How to Make and Bake Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

The Picayune's Creole Cook Book

By The Times Picayune Publishing Company

Published 1901

  • About

Method

Bread, to be perfect, should be light and sweet, with a rich, nutty flavor of the wheat. To obtain this result, only the best flour and the best dough must be used. While the Bread is rising, the temperature of the oven should be at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heat of the oven in baking should be about 360 degrees, or hot enough to raise the inside of the bread to about 220 degrees. This is necessary to cook the starch, expand the carbonic gas, steam and air, and also to drive off the alcohol which is used in the yeast.

The bakers in New Orleans have a way of testing the temperature of the oven by putting a piece of white paper in it. If it turns dark in five minutes the oven is of the right temperature. If it burns, the oven is too hot, and must be cooled before putting the bread in, and if the paper is only a light brown at the end of five minutes, the oven must be made hotter. Again, they sprinkle flour, and if it browns or smokes before you can count ten, the oven is too hot; if it browns at ten, the oven is of the right temperature.

Brick ovens are used, and the loaves of Bread are shoved into the oven generally on baking boards.

Rolls are always baked first; then the Bread, and afterwards the pies and cakes. It is best to have the oven heated in time and closed for one hour at least before beginning to bake.

Bread should be in the oven about ten minutes before it begins to brown. When done, remove carefully from the pan, and tip it against a bread board, just as they do in the New Orleans bakeries. This allows the air to circulate freely around it. Never cover Bread that has been freshly baked, if you wish it to be fresh and sweet and crisp. When cool, place in a clean bread box, without using a bread bag, as is so common among many families. This bag absorbs the moisture from the bread, and causes it to sour quickly.

The New Orleans bakers always use compressed yeast for leavening Bread, as it does not necessitate making a ferment or setting sponge before mixing the dough.