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The Household

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The following essay on bread making was read before the Lenawee County Farmers' Club at its last meeting by Mrs, Madison Graves : It is said that the surest road to a man's heart is through his stomach. Whether this be true or not, it is a fact that not only the human family, but the whole animal creation, are iniluenced by food. If in a state of hunger, wheu nothing else will preyail, the king of beasts, with bait that is agreeable to him, is easily beguiled into the snare prepared for capturing him, when mere physical forcé would have been worse than folly. The most timid bird, through a few crumbs scattered by the door, is soon made a fittend and member of the family circle, and it is said the most stubborn and wilful husbaml, through the tneditrni of a good a little leayen leaveneth the whole lump, so a little sour in the loaf soureth the whole family. Bread being the chief article of food, we see at once the importance of the subject, and we hope to-day to learn not only how to make better bread, but why sometimes our bread is sour or dark or heavy, when the previous batch made apparently nder the very same circumstances was simply splendid. Of course we housekeepers cali it a streak of luck," but surely there must be some other principie underlying this that has been violated. Bread making da tes back to a very early period. The most primitivo method was to soak the grain in water and then subject it to pressure, after which the whole mass was dried either by artificial or natural heat. An improvement over this was to pound or bray the grain in a moitar or between two flat stones. Some Etymologists claim that this pounding or braying was the origin of the word bread. The Egyptians were supposed to be the first to discover the use of yeast, and from them it has descended to the present,day. Bread making is a science requiring much skill and practice, but of course all this will avail nothing if we have not good material to commence with. A good miller is the very flrst necessity. No person can make a loaf of good bread without performing one of the most difticult operations of the laboratory. After the ingredients have been united, the process of the chemical changes at once begins. ïhe water hydrates the starch, dissolves the sugar and albumen, moistens the dry partióles of the gluten, causing all of the ingi'3dients to cement into a cohering mass. ïhe yeast causes an active ïeriiicntion, and converts the sugar of the into carbonic acid and alcohol. It also converts the starch into sugar, and tn the reason that potatoes contain a large proportion of starch, 1 think tliey add ïnuch to the sweetness of the bread. The carbonic acid is difíused throughout the mass in the form of minute hnhhlM whiohai'e.cauorht bv the tenaoiniia glULi'u itircrxauSff uixo viió" swell and rise. Some llour contains more or better gluten, that is, the gluten is more expansive. ïhis is one reason some flour is better than others. The inore bread is kneaded the better, as it mixes the particles of gluten and carbonic acid better together, as well as to intermix the elements and give them a chance to work upon each other. 10 to 10 per cent. of the weight of bread is lost in baking, by evaporation. Although we bake bread in an oven heated above 350 degrees of heat, still the inside of the loaf never reaches above 212 degrees. Bread, when done, is nearly one-half water. When bread becomes stale it is not caused by the evaporation of the water, but by its uniting with the solid elements of the loaf, and may be driven back to its place and the freshnessof the bread restored by heating for lmlf an hour in an oven raised to about 130 degrees. My method of making bread is as f olIpws : I prepare my yeast by boiling one-half dozen medium sized potatoes in two quarts of water ; boil a handf ui of hops and strain into the potatoes. after being well mashed, add % cup of salt, Yi cup sugar, one teaspoonf ui ginger, and when nearly cold one cup of the old yeast. Keep in a warm place, until light, when it should be set in a cooler place until througk fermenting. 1 used to have a great deal of trouble with my yeast souring, and found I kept it by the flre too long. Place in a close vessel as soon as possible, and set in a cool dry place. To make my bread, I make a little sponge with the potatoes at noon, adding two or three tablespoons of the yeast, at nighi add as much warm water as I wlsh, to make the desired quantity of bread. Stir to a thick batter, cover closely and set in a warm place until morning, when it should be kneaded thoroughly. Two or three time? kneading-down adds much to the tenderness and whiteness of the bread. I make in small loaves, as it bakes through quicker and does not cause such thick dry crust to form. As soon as it ia taken f rom the oven I wrap closely, so that the steam from the loaf may moisten and make the crust tender.


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