The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Old Bread Books

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Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

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.

Rosalie

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Rosalie,

Thanks for sharing your indexing project, your thoughts...and a pleasant trip back in time.  I know what you mean about: "...tour of these old books points out all the bad information I learned from them."  I was searching for a recipe not long ago and picked up Beard on Bread (he also wrote; Beard on Pasta, which I also have) and with all due respect to James Beard, after looking through the recipes I can't figure out why Beard on Bread was such a big seller.  Guess you had to be there. 

I also have a lot of old cook books I've collected over the years and some old baking books too.  The old baking books are the ones that are really dated.  The new bread baking books for artisan baking, the techniques (stretch and fold, small amounts of yeast, longer fermentation times, retardation, etc.) have really changed the way we make and bake breads, along with bread machines, amazing new home mixers, digital thermometers, etc.  It's like there's a revolution going on in baking here in the U.S. Sort of reminiscent of the 60's when Julia Child launched the French Chef cooking program on Bostom Public Televison and nothing was ever the same for serious cooks. 

Our old bread baking books serve as a benchmark that show how far we've come in such a short time.  One of my favorite old bread books is The Complete Bread Cookbook by Ted and Jan Kaufman.  There a couple of really good recipes from this book that come out even better when using the new (new to me) techniques.  This book also has recipes for (as you mentioned) Gluten Bread, Enriched Gluten Bread and Quick-and-Easy Gluten Bread---and nearly every recipe calls for "knocking down the dough".  Those were the days :>)

Thanks for sharing.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Funny you should mention the Kaufman book, Howard.  That's the book that I was working on when I was inspired to write my treatise.

It's your favorite?  I was cursing it as I went through it.  It uses too many of what I call "compound" ingredients - mixes, cinnamon sugar, the like.  I keep simple ingredients in my house, no mixes (I won't even make one myself because it would limit my options).  One recipe called for garlic salt - as well as salt and garlic powder.  I don't have garlic salt.  And it wouldn't have hurt them to have a recipe for cinnamon sugar, they use it so often.

Another problem with old recipe books is dated ingredients.  I'm still not sure what to substitute for Orleans molasses (a different book, from the 1940s).  And sources of specialized ingredients have gone out of business or discontinued the specialized ingredient.

I'm glad, though, that you appreciate my point.  Any particular recipes in The Complete Bread Cookbook that you recommend?

Rosalie

holds99's picture
holds99

Rosalie,

The pages are coming loose from my book but I still use it on occasion.  There are a couple of recipes that I think are real winners and I still bake on a fairly regular basis. 

My favorite is Bread Of My Childhood (page 34).  It's a great recipe.  It reminds me of  brioche.  I add finely grated zest of an orange to the milk mixture as it's cooling and double the amount of orange blossom honey.  I also vary the recipe by adding white raisins and make it as raisin bread.  I have a note on the recipe to add the yeast (which they forgot to put in the recipe instructions) after cooling the scalded milk mixture.  Although, I have never done it I don't see why powdered milk couldn't be mixed into liquid milk and substituted.   If you're using instant yeast you could just mix it into the first two cups of flour as you're making the dough. 

Also, the Whole Wheat Bread (page 99) is excellent.  I also have a note to mix the butter and honey into the milk while the milk is hot.  Just before: "cool to lukewarm".  I had noted, on the recipe, that I first made this one on 2-20-1974.  Wow!  Time flies :.

How>)ard

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I'll have to try those.  But I can't be picky about the kind of honey I use.

I don't imagine you've vetted out all the errors in this book.  If the two recipes you like best omit instructions, there must be a lot more of that in there.  Some things just don't change.

Rosalie

holds99's picture
holds99

Not long ago I went on-line and downloaded two pages of corrections to Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible, from her website home page...and went through and noted each correction in the book.  Then a few weeks ago I still found an error in her Cinnamon Raisin Bread that wasn't in the downloads.  Like you said, some things never change.  Maybe Rose needs to spend less time in Europe lecturing and more time here at home in recipe testing/edit mode.

Hang in there and best of luck with your compilation.

Howard

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Howard, I tried the whole wheat recipe.  It's been a few weeks since I made it, but I'm still eating the mini-loaves out of the freezer.  I know I used all fresh-ground whole wheat and no white flour.  I don't remember any other changes, but I probably cut back on the yeast (from the 2 packages called for) may have done some refrigerator-rising.  I know I was baking rye bread at the same time, and I'm sure I did them both over a 2-3 days.

Bottom line is that it turned out great.  Boo on people who say you have to add white flour to get a good rise.  And it's really tasty.  I might still cut back a tad on the honey.

Rosalie

holds99's picture
holds99

It's one of my favorite whole wheat recipes and I think it stands up there with any of the other WW recipes that I have baked.  It sure makes great sandwiches and wonderful toast.

If you try Bread of My Childhood (don't forget to add the yeast, it's missing from the recipe directions, as I recall) add the grated zest of a thick skinned orange.  It gives it some zip.  I have also added raisins to this bread and it turns out great.  I usually use the large golden raisins or golden mixed with dark raisins.

Howard

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

Hi Howard: True Confessions time: I was there! 

When I was learning to bake bread, Beard on Bread was my absolute favorite, my one and only.  Ok, so I was 13 at the time.  I think when the book came out, it was a revelation because up to that time, there were space age TV dinners, Betty Crocker (who was a step up from TV dinners), Fanny Farmer (who gave almost no instructions on how to do anything), and Julia Child/Simone Beck (who gave 3 pages of instructions on how to make anything). 

Beard was a nice bridge, conveying the message that there was an authentic "American Cuisine" that could be prepared by the average person without special equipment, and that it was worthwhile preparing real, tasty food made with basic, widely available ingredients.  Joy of Cooking, despite its flaws, served a similar function.  I still have BOB on my shelf, next to an original Fanny Farmer, a reprint of JOC, and Vol I of Child/Back...I couldn't bring myself to spring for Betty (her ever-changing hairdos scared me).

Needless to say, 35 yrs later I have grown up a bit...I now rely on Hamelman, Leader, and Reinhart for guidance :-) 

However, I;m hanging on to my fond memories of Beard's Cheese Bread, which I would make with extra-sharp cheddar and several dashes of tabasco or cayenne.  Try it!

Windi

Philadelphia PA

holds99's picture
holds99

I didn't mean to sound like I was short-changing Mr. Beard's book.  On the contrary, I believe his book was one of the first major stepping stones that led us to where we are today in baking.  As the old saying goes, every journey starts with a small step.  You're right, as far as baking was concerned.  In those days (70's) if someone was looking for a baking recipe it was mostly Betty Crocker, Joy of Cooking or a family recipe from a relative or friend.  Then Beard came along with BOB providing a compact bread baking book of recipes that was, for its time, simple and easy to execute.  He found a market and sold a lot of copies.  I bought a copy and used it for years.  I remember really liking his Cuban Bread and Mother's Raisin Bread recipes.  He also provided some "how to do it" sketches, which were very helpful.  His recipes were mostly direct method recipes, nothing exotic or complicated, which was the beauty of his book.  Almost every recipe in Mr. Beard's book begins with 1 or 2 packages of dry yeast, warm liquid (water or milk), and a small amount or sugar or honey to get the yeast cranking.  Life was good.

During that period it was pretty slim pickings when it came to innovative baking.  Then, sometime in the late 80's I found and purchased Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads and that was an epiphany, of sorts, for me.  I baked often from Mr. Clayton's book and as a result really got hooked on baking.  Don't know if you're familiar with his book but there are some of his recipes that are right up there with any of the recipes in the new baking books; Pain Ordinaire Careme (a daily loaf), Pain De Compagne Madame Doz (Madame Doz Peasant Loaf) and Loyalist Bread made with blueberries, which is wonderful.  

As for Betty Crocker, she gets a new makeover (hairdo, dye job, new face, etc. giving her a new up-to-date look) every ten or so years to keep her "in step".  I'm thinking the folks who do the marketing for Betty C. should consider something along the lines of a Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton look for their next go round :>)  Only kidding.  She's a national treasure like Elvis---and winning 1st prize in her annual Bake Off is good for a cool million $$$$, which you can't get at Graceland.

I'll try Beard's Cheese Bread...Promise. 

Thanks, 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

I did have the pleasure of borrowing Clayton's book from the library when I began my "Artisanal Bread" adventures, earlier this year.  I must agree, it is comprehensive and also user friendly...I was able to try a three or four recipes during the 3 wks I had it and was delighted with the results.  Must admit it was hard to choose what to make!  But any book that includes authentic recipes for some of the rarer breads I enjoy: Swiss rolls, Hungarian farmer's bread (forgive me if I don't recall the exact names) merits my respect.

Unfortunately, I blew my annual cookbook budget early.  Fortunately, I have access to good used bookstores and if Clayton's book comes on the market for a good price, I'm adding it to my collection.

Windi

Philadelphia PA

ejm's picture
ejm

Have you included The Joy of Cooking in your indexing? My copy is the 1975 edition (I also have the 1962-64 two paperbacks edition) and there is a "rye sourdough" bread recipe in there that is really excellent. It does call for commercial yeast. (So does their "basic sourdough" recipe.) I've made ithe JoC rye bread with commercial yeast and with wild yeast. Both versions are stellar (here is my wild yeast take on the bread). This particular JoC rye bread recipe is in the 1962 paperbacks as well - don't know if it is the earlier ones too.

And I still use a slightly altered version of the sandwich bread my mom made all through our school years. The recipe is from a "Five Roses Flour" pamphlet she got sometime in the 1960s. The only significant change that I've made to that recipe is to use olive oil instead of butter.

However, I agree with you, Howard, that there have been a lot of great things like autolyse, stretch and fold, cool rise, etc. etc. outlined in later books. The ingredients lists for lots of breads still hold up though, whether the recipe was published in the 1900s (or even before) or the 2000s. It's not as if bread making is a new pursuit. There is a lot to be learned from the older books too. (One just has to be prepared to disregard some instructions - and that isn't just for older books. Some of the newer books have instructions that can and should be disregarded as well.)

-Elizabeth

P.S. Petpeeves: For instance, any recipe that says that a small amount of sugar is required to get yeast to activate is incorrect. Any recipe that says a rising bowl has to be oiled or the dough won't come out is incorrect. (Every time we tip our risen bread dough out of the bowl for shaping, we sarcastically exclaim, "Oh no! I forgot to oil the bowl. WHAT am I going to do?)

Sandwich Bread Dough

P.P.S. I was just reading Julia Child's memoir "My Life in France" and she wrote that in the 1st printing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (vol2), she advocated baking French-style bread on an asbestos pad to mimic a real French oven. Virtually at the same time the book was published, the findings about the dangers of asbestos were published. Child said they sweated about it being there. Apparently, a few other corrections were made for the subsequent printings of MAFCvol2 but the one about the asbestos was done quietly with the hopes that nobody had noticed it in the first place.

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

I took my 11 yr old to a bread baking class in June and the instructor stated she lived and breathed the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown.  Just reading the book makes me want to put on tie-dye and listen to Jim Morrison and The Doors (don't worry, I'm not smoking anything...).  But I think it was also a trend-setter, the first plunge into whole grains for a lot of people outside of the granola set.

The other book I want to mention is a pastry/cookie book--no breads at all--but is out of print and a source of pure ethnic nostalgic pleasure for me:  Festive Baking, by Sarah Kelly Iaia.  It is a collection of Swiss, German, and Austrian goodies that Iaia collected from co-workers and friends when she worked overseas.  I do my cookie baking atr Christmas, so haven't tried many recipes yet, but it all sounds so delicious and I can just picture my great-grandfather and his helpers making sheets of Lebkuchen (who knew there were regional differences in recipes?) or Schlupfkuechlein (fried pasta dough) from their little bakery in Austro-Hungary. 

The Wasserbretzli (water wafers, similar to pizzelle) are a hit in my house.  Gosh, I'm getting hungry...

 

Windi

Philadelphia PA

holds99's picture
holds99

Elizabeth,

I agree with your "Petpeeves".  However, I still find myself oiling the container, usually a plastic bucket of one size or another, for ciabatta dough and other wet doughs.  Old habits die hard. 

Speaking of Julia Child, I bought my first real cookbook, Mastering the Art Vol. I in 1968 and was so impressed with the book that I wrote Julia Child a letter thanking her for doing such a great job on the book and telling her how much I enjoyed The French Chef program.  Anyway, I never expected to hear back from her.  Then about a month later I received a very nice letter, which I still have taped in the front of Mastering the Art Vol I, dated May 7, 1968) from Ruth J. Lockhart, Producer of The French Chef, which basically thanked me for my letter and telling me Julia was in France working on Master the Art Vol. II and she would see that she got my letter. 

Shortly before she died Julia was on Larry King Live, which I rarely watch unless there's someone of "real" interest on the show.  So, Larry asked Julia about her time at Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris and Julia launched into a stinging attack on Madame Brassard, the Director and owner of Cordon Blue saying she wasn't even French, she was Belgian and only interested in money.  I think what was happening there was the collision of 2 distinctly different cultures.  Julia attended the school sometime in the 1950's, I think, and 50 years later she was still hot about Madame Brassard.  Must have been one hell of a disagreement they had. 

Anyway, I attended Cordon Bleu in Paris in the late 1970's and Madame Brassard, in her 80's at the time, was still there as owner and Director of the school and participated in the final exams for the Grand Diplome.  Madame Brassard studied under Henri' Pallaprat, who was the first chef at Condon Bleu starting in the late 1800's.  Based on my experience with Madame Brassard, and I saw her nearly every day, she had certainly mellowed since Julia's time at the school. 

Right down to the end Julia never lost her touch.  She was an Horatio Alger story..with pots and pans :>)  I miss her.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Prairie19's picture
Prairie19

Rosalie,

Your post on old cookbooks prompted me to dig out an old U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet on home baking that my grandmother had used. It was issued in 1925 and revised in 1931. It sold for 5 cents.

In 14, very yellowed and mouse-chewed pages it contains a surprising amount of information: flour and mill products, measurements, yeast, yeast breads, straight-dough method, sponge method, baking temperatures, how to make a home-grown starter (using potatoes, water, yeast, sugar and salt) -- as well as recipes for yeast breads, quick breads, rolls, waffles, griddle cakes, fritters, muffins, gingerbread, biscuits, pie crusts, butter cake, etc.

My grandmother used her wood burning kitchen range well into the 1950's and was a wonderful baker.

 

Prairie19

 USDA Bulletin on Home BakingUSDA Bulletin on Home Baking

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Have you tried baking anything from it?  It looks like it requires TLC.

Rosalie

Prairie19's picture
Prairie19

I've made graham rolls using the sponge method and instant yeast instead of the "dried yeast cakes" specified in the pamphlet. I've never seen dried yeast cakes. Are they still available?

Prairie19

 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== 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. ===

I read _Laurel's Kitchen_ in the early 1980s and thought it was interesting but quite extreme. Of course today we know that anyone who had followed its advice would have missed the adventures of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and many other wonders of processed foods that we now have to pay a high price to eliminate from our diets. Even the first edition (which is a bit heavy on fat) was far, far ahead of its time on nutrition and tasty+healty eating patterns.  The appendices of both editions of _Laurel's Kitchen_ have the most accessible nutrtion analysis of any non-academic reference on the market.

sPh

apprentice's picture
apprentice

There's a hoot of a chapter titled "Darling, Where Did you Put the Cardamom" in Levenstein's Paradox of Plenty, that discusses the food trends of the period we're discussing and how they morphed into the present. Fascinating stuff, I guess especially to those of us who lived through it.

We've come a long way, baby! Interestingly enough, returning now to some of the ancient ways of making bread.

Carol