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.