Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baking with Yeast

Since I posted two recipes recently using active dry yeast I thought it would be helpful to talk about yeast and yeast breads. I have always loved bread and enjoyed making it. It actually doesn't require a lot of active time. Once the dough is made, you need a few minutes to shape it. After it rises a second time, it's time to bake.

Using my Kitchen Aid mixer to knead the dough makes the whole process even easier. After making the dough I switch to the dough hook and "knead" the dough about 3 minutes. After this, I place the dough on a lightly floured counter and knead it a minute or two. When it is smooth and elastic it's ready for rising.

Here's some info on yeast!

The most important step in baking yeast breads is using the proper temperature of water to activate the yeast. Because yeast is a living organism, it is easily killed by excess heat. When adding yeast directly to warm water, the water temperature should be between 105 and 115 degrees F. Use a thermometer to measure the water temperature to insure that the yeast is not killed.

Test warm tap water by sprinkling a few drops on the inside of your wrist. If it feels warm to you it is a perfect temperature for yeast. Adding warm water to yeast is called proofing because the yeast will begin to grow and produce gas “proving” that the yeast is alive. After opening yeast, store any remaining in the refrigerator and use by the date indicated on the package. Yeast past its expiration date won’t produce gas to leaven the dough.

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