TOAST.—Toasting, if properly done, renders bread more digestible, the starch being converted into dextrine by the toasting process; but by the ordinary method of preparing toast, that of simply browning each side, only the surfaces of the slices are really toasted, while the action of the heat upon the interior of the slice, it is rendered exactly in the condition of new bread, and consequently quite as indigestible. If butter is added while the toast is hot, we have all the dyspepsia-producing elements of new bread and butter combined. Although considered to be the dish par excellence for invalids, nothing could be more unwholesome than such toast. To properly toast the bread, the drying and browning should extend throughout the entire thickness of the slice. Bread may be thus toasted before an open fire, but the process would be such a lengthy and troublesome one, it is far better to secure the same results by browning the bread in a moderate oven.
Such toast is sometimes called zwieback (twice baked), and when prepared from good whole-wheat bread, is one of the most nourishing and digestible of foods. Directions for its preparation and use will be found in the chapter on “Breakfast Dishes.”
STEAMED BREAD.—Steaming stale bread is as open to objection as the surface toasting of bread, if steamed so as to be yielding and adhesive. It is not, perhaps, as unwholesome as new bread, but bread is best eaten in a condition dry and hard enough to require chewing, that its starch may be so changed by the action of the saliva as to be easily digested.
RAW POTATO YEAST.—Mix one fourth of a cup of flour, the same of white sugar, and a teaspoonful of salt to a paste with a little water. Pare three medium-size, fresh, and sound potatoes, and grate them as rapidly as possible into the paste; mix all quickly together with a silver spoon, then pour three pints of boiling water slowly over the mixture, stirring well at the same time. If this does not rupture the starch cells of the flour and potatoes so that the mixture becomes thickened to the consistency of starch, turn it into a granite-ware kettle and boil up for a minute, stirring well to keep it from sticking and burning. If it becomes too much thickened, add a little more boiling water. It is impossible to give the exact amount of water, since the quality of the flour will vary, and likewise the size of the potatoes; but three pints is an approximate proportion. Strain the mixture through a fine colander into an earthen bread bowl, and let it cool. When lukewarm, add one cup of good, lively yeast. Cover with a napkin, and keep in a moderately warm place for several hours, or until it ceases to ferment. As it begins to ferment, stir it well occasionally, and when well fermented, turn into a clean glass or earthen jar. The next morning cover closely, and put in the cellar or refrigerator, not, however, in contact with the ice. It is best to reserve enough for the first baking in some smaller jar, so that the larger portion need not be opened so soon. Always shake the yeast before using.