Bread Making, 1869


THE bread-making business has undergone great
changes since the days of our fathers and mothers.
Fifty years ago bakers bread was a comparative
rarity; and the purchase of the article by a well-to-do
Yankee family was rather the exception than the rule
in domestic economy. The family yeast-pot was as
common in those days as the pork barrel in the cellar.
And at all the little corner variety shops, where were
sold clay-pipes for old men, and maccaboy snuff for
old women, and gingerbread men and horses and
chaises, and candy and chestnuts for children, a
cents worth of yeast, too, might be bought by those
whose pets had unexpectedly failed them, or whose
poverty or huprovidence compelled them to live from
hand to mouth. But now, how changed is every thing
of this kind! A very few old-fashioned people still
keep up the habit of making family bread ; but they
are very few and very far between in our great cities
and towns especially. And even these old-time people
now depend very much on patent yeast-cakes, or some
other modern invention, for raising their bread; or
upon soda or saleratus, or some such stuff; to make the
bread eatable when made; while the great mass of
families look to the professional baker for the staff of
life. And we rather think that, on the whole, the
community are gainers by substituting bakers bread
for what can ordinarily be got from their own kit-
chens; for bread-making is almost one of the lost
domestic arts of America. Girls are taught astronomy
and algebra, philosophy and physiology, German and
French, music and dancing, embroidery and every
thing else that can be crammed into them even to
cake-making sometimes; but bread-making good,
light bread-making many of their mothers know
nothing about; and how can the children be taught
the lost art?
Good home-made bread is doubtless more economical
and healthful than the general run of bakers bread.
But bakers are so improving in the manufacture of
bread, that their leaves and rolls are now preferred by
many, even of those who can have family bread if they
wish it. This certainly would be a fair inference from
the number of bakers who find remunerative employ-
ment in this community, if we had no other means of
knowing the fact. This city alone supports no less
than one hundred and thirteen baking establishments,
and many of them large ones too. Some of them, to
be sure, are shipbread and cracker bakers; but the
vast majority of them bake bread of various kinds for
family use ---fine flour bread, coarse flour bread, biscuit,
and rolls. A few bake occasionally --once or twice a
week, or daily---brown bread, or rye and Indian bread;
and not a few supplement their bread-making with a
great variety of cake and pastry, some of it of a very
superior quality.
In nothing has there been a greater change among
bakers than in the method of heating their ovens.
These are now made broad and low, say from fourteen
to eighteen feet square, and from thirty-six to forty-
four inches high; and instead of being heated with
fagots, or finely split wood that would burn freely
with a good deal of flame, a fourteen-foot oven is now
heated, and kept for any length of time at any re-
quired temperature, by the use of some two or three
bushels of anthracite coal, placed in one corner of the
oven on a movable grate, which can be easily handled
and regulated from with out the oven, and which can
be kept burning during the process of baking, and
diminished or increased in violence as tile contents of
tile oven may require. This invention not only saves
an enormous amount of hard, hot, and dirty work,
which was required of the old-fashioned bakers in pre-
paring their oven wood and supplying the oven after
tile fire had been made, and in clearing and cleaning
the oven when sufficiently heated; but it saves, also,
the annoyance occasioned by the differerent heating pow-
ers of different kinds of wood, and enables the baker to
keep up a steady and unvarying heat for any length of
time, whether the oven is in use or not. In fact, it
gives a baker a perpetual oven, always ready for use,
without the trouble of filling or cleaning it; simply
by the easy process of throwing into one corner a
shovelful of coal occasionally.

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