BREAD AND CAKES
THE ADVANTAGES OF WHOLEMEAL BREAD
People are now concerning themselves about the foods they eat, and inquiring into their properties, composition, and suitability. One food that is now receiving a good deal of attention is bread, and we ought to be sure that this is of the best kind, for as a nation we eat daily a pound of it per head. We consume more of this article of food than of any other, and this is as it ought to be, for bread is the staff of life, and many of the other things we eat are garnishing’s. It is said we cannot live on bread alone, but this is untrue if the loaf is a proper one; at one time our prisoners were fed on it alone, and the peasantry of many countries live on very little else. Not many years ago books treating of food and nutrition always gave milk as the standard food, and so it is for calves and babies. Nowadays we use a grain food as the standard, and of all grains wheat is the one which is nearest perfection, or which supplies to the body those elements that it requires, and in best proportions. A perfect food must contain carbonaceous, nitrogenous, and mineral matter in definite quantities; there must be from four to six parts of carbonaceous or heat and force forming matter to one of nitrogen, and from two to four per cent. of mineral matter; also a certain bulk of innutritious matter for exciting secretion, for separating the particles of food so that the various gastric and intestinal juices may penetrate and dissolve out all the nutriment, and for carrying off the excess of the biliary and other intestinal secretions with the fæces. A grain of wheat consists of an outer hard covering or skin, a layer of nitrogenous matter directly under this, and an inner kernel of almost pure starch. The average composition of wheat is this:—
Nitrogen 12 Carbon 72 Mineral Matter 4 Water 12 100
From this analysis we observe that the nitrogenous matter is to the carbonaceous in the proportion of one-sixth, which is the composition of a perfect food. Besides taking part in this composition, the bran, being in a great measure insoluble, passes in bulk through the bowels, assisting daily laxation—a most important consideration. If wheat is such a perfect food, it must follow that whole-meal bread must be best for our daily use. That such is the case, evidence on every side shows; those who eat it are healthier, stronger, and more cheerful than those who do not, all other things being equal. Whole-meal bread comes nearer the standard of a perfect food than does the wheaten grain, as in fermentation some of the starch is destroyed, and thus the proportion of nitrogen is slightly increased. The next question is, how shall we prepare the grain so as to make the best bread from it? This is done by grinding the grain as finely as possible with stones, and then using the resulting flour for bread-making. The grain should be first cleaned and brushed, and passed over a magnet to cleanse it from any bits of steel or iron it may have acquired from the various processes it goes through, and then finely ground. To ensure fine grinding, it is always advisable to kiln-dry it first. When ground, nothing must be taken from it, nor must anything be added to the flour, and from this bread should be made. Baking powder, soda, and tartaric acid, or soda and hydrochloric acid, or ammonia and hydrochloric acid, or other chemical agents, must never be used for raising bread, as these substances are injurious, and affect the human system for harm. The only ferment that should be used is yeast; of this the French variety is best. If brewer’s yeast is used it must be first well washed, otherwise it gives a bitter flavor to the loaf. A small quantity of salt may be used, but not much, otherwise it adds an injurious agent to the bread.
8B Ranch Cuisine