And This Bread

It was acclaimed for its flavor far and wide. It was usually either what the Deutsch called "mixed bread" or "sour dough" bread. The "sour dough," Scott described as the most common type. It consisted of a "mixture of wheat flour and potatoes, raised with domestic yeast, called 'sour dough,' which stayed soft, moist, and sweet [long after baking]; and it was they said, more healthful and palatable than the hot corn bread so commonly used by other people."' Vennie Mayer recollected that this "sour dough" yeast that Scott describes, was made by using the dust (which she called "rising powder") from the hop vine (which every Dutch Fork farm had one of) by taking the flowers and pouring boiling water over them, then letting sit, and straining. The hopdust solution was then mixed with a little cornmeal to make a dough, which was then pinched into dried "crumbles" for storage. When the bread was to be made, a little flour paste with some of this added to it was put in the bread mixture and the bread let rise. It was then baked in the Dutch oven. The Feagles also made their own "yeast cakes using our own home raised hops. No good housewife was ever caught without a hop vine. Sometimes we used liquid yeast made with Irish potatoes; but, generally we relied on the dried yeast cakes. Oh, how good they smelled as we patted them out and placed them on a board to dry. When thoroughly dry they were stored in a glass jar with the lid screwed down tight." For "mixed bread," one added cooked grits, or "a handful of scalded meal," a half cup of boiled mashed sweet potatoes per loaf, or other additions, to the bread mixture, which was then let rise, and baked. (Kibler, 1988)

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