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Basic Techniques - How to Begin

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

How to Begin

Precise proportions and accurate quantities of leavening, water, and flour form the foundation on which all good bread is based. The rising agent, or leaven, is the key to transforming simple ingredients into a risen bread. In this guide, yeast, in either dry or cake form, is the most commonly used leaven. Yeast is a living organism that feeds on the sugar and starch present in flour to live and grow. The yeast produces carbon dioxide as it grows: this gas causes the bread dough to rise. Once activated in water, yeast will live for 15 minutes before it must be added to flour, the food source it requires to stay alive.


Measuring the ingredients

Accuracy is crucial when making bread. Measure all the ingredients carefully before you begin. Follow either nonmetric or metric measurements throughout the recipe. These two types of measurement are not interchangeable. For nonmetric, measure by cup, tablespoon, or teaspoon. With flour and other dry ingredients, level the top. For metric, use a clearly marked scale to weigh dry ingredients. With liquid ingredients, put a measuring cup on a flat surface and bend down so that the measure mark is at eye level.

Accuracy is crucial when making bread. Measure all the ingredients carefully before you begin. Follow either nonmetric or metric measurements throughout the recipe. These two types of measurement are not interchangeable. For nonmetric, measure by cup, tablespoon, or teaspoon. With flour and other dry ingredients, level the top. For metric, use a clearly marked scale to weigh dry ingredients. With liquid ingredients, put a measuring cup on a flat surface and bend down so that the measure mark is at eye level.


Preparing the yeast

Both dry and cake yeast must be dissolved in lukewarm water to activate. This should be done just before adding the yeast to the flour. Avoid using metal bowls or utensils to prepare the yeast. Metal can impart an unpleasant aftertaste to a yeast mixture.

Both dry and cake yeast must be dissolved in lukewarm water to activate. This should be done just before adding the yeast to the flour. Avoid using metal bowls or utensils to prepare the yeast. Metal can impart an unpleasant aftertaste to a yeast mixture.


Preparing instant Yeast

To use instant yeast, sprinkle it directly onto the flour. The yeast will activate once the liquid has been added. The standard method of mixing the dough must be followed, since the sponge method cannot be used with instant yeast.


Preparing dry yeast

Sprinkle dry yeast granules into a small glass bowl containing lukewarm water; let it dissolve for 5 minutes.

Once the yeast has dissolved, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. The yeast mixture is now ready to be added to the flour.


Preparing cake yeast

Use a wooden spoon to crumble the cake yeast in a small, glass bowl and add the water to it. As a general rule, the amount of water added to dissolve the yeast will be about a quarter of the water specified in the recipe.

Use a wooden spoon to cream the yeast until it dissolves in the water and forms a smooth, thoroughly blended paste. The yeast mixture is now ready to be added to the flour.


Water temperature

The ideal temperature for preparing yeast is 98.6°F (37°C). The easiest method for achieving this is to mix two-thirds cold tap water with one-third boiling water. Lukewarm water should be comfortable to the touch, not too hot, but not cool. An instant-read thermometer is a fail-safe method for checking the water temperature .

As a living organism, yeast is very sensitive to temperature. The temperature of the liquid you use to dissolve the yeast and to make the dough is crucial: too hot, and the yeast is killed; too cool, and its growth is inhibited.

Cool water can be helpful when conditions in the kitchen are extremely warm and you wish to slow down the rising process. Adding cool water to the yeast will inhibit the rate of fermentation, allowing the bread to rise at a normal rate when the room temperature is above normal.

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