Old Bread Books
Consider me a sucker for punishment. I'm indexing all my bread recipes: which book, what page, a quick ingredient summary. I am on my 36th book (almost done with the Bread books, then on to Baking, and finally General cooking), and I have over 4000 recipes; not all are bread or even baking - some are icings, sauces for pizza, etc. I got the idea from a comment Floyd dropped idly some time back.
It's been fun seeing what recipes I have. Some of these books have never gotten a decent look-see, but now I'm making interesting-looking recipes out of them.
I learned baking first by osmosis from my mother in the 1950s and early 1960s. Then I absorbed the culture of the 1970s, which included, for me, all the Mother Earth stuff like baking your own bread. I thought looking through these older books would prove nostalgic, and it has in a negative sense. I vaguely remember ideas about sourdough starters and health, and this tour of these old books points out all the bad information I learned from them.
With rare exception, all the sourdough recipes use yeast. Starters start with commercial yeast. One starter even uses salt - and that one's used in "Prospector's Sourdough Bread"! I know durn well the prospectors didn't use commercial yeast; and salt?
Then there's blackstrap molasses and brewer's yeast. I blindly kept these items around because they were so "healthy" - even if unpalatable.
I never heard of gluten bread before - at least I don't remember hearing of it. But now I've found it in two old sources (one being Beard on Bread). Both of them classify gluten bread as health food. Beard says it's dietetic and good for diabetics; this other book says it's "practically sodium-free".
Which brings me to The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. It's from that era (well, 1984, anyway). I would have expected that book to be similarly full of questionable information. But it's not. It's an excellent book, possibly the beginning of the "postmodern" era of home bread baking.
Back in the 1970s, when I was in my twenties, I was quite vulnerable. I absorbed information like this religiously and was paranoid about disregarding it. I'm glad I'm smarter now.