There once was a time when a homemaker’s reputation depended, in good measure, on her
ability to produce a good loaf of bread. Here’s a rhyming 1903 recipe designed to help the
new housewife meet with success.
“When a well-bred girl expects to wed, ’tis well to remember that men like bread. We’re
going to show the steps to take, so she may learn good bread to bake. First, mix a lukewarm
quart, my daughter, one-half o milk and one-half of water; to this please add two cakes of
yeast, or the liquid kind if preferred in the least.
“Next stir in a teaspoonful of nice clear salt, if this bread isn’t good, it won’t be our fault.
Now add the sugar, tablespoons three; mix well together, for dissolved they must be. Pour
the whole mixture into an earthen bowl, a pan’s just as good, if it hasn’t a hole. It’s the cook
and the flour, not the bowl or the pan, that ‘makes the bread that makes the man.’
“Now let the mixture stand a minute or two, you’ve other things of great importance to do.
First sift the flour use, the finest in the land. Three quarts is the measure, ‘Gold Medal’ the
brand. Next stir the flour into the mixture that’s stood, waiting to play its part, to make the
bread good. Mix it up thoroughly, but not too thick; some flours make bread that’s more like
“Now grease well a bowl and put the dough in, don’t fill the bowl full, that would be a sin’ for
the dough is all right and it’s going to rise, till you will declare that it’s twice its size. Brush
the dough with melted butter, as the recipes say; cover with a bread towel, set in a warm
place to stay two hours or more, to rise until light, when you see it grow, you’ll know it’s all
“As soon as it’s light place again on a board; knead it well this time. Here is knowledge to
hoard. Now back in the bowl once more it must go, and set again to rise for an hour or so.
Form the dough gently into loaves when light, and place it in bread pans greased just right.
Shape each loaf you make to half fill the pan, this bread will be good enough for any young
“Next let it rise to the level of pans–no more, have temperature right, don’t set near a door.
We must be careful about draughts; it isn’t made to freeze, keep the room good and warm–
say seventy-two degrees. Now put in the oven–it’s ready to bake–keep uniform fire, great
results are at stake. One hour more of waiting and you’ll be repaid, by bread that is worthy ‘a
well bred maid.'”