The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cookbook from 1895

JoPi's picture

Cookbook from 1895

I came across this cookbook which has some very interesting 'ways' from 1895.


The name of the book is "Smiley's Cookbook and Universal Household Guide: A Comprehensive Collection.

Take a look at the section on bread which starts on page 256 (you can move ahead in the book by typing the page number in the little box on the top of the page on the right).  

There is info on how to test the oven for the right temp. and something called 'steaming' for several hours and then baking for an hour???

My favorite was the section on page 261 titled "Eating Hot Bread".  





swtgran's picture

Thank you!  I just love old cookbooks.  Many times I just can't resist giving some of the really old recipes a try.  Terry

clazar123's picture

Besides bread, my latest interest is pickles, This book had some very good information on preserving using brining,fermentation and vinegar. They knew a lot about cooking,baking and health,even in 1895. The basics don't change much at all.

Thank you for the wonderful link. I have "added" it to my collection of old cookbooks.

alabubba's picture

My favorite was the section on page 261 titled "Eating Hot Bread".


Indigestible!? And all this time, I just thought it was delicious.

Chrissi's picture

A quote from the book that I find quite interesting:


"Care should be taken in rising bread that it is kept warm in cold weather; but not too hot, as that induces the acetous fermentation instead of the vinous, and the dough sours; about 70 to 80 is right.  Old bread makers preferred a slow rose, which they said made a sweeter bread, but later scientific developments point towards a quick rising as the best, because the yeast being a plant which lives and dies, by quick fermentation the plant is living when the bread is ready to bake, but by the slower process only the dead spores are left.  To hasten the process of rising, use plenty of yeast, but do not keep it too hot.  The less yeast used, however, the sweeter the bread will be, because the yeast consumes the sugar in the dough, and the more yeast used the more sugar will be consumed."


Yeast is a plant?  Quick rise is best?  Yeast die in a slow rise?  Kind of funny to look back on, knowing what we know now.... and the explanations they give, too, which sound quite sound, but we know now are quite ridiculous.


Thanks for this link, I am really enjoying it!

clazar123's picture

If you take the colloquial manner of speaking into account, I believe they are talking about flavor development and overproofing. It seems to me s/he is mixing up the apples and oranges of theory,tho,with sugar digestion. Wheres/he says the "old breadmakers prefer a slow make a sweeter bread" isn't this similar to modern conjecture that a long,slow rise develops more flavor in our bread?We wouldn't describe it as sweeter but flavor profiles were more black and white.Our modern palates are accustomed to a much wider range of flavor. 

And yeast is,indeed, a plant and it can be esp prone to dying if the temp of any part of the process is too hot (liquids or environment). Remember, s/he may have been talking about proofing near or on a wood-burning stove.Themometers and thermostats were very uncommon. And it would definitely die and just leave the spores if it was overproofed. They recognized the importance of having a viable yeast culture when a loaf is put in the oven so there can be that wonderful spring of oven-rise.

SO,according to his theory, less yeast equals less sugar being eaten and as a result, more "sweetness" but a longer rise.Too long or too hot a rise will end up with a flat loaf or one tasting "off' (acetous vs vinous development),a lot of yeast in a 70-80 degree environment will induce a faster rise but the bread will be less "sweet" since the yeast ate more sugar.

It sounds very much like what we talk about today-just different phraseology. It makes me realize that there is so much to learn and that if I want to learn something, I just have to talk to the right person. The trick is finding that person and that is where this forum is so wonderful.

Chrissi's picture

Though you may have a point with the rest of it, please repeat after me:






Yeast is fungus, like mushrooms and mold.  It is in a completely different kingdom from plants - it is as different from a plant as an animal is.  The only similarity fungi have to plants is that they grow, reproduce, and consume food, but the methods by which they do these things are light and day compared to how plants do it.  For example, fungi do not require light at any stage of their growth - how's that for not like plants?


And no, just because common mushrooms are sold with vegetables, does not mean they are plants either.  They are not.

tananaBrian's picture

I'd like to get a copy of the old WWI Army cookbooks that had the bread baking info, especially for 'in the field' in it...