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Bread making is a skill that is learned best with a reliable recipe and lots of practice. It can lead to wonderful homemade breads and rolls instead of store bought ones. Many people who make bread as a hobby enjoy the pleasant aromas provided by a freshly baked loaf of bread.
There are two basic yeast doughs, batter and kneaded.
Batter breads are really a shortcut way to make breads - they require no kneading. Kneaded breads require more time and energy than batter breads. However, both types of yeast dough must rise before shaping an dbaking; this allows the yeast to activate.
|Batter dough||Kneaded dough|
The baker can create breads of different textures, flavors, and colors just by knowing the nature and purpose of certain ingredients in breads.
Water is not really water; it has different characteristics depending on where it comes from.
There are two important points to make about using milk or milk derivatives as the liquid in a yeast dough.
Use the following options, if milk is your preferred choice of liquid.
Eggs can be used as another liquid in bread recipes. Eggs add extra protein, color, richness, and structure (just like the gluten in flour).
While most bread recipes call for fats or oils, they are not necessary to make bread. However, there is a trade-off. Bread made without fat stales very quickly. Adding a couple tablespoons of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil to the yeast dough makes a bread more tender and it will stay fresh for a longer time.
There are two important points about the use of salt in bread making.
Sweeteners have two functions in bread doughs; they provide:
If honey is used in a recipe that calls for one of the other sweeteners, lower the oven temperature by 25°F because honey tends to scorch; extend the baking time 5 to 10 minutes.
Sweet dough recipes call for a much larger proportion of sugar than a basic bread recipe. One would think that with so much sugar available, the yeast would grow uncontrollably. But the reverse actually happens. The yeast overdoses on the sugar; the chemical balance becomes upset. Hence, it takes a significantly longer time to double the bulk of the dough. To compensate for this problem, most sweet dough recipes specify twice the usual amount of yeast.
There are three types of yeast available.
Cake or Compressed Yeast
This is an early form of domesticated yeast developed in the 19th century that was especially suited for bread rather than beer. Cake yeast can still be found in some grocery stores. Some people feel it produces the breads with the best flavor.
Compressed cake yeast will keep in the freezer for a few months; defrost in the refrigerator before using. One cake of compressed yeast weighs slightly more than 1/2 ounce, and it can be used instead of 1 scant tablespoon or 1 packet of active dry yeast.
Active Dry Yeast
This is the most common form of yeast available. It has all the moisture removed so it can be kept for several months at room temperature or in the refrigerator; indefinitely in the freezer. Dry yeast becomes active when it is dissolved in liquid that contains a bit of sugar and flour.
One packet of active dry yeast is equivalent to 1 scant tablespoon of bulk active dry yeast or 1 cake of compressed yeast.
This is a higher protein strain of yeast that has been recently developed. Just like other dry yeast, it can be stored for a long time if kept cool and dry. It is blended with the other ingredients in the recipe and activated with very hot (125° to 130°F) water. This eliminates the proofing process where the yeast is activated by dissolving it in warm water. In addition, the rising process is speedier because the initial temperatures are warmer due to the very hot water.
One packet of quick-rising yeast can be used in place of 1 packet of active dry yeast. Keep in mind that bread flavor develops under a long leavening period; this may not be the best choice of yeasts since it speeds up the rising process.
There are many types of flour available on the market, however, wheat is the only grain whose protein produces significant amounts of gluten when it comes in contact with liquid. Gluten is the protein in the flour that forms the structural framework. It forms a complex interlocking network of elastic strands when it is kneaded in dough. These strands capture the carbon dioxide bubbles created by the growing yeast; that is what allows the dough to expand or rise.
The flavor and texture of breads can be altered by substituting the flour indicated in the recipe with other flours such as rye, buckwheat, triticale, barley, amaranth, and soy. Partially processed grains also can be substituted; they include cornmeal, oatmeal, steel-cut oats, cracked wheat, wheat germ or bran, barley flakes, or even cooked rice or millet. Some tips for using other grains in yeast doughs follow.
The following are some ideas for basic bread dough additions to make specialty breads.
A range of flour is given in most bread recipes to accommodate various flour conditions. Flour can gain or lose moisture depending on weather conditions and how it is stored. Think of flour as porous as a sponge, and then it is easy to understand that:
Dry flour is like a dry sponge; a dry sponge can soak up more water than a wet sponge. That means, that during cold, dry months, less flour is needed to make a dough; in hot, humid months, more flour is needed.
On rainy or stormy days, when the barometric pressure is
low, bread will rise more quickly than it usually would. This is because the
dough doesnt have as much air to push against; the air is
not as dense or heavy as it is on clear days.
Keys to successful yeast breads
|Finishing Touches for Bread|
|Try one of the following finishing touches to "dress" up bread that is risen and ready to bake.|
|For Bread With A:||Do This:|
|Crisp crust||Brush loaf gently with cold water before baking.|
|Shiny bronzed crust||Brush loaf gently wtih 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water before baking.|
|Shiny crust||Brush loaf gently with 1 egg white beaten with 2 teaspoons water before baking.|
|Golden crust||Brush loaf gently with 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water before baking.|
|Soft, tender, bronzed crust||Brush loaf gently with mlik before or after baking.|
|Softer, richer flavored crust||Brush loaf gently with a little melted butter before or after baking.|
|Slashed top||Just before putting the loaf in the oven, slash an oval loaf diagonally three or four times approximately 1/4-inch deep with a serated knife. Slash a round loaf twice one way and twice again at right angles across the first cuts.|
|Sprinklings||Brush loaf gently with 1 egg white beaten with 2 teaspoons water before baking. Sprinkle on one or more of the following: Kosher or course sea salt; herbal salt substitute; sesame, sunflower, or poppy seeds; minced garlic or onion; grated hard cheese; or chopped nuts.|
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Refrigerating Yeast Dough
Yeast dough made with water (except plain bread dough) can be refrigerated up to 5 days. However, if milk and at least 1/4 cup sugar was used, refrigerate for no longer than 3 days; the milk could sour. Mix dough as usual, place in bowl. Grease top well. Cover with moisture-proof wrap, then a clean, damp cloth. Keep cloth damp during the storage time. When ready to bake, shape the dough, let it rise until double (approximately 1 1/2 hours). Bake as recipe indicates.
Shaping Bread Dough for Loaves
Yeast dough baking tips
Bread and rolls should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place for no longer than 5 days. Refrigerate breads only in hot, humid weather.
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