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Friday, December 03, 2010

Ingredients for Homemade Bread

Yeast is a living plant which needs warmth and moisture to grow.
Dry yeast and yeast cakes are equally satisfactory. Dry yeast may be kept on the pantry shelf, but yeast cakes must be stored in the refrigerator and only for a limited time.

To soften yeast so that it will blend evenly with the dough, sprinkle or crumble it into luke-warm (110deg&;F.) water or milk and allow to stand a few minutes while the other ingredients are measured. If the liquid is too cold, the yeast will not grow. If it is too hot, the yeast will be killed.
The standard amount is 1 package of compressed yeast or 1 tablespoon dry yeast to each 2 cups of liquid in the recipe. This makes bread which is finished in 5 hours with two risings, or about 3 1/2 hours with one rising. To complete bread in 3 hours (or in 2 1/2 hours with one rising), use 2 tablespoons of yeast. To raise bread overnight, use only 1/4 tablespoon of yeast. Using the larger amount of "yeasty" taste-over rising does.

For perfect rolls and bread, the yeast must be allowed to grow just yeast must be allowed to grow just the right amount. See below for the description of this process.
Flours rich in gluten makes best bread because gluten makes the dough strong and elastic and able to expand with the growth of the yeast and the bubbles it makes. Bread flour is richest in gluten, but all purpose flour is widely used and is quite satisfactory. Other flours, such as rye or buckwheat, need to be combined with wheat flour to make good bread. One secret of making deliciously tender rolls and bread is to use as little flour as you can and still be able to handle the dough.
Milk or potato water makes bread of better flavor than plain water. The bread browns better, keeps fresh longer and is more nutritious. If you use raw milk, scald it to destroy the enzymes which may affect the action of the yeast.
Shortening makes bread more tender and adds to its flavor and keeping quality. Use butter, or any bland-flavored cooking oil or fat. If the mixture is especially rich, with eggs or more shortening, the action of the yeast is slower.

Sugar makes the dough rise more quickly and helps the crust to brown, but too much sugar slows the action of the yeast.

Salt is added for flavor. It slows the action of the yeast somewhat, so if you are making salt-free bread, remember that it will rise more rapidly.

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