This basic ingredient is a living organism that breathes and eats just as we do. The breathing, which is fermentation, gives off carbon dioxide gas. Which when trapped in the gluten of the flour, causes the bread to rise.
Yeast is inactive when in its dry form, but as you add it to liquid and give it something to feed off of, it begins its work. Yeast likes to eat sugar, but it doesn’t like salt. It doesn’t do well in extremely hot temperatures. It is also prone to over-eating: too much sugar in a recipe can cause your yeast to slow down significantly instead of boosting it. When making your bread, it is a good practice to add the warm water, yeast, and sugar or sweetener first. Then let it sit for a few minutes to allow it to begin fermenting.
What type of yeast should you buy? The best is a good quality dry or instant yeast. If you buy it in bulk, it is usually fresher and much less expensive. You want to avoid the rapid rise yeast. It goes against good bread making. The longer the rise, the better the fermentation process resulting in better flavor.
How much sweetener do you need for your breads? Typically 1-2 teaspoons is sufficient when using 1-2 Tablespoons of yeast. Even though yeast makes its own food by converting the starch in four into sugar, a little quick fix of pure sugar right at the beginning is best to give it a kick start.
Flours–We talked about this a few units back
Bleached white flour:
Bleached flour is made using only one part of the grain: the endosperm. As we know the endosperm does not have much nutritional value, but it also turns out it can actually be harmful to our health. To bleach flour, it is chemically treated with a chlorine gas. The same chemical used to clean swimming pools is treating bleached flour!! The flour is treated with chlorine because it makes it that perfect white color that we’re accustomed to seeing. It also artificially “ages” the flour, which betters the taste.
Unbleached white flour: Use in moderation
Unbleached flour, just like the bleached variety, is only made from the endosperm so it contains very few nutrients. It is, however, allowed to age naturally, and isn’t bleached with chlorine. It is a much better alternative to bleached flour. Typically when you buy all purpose white flour—this is it.
Whole wheat flour: Best choice
Whole wheat flour uses all three layers of the wheat grain: bran, germ and endosperm. It contains high amounts of nutrients and lots of fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also slows down digestion, which makes us feel full faster and for a longer period of time so we are less prone to overeating. There is a white whole wheat flour that tastes very similar to white flour, but with the benefit of it being whole wheat as to not lose any nutritional value. This is our choice for flour.
What should you do if you are used to eating whole wheat flour, and you can’t imaging leaving your white flour behind?? Try removing bleached flour from your diet altogether. Whole wheat flour is the best choice, but if you’re not used to the taste of whole wheat flour, start gradually incorporating it into your cooking.
If a recipe calls for one cup of flour, use 3/4 cup unbleached flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour. Once you get accustomed to the taste, gradually increase the ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour. This will take time, but little by little you can increase your level of nutrition by taking some small steps.
Why do we need salt in bread recipes? You need it for flavor. If you forget to put it in your recipe, it will make your bread taste like cardboard. Salt brings out the flavor in food, just as in bread.
The liquid activates the yeast, and they combine with gluten to form the elastic strands that help bread to rise. If you add too little liquid you will get a hard, poorly risen loaf; the gluten in flour is tough and needs to expand. Too much liquid and you will get a loaf that rises, then collapses; the gluten has expanded and thinned too much
Fat gives bread a finer softer texture and helps keep bread fresher longer. You can use coconut oil, vegetable oil, shortening or lard.
Sometimes yeast raised breads use scalded milk or eggs added to the dough. These give more structure and strength to the loaf. It also gives added nutrition by providing whole protein.