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Yeast Breads

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  • At what temperature should my yeast be activated?

    Yeast is sensitive to the right temperature of 105° to 115° F. Too much heat will kill the yeast and too cold a temperature will retard its growth. Either way the bread won't rise.

  • Can compressed and active dry yeast be used interchangeably in bread recipes?

    Yes, use 1 package or about 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast for one 0.6-ounce cake of compressed yeast. Compressed yeast can be softened in milk; but when using dry yeast, it needs to be softened in water.

  • Can I freeze dough before I bake it?

    No, home freezers are not designed for the quick freezing required for unbaked dough to ensure satisfactory rising and baking. It is better to bake the bread and then freeze it.

  • Can I freeze my loaf of yeast bread?

    Yes, yeast breads can be frozen up to 2 months. Be sure the bread is cool before wrapping it and placing in the freezer.

  • Can I knead my dough with an electric mixer or food processor?

    Yes, if your equipment has the correct attachments. Check the manufacturer's directions.

  • Can I use cake or pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour when I make my breads?

    No! Cake and pastry flour are made of soft wheat and they are too delicate for bread making.

  • How can I prevent my bread from browning too much on top before its done baking?

    Cover the browned top loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking until bread tests done.

  • How do I know my yeast is fresh? How do I test yeast?

    Testing yeast determines it freshness. To test yeast, dissolve a small amount of yeast in 105° to 115° F water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand 5 minutes. If it bubbles, then the yeast is good.

  • How do I refrigerate sweet roll dough?

    Mix the dough, grease the top well, cover with plastic food wrap, and a damp cloth; keep the cloth damp. Refrigerate up to 3 days if dough contains 1/4 cup sugar or more. When ready to bake, cut off as much dough as needed and shape into rolls; let rise in warm place until double in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Bake as directed in recipe.

  • In what kind of pans should I bake my bread?

    Anodized aluminum, darkened metal, or glass pans are best for producing well-browned crusts. Bread baked in a shiny pan will tend to not brown during baking.

  • What are some tips about how to achieve a special crust on my yeast bread?

    • Crisp Crust: Before baking, brush tops of loaves with water. Bake on heated baking tiles or a baking stone (available at kitchen supply stores).
    • Golden Crust: Before baking, brush tops of loaves with a mixture of 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk, beaten together.
    • Soft, Tender Crust: After baking, brush tops of loaves with softened or melted butter.
    • Glazed Crust: Before baking, brush tops of loaves with a mixture of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water, beaten together.
    • Hearth Crust: Before baking, sprinkle tops of loaves with grains or dust with flour.

  • What if I don't knead the bread dough long enough?

    The bread will be coarse, heavy, crumbly, and dry.

  • What is active dry yeast?

    This yeast is granular and, because it is dry, has good storage qualities. This yeast comes dated and, if kept in a cool place, will hold for 4 to 6 months. It is sold both in 1/4-ounce packages and 4-ounce jars. After a jar of yeast is opened, put cover on tightly and store it in the refrigerator.

  • What is compressed yeast?

    This form of yeast comes as a moist cake that weighs about 2/3 of an ounce. It is light grayish-tan in color and crumbles readily. Store the fresh yeast up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. In the freezer, it will keep about 2 months.

  • What is quick rise yeast?

    The granules of this form of yeast are a more active strain of dry yeast. This yeast is sold in 1/4-ounce packages and 4-ounce jars.

  • What is sourdough bread?

    Sourdough, named for its unique flavor, has a slightly sour flavor. The bread won fame in the gold rush days when each prospector carried his own pot of yeast starter (a mixture of yeast, water and flour) for making breads and griddle cakes.

  • What should I do if my dough is too elastic to roll out?

    When dough springs back again and again as you roll it out, just cover it with a towel and allow it to rest 5 or 10 minutes. Dough will relax and roll out more easily.

  • Why do recipes give a range for the amount of flour required?

    All-purpose flours differ in their ability to absorb liquid due to crop differences. They also differ in ability to absorb liquid depending on the daily weather conditions. For example, flour will absorb some of the moisture in the air on a humid day. Always use the lesser amount given in a recipe first and then add more as needed. Good dough is firm, elastic, and smooth. Too much flour will produce a stiff, lifeless dough.

  • Why does bread fall in the oven?

    Bread falls in the oven for two main reasons:

    1. The dough was left to rise too long. It should only be allowed to double in size.
    2. The flour was low in gluten so the dough could not rise.

  • Why does dough fail to rise?

    Dough can fail to rise for a variety of reasons. They include:

    • Active dry yeast was dissolved in milk. For best results, use 1/4 cup water to dissolve each packet of yeast.
    • The temperature of liquid ingredients was too warm or too cold. For best results, use a thermometer.
    • Inaccurate measurement of ingredients.
    • Poor dough structure (low gluten). Wheat flour (all-purpose or bread flour) contains the protein gluten which gives the bread structure. Large amounts of molasses, brown sugar, fruits and fruit juices contain acids which may inhibit gluten development. Inadequate kneading can also contribute to poor dough structure.
    • Baking ingredients were too cold. Flour and other ingredients should be brought to room temperature before use.
    • Bread was set to rise in an area that is too hot or cool. Yeast doughs generally rise best in a draft-free place at temperatures between 80° and 95° F.

  • Why does my bread have a coarse texture?

    The dough or the shaped loaves may have risen too long or were not kneaded long enough.

  • Why is there a big air pocket under the top crust of my loaf of bread?

    This usually happens when dough is allowed to rise too long.

  • What is batter bread?

    Batter bread is a shortcut, no-knead yeast bread. Ingredients are simply mixed, then the batter is spread in a pan to rise and bake.