A Baker's Reminder
Friends loaned me a copy of the book Breads, Rolls & Sweet Doughs by Paul Richards. It was copyrighted in 1932, with a second edition issued in 1946. Commercial bakers are Mr. Richards' intended audience. He spends 79 pages on materials, tools and techniques. The next 240 pages are devoted primarily to formulas. Many of the bread formulas are based on 100 pounds of flour.
Here's a formula for scones, just to give an idea of the scale: "Sift 15 pounds of cake flour with 10 ounces of cream of tartar and rub in 30 ounces of shortening. Add 1 gallon milk with 30 ounces of sugar and 5 ounces of soda, well dissolved, and mix well, adding 2-1/2 pounds small raisins. Scale in 10-ounce pieces, round up tight, then roll in disks about 3/5 of an inch thick, cut with sharp knife in four even pieces, and set on pans 1/4 inch apart. Wash with a strong yolk of egg wash. Let stand for a few minutes to recover, and bake in a fairly hot oven--400F to 450F."
By my reckoning, that should yield 12 dozen scones, each 2.5 ounces before baking. And the texture might be just a tad dense, considering the injunctions to "mix well" and "round up tight".
It is particularly interesting to read this some 75 years after it was first published, especially in light of today's movement to artisan breads. Mr. Richards primarily advocates white, soft, fluffy breads because that is what the buying public wants. For instance, he says "A dough fermenting at a high temperature develops ferments, causing sourness. The loaf will have a coarse, honeycombed structure, be poor in flavor and generally unsatisfactory." Sounds like the holy grail of many present-day bakers, doesn't it? He does provide a few formulas for whole grain breads (usually labeled "health" breads) and for sourdoughs. His "sourdoughs" are leavened with baker's yeast, beginning with a sponge for each batch, rather than maintaining a mother starter based on wild yeasts.
Even allowing for the continuing shifts in tastes and technologies, there is still a wealth of useful information in this volume. For those of you who are thinking of, or already in, the baking business, it would probably be a good acquisition if you can locate a copy. For home bakers, it isn't quite so helpful (many of the formulas and technique descriptions assume that the reader is already a skilled baker). Still, if you collect baking-related books, it would be an interesting addition for your bookshelf. Even more so if you have a scale and a penchant for math; then you could scale down most of the formulas to household-sized yields.