Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category
Raw bread dough
1-2 tbs. lard or butter
In kneading dough for the day’s baking, after adding and working in the risen sponge, set aside enough [dough] for a loaf of tea-rolls. Work into this a heaping tablespoonful of lard or butter, and let it stand in a tolerably cool place (not a cold or draughty one) for four hours. Knead it again, and let it alone for three hours longer. Then make into rolls, by rolling out, very lightly, pieces of the dough into round cakes, and folding these, not quite in the centre, like turn-overs. The third rising will be for one hour, then bake steadily half an hour or less, if the oven is quick. Having seen these rolls, smoking, light, and delicious upon my own table, at least twice a week for ten years, with scarcely a failure in the mixing or baking, I can confidently recommend the receipt and the product. You can make out part of your Graham dough in the same manner.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comments: It is a rare household indeed these days where the words “the day’s baking” would be in common use. Most of us bake with such frequency that we need to check our oven for cobwebs and evidence of incursions by mice before using. Not so in the 19th century, where the words “give us this day our daily bread” were less a plea to a benevolent deity than a reminder to the senior female of the household of an unending chore.
These rolls would require less work than most bread products, since the long and numerous risings let the yeast provide most of the labor except for a couple of stints of kneading. Most delicate will probably be finding the right temperature that will allow that rising to proceed as planned. “Cool but not cold or drafty” is not exactly something one can program into the household thermostat. Pick a spot that seems right then check in on the dough after one hour. If it seems to be expanding at such a rate that it will double its original volume after three additional hours, let it be. If it is expanding too fast, cool it further; if not expanding at all, either it is too cold and needs to move to a warmer spot or you did something wrong and the entire project is a miserable failure. Not that we would have any experience with such outcomes, mind you.
And “Graham dough” is that which is made with Graham flour, or what we would today call whole wheat. Graham was one of numerous proponents of dietary reform, advocating whole foods, pure water, reduced or eliminated meat consumption (what, you thought these were new ideas?)
His main claim to fame today is the Graham cracker, which would seem to be sufficient immortality for anyone. Unfortunately this bears so little resemblance to the kind of food he originally recommended that if he were to return and see the items sold under that title today he would no doubt go instantly to court to sue the pants off certain cookie companies.
1 pint water
3-4 tbs. butter
Flour or corn meal
3/4 lb. cheese, grated
Put a pint of water, and a lump of butter the size of an egg, into a sauce pan; stir in as much flour as will make a thick batter, put it on the fire, and stir it continually till it will not stick to the pan; put it in a bowl, add three quarters of a pound of grated cheese, mix it well, then break in two eggs, beat them well, then two more until you put in six; when it looks very light, drop it in small lumps on buttered paper, bake it in a quick oven till of a delicate brown; you may use corn meal instead of flour for a change.
From The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1860 edition.
Comment: This is an example of one of those delightfully confusing names which, when examined closely, turn out to be nothing like what you thought it was going to be when you first read it. Prepared as directed with flour, the result should be a sort of non-rising cheese biscuit. Made on the other hand with corn meal it would be a cheesy hushpuppy.
The final source of confusion, on which Mrs. Randolph gives us no guidance whatsoever, is the question of what sort of cheese to use here. Cheddar would seem like an obvious choice but just about any sort of hard or at least reasonably firm cheese should work well.
2 tbs. farina
1 pint milk
1/4 to 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Lemon or nutmeg
Two table-spoonfuls of farina, a pint of milk, two eggs, a small cup of sugar, and a half teaspoonful of salt; flavor with lemon or nutmeg. To mix it, set the milk in a pail into a kettle of hot water. When the top of the milk foams up, stir in the farina gradually, and add the salt. Let it remain in the kettle ten of fifteen minutes, and stir it repeatedly. Take the pail from the kettle, beat the eggs and sugar together, and stir them in; add the essence, and pour the mixture into a buttered dish. Bake half an hour or forty minutes. No sauce is necessary.
The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, 1863
Comment: Farina is a finely ground flour of great antiquity but of surprisingly vague definition. While it can be made from any grain, most available versions are made of wheat. “Cream of Wheat” cereal, once very popular and still available in most places, is essentially farina.
We should point out that it is not really necessary to go out and buy a pail in order to make this recipe. The technique of indirect heating is what is accomplished by the use of a double boiler. It must be remembered that “pudding” did not mean in the 19th century what it does today.
4 lb. flour
3/4 lb. butter
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. currants or raisins
1 package yeast
Old fashioned election cake is made of four pounds of flour; three quarters of a pound of butter; four eggs, one pound of sugar; one pound of currants, or raisins as you choose; half a pint of good yeast; wet it with milk as soft as it can be and be moulded on a board. Set to rise over night in winter; in warm weather, three hours is usually enough for it to rise. A loaf, the size of common flour bread, should bake three quarters of an hour.
From The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. Lydia Child, 1833.
Comment: Ah, election cakes. One of the most puzzling groups of recipes from the 19th century, a descendant, according to culinary historian Karen Hess, of a class known as “great cakes” and usually reserved for royalty in Europe. This is, as the inclusion of yeast and rising time will suggest, actually a rich bread rather than what we think of as cake today. This is one of the simplest versions we’ve seen; as this cookbook expands we will include more, some of which are so elaborate as to perhaps be better enjoyed by reading than attempting.
Although Mrs. Child refers to only one “loaf the size of common flour bread” the quantity of ingredients called for here suggests that it would make at least two and more likely three or four such loaves from one mixing. The resulting treat was often served at election rallies (accompanied, as a rule, by “hard” cider to encourage enthusiasm among the electorate) rather than on the night of the election itself.
1 pint warm milk
1/2 teacup [about 2 tbs.] butter
1/2 cup homemade yeast [1 packet or cube commercial]
1 tsp. salt
Set a sponge with these ingredients, leaving out the eggs, and stirring in [additional] flour until you have a thick batter. Early next morning add the well-beaten eggs, and flour enough to enable you to roll out the dough. Let this rise in the bread-bowl two hours. Roll into a sheet nearly an inch thick, cut into round cakes, and arrange in your baking-pan two deep, laying one upon the other carefully. Let these stand for another half-hour, and bake.
…The rule is to divide the twins, thus leaving one side of each cake soft, and, piling them loosely in the pan, set them in the oven when the fire is declining for the night, and leave them in until morning. Then put them in a clean muslin bag, and hang them up in the kitchen. They will be fit to eat upon the third day. Soak in iced milk or water, drain on a shallow plate, and eat with butter or with fresh berries.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Rusks were once very common items which have faded almost entirely into the mists of history with the advent of commercial bread-making. When each household had to make “our daily bread” by hand, at home, with considerable investment of time, labor and ingredients, it was inevitable that some days would come on which bread could not be made, perhaps because the breadmaker was in the throes of childbirth or the like. Thus the need for a bread dried enough to avoid spoilage for several days. It did not need to be as long-lasting as ship’s-biscuit or its landbound counterpart of hardtack, but still something that might carry a traveler through a few day’s journey when circumstances did not permit the purchase of food as one went along.
1/2 pint water
1 and 1/2 lb. sugar
1 pint eggs, 1/3 of which are yolks
2 lb. flour
Fine sugar for topping
Boil, in half a pint of water, one pound and a half of sugar; have ready one pint of eggs, three parts yelks, in a pan; pour in the sugar, and whisk it quick till cold, or about a quarter of an hour; then stir in two pounds of sifted flour; case the inside of square tins with white paper; fill them three parts full; sift a little sugar over, and bake in a warm oven, and while hot remove them from the moulds.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner MD, New York, 1829
Comment: We have no idea what sort of “diet” this item was considered suitable for, but “weight reducing” would not seem to be one of them given the quantity of egg yolks, sugar and the like we see here. One usually sees the word “diet” in connection with a cure for a medical problem such as “dyspepsia” which could be anything from minor heartburn to ulcers to who knows what. It often led to an agony so debilitating as to be a major impediment to daily activities.
Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson waged a nearly lifelong battle with the disorder, causing many of the dietary habits (avoidance of spices, refusal to use butter, frequent consumption of fruit) which got him a reputation for eccentricity. He would probably not have approved of this bread either.