When preparing bread, some dough always remains on the bottom and sides of the kneading trough. These scraps of leftover dough are enough to sour the next batch of bread. If you prefer a more sour dough, you must leave an additional piece of dough, the size of a goose egg, in the trough. Never wash the trough but keep it clean, always covered with a tablecloth and a round wooden plank. This way, the dough will not go flat and it will be protected from dust. The trough must be stored in a dry and clean place where the air is fresh, otherwise the bread may spoil. Do not use this trough for any other purpose. Sometimes it happens that the leaven in the trough spoils. In that case, the bread will fail to rise and, upon baking, will turn black, heavy, and hard. Some people rectify the trough as follows: turn it over and pour boiling water over the bottom, wipe the interior with an onion and salt, rinse with water at room temperature, and prepare dough as usual for fresh leaven. Always bake sieved rye bread with pure water, but sieved wheat bread may be baked with either whey or yogurt. Every type of bread, however, must have its own special trough. Using the wrong trough will cause the bread to spoil. It is impossible to indicate precisely the amount of flour and water needed. This depends on the quality and dryness of the flour, but the approximate propontions are as follows. For
Flour intended for bread must first be thoroughly dried by spreading it out in front of the oven on a table covered with a cloth. In the evening prepare a dough; that is, take
Or, after rolling out the loaves, set them on the table, covered, in a warm place, and let them rise. It will require 30–45 minutes and sometimes a little longer for the dough to rise as it ought to. In large part the success of the bread depends on this. If it has not risen enough, the bread will be heavy and dense, and if it has risen too much so that it cannot rise any more in the oven, the dough will fall and become hard.
To transfer the bread into the oven, set the loaf on a wooden bread peel* sprinkled with flour. Pour boiling water over the bread, smooth the surface, and set in a cleanly swept out oven. Bread that has risen in water need not have boiling water poured over it.
For bread made of sieved wheat flour, the temperature of the oven must be 60 degrees Reaumur, but the oven must be much warmer for ordinary rye bread. The oven can be tested by throwing a handful of flour into it. If the flour browns gradually, the temperature is suitable for baking. If it immediately burns or does not brown at all, then the oven is too hot or not hot enough. Close the damper after setting the loaves in the oven.
It is difficult to judge how long to leave the loaves in the oven. The time varies according to the heat and the size of the loaves. A
*A bread peel is a pole with a broad flat disk at one end used for thrusting bread and pies into the oven and removing them from it. One of the oldest baking tools, peels are still a necessary implement for large, deep ovens. In American commercial establishments, they are commonly used for baking pizzas.
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