Chap. V. – Baking Bread, &c., pp.201-212.

[Baking Bread, &c., Contents]

   THE expence of private brewing, from the necessity and pressure of the times, has obliged most families to relinquish the making of ales, and it is now chiefly confined to large breweries, whereby much inconvenience has been felt by bakers, &c. from want of proper yeast. This inconvenience has been the more felt, from the yeast made in large breweries being found unfit for the purpose of making bread. The distilleries, at one time, afforded a much preferable yeast to what was got from ale brewers, but even that is now lost, from the change of practice which has taken place within these few years in the art of distilling. For these reasons, a method for obtaining yeast by some other process, has occupied the attention of many, and a number of societies have been formed of bakers, throughout Scotland, for the manufacture of yeast, upon the old system of fermentation which the grain underwent previous to distillation, with the assistance of hops. They have succeeded to the utmost of their wishes, and are now independent of brewers and distillers, and have yeast at a moderate price which can at all times be depended upon. But this practice, from the expence attendant upon the building and apparatus, with the high price of cooper work, is put beyond the reach of many individuals. 

   The following method for making yeast is therefore submitted to the public; and which I offer with confidence, as, from experience, I have no hesitation in saying, that it never fails to make a much lighter bread than any yeast which can be obtained from brewers or distillers. 

Receipt for making Yeast.

   Take eight ounces good hops, and three gallons (6 pints) spring water; boil them together in a clean pot, or pan, for an hour and a half, or two hours; strain it through a hair sieve into a clean pail, or tub, stir in 1½ peck (twelve pounds) flour; keep stirring it with a stick until it is quite smooth and free from any knots; put the hops again into the pan with a like quantity of water, and let it boil an hour, then strain it into a can. When the first boiling that was mixed with the flour is quite cold, which will take about six hours, put two pints (a choppin) of the old store, or yeast, to it; four hours after add the half of the second boiling and one pound more flour; six hours after add the other half with another pound flour and mix it well. 

   This is the first process, and in raising a store make use of yeast, but in future reserve as much of the old stock, or store, as set the next. When no yeast can be got it will do without, only giving it a few hours more time. In the course of eight or ten hours it is fit for use. Observe, that in making this yeast the greatest cleanliness must be preserved and practised, in cleaning the pail, or tub, &c. because the least particle of the old store lodging about the bottom of the pail spoils the next, by occasioning sourness. 

To make Bread the Scotch way, with this Yeast.

   It must be wrought very cool and requires great attention in its progress, as it comes forward in the dough much quicker than could be thought. A little more than four pints (one pint) of this yeast, will be sufficient for a sack of flour. 

The Method of Working.

   Take the proportion of compound from the London method, and after it is ready to form into loaves follow the same directions. Set the half sponge about two o’clock, A.M. let it remain till nine o’clock at night, then make up the full sponge and at five o’clock next morning it will be ready to make the dough. It will be full proof in three hours, but beware it does not overprove itself, because it not only flattens, but turns sour immediately, and by not attending to this particular many have erred, as also by working it too warm. It should never be so hot as new milk, unless when the weather is very cold. It should be kept always covered up, in a cool place, and will keep good fourteen days. It answers equally well in making all manner of bread where yeast is required. The same process may be carried on with the half, or quarter, of the ingredients. 

   Before this useful discovery, the bakers in most towns underwent much toil, and were put to great expence in procuring yeast; but now they have nothing to fear or suffer on that account. 

To make Bread after the English Method

Flour ought to be kept a month or two after being made, which makes the dough spring; when made use of too green it runs, and does not keep up. American flour, being well dried, rather grows in the dough, and in general makes the best bread. Experience only can teach as to the exact quantity of water requisite to make dough, because the quality of flour is not always the same, some kinds requiring more, others less, and it must be humoured accordingly. 

The London way.

   Put a bushel (four pecks) fine flour into a trough, to which add nine quarts (4½ pints) of warm water, mixed with one quart (half a pint) good yeast, stir and work it well together with your hands till it is smooth and tough; cover it up and let it rise, but be careful to watch and catch it before it falls, which will be near an hour and a half; work it down and add eight quarts (four pints) more warm water, and one pound of salt; work it well and again cover it close with a blanket. Weigh it out in quartern loaves of five pounds each, or half the size. Sweep the oven clean, put in long pieces of dried wood to keep them square; put in the loaves, and lay them close together that they may not spread; put more wood round the outside, shut up the oven quite close. Two hours and a half will bake them. 

   Note. – In summer the water should be blood heat, in winter warmer, and in frosty weather very warm, but not to scald the flour, of the heat you can bear to keep your hand amongst it; otherwise, by scalding the flour the whole would be spoiled. 

Leaven Bread.

   Take about two pounds of the above dough to begin with, keep it in a wooden dish well covered with flour, and a cloth over it. This small piece leavens about three bushels of flour. The night before you bake, put this piece of dough into a peck of flour, and work them well together and smooth, with warm water, which by bakers is called liquor; cover it up with a cloth and blanket and set it in a warm place. Next morning it will be risen, then work it up with more warm liquor, sufficient to mix with two or three bushels of flour, adding a pound of salt for each bushel. When well mixed and wrought together, cover it up again until it rise light, then knead it well, weigh it off into quartern and half quarterns, shape them into loaves, or bricks; put them into the oven as above directed. Of this dough two pounds should be kept well covered with flour, which leavens the next batch. The greater quantity of leaven made use of, the lighter and more spongy will be the bread, and endeavour to keep it fresh; if it is kept too long betwixt the baking of one batch and the next it will turn sour. 

French Bread.

   Take a peck of flour, put it into a trough, or large wooden dish, mix half a pint (half a mutchkin) of good yeast with three pints (mutchkins) of warm liquor, or water, work it into the flour until it is tough, cover it up with a warm flannel cloth, or blanket, and let it rise as high as it will. Have ready six pints (mutchkins) skimmed milk, of a blood heat, and a pound of salt, work this into the flour with your hands; when well mixed, put the ends of your fingers together, work, or throw it over and over your hands, till it is quite weak, and draws into strings; cover it up with flannel as before, then make your oven very warm, by which time the dough will be ready. When you take the dough out of the trough, it must be done in the same manner as you wrought it, by placing the ends of your fingers together and winding it round your hands; lift it quickly out upon the table. It requires a large heavy knife to cut it in pieces, make it up into loaves, or bricks. They should be baked in deep iron pans; an hour and a half will bake them. A few ounces of butter may be added along with the second working; they are rasped, or chipped, over the top when cold. A part of the dough may be made into rolls; they are also fired in iron pans, and will take about half an hour to bake; when cold rasp the tops. 

French Bread, or Rolls.

   Warm a pint mutchkin of milk with two ounces butter mix in a gill of good yeast and a little salt; lay down four pounds flour, which make into a paste with the above liquor; put it into a dish and cover it up, set it in a warm place for an hour, to rise; then work it well and divide it into a dozen or more rolls, place them in a tin pan and bake them in a quick oven. 

Light Loaves, or Rolls.

   Warm two quarts (choppins) milk and water, half of each; add some salt, stir in nearly a pint (mutchkin) of good yeast, half a pound butter, and two eggs well beaten. Lay down six pounds flour and make a paste with the above liquor, form it into loaves, or rolls; two pounds currants, cleaned, with a few caraway seeds, may be added, if agreeable. 


   Rub into two pounds flour four ounces butter, very fine; warm as much milk as will make it into a dough, not too stiff, add a gill of yeast and two eggs beat up. After mixing it well let it rise (being covered up) about fifteen minutes, then break it out into rolls, place them in a pan, let them rise ten minutes, and put them in the oven. 

Brentford Rolls

Are made the same way, with the addition of two or four ounces pounded sugar. 

   Observe, That the yeast you use be fresh, and free of any sourness, or bitterness; if so, it may be improved by mixing the yeast with water, letting it stand a night, and next day pouring off the water. In winter the dough should be made stiffer and the liquor warmer than in summer. 


   Take two pounds flour, make it into a paste, with six gills warm milk, or milk and water, one gill yeast, and a little salt; stir the liquor well together, then pour it amongst the flour and work it well, put it into a large wooden dish, and cover it up for an hour, to rise light; then roll it out, and break it into small pieces, the size of a large walnut, which roll into balls, the dough must be covered up; lay them on a table, or board, as quick as you can, but not too close together; keep them well covered with a warm flannel cloth as you do them; by the time you have finished, those first made will be flat and ready for baking; lay them on the metal plate, and when the bottom is brownish turn them over, and so proceed. If you add to the above quantity of ingredients three ounces melted butter and two eggs beaten, it will make them very nice. 

   The plate is made of metal, laid upon the top of a building of a circular shape, under which is the fire, with a chimney at the back part, and narrow mouth; it may have a grate, and a place below for the ashes. When the middle of the plate is at any time too hot, put in a brick below, which will cool that part and make the heat spread round. 


Are a thin batter made of flour, and milk and water, with a little yeast, and dropped, in large spoonfuls, upon the metal plate, which is rubbed over with a piece of butter, and should be very hot. When they are done on the one side they are turned over. 


Beat up two eggs, add two pints (mutchkins) of warm milk and water, with half a gill of yeast, mix in as much flour as will make it rather thicker than a pudding batter; pour the batter on the metal plate, the size of a tea saucer; you may do six or more at a time, according to the size of the plate. A girdle, upon the fire, will do for small quantities. 

   Muffins and rolls, when a few days old, by being dipped in water and toasted before the fire, will eat much better, as it, in a great degree, restores the new taste again. 

Oat Cakes

Are made in the same manner as muffins, the oat meal should be finely sifted, and requires about a third part more liquor. 

   To prepare muffins and oat cakes for eating, toast them on both sides crisp, then pull them open with your fingers, and they will appear like an honeycomb; do not use a knife, as it spoils their appearance and makes them heavy. Put in what butter you chuse, then place the tops and bottoms together again; set them on a plate before the fire, and when you think the butter is melted turn them, so that both sides may be alike; only do not use a knife but to cut them across when ready. 

Oat Cakes, as used in Scotland,

Is oatmeal made into a stiff paste with cold water, knead out into bannocks, and baked upon a hot metal plate; when one side is done they are turned over. Or, they may be toasted by setting the cake on its edge before the fire, upon a toaster, or heater, used for heating smoothing irons, with a back to support the cake. They are made thick, or thin, as you incline; they are also made with warm water and yeast, then baked in an oven. 

Hard Biscuits.

   Rub into half a peck of flour eight ounces butter, and make it into a very stiff paste with cold milk and water. If you find any difficulty in kneading it, beat it out with a roller, cut it in long pieces, pile them up, and beat them out again; continue to do so until it is quite solid and smooth; make it into little biscuits and prickle them. 


   Take five pounds flour, one pound sugar, pounded, put them in a large pan, and add eight eggs, half a pound butter, two quarts (1 choppin) of new milk. Melt the butter among the milk, and add it also to the flour, and lastly half a pint (mutchkin) yeast; mix it well together, cover it up with a cloth, and put it before a good fire for half an hour, to rise; then work it up with a little more flour, cover and let it lie half an hour longer, to rise. Take it out of the pan, form it into small round biscuits, lay them on sheets of tin, and set them before the fire; cover them up for another half hour, or till light; put them in the oven and shut it close. When they are brown on the top take them out, cut them through the midst, put them again into the oven, with the outsides up, to crisp, which should be very slowly; when cold pack them up. 


   Take two pounds flour, and one pound currants, cleaned and washed; make a cavity to hold as much water as make it into a paste, not very stiff; pour in warm water, add eight ounces butter, which dissolve in the warm water, then one gill yeast; mix it up and make it into whigs of any size you please, cover them up to rise light, then glaze them with an egg and bake them. 


   Take one pint (mutchkin) cream, or milk, and four ounces pounded sugar; dissolve the sugar in the cream, then take one half of the cream and make it into a stiff paste with fine flour, reduce it into a batter with the other half of the cream, stirring it well to make it smooth; if too thick add more cream, or milk; then beat up two eggs with a little wine, to which add some pounded nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, or lemon grate, and stir all well together. Make your tongs hot, upon a clear fire, drop as much batter on them as will cover them, shut the tongs quick and turn them on the fire to do them equal; take a knife and run it round the tongs, to take off any of the paste that has been squeezed out; have ready a small pin, on which roll them off the tongs. They should not be discoloured with the heat, and the fire must be regulated accordingly. When one half of the batter is made into wafers, you may, with a little lake, rosepink, gamboge, &c. colour the other half; dry them a little in the stove, and keep them in a dry place. They are used to tea, deserts, &c. This quantity will make nearly ten dozen.