rich in nutritive elements. There are many other causes from
which flour may be dark, such as the use of uncleansed or dark varieties
of wheat, and the large admixture of bran and other grains; many
unscrupulous millers and flour dealers make use of this fact to palm off
upon their unsuspecting customers an inferior article. Much of the
so-called Graham flour is nothing more than poor flour mixed with bran,
and is in every way inferior to good white flour. Fine flour or made
from the entire wheat may generally be distinguished from a spurious
article by taking a small portion into the mouth and chewing it. Raw
flour made from the entire grain has a sweet taste, and a rich, nutty
flavor the same as that experienced in chewing a whole grain of wheat,
and produces a goodly quantity of gum or gluten, while a spurious
article tastes flat and insipid like starch, or has a bitter, pungent
taste consequent upon the presence of impurities. This bitter taste is
noticeable in bread made from such flour. A given quantity of poor flour
will not make as much bread as the same quantity of good flour, so that
adulteration may also be detected in this way. Doubtless much of the
prejudice against the use of whole-wheat flour has arisen from the use
of a spurious article.
As it is not always possible to determine accurately without the aid of
chemistry and a microscope whether flour is genuine, the only safe way
is to purchase the product of reliable mills.
It is always best to obtain a small quantity of flour first, and put it
to the test of bread-making; then, if satisfactory, purchase that brand
so long as it proves good. It is true economy to buy a flour known to be
good even though it may cost more than some others. It is not wise to
purchase too large a quantity at once unless one has exceptionally good
facilities for storage, as flour is subject to many deteriorating
influences. It is estimated that a barrel of good flour contains
sufficient bread material to last one person one year; and from this
standard it can be easily estimated in what proportion it is best to
TO KEEP FLOUR.--Flour should always be kept in a tight receptacle,
and in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. It should not be allowed to
remain in close proximity to any substances of strong odor, as it very
readily absorbs odors and gaseous impurities. A damp atmosphere will
cause it to absorb moisture, and as a result the gluten will lose some
of its tenacity and become sticky, and bread made from the flour will be
coarser and inferior in quality. Flour which has absorbed dampness from
any cause should be sifted into a large tray, spread out thin and
exposed to the hot sun, or placed in a warming oven for a few hours.
DELETERIOUS ADULTERATIONS OF FLOUR.--Besides the fraud frequently
practiced of compounding whole-wheat flour from inferior mill products,
white flour is sometimes adulterated--more commonly, however, in
European countries that in this--with such substances as alum, ground
rice, plaster of Paris, and whiting. Alum is doubtless the most commonly
used of all these substances, for the reason that it gives the bread a
whiter color and causes the flour to absorb and retain a larger amount
of water than it would otherwise hold. This enables the user to make,
from an inferior brand of flour, bread which resembles that made from a
better quality. Such adulteration is exceedingly injurious, as are other
mineral substances used for a similar purpose.
The presence of alum in flour or bread may be detected in the following
way: Macerate a half slice of bread in three or four tablespoonfuls of
water; strain off the water, and add to it twenty drops of a strong
solution of logwood, made either from the fresh chips or the extract.
Then add a large teaspoonful of a strong solution of carbonate of
ammonium. If alum is present, the mixture will change from pink to
The _Journal of Trade_ gives the following simple mode of testing for
this adulterant: "Persons can test the bread they buy for themselves, by
taking a piece of it and soaking it in water. Take this water and mix it
with an equal part of fresh milk, and if the bread contains alum, the
mixture will coagulate. If a better test is required, boil the mixture,
and it will form perfect clot."
Whiting can be detected by dipping the ends of the thumb and forefinger
in sweet oil and rubbing the flour between them. If whiting is present,
the flour will become sticky like putty, and remain white; whereas pure
flour, when so rubbed, becomes darker in color, but not sticky. Plaster
of Paris, chalk, and other alkaline adulterants may be detected by a few
drops of lemon juice: if either be present, effervescence will take
CHEMISTRY OF BREAD-MAKING.--Good flour alone will not insure good
bread. As much depends upon its preparation as upon the selection of
material; for the very best of flour may be transformed into the poorest
of bread through improper or careless preparation. Good bread cannot be
produced at random. It is not the fruit of any luck or chance, but the
practical result of certain fixed laws and principles to which all may
The first step in the conversion of flour into bread is to incorporate
with it a given amount of fluid, by which each atom of flour is
surrounded with a thin film of moisture, in order to hydrate the starch,
to dissolve the sugar and albumen, and to develop the adhesiveness of
the gluten, thus binding the whole into one coherent mass termed
_dough_, a word from a verb meaning to wet or moisten. If nothing more
be done, and this simple form of dough be baked, the starch granules
will be ruptured by the heat and thus properly prepared for food; but
the moistening will have developed the glue-like property of the gluten
to the extent of firmly cementing the particles of flour together, so
that the mass will be hard and tough, and almost incapable of
mastication. If, however, the dough be thoroughly kneaded, rolled very
thin, made into small cakes, and then quickly baked with sufficient
heat, the result will be a brittle kind of bread termed unleavened
bread, which, although it requires a lengthy process of mastication, is
more wholesome and digestible than soft bread, which is likely to be
swallowed insufficiently insalivated.
The gluten of wheat flour, beside being adhesive, is likewise remarkably
elastic. This is the reason why wheat flour is much more easily made
into light bread than the product of other cereals which contain less or
a different quality of gluten. Now if while the atoms of flour are
supplied with moisture, they are likewise supplied with some form of
gaseous substance, the elastic walls of the gluten cells will become
distended, causing the dough to "rise," or grow in bulk, and at the same
time become light, or porous, in texture.
This making of bread light is usually accomplished by the introduction
of air into the dough, or by carbonic acid gas generated within the
mass, either before or during the baking, by a fermentative or chemical
When air is the agency used, the gluten, by its glue-like properties,
catches and retains the air for a short period; and if heat is applied
before the air, which is lighter than the dough, rises and escapes, it
will expand, and in expanding distend the elastic glutinous mass,
causing it to puff up or rise. If the heat is sufficient to harden the
gluten quickly, so that the air cells throughout the whole mass become
firmly fixed before the air escapes, the result will be a light, porous
bread. If the heat is not sufficient, the air does not properly expand;
or if before a sufficient crust is formed to retain the air and form a
framework of support for the dough, the heat is lessened or withdrawn,
the air will escape, or contract to its former volume, allowing the
distended glutinous cell walls to collapse; in either case the bread
will be heavy.
If carbonic acid gas, generated within the dough by means of
fermentation or by the use of chemical substances, be the means used to
lighten the mass, the gluten by virtue of its tenacity holds the bubbles
of gas as they are generated, and prevents the large and small ones from
uniting, or from rising to the surface, as they seek to do, being
lighter than the dough. Being thus caught where they are generated, and
the proper conditions supplied to expand them, they swell or raise the
dough, which is then termed a loaf. (This word "loaf" is from the
Anglo-Saxon _hlifian_, to raise or lift up.) The structure is rendered
permanent by the application of heat in baking.
BREAD MADE LIGHT BY FERMENTATION.
For general use, the most convenient form of bread is usually considered
to be that made from wheat flour, raised or made light by some method of
fermentation, although in point of nutritive value and healthfulness, it
does not equal light, unfermented, or aerated bread made without the aid
THE PROCESS OF FERMENTATION.--Fermentation is a process of
decomposition, and hence more or less destructive to the substances
subjected to its influence. When animal and vegetable substances
containing large amounts of nitrogenous elements are in a moist state
and exposed to air, they very soon undergo a change, the result of which
is decomposition or decay. This is occasioned by the action of germs,
which feed upon nitrogenous substances, as do the various species of
fungi. Meat, eggs, milk, and other foods rich in nitrogenous elements
can be preserved but a short time if exposed to the atmosphere. The
carbonaceous elements are different in this respect. When pure starch,
sugar, or fat is exposed to the air in a moistened state, they exhibit
the very little tendency to change or decay. Yet if placed in contact
with decomposing substances containing nitrogen, they soon begin to
change, and are themselves decomposed and destroyed. This communication
of the condition of change from one class of substances to another, is
termed fermentation. If a fermenting substance be added to a watery
solution containing sugar, the sugar will be changed or decomposed, and
two new substances, alcohol and carbonic acid gas, are produced.
The different stages of fermentation are noted scientifically as
alcoholic, acetous, and putrefactive. The first is the name given to the
change which takes place in the saccharine matter of the dough, which
results in the formation of alcohol and carbonic acid gas. This same
change takes place in the saccharine matter of fruits under the proper
with conditions of warmth, air, and moisture, and is utilized in the
production of wines and fermented liquors.
In bread-making, the alcohol and carbonic acid gas produced during the
fermentation, are formed from sugar,--that originally contained in the
flour and the additional quantity formed from starch during the
fermenting process. It is evident, therefore, that bread cannot be
fermented without some loss in natural sweetness and nutritive value,
and bread made after this method should be managed so as to deteriorate
the material as little as possible.
If this fermentation continues long enough, the acetous fermentation is
set up, and _acetic_ acid, the essential element of vinegar, is formed
and the dough becomes sour. If the process of fermentation is very much
prolonged, the putrefactive change is set up, and the gluten is more or
If the dough be baked during the alcoholic and carbonic-acid stage of
fermentation, the gas will render the loaf light and porous. The alcohol
will be dissipated by the heat during the baking, or evaporated shortly
afterward, provided the baking be thorough. If the fermentation is
allowed to proceed until the acetous fermentation has begun, the loaf,
when baked, will be "sad" and heavy, since there is no longer any gas to
puff it up. If, however, during the first or alcoholic stage of
fermentation, new material be added, the same kind of fermentation will
continue for a certain period longer.
These facts serve to show that great care and attention are necessary to
produce good bread by a fermentative process. If the fermentation has
not been allowed to proceed far enough to generate a sufficient amount
of gas to permeate the whole mass, the result will be a heavy loaf; and
if allowed to proceed too far, acid fermentation begins, the gas
escapes, and we have sour as well as heavy bread. It is not enough,
however, to prevent bread from reaching the acetous or sour stage of
fermentation. Bread may be over-fermented when there is no appreciable
sourness developed. Fermentation may be carried so far as to destroy
much of the richness and sweetness of the loaf, and yet be arrested by
the baking process just before the acetous stage begins, so that it will
be light and porous, but decidedly lacking in flavor and substance.
Over-fermentation also develops in the bread various bitter substances
which obscure the natural sweetness of the bread and give to it an
unpleasant flavor. Many of these substances are more or less harmful in
character, and include many poisons known as ptomaines, a class of
chemical compounds produced by germs whenever fermentation or
decomposition of organic matter takes place. Much skill is required to
determine at what point to arrest the fermentation, in order to save the
sweetness and richness of the bread.
FERMENTATIVE AGENTS.--Fermentation in vegetable matter is always
accompanied by the growth of living organisms. The development of these
minute organisms is the exciting cause of fermentation and putrefaction.
The germs or spores of some of these fermenting agents are always
present in the air. It is well known to housekeepers that if a batter
of flour and water and a little salt be kept in a jar of water at a
temperature of from 100 deg. to 110 deg., it will ferment in the course
of five or six hours. Scientists assure us that this fermentation is
occasioned by the introduction of the spores of certain species of
fungi which are continually floating in the atmosphere, and the proper
conditions of warmth and moisture being supplied, they at once begin to
grow and multiply. This method of securing fermentation is utilized by
housewives in making what is termed salt-rising bread. The raising of
dough by this process is lengthy and uncertain, and a far more convenient
method is to accelerate the fermentation by the addition of some active
ferment. The ancient method of accomplishing this was by adding to the
dough a leaven, a portion of old dough which had been kept until it had
begun to ferment; but since the investigations of modern chemistry have
made clear the properties of yeast, that has come to be considered the
best agent for setting up the process of alcoholic fermentation in bread.
The use of leaven is still practiced to somewhat in some European
countries. The bread produced with leaven, although light and spongy in
texture, has an unpleasant, sour taste, and is much less wholesome than
that produced with fresh yeast.
Yeast is a collection of living organisms or plants belonging to the
family of fungi, which, like all other plants, require warmth, moisture,
and food, in order to promote growth, and when properly supplied with
these, they begin to grow and multiply rapidly. Fermentation will not
take place at a temperature below 30 deg., it proceeds slowly at 45 deg.,
but from 70 deg. to 90 deg. it goes on rapidly. Fermentation may be
arrested by the exhaustion of either the fermenting agent or the food
supply, or by exposure to heat at the temperature of boiling water. This
latter fact enables the housewife to arrest the process of fermentation,
when the loaf has become sufficiently light, by baking it in a hot oven.
Heat destroys most of the yeast cells; a few, however, remain in the loaf
unchanged, and it is for this reason that yeast bread is considered less
wholesome for dyspeptics than light unleavened bread. It is apparent,
then, that the more thoroughly fermented bread is baked, the more
wholesome it will be, from the more complete destruction of the yeast
germs which it contains.
YEAST.--Next to good flour, the most important requisite in the
manufacture of fermented bread is good yeast. The best of flour used in
conjunction with poor yeast will not produce good bread. The most
convenient and reliable kind of marketable yeast, when fresh, is the
compressed yeast. The dry though they are always ready for use, the
quality of the bread they produce is generally inferior to that made
with either compressed yeast or good liquid yeast. If this sort of yeast
must be depended upon, the cakes known as "Yeast Foam" are the best of
any with which we are acquainted.
Of homemade yeasts there are almost as many varieties as there are
cooks. Their comparative value depends mainly upon the length of time
they will keep good, or the facility with which they can be prepared.
Essentially the same principles are involved in the making of them all;
viz., the introduction of a small quantity of fresh, lively yeast into a
mixture of some form of starch (obtained from flour, potato, or a
combination of both) and water, with or without the addition of such
other substances as will promote fermentation, or aid in preventing the
yeast from souring. Under proper conditions of warmth, the small amount
of original yeast begins to supply itself with food at once by
converting the starch into dextrine, and then into grape sugar, and
multiplies itself with great rapidity, and will continue to do so as
long as there is material to supply it with the means of growth. While
its growth is rapid, its decay is equally so; and unless some means of
preservation be employed, the yeast will die, and the mixture become
sour and foul. Ordinarily it can be kept good for several days, and
under the best conditions, even three or four weeks. After it has been
kept from four to six hours, it should be placed in some receptacle as
nearly air-tight as possible and set in the cellar or refrigerator,
where it can be kept at a temperature not conducive to fermentation.
Thus the little yeast organisms will remain in a quiescent state, but
yet alive and capable of multiplying themselves when again surrounded
with favorable conditions.
The yeast should be kept in glass or glazed earthen ware. The vessel
containing it should be washed and scalded with scrupulous care before
new yeast is put in, since the smallest particle of sour or spoiled
yeast will ruin the fresh supply in a very short time. It is generally
conceded that yeast will keep longer if the material of which it is made
be mixed with liquid of a boiling temperature, or cooked for a few
minutes at boiling heat before adding the yeast. The reason for this
undoubtedly lies in the fact that the boiling kills foreign germs, and
thus prevents early souring or putrefaction. The yeast must not be
added, however, until the liquid has cooled to a little more than blood
heat, as too great heat will kill the yeast cells.
The starch of the potato is thought to furnish better material for the
promotion of yeast growth than that of wheat flour; but whether the
potato be first cooked, mashed, and then combined with the other
ingredients, or grated raw and then cooked in boiling water, makes
little difference so far as results are concerned, though the latter
method may have the advantage of taking less time. If potatoes are used
for this purpose, they should be perfectly mature. New ones will not
Sugar assists in promoting the growth of the yeast plant, and a small
amount is usually employed in making yeast. Hops serve to prevent the
yeast from souring, and an infusion of them is frequently used for this
While it is essential that the water used should be boiling, it is also
necessary that the mixture should cooled to a lukewarm temperature
before the introduction of the original yeast, as intense heat will kill
the yeast plant. Freezing cold will likewise produced the same result.
While a cool temperature is one of the requisites for keeping yeast
fresh, care must be taken, especially in winter, that it does not get
When yeast is needed for bread, it is always the best plan to take a cup
to the cellar or refrigerator for the desired quantity, and re-cover the
jar as quickly as possible. A half hour in a hot kitchen would be quite
likely to spoiled it. Always shake or stir the whole well before
measuring out the yeast. In making yeast, used earthen bowls for mixing,
porcelain-lined or granite-ware utensils for boiling, and silver or
wooden spoons for stirring.
BITTER YEAST.--It sometimes happens that an excessive use of hops
in the making of yeast gives to it so bitter a flavor as to communicate
a disagreeable taste to the bread. To correct this bitterness, mix with
the yeast a considerable quantity of water, and let it stand for some
hours, when the thickest portion will have settled at the bottom. The
water, which will have extracted much of the bitterness, can then be
turned off and thrown away. Yeast also sometimes becomes a bitter from
long keeping. Freshly burnt charcoal thrown into the yeast is said to
absorb the odors and offensive matter and render the yeast more sweet;
however, we do not recommend the use of any yeast so stale as to need
sweetening or purifying. Yeast that is new and fresh is always best; old
and stale yeast, even though it may still possess the property of
raising the dough, will give an unpleasant taste to the bread, and is
much less wholesome.
TESTS FOR YEAST.--Liquid yeast, when good, is light in color and
looks foamy and effervescent; it has a pungent odor somewhat similar to
weak ammonia, and if tasted will have a sharp, biting flavor. Yeast is
poor when it looks dull and watery, and has a sour odor. Compressed
yeast, if good, breaks off dry and looks white; if poor, it appears
moist and stringy.
If there is any question as to the quality of yeast, it is always best
to test it before use by adding a little flour to a small quantity and
setting it in a warm place. If it begins to ferment in the course of
fifteen or twenty minutes, it is good.
STARTING THE BREAD.--Having secured good yeast, it is necessary in
some way to diffuse it through the bread material so that it will set up
an active fermentation, which, by the evolution of gas, will render the
whole mass light and porous. As fermentation is more sure, more rapid,
and requires less yeast to start it when set in action in a thin mixture
than when introduced into stiff dough, the more common method of
starting fermented bread is by "setting a sponge;" viz., preparing a
batter of flour and liquid, to which potato is sometimes added, and into
which the yeast is introduced. Some cooks, in making the batter, use
the whole amount of liquid needed for the bread, and as the sponge
rises, add flour in small quantities, beating it back, and allowing it
to rise a second, third, or even fourth time, until sufficient flour has
been added to knead; others use only half the liquid in preparing the
sponge, and when it has well risen, prepare a second one by adding the
remainder of the liquid and fresh flour, in which case the fermented
batter acts as a double portion of yeast and raises the second sponge
very quickly. The requisite amount of flour is then added, the dough
kneaded, and the whole allowed to rise a third time in the loaf. Other
cooks dispense altogether with the sponge, adding to the liquid at first
the requisite amount of flour, kneading it thoroughly and allowing it to
rise once in mass and again after molding into loaves. As to the
superiority of one method over another, much depends upon their
adaptability to the time and convenience of the user; light bread can be
produced by either method. Less yeast but more time will be required
when the bread is started with a sponge. The end to be attained by all
is a complete and equal diffusion of gas bubbles generated during
fermentation throughout the whole mass of dough.
The preferable method of combining the materials needed for the batter
is by first mingling the yeast with the water or milk. If condensed or
dry yeast is used, previously dissolve it well in a half cupful or less
of lukewarm water. Stir the flour slowly into the liquid mixture and
beat it _very thoroughly_ so that the yeast shall be evenly distributed
throughout the whole.
PROPORTION OF MATERIALS NEEDED.--The material needed for making:
the bread should all be carefully measured out beforehand and the flour
well sifted. Many housekeepers fail in producing good bread, because
they guess at the quantity of material to be used, particularly the
flour, and with the same quantity of liquid will one time use much more
flour that at another, thus making the results exceedingly variable.
With this same brand of flour, this same quantity should always be used
to produce a given amount of bread. This amount will depend upon the
quality of the material used. Good flour will absorb a larger quantity
of liquids than that of an inferior quality, and the amount of liquid a
given quantity of flour will take up determines the quantity of bread
that can be produced from it. This amount is chiefly dependent upon the
proportion of gluten contained in the flour. One hundred pounds of good
flour will absorb sufficient water to produce one hundred and fifty
pounds of bread. One reason why bread retains so much water is that
during the baking a portion of starch is converted into gum, which holds
water more strongly than starch. Again: the gluten, when wet, is not
easily dried, while the dry crust which forms around the bread in baking
is merely impervious to water, and, like the skin of a baking potato,
prevents the moisture from escaping.
Kinds of flour vary so considerably in respect to their absorbent
properties that it is not possible to state the exact proportions of
flour and liquid required; approximately, three heaping measures of
flour for one scant measure of liquid, including the yeast, will in
general be found a good proportion. Bread made from the entire wheat
will require from one half to one cupful less flour than that made of
white flour. A quart of liquid, including the yeast, is sufficient for
three ordinary-sized loaves. One half or two thirds of a cup of homemade
yeast, according to its strength, or one half a cake of compressed yeast
dissolved in a half cup of lukewarm water, will be sufficient for one
quart of liquid. It is a common mistake to use too much yeast. It
lessens the time required, but the result is less satisfactory. Bread to
be set over night requires less yeast.
Whether water or milk should be used for bread-making, depends upon
taste and convenience. Bread retains more nearly the natural flavor of
the grain if made with water, and is less apt to sour; at the same time,
bread made with milk is more tender than that made with water. Bread
made with milk requires from one half to one cupful less of flour.
Potatoes are sometimes used in conjunction with flour for bread-making.
They are by no means necessary when good flour is used, but bread made
from inferior flour is improved by their use. Only potatoes that are
fully matured should be used for this purpose, and they should be well
cooked and smoothly mashed. Neither sugar nor salt is essential for the
production of good bread, though most cook books recommend the use of
one or both. The proportion of the former should not exceed one even
tablespoonful to three pints of flour, and the very smallest amount of
salt, never more than a half teaspoonful, and better less. No butter or
other free fat is required; the tenderness of texture produced by its
use can be secured as well by the use of unskimmed milk and thorough
UTENSILS.--For bread-making purposes, earthen or china ware is
preferable to either tin or wooden utensils: being a poor conductor, it
protects the sponge from the cold air much more effectually than tin,
and is much more easily kept clean and sweet than wood. The utensil
should be kept exclusively for the purpose of bread-making, and should
never be allowed to contain any sour substance. The bowl should be
thoroughly scalded before and after each using. Use silver or
granite-ware spoons for stirring the bread. Iron and tin discolor the
sponge. For measuring the material, particularly the liquid and the
yeast, half-pint cups, divided by marks into thirds and fourths, as
shown in the cut, are especially serviceable.
[Illustration: Measuring Cup] [Illustration: Measuring Cup]
WHEN TO SET THE SPONGE.--The time to set the sponge for
bread-making is a point each housekeeper must determine for herself. The
fact before stated, that temperature controls the activity of
fermentation, and that it is retarded or accelerated according to the
conditions of warmth, enables the housewife, by keeping the
bread-mixture at a temperature of about 50 deg. F., to set her bread in the
evening, if desired, and find it light and ready for further attention
in the morning. In winter, the sponge will need to be prepared early in
the evening and kept during the night at as even a temperature as
possible. A good way to accomplish this is to cover the bowl with a
clean napkin and afterwards wrap it about very closely with several
folds of a woolen blanket. In extremely cold weather bottles of hot
water may be placed around the bowl outside the wrappings. In case this
plan is employed, care must be taken to have sufficient wrappings
between the bread and the bottles to prevent undue heat, and the bottles
should be covered with an additional blanket to aid in retaining the
heat as long as possible.
If the sponge is set in the evening, if in very warm weather, it should
be started as late as practicable, and left in a rather cool place.
Cover closely to exclude the air, but do not wrap in flannel as in
winter. It will be likely to need attention early in the morning.
TEMPERATURE FOR BREAD-MAKING.--Except in very warm weather, the
ferment or sponge should be started with liquid at a lukewarm
The liquid should never be so cold as to chill the yeast. Milk, if used,
should be first sterilized by scalding, and then cooled before using.
After the sponge is prepared, the greatest care must be taken to keep it
at an equable temperature. From 70 deg. to 90 deg. is the best range of
temperature, 75 deg. being considered the golden mean throughout the
entire fermentative process of bread-making.
After fermentation has well begun, it will continue, but much more
slowly if the temperature be gradually lowered to 45 deg. or 50 deg. If
it is necessary to hasten the rising, the temperature can be raised to
80 deg. or 85 deg., but it will necessitate careful watching, as it will
be liable to over-ferment, and become sour. Cold arrests the process of
fermentation, while too great heat carries forward the work too rapidly.
Too much stress cannot be laid upon the importance of an equable
temperature. The housewife who permits the fermentation to proceed very
slowly one hour, forces it rapidly by increased heat the next, and
perhaps allows it to subside to a chilling temperature the third, will
never be sure of good bread.
Putting the bowl containing the sponge into a dish of warm (not hot)
water, or keeping it in the warming oven, or on the back of the range,
are all methods which may bring about good results, provided the same
degree of heat can be maintained continuously; but if the fire is one
which must be increased or diminished to suit the exigencies of
household details, nothing but the closest and most careful attention
will keep the sponge at uniform temperature. The better way is to cover
the bowl with a napkin, and in cold weather wrap closely in several
thicknesses of flannel, and place on a stand behind the stove, or in
some place not exposed to draughts. A bread-raiser purposely arranged
for keeping the bread at proper temperature is a great convenience. Two
small and rather thick earthen ware crocks of the same size, serve very
well for this purpose. Scald both with hot water, and while still warm,
put the sponge in one, invert the other for a cover, and leave in a warm
room. All flour used in the bread should be warm when added.
LIGHTNESS OF THE BREAD.--The time required for bread in its
different stages to grow light will vary according to the quantity and
strength of the yeast used and the amount of warmth supplied. A thin
batter is light enough when in appearance it resembles throughout a mass
of sea foam. It will not greatly increase in bulk, but will be in the
state of constant activity, sending up little bubbles of gas and
emitting a sharp, pungent odor like fresh yeast.
When the thicker batter or second sponge is sufficiently light, it will
have risen to nearly double its original bulk and become cracked over
the top like "crazed" china. It should never be allowed to rise to the
point of sinking or caving in, and should be kneaded as soon as ready.
If for any reason it is not possible to knead the bread at once when it
has arrived at this stage, do not allow it to stand, but take a knife or
spoon and gently beat it back a little. This dissipates some of the gas
and reduces the volume somewhat. Let it rise again, which it will do in
a short time, if it has not been allowed to become too light. If dough
that has been kneaded and allowed to rise in mass, becomes sufficiently
light at some inopportune moment for shaping into loaves, it may be kept
from becoming too light and souring, by taking a knife and cutting it
away from the sides of the bowl and gradually working it over toward the
center. Re-cover and put in a warm place. It will soon assume its former
bulk. This "cutting down" may be repeated several times if necessary,
provided the bread has not been allowed to become too light at any time,
and some cook's recommend it as a uniform practice. We do not, however,
except in case of necessity; since, though it may possibly make the
bread more light, the long-continued fermentation destroys more than is
necessary of the food elements of the flour, and develops an unnecessary
amount of the products of fermentation. Lightness is not the only
requisite for bread, and should be secured with as little deterioration
of the flour as possible.
An important point in the preparation of bread is to decide when it is
sufficiently light after having been molded and placed in pans. The
length of time cannot be given, because it will vary with the
temperature, the quality of the flour, and the quantity added during the
kneading. At a temperature of 75 deg., an hour or an hour and a half is
about the average length of time needed. A loaf should nearly double its
size after being placed in a pan, before baking; when perfectly risen,
the bread feels light when lifted and weighed upon the hand. It is
better to begin the baking before it has perfectly risen them to wait
until it has become so light as to commence to fall, since if the
fermentation proceeds too far, the sweetness of the grain will be
destroyed, and the bread will be tasteless and innutritious, even if it
does not reach the acetous stage.
The exercise of a little judgment and careful attention to detail will
soon enable a person successfully to determine the proper degree of
lightness of bread in its various stages. Bread which passes the extreme
point of fermentation, or in common phrase gets "too light," will have a
strong acid odor, and will pull away from the bowl in a stringy mass,
having a watery appearance very different from the fine, spongy texture
of properly risen dough. The acidity of such dough may be neutralized by
the addition of an alkali, and housewives who through carelessness and
inattention have allowed their bread to become "sour," often resort to
saleratus or soda to neutralize the acid. The result of such treatment
is unwholesome bread, wholly unfit for food. It is better economy to
throw away bread material which needs to be sweetened with soda than to
run the risk of injury to health by using it.
KNEADING THE DOUGH.--As fresh flour is added during the
bread-making, it is necessary to mix it in thoroughly. As long as the
batter is thin, this can be done by thoroughly beating the mixture with
the addition of material; but when it is a thick dough, some other
method must be adopted to bring about the desired result. The usual way
is by mixing the dough to a proper consistency, and working it with the
hands. This is termed _kneading_. Much of the excellence of bread
depends upon the thoroughness of this kneading, since if the yeast is
not intimately and equally mixed with every particle of flour, the bread
will not be uniform; some portions will be heavy and compact, while
others will be full of large, open cavities, from the excessive
liberation of gas.
The length of time required for kneading depends upon the perfection
with which the yeast cells have been previously diffused throughout the
sponge, and upon the quality of the flour used in preparing the bread,
much less time being required for kneading dough made from good flour.
Some consider an hour none too long to knead bread. Such a lengthy
process may be advantageous, since one of the objects of kneading is to
render the glutinous parts of the flour so elastic that the dough may be
capable of expanding to several times its bulk without cracking or
breaking, but excellent results can be obtained from good flour with
less labor. Bread has been kneaded all that is necessary when it will
work clean of the board, and when, after a smart blow with the fist in
the center of the mass, it will spring back to its original shape like
an India rubber ball. Its elasticity is the surest test of its goodness;
and when dough has been thus perfectly kneaded, it can be molded into
any shape, rolled, twisted, or braided with ease. Chopping, cutting,
stretching, and pulling--the dough are other methods for accomplishing
the same end.
If a large mass is to be kneaded, it is better to divide it into several
portions and knead each separately. It is less laborious and more likely
to result in an equal diffusion of the yeast. Bread is often spoiled by
the addition of too much flour during kneading. Dough should always be
kneaded as soft as it can be handled, and only sufficient flour added to
prevent its sticking to the board. Stiff bread is close in texture, and
after a day or two becomes dry and hard.
HOW TO MANIPULATE THE DOUGH IN KNEADING.--Sprinkle the board well
with flour, and scrape the dough from the bowl with a knife. Dust the
hands with flour, and then draw the dough with a rolling motion from the
farthest side toward you, using the finger tips for the purpose, but
pressing firmly down upon the mass with the palm of the hands. Reach
forward again with the finger tips, and again press the ball of the
hands upon the dough. Continue this process of manipulation until the
mass is very much elongated; then turn at right angles and repeat the
process, taking care that the finger tips do not break through the light
film which will form upon the outside of soft dough when well managed.
_Keep the dough constantly in motion_ until it is smooth, elastic, and
fine-grained. The hands and the board may need a light dusting of flour
at frequent intervals. If the dough sticks, lift it quickly, and clean
the board, that it may be kept smooth. The dough will not stick if kept
in constant motion. Do not rub off little wads of dough either from the
hands or the board and keep kneading them into the loaf; they will
seriously injure the uniform texture of the bread.
HOW MANY TIMES SHALL BREAD BE KNEADED?--As the objects to be
attained in kneading dough are to render the gluten more elastic and
thoroughly to diffuse the yeast, it will be seen that there has been
sufficient kneading when all the flour necessary for the bread has been
added. Furthermore, it must be apparent that continued manipulation of
the dough at this stage will dissipate and press out the little vesicles
of gas held in place by the elastic gluten, and thus lose in part what
so much pains has been taken to secure. At whatever stage the requisite
amount of flour be added, the dough should then be thoroughly kneaded
once for all. If allowed to rise in bulk, when light it should be shaped
into loaves with the greatest care, handled lightly, and worked as
little as possible, and if at all diminished, allowed to rise again
DRYNESS OF THE SURFACE.--Bread in all stages should be covered over
the top, since it rises much more evenly, and does not have a stiff,
dried surface, as when placed in a warm place exposed to air. It
sometimes happens that this precaution is forgotten or not sufficiently
attended to, and a dry crust forms and over the dough, which, if kneaded
into the loaves, leaves hard, dry spots in the bread. In case of such a
mishap, take the dry crust off, dissolve it in a little warm water, add
flour enough to mold, make it into a small loaf, and raise it
SIZE OF LOAVES.--The lightness of the bread after baking depends
upon the perfection with which the little air-cells, formed during the
fermenting process, have become fixed by the heat during the baking. The
heat expands the carbonic acid gas contained within the open spaces in
the dough, and at the same time checks further development of gas by
destroying the yeast plant. The sooner, then, that the cells can be made
permanent after the arrest of fermentation, the more light and porous
the bread will be. Although this fixing of the cells is largely
dependent upon the degree of heat maintained, it likewise in a measure
depends upon the size of the loaf, as the heat will penetrate and fix
the cells of a small loaf throughout much sooner than, those of a large
one. Therefore, bake in small loaves, and have a separate pan for each,
as that admits of an equal degree of heat to all sides. This aids in a
more rapid fixing of the air-cells and likewise gives more crust, which
is the sweetest and most digestible part of the bread.
Sheet-iron pans, about eight inches in length, four in width, and five
in depth, are the most satisfactory. After the dough is molded, divide
it into loaves which will fill such pans to the depth of two inches. Let
them rise until double their first volume, and then put them in the
oven. In baking, the loaves will rise still higher, and if about five
inches high when done, will have expanded to about the right
[Illustration: Bread Pan]
PROPER TEMPERATURE OF THE OVEN.--The objects to be attained in the
baking of bread are to break up the starch and gluten cells of the Sour
so as to make them easily digestible, to destroy the yeast plant, and
render permanent the cells formed by the action of the carbonic acid
gas. To accomplish well these ends, the loaf must be surrounded by a
temperature ranging from 400 deg. to 600 deg. The oven should be one in
which the heat is equal in all parts, and which can be kept at a steady,
uniform heat. Old-fashioned brick ovens were superior in this respect to
most modern ranges. The fire for baking bread should be of sufficient
strength to keep the oven heated for at least an hour. If the oven has
tendency to become too hot upon the bottom, a thin, open grate, broiler,
or toasting rack, should be placed underneath the tins to allow a
circulation of air and avoid danger of burning. If the heat be
insufficient, fermentation will not cease until the bread has become
sour; the cells will be imperfectly fixed or entirely collapsed; too
little of the moisture will have evaporated, and the result will be a
soft, wet, and pasty or sour loaf. If the heat be too great, the bread
will be baked before it has perfectly risen, or a thick, burned crust
will be produced, forming a non-conducting covering to the loaf, which
will prevent the heat from permeating the interior, and thus the loaf
will have an overdone exterior, but will be raw and doughy within. If,
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