Yeast Dough and Baking Tips

yeast bread

Flavour, aroma and texture are the quantities that account for the popularity of yeast bread and rolls. Yeast breads differ from quick bread in that they are leavened by yeast, a living organism, rather than baking soda and baking powder and are often much lower in fat and sugar. When mixed with water and sugar, the yeast ferments to produce carbon dioxide, filling the bread dough with tiny air bubbles. Water also combines with the gluten protein in the flour to form the elastic structure of the dough that traps the air bubbles and makes the bread rise.

History of Yeast

The bread of prehistoric to man is believed to have been flat and unleavened and probably baked over stones or by the sun. The Egyptians are credited with inventing the oven and discovering yeast leavening, a development probably made when a batter left in the hot sun attracted wild, air-borne yeast.

What is yeast?

Yeast is a leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise.

Salt regulates yeast growth and gives flavour.

Sugar acts as a yeast food and increases tenderness and browning and keeping qualities.

Liquid dissolves yeast and sugar and develops gluten.

Water doughs make a higher, crustier texture and better flavour and brown more quickly. Milk doughs also help make a complete protein.

Shortening keeps bread tender and fresh

Flour provides the structure of bread.

Baking Tips

  • For best results, use a high-protein bread flour. A flour too low in protein produces a loaf that is poor in volume and texture. When using a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, substitute with a little less bread flour (about one to two tbsp. less per cup) and increase kneading time to  about 12 to 15 minutes. Because the protein content of each brand of flour varies, each brand will react differently.
  • If the flour is old, it will cause a crumbly. ‘short’ dough.
  • Salt should never be omitted because it controls the action of the yeast. Besides having a very bland flavour, breads made without salt tend to over-rise and will have a different texture than breads made with salt.
  • The time required for dough development varies considerably, depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, yeast characteristics, flour characteristics and the kneading
  • Let dough rest 5 to 10 minutes after kneading to relax the gluten and make handling easier.
  • When adding wheat bran, wheat germ, bulgur or cracked wheat to a bread recipe, use about 1/4 cup of these products for every 2 cups of flour. Leave the bread as moist as possible, because these ingredients absorb liquid and tend to produce a drier loaf. Reduce the amount of kneading to avoid cutting the gluten strands with the sharp edges of these products
  • As the ratio of whole wheat flour to bread flour increases, so does the rising time. Don’t expect darker breads to double in bulk when they are fully fermented.
  • Vigorous beating before all of the flour is added hastens gluten formation. Kneading develops the gluten, forming a mesh that raps the gas produced by the yeast. Over-kneading stretches the gluten to the breaking point and destroys the gas-trapping mesh, but this is not possible by hand.
  • To test if the dough is sufficiently kneaded, poke the dough with your fingers; it should spring back. Sometimes blisters will form on the surface of the dough, which is another sign the dough is sufficiently kneaded.
  • To properly dissolve the yeast, follow package directions. The remaining liquids should normally be about 80 degrees F to 90 degrees F, if the flour is at room temperature. Ideal dough temperature is 78 degrees F, so on hot days, cooler liquids may be used; on colder days, warmer ones.
  • With bread making, exact flour measurements are impossible. Dough is affected by heat, humidity, sugar, altitude and possibly the personality and mood of the baker, if too little is used, the bread will not hold up and a low volume bread will result. It is difficult to make a serious mistake; errors often turn into inventions.
  • To slow the rising process, the dough may be placed in the refrigerator or cooler liquids may be used.
  • To quicken the second rising, place the covered bowl of dough in an oven heated with a pan of steaming water.
  • An ideal place to raise yeast dough is on top of the refrigerator; also, near, but not on the range. Keep dough covered with a cloth to protects from drafts during rising.
  • Making a yeast dough? You don’t have to bake it all the same day. Place dough in the refrigerator once it is mixed. The top should be well greased, then covered with wax paper, then a damp cloth. Be sure to keep the cloth damp. If made with milk and at least 1/4 cup sugar, it will keep about 3 days. If made with water it will keep about 5 days. Cut off as much dough as you need at a time.

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