Baking requires complete focus and concentration and this can pull the mind away from stressful and/or depressive thoughts. These are the experiences missing from the fast-paced reactionistic expectations of modern existence and precisely the type of experience people are longing for when they talk about slowing down and de-stressing.
We have come full circle. Now that we have all the modern conveniences and packaged process food available to us, we have come to more fully appreciate the art and craft of baking bread and cakes ourselves and the mindfulness experience and satisfaction it brings, even in uncertain times.
100 years ago, there were many uncertainties being faced, including World War I, food rationing and the flu pandemic of 1918. Baking was an essential part of providing food for families and also a means of finding some escape from the daily stresses and comfort in a familiar and predictable experience. Baking today still provides the satisfaction and provokes healthy mindfulness that is very much needed now as it was then. Many of the favorite recipes we still enjoy today were first introduced to home bakers over 100 years ago. Over 200 recipes are included here.
Here are some old favorites that are still enjoyed today -
Very palatable rolls can be made from a similar mixture of boiled potatoes and flour by adding fat and sugar. The following proportions will yield about 1 dozen small rolls:
- 8 ounces boiled and peeled potatoes.
- 6 ounces or 1 ½ cups sifted flour.
- 1/3 cake compressed yeast,
- 3/4 level teaspoon salt.
- 2 tablespoons lukewarm water, milk, or cream.
- 2 tablespoons sugar.
- 2 tablespoons butter.
Boil, peel, and mash the potatoes as directed for bread making.
Add to this the salt, the yeast rubbed smooth and mixed with the water, or other liquid, and lastly 2 tablespoons flour. Set this mixture to rise at about 86 °F and allow it to rise until a touch will cause it to fall. Add to this sponge the butter, the sugar, and the remainder of the flour, and, if necessary, enough more flour to make a very stiff dough.
Knead thoroughly until a smooth dough has been formed which is no longer sticky. Set back to rise again, and when the dough has trebled (tripled) in volume knead lightly, form into small balls, and place, not too close together, in greased pans. Let rise until double in volume and bake 20 minutes in a moderately hot oven (about 400° F).
(type of sourdough, handy when yeast is in short supply)
This bread, which is commonly called by the misleading name of “salt-rising bread," has been known in one form or another for generations. It has been a particular favorite when and where it was difficult to get satisfactory yeast.
- 1 cup milk.
- 2 tablespoons white corn meal.
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Butter (if used), 1 tablespoon.
- Flour (as needed – see below).
Scald the milk. Allow it to cool until it is lukewarm; then add the salt, sugar, and corn meal. Place in a fruit can or a heavy crock or pitcher and surround by water at about 120° F. Water at this temperature is the hottest in which the hand can be held without inconvenience, and can be secured by mixing nearly equal parts of boiling water and tap water (unless the tap water is unusually warm). Allow the mixture to stand for 6 or 7 hours, or until it shows signs of fermentation. If it has fermented sufficiently, the gas can be heard as it escapes.
This leaven contains enough liquid for one loaf. If more loaves are needed, add 1 cupful of water, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 tablespoonful of sugar, and 1 table-spoonful of butter for each additional loaf. Make a soft sponge by adding a cupful of flour for each loaf to be made. Beat thoroughly and put the sponge again at the temperature of about 120° F.
When it is very light, add more flour gradually until the dough is so stifle that it can be kneaded without sticking to the hands or to the board. Knead 10 or 15 minutes, put at once into the pans, allow to rise until about two and one-half times its original bulk, and bake. Self -rising bread is never so light as the bread raised with yeast. A loaf made with one cupful of liquid therefore will come not quite up to the top of a pan of standard size.