For four loaves of bread, allow as follows:
Sift the flour into a large pan or bowl. Put the sugar, salt, and butter in the bottom of the bread pan or bowl, and pour on a spoonful or two of boiling water, enough to dissolve all. Add the quart of wetting, and the yeast. Now stir in slowly two quarts of the flour; cover with a cloth, and set in a temperature of about 75° to rise until morning. Bread mixed at nine in the evening will be ready to mould into loaves or rolls by six the next morning. In summer it would be necessary to find a cool place; in winter a warm one,—the chief point being to keep the temperature even. If mixed early in the morning, it is ready to mold and bake in the afternoon, from seven to eight hours being all it should stand.
This first mixture is called a sponge; and, if only a loaf of graham or rye bread is wanted, one quart of it can be measured, and thickened with other flour as in the rules given hereafter.
To finish as wheat bread, stir in enough flour from the two quarts remaining to make a dough. Flour the molding-board very thickly, and turn out. Now begin kneading, flouring the hands, but after the dough is gathered into a smooth lump, using as little flour as may be. Knead with the palm of the hand as much as possible. The dough quickly becomes a flat cake. Fold it over, and keep on, kneading not less than twenty minutes; half an hour being better.
Make into loaves; put into the pans; set them in a warm place, and let them rise from thirty to forty-five minutes, or till they have become nearly double in size. Bake in an oven hot enough to brown a teaspoonful of flour in one minute; spreading the flour on a bit of broken plate, that it may have an even heat. Loaves of this size will bake in from forty-five to sixty minutes. Then take them from the pans; wrap in thick cloths kept for the purpose and stand them, tilted up against the pans till cold. Never lay hot bread on a pine table, as it will sweat, and absorb the pitchy odor and taste; but tilt, so that air may pass around it freely. Keep well covered in a tin box or large stone pot, which should be wiped out every day or two, and scalded and dried thoroughly now and then. Pans for wheat bread should be greased very lightly; for graham or rye, much more, as the dough sticks and clings.
Instead of mixing a sponge, all the flour may be molded in and kneaded at once, and the dough set to rise in the same way. When light, turn out. Use as little flour as possible, and knead for fifteen minutes; less time being required, as part of the kneading has already been done.