6. Possibly the first essential to a correct knowledge of bread making is familiarity with the ingredients required. These are few in number, being merely flour, liquid, which may be either milk or water, sugar, salt, and yeast; but the nature of these, particularly the flour and the yeast, is such as to demand careful consideration. It will be admitted that the more the housewife knows about *bread-making materials and processes the greater will be her success in this work. Likewise, it is extremely important that this food be made just as wholesome as possible, for next to milk and eggs, bread ranks as a perfect food, containing all the elements necessary for the growth of the body. This does not mean, though, that any of these foods used as the sole article of diet would be ideal, but that each one of them is of such composition that it alone would sustain life for a long period of time.
7. GRAINS USED FOR FLOUR.--As has been pointed out elsewhere, numerous grains are raised by man, but only two of them, namely, wheat and rye, are used alone for the making of yeast, or leavened, bread. The other grains, such as corn, rice, and oats, produce a flat, unleavened cake, so they are seldom used for bread making unless they are mixed with white flour. Wheat and rye have been used for bread making for a very long time, and their universal use today is due to the fact that they contain considerable protein in the form of gluten. This is the substance that produces elasticity in the dough mixture, a condition that is absolutely essential in the making of raised bread. In fact, the toughness and elasticity of bread dough are what make it possible for the dough to catch and hold air and gas and thus produce a light, porous loaf.
8. Of these two grains, rye is used less extensively in the United States for the making of bread than wheat, although in some countries, particularly the inland countries of Continental Europe, considerable use is made of it. Its limited use here is undoubtedly due to the fact that when rye is used alone it makes a moist, sticky bread, which is considered undesirable by most persons. The reason for this is that, although rye contains a sufficient quantity of gluten, this substance is not of the proper quality to make the elastic dough that produces a light, spongy loaf. Therefore, when rye is used, wheat flour is generally mixed with it. The result is a bread having a good texture, but the dark color and the typical flavor that rye produces.
9. Wheat, the other grain used for bread making, is an annual grass of unknown origin. It is used more extensively for food than any other grain. In fact, it has been estimated that the average quantity consumed by each person is about 6 bushels a year, and of this amount by far the greater part is used in the making of bread. Since so much of this grain is used as food, considerable time and effort have been spent in developing those qualities which are most desirable for the purpose to which wheat is put and in perfecting the processes whereby wheat flour of a good quality may be obtained.
This grain is particularly well adapted for bread making because of the nature of the proteins it contains and the relative proportions of these. These proteins, which occur in the wheat grain in the form of gluten, are known as gliadin and glutenin. The gliadin imparts elasticity and tenacity, or toughness, to the gluten, and the glutenin gives it strength. It is not, however, so much the quantity of gluten in the wheat grain that actually determines the quality of flour as the fact that the two varieties must be present in the proper proportions in order for the gluten to have the properties desired for bread making.
Wheat consists of numerous varieties, but only two of these are grown and used in the United States, namely, spring, or hard, wheat and winter, or soft, wheat.
10. SPRING, OR HARD WHEAT is so named because it is sown in the spring of the year and is very tough or firm. Before this variety was known, the wheat used for bread making was not ideal, and the efforts that were made to produce a grain that would be suitable for this purpose resulted in this variety. To obtain its particular composition, spring wheat must be grown under suitable climatic and soil conditions. In North America, it grows in the north central part of the United States and along the southern border of Canada. This variety, which is harvested in the late summer, is characterized by a large proportion of gluten and a correspondingly small amount of starch. It is the presence of the gluten that accounts for the hardness of the spring-wheat grain and the tough, elastic quality of the dough made from the spring-wheat flour. Bread dough, to be right, must have this quality, so that the flour made from spring wheat is used almost exclusively for bread; whereas, for cake and pastry, which should have a tender, unelastic texture, flour made from soft wheat is more satisfactory.
11. WINTER, OR SOFT WHEAT derives its name from the fact that it is planted in the autumn and is soft in texture. It is of less importance in the making of bread than spring, or hard, wheat, but it is the kind that has been grown for centuries and from which the varieties of spring wheat have been cultivated. It is a softer grain than spring wheat, because it contains less gluten and more starch. The flour made from it does not produce so elastic a dough mixture as does that made from the other variety of wheat; consequently, the finished product, such as bread, rolls, etc., is likely to be more tender and more friable, or crumbly. It is for this reason that winter, or soft, wheat is not used extensively for bread, but is employed for pastry flour or mixed with spring wheat to make what is called a blend flour, which may be used for all purposes.
12. STRUCTURE OF WHEAT GRAIN.--In its natural state, wheat contains all the food substances required for the nourishment of the human body in nearly the proper proportions, and in addition it has in its composition sufficient cellulose to give it considerable bulk. It has been estimated that the average composition of this grain is as follows:
So that the composition of wheat and the making of wheat flour may be more clearly understood, it will be well to observe the structure of a grain, or kernel, of wheat, which is shown greatly enlarged in Fig. 1. At a is shown the germ of the young plant, which remains undeveloped until the grain is planted. This part contains practically all the fat found in the grain, some starch, and a small quantity of protein. At b is shown the inside of the kernel, or the endosperm, as it is called, which is composed of starch granules interlaced with protein and mineral salts. Surrounding these, as at c, is a layer of coarse cells that contain mineral matter and protein, and between these cells and the outer husk, as at d, e, f, and g, are layers of bran, which are composed of cellulose and contain mineral salts and small quantities of starch and protein. Enveloping the entire kernel is a husk, or bran covering, h. This forms a protection to the rest of the grain, but it cannot be used as food, because it is composed almost entirely of cellulose, which is practically indigestible. The center of the grain, or the heart, is the softest part and consists of cells filled with starch. From this soft center the contents of the grain gradually grow harder toward the outside, the harder part and that containing the most gluten occurring next to the bran covering.
13. MILLING OF WHEAT FLOUR.--Great advances have been made in the production of flour from wheat, and these are very good evidence of man's progress in the way of invention. The earliest method consisted in crushing the grain by hand between two stones, and from this crude device came the mortar and pestle. A little later millstones in the form of thick, heavy disks were brought into use for grinding grain. Two of these stones were placed so that their surfaces came together, the lower one being stationary and the upper one made to revolve. Early grinding apparatus of this kind was turned by human power, but this kind of power was first displaced by domestic animals and later by wind and water. Out of this arrangement, which is still used to some extent in small mills, has grown the present-day complicated machinery of the roller process, by which any part of the grain may be included or rejected.
14. In the roller process, the grain is crushed between metal rolls instead of being ground between stones. It is first screened in order to separate all foreign matter from it, and then stored in bins. When it is taken from these receptacles, it is put through another cleaning process, called scouring, or it is thoroughly washed and dried in order to loosen the dirt that clings to it and to free it entirely from dust, lint, etc. As soon as it is completely cleansed, it is softened by heat and moisture and then passed through a set of corrugated rollers, which are adjustable as are the rubber rollers of a clothes wringer and which flatten and break the grains. After this first crushing, some of the bran is sifted out, while the main portion of the grain is put through another set of rollers and crushed more finely. During the milling, these processes of crushing the grain and removing the bran are repeated from six to nine times, each pair of rollers being set somewhat closer than the pair before, until the grain is pulverized. After the grain has been thus reduced to a powder, it is passed through bolting cloth, which acts as a very fine sieve and separates from it any foreign material that may remain. The result is a very fine, white flour.
15. GRAHAM FLOUR.--Sometimes the entire grain, including the bran, germ, etc., is ground fine enough merely for baking purposes and is used as flour in this form. Such flour is called graham flour. It contains all the nutriment, mineral matter, and cellulose of the original grain, and is therefore considered valuable as food. However, the objection to this kind of flour is that its keeping quality is not so good as that of the kinds from which the germ has been removed, because the fat contained in the germ is liable to become rancid.
16. WHOLE-WHEAT FLOUR.--The best grades of fine white flour make bread of excellent quality, but such bread is not so nutritious as that made from whole-wheat flour. In the making of this kind of flour, some of the choicest varieties of wheat are first moistened in order to soften the woody fiber of the bran and are then sifted until the outer husk of the grain is removed. After this treatment, the grains are dried and then pulverized into various grades of so-called whole-wheat flour. The name whole-wheat flour is misleading, because it implies that all of the grain is used; whereas, since several of the outer layers of bran and the germ are removed in its production, whole-wheat flour is merely flour in which practically all the gluten and the starch are retained. Because this variety is not sifted as are the white flours, it is not so fine as they are; but it is not so coarse as graham flour, nor is bread made from it so dark in color. Both graham and whole-wheat flours produce a more wholesome bread than any of the varieties of white flour, because they contain more of the nutritive elements and mineral salts, which are necessary in the diet. The bran that is retained in them is not used by the body as food, but it adds bulk to the diet and assists in carrying on the normal functions of the digestive tract.
17. SELECTION OF FLOUR.--If a large quantity of flour must be bought at one time, as, for instance, enough to last through an entire season, it is advisable to test it carefully before the purchase is made, so as to avoid the danger of getting a poor grade. As a rule, however, housewives are obliged to purchase only a small quantity at a time. In such cases, it will not be necessary to test the flour before purchasing it, provided a standard make is selected. Very often, too, a housewife in a small family finds it inconvenient to keep on hand a supply of both bread flour and pastry flour. In such an event, a blend flour, which, as has been mentioned, is a mixture of flour made from spring and winter wheat that will do for all purposes, is the kind to purchase. While such flour is not ideal for either bread or pastry, it serves the purpose of both very well.
18. QUALITY OF FLOUR.--Flour is put on the market in various grades, and is named according to its quality. The highest grade, or best quality, is called high-grade patent; the next grade, bakers'; and the next, second-grade patent. The lowest grade, or poorest quality, is called red dog. This grade is seldom sold for food purposes, but it is used considerably for the making of paste.
The quality of flour used in bread making is of very great importance, because flour of poor quality will not, of course, make good bread. Every housewife should therefore be familiar with the characteristics of good flour and should buy accordingly.
19. Several tests can be applied to flour to determine its kind and its quality. The first test is its color. Bread flour, or flour made from spring wheat, is usually of a creamy-white color, while pastry flour, or that made from winter wheat, is more nearly pure white in color. A dark, chalky-white, or gray color indicates that the flour is poor in quality. The second test is the feel of the flour. A pinch of good bread flour, when rubbed lightly between the thumb and the index finger, will be found to be rather coarse and the particles will feel sharp and gritty. When good pastry flour is treated in the same way, it will feel smooth and powdery. The third test is its adhering power. When squeezed tightly in the hand, good bread flour holds together in a mass and retains slightly the impression of the fingers; poor bread flour treated in the same way either does not retain its shape or, provided it contains too much moisture, is liable to make a damp, hard lump. The odor of flour might also be considered a test. Flour must not have a musty odor nor any other odor foreign to the normal, rather nutty flavor that is characteristic of flour.
The bleaching and adulteration of flour are governed by the United States laws. Bleaching is permitted only when it does not reduce the quality or strength nor conceal any damage or inferiority. Such flour must be plainly labeled to show that it has been bleached.
20. CARE OF FLOUR.--There is considerable economy in buying flour in large quantities, but unless an adequate storing place can be secured, it is advisable to buy only small amounts at a time. Flour absorbs odors very readily, so that when it is not bought in barrels it should if possible be purchased in moisture-proof bags. Then, after it is purchased, it should be kept where it will remain dry and will not be accessible to odors, for unless the storage conditions are favorable, it will soon acquire an offensive odor and become unfit for use. Flour sometimes becomes infested with weevils, or beetles, whose presence can be detected by little webs. To prevent the entrance of insects and vermin of all kinds, flour should be kept in tightly closed bins after it is taken from the barrels or sacks in which it is purchased. If newly purchased flour is found to be contaminated with such insects, it should be returned to the dealer.
21. NATURE AND ACTION OF YEAST.--How yeast came to be discovered is not definitely known, but its discovery is believed to have been purely accidental. Some mixture of flour and liquid was probably allowed to remain exposed to the air until it fermented and then when baked was found to be light and porous. Whatever the origin of this discovery was, it is certain that yeast was used hundreds of years ago and that its action was not at that time understood. Even at the present time everything concerning the action of yeast is not known; still continued study and observation have brought to light enough information to show that yeast is the agency that, under favorable conditions, produces light, spongy bread out of a flour mixture.
22. It has been determined that yeast is a microscopic plant existing everywhere in the air and in dust; consequently, it is found on all things that are exposed to air or dust. In order that it may grow, this plant requires the three things necessary for the growth of any plant, namely, food, moisture, and warmth. Carbohydrate in the form of sugar proves to be an ideal food for yeast, and 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which the most rapid growth occurs. When these conditions exist and a sufficient amount of moisture is provided, yeast grows very rapidly and produces fermentation.
The changes that take place when yeast causes fermentation can be detected very readily by observing the fermenting of fruit juice. As every housewife knows, the first indication of a ferment in fruit juice is the appearance of tiny bubbles, which collect on the sides and the bottom of the vessel containing the fruit and then gradually rise to the top. These bubbles are a form of gas called carbon-dioxide, or carbonic-acid, gas. If, after they appear, the juice is tasted, it will be found to be slightly alcoholic and to have a somewhat sour or acid taste. The gas, the acid, and the alcohol thus produced are the three results of the action of the ferment.
23. When yeast is used in the making of bread out of wheat flour, the changes just mentioned take place. To understand the action of this plant, it will be necessary to remember that wheat contains a large proportion of starch. This substance, however, cannot be acted on by the yeast plant; it must first be changed into sugar. The yeast that is added to the flour changes some of the starch into sugar and transforms the sugar into alcohol and carbonic-acid gas. This gas, which is lighter than the dough, rises, and in its efforts to escape expands the elastic, glutinous dough into a mass of bubbles with thin walls until the dough is two or three times its original bulk. The yeast plants, though, must be well distributed throughout the dough; otherwise, there are likely to be no bubbles in some places and large bubbles with thick walls in others. The gas thus formed is prevented from escaping by the toughness or the elasticity of the gluten, and the spaces that it leaves are what produce a light, porous loaf. When the expansion has gone on long enough, the formation of gas is checked and the ferment is killed by baking the dough in a hot oven. During the baking, the alcohol is driven off by heat, some of the starch is browned and forms the crust, and so little acid is produced in the short time in which the yeast is active that it is not noticeable.
24. COMMERCIAL YEAST.--When yeast plants are deprived of water and food, they cease to multiply. However, under these conditions, they may be kept alive so that when water and food are again provided they will increase in number and carry on their work. Advantage has been taken of these characteristics of yeast, for although at one time the making of yeast was entirely a household process, it has now, like butter, cheese, canned fruit, etc., become a commercial product. The first yeast put on the market was collected from the surface of the contents of brewers' vats, where it floated in large quantities; but as this was an impure, unreliable product composed of various kinds of bacteria, it is no longer used for the purpose of making bread. At present, yeast is carefully grown as a pure yeast culture, or product. It is marketed in such a way that when proper food, such as soft dough, or sponge, and a favorable temperature are provided, the plants will multiply and act on the carbohydrate that they find in the food. In fact, the purpose of the well-known process of "setting" a sponge is to obtain a large number of yeast plants from a few.
Commercial yeast is placed on the market in two forms--moist and dry. Each of these yeasts has its advantages, so that the one to select depends on the method preferred for the making of bread as well as the time that may be devoted to the preparation of this food.
25. Moist yeast, which is usually called compressed yeast, consists of the pure yeast culture, or growth, mixed with starch to make a sort of dough and then compressed into small cakes, the form in which it is sold. The moist condition of this kind of commercial yeast keeps the plants in an active state and permits of very rapid growth in a dough mixture. Consequently, it proves very useful for the rapid methods of making bread. It is soft, yet brittle, is of a grayish-white color, and has no odor except that of yeast.
Since the plants of compressed yeast require very little moisture to make them grow, an unfavorable, or low, temperature is needed to keep the yeast from spoiling; in fact, it is not guaranteed to remain good longer than a few days, and then only if it is kept at a temperature low enough to prevent the plants from growing. This fact makes it inadvisable to purchase compressed yeast at great distances from the source of supply, although it may be obtained by parcel post from manufacturers or dealers.
26. Dry yeast, the other form of commercial yeast, is made in much the same way as moist yeast, but, instead of being mixed with a small amount of starch, the yeast culture is combined with a large quantity of starch or meal and then dried. The process of drying kills off some of the plants and renders the remainder inactive; because of this, the yeast requires no special care and will keep for an indefinite period of time, facts that account for its extensive use by housewives who are not within easy reach of the markets. However, because of the inactivity of the yeast plants, much longer time is required to produce fermentation in a bread mixture containing dry yeast than in one in which moist yeast is used. Consequently, the long processes of bread making are brought about by the use of dry yeast. If moist yeast is used for these processes, a smaller quantity is required.
27. LIQUID YEAST.--Some housewives are so situated that they find it difficult to obtain commercial yeast in either of its forms; but this disadvantage need not deprive them of the means of making good home-made bread, for they can prepare a very satisfactory liquid yeast themselves. To make such yeast, flour, water, and a small quantity of sugar are stirred together, and the mixture is then allowed to remain at ordinary room temperature, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit, until it is filled with bubbles. If hops are available, a few of them may be added. When such yeast is added to a sponge mixture, it will lighten the whole amount. Before the sponge is made stiff with flour, however, a little of it should be taken out, put in a covered dish, and set away in a cool, dark place for the next baking. If properly looked after in the manner explained, this yeast may be kept for about 2 weeks.
More certain results and a better flavor are insured in the use of liquid yeast if it is started with commercial yeast, so that whenever this can be obtained it should be used. Then, as just explained, some of the liquid containing the yeast or some of the sponge made with it may be retained for the next baking.
28. QUALITY OF YEAST.--Of equal importance with the quality of flour is the quality of yeast used in the baking of bread. Yeast is, of course, accountable for the lightness or sponginess of bread, but, in addition, it improves the flavor of the bread if it is of good quality or detracts from the flavor if it is of poor quality. Since the condition of yeast cannot be determined until its effect on the finished product is noted, the housewife should take no chances, but should employ only yeast, whether she uses commercial or liquid, that she knows to be good and reliable. Compressed yeast may be easily judged as to quality. It should be grayish white in color, without streaks or spots, and it should have no sour nor disagreeable odor. If home-made yeast is used and the results obtained are not satisfactory, it may be taken for granted that a fresh supply should be prepared.
29. As has already been explained, yeast, in order to grow, requires something on which to feed, and the food that produces the most rapid growth is that which contains carbohydrate. Certain of the carbohydrates, however, prove to be better food and produce more rapid growth than others, and these, which are known as yeast aids, are usually added as ingredients in the making of bread. The ones that are most commonly used are sugar and potato water. Sugar is almost always added, but it should be limited in quantity, because a dough mixture that is made heavy with sugar will rise very slowly. Potato water has been found to be a very satisfactory aid, because the starch of the potato is utilized readily by the yeast. If this aid is to be used, the water in which potatoes are boiled may be saved and, when the ingredients required for the making of bread are mixed, it may be added as a part or all of the liquid required. If it is desired to increase the amount of starch in the potato water, a boiled potato or two may be mashed and added to it.
MILK AND FAT IN BREAD
30. Milk is sometimes used as a part or as all of the liquid in bread. While it adds nutritive value and is thought by many persons to improve the texture, it is not absolutely essential to successful bread making. Whenever milk is used, it should first be scalded thoroughly. A point that should not be overlooked in connection with the use of milk is that the crust of milk bread browns more readily and has a more uniform color than that of bread in which water is used as liquid.
31. Like milk, fat adds nutritive value to bread, but it is not an essential ingredient. If it is included, care should be taken not to use too much, for an excessive amount will retard the growth of the yeast. Almost any kind of fat, such as butter, lard or other clear tasteless fats, or any mixture of these, may be used for this purpose, provided it does not impart an unpleasant flavor to the bread.
PROPORTION OF BREAD-MAKING MATERIALS
32. No definite rule can be given for the exact proportion of liquid and flour to be used in bread making, because some kinds of flour absorb much more liquid than others. It has been determined, however, that 3 cupfuls of flour is generally needed for each small loaf of bread. With this known, the quantity of flour can be determined by the amount of bread that is to be made. The quantity of liquid required depends on the quantity and kind of flour selected, but usually there should be about one-third as much liquid as flour.
The particular method that is selected for the making of bread, as is explained later, determines the amount of yeast to be used. If it is desired not to have the bread rise quickly, a small quantity, about one eighth cake of compressed yeast or 2 tablespoonfuls of liquid yeast, is sufficient for each loaf; but if rapid rising is wanted, two, three, or four times as much yeast must be used to produce a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide in less time. It should be remembered that the more yeast used, the more quickly will the necessary gas be created, and that, as has already been shown, it is the formation of gas that makes bread light and porous. In addition to flour, liquid, and yeast, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 tablespoonful of sugar, and 1 tablespoonful of fat are the ingredients generally used for each loaf of bread.