Read CHAPTER I. UNFERMENTED BREAD of The Healthy Life Cook Book‚ 2d ed., free online book, by Florence Daniel, on ReadCentral.com.

1. Cold water bread.

1-1/4 lb. fine wholemeal flour to 3/4 pint water.

Put the meal into a basin, add the water gradually, and mix with a clean, cool hand. (Bread, pastry, etc., mixed with a spoon, especially of metal, will not be so light as that mixed with a light cool hand.) Knead lightly for 20 minutes. (A little more flour may be required while kneading, as some brands of meal do not absorb so much water as others, but do not add more than is absolutely necessary to prevent the fingers sticking.) Put the dough on to a floured board and divide into four round loaves. Prick with a fork on top.

The colder the water used, the lighter the bread, and if the mixing be done by an open window so much the better, for unfermented bread is air-raised. Distilled or clean boiled rain-water makes the lightest bread. But it should be poured backwards and forwards from one jug to another several times, in order to aerate it.

Another method of mixing is the following: Put the water into the basin first and stir the meal quickly into it with a spatula or wooden spoon. When it gets too stiff to be stirred, add the rest of the meal. Knead for two minutes, and shape into loaves as above.

BAKING. Bake on the bare oven shelf, floored. If possible have a few holes bored in the shelf. This is not absolutely necessary, but any tinker or ironmonger will perforate your shelf for a few pence. Better still are wire shelves, like sieves. (This does not apply to gas ovens.)

Start with a hot oven, but not too hot. To test, sprinkle a teaspoonful of flour in a patty pan, and put in the oven for five minutes. At the end of that time, if the flour is a light golden-brown colour, the oven is right. Now put in the bread and keep the heat of the oven well up for half an hour. At the end of this time turn the loaves. Now bake for another hour, but do not make up the fire again. Let the oven get slightly cooler. The same result may perhaps be obtained by moving to a cooler shelf. It all depends on the oven. But always start with a hot oven, and after the first half hour let the oven get cooler.

Always remember, that the larger the loaves the slower must be the baking, otherwise they will be overdone on the outside and underdone in the middle.

Do not open the oven door oftener than absolutely necessary.

If a gas oven is used the bread must be baked on a baking sheet placed on a sand tin. A sand tin is the ordinary square or oblong baking tin, generally supplied with gas stoves, filled with silver sand. A baking sheet is simply a piece of sheet-iron, a size smaller than the oven shelves, so that the heat may pass up and round it. Any ironmonger will cut one to size for a few pence. Do not forget to place a vessel of water (hot) in the bottom of the oven. This is always necessary in a gas oven when baking bread, cakes or pastry.

It must not be forgotten that ovens are like children they need understanding. The temperature of the kitchen and the oven’s nearness to a window or door will often make a difference of five or ten minutes in the time needed for baking. One gas oven that I knew never baked well in winter unless a screen was put before it to keep away draughts!

ROLLS. If you desire to get your bread more quickly it is only a question of making smaller loaves. Little rolls may be cut out with a large egg-cup or small pastry cutter, and these take any time from twenty minutes to half an hour.

2. EGG BREAD.

9 ozs. fine wholemeal, 1 egg, a bare 1/2 pint milk and water, butter size of walnut.

Put butter in a qr. qtn. tin (a small square-cornered tin price 6-1/2d. at most ironmongers) and let it remain in hot oven until it boils. Well whisk egg, and add to it the milk and water. Sift into this liquid the wholemeal, stirring all the time. Pour this batter into the hot buttered tin. Bake in a very hot oven for 50 minutes, then move to a cooler part for another 50 minutes. When done, turn out and stand on end to cool.

3. GEM BREAD.

Put into a basin a pint of cold water, and beat it for a few minutes in order to aerate it as much as possible. Stir gently, but quickly, into this as much fine wholemeal as will make a batter the consistency of thick cream. It should just drop off the spoon. Drop this batter into very hot greased gem pans. Bake for half an hour in a hot oven. When done, stand on end to cool. They may appear to be a little hard on first taking out of the oven, but when cool they should be soft, light and spongy. When properly made, the uninitiated generally refuse to believe that they do not contain eggs or baking-powder.

There are proper gem pans, made of cast iron (from 1s.) for baking this bread, and the best results are obtained by using them. But with a favourable oven I have got pretty good results from the ordinary baking-tins with depressions, the kind used for baking small cakes. But these are a thinner make and apt to produce a tough crust.

4. HOT WATER ROLLS.

This bread has a very sweet taste. It is made by stirring boiling water into any quantity of meal required, sufficient to form a stiff paste. Then take out of the basin on to a board and knead quickly with as much more flour as is needed to make it workable. Cut it into small rolls with a large egg-cup or small vegetable cutter. The quicker this is done the better, in order to retain the heat of the water. Bake from 20 to 30 minutes.

5. OATCAKE.

Mix medium oatmeal to a stiff paste with cold water. Add enough fine oatmeal to make a dough. Roll out very thinly. Bake in sheets, or cut into biscuits with a tumbler or biscuit cutter. Bake on the bare oven shelf, sprinkled with fine oatmeal, until a very pale brown. Flour may be used in place of the fine oatmeal, as the latter often has a bitter taste that many people object to. The cause of this bitterness is staleness, but it is not so noticeable in the coarse or medium oatmeal. Freshly ground oatmeal is quite sweet.

6. RAISIN LOAF.

1 lb. fine wholemeal, 6 oz. raisins, 2 oz. Mapleton’s nutter, water.

Well wash the raisins, but do not stone them or the loaf will be heavy. If the stones are disliked, seedless raisins, or even sultanas, may be used, but the large raisins give rather better results. Rub the nutter into the flour, add the raisins, which should be well dried after washing, and mix with enough water to form a dough which almost, but not quite drops from the spoon. Put into a greased tin, which should be very hot, and bake in a hot oven at first. At the end of twenty minutes to half an hour the loaf should be slightly browned. Then move to a cooler shelf, and bake until done. Test with a knife as for ordinary cakes.

For this loaf a small, deep, square-cornered tin is required (price 6-1/2d.), the same as for the egg loa ozs. fresh dairy butter may be used in place of the 2 ozs. nutter.

7. SHORTENED BREAD.

Into 1 lb. wholemeal flour rub 4 ozs. nutter or 5 ozs. butter. Mix to a stiff dough with cold water. Knead lightly but well. Shape into small buns about 1 inch thick. Bake for an hour in a moderate oven.