Yeast Breads
There’s something magical about mixing flour and yeast with liquid and witnessing the transformation of the ingredients into a tempting loaf. Whether you enjoy the ritual of hands-on kneading or prefer the convenience of using a bread machine, it’s always satisfying to make bread at home.

Types of yeast
Yeast is the organism that makes bread rise. It reacts with the natural sugars in flour to create carbon dioxide gas, which is trapped in the dough and forces it to expand. Dry yeast comes in 1/4-ounce packages, jars, and in bulk. One 1/4-ounce package of dry yeast equals 2,1/4 teaspoons of fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is available in foil-wrapped 1-ounce cakes. It is very perishable; refrigerate and use within two weeks. Fresh and dry yeast become activated when mixed with warm water (105° to 115°F). Let the water-yeast mixture stand for about five minutes. It should look creamy, which indicates that the yeast is alive. Quick-rise yeast cuts the rising time of traditional yeast doughs by about 50 percent. This yeast requires very hot tap water (120° to 130°F) to be activated.
Know Your Flours
A variety of flours can be used for bread making. Different flours contain varying amounts of gluten, which is what gives dough its strength and elasticity. Wheat flours milled from hard winter wheat are high in gluten and great for bread making. Bread flour is made entirely from hard wheat and makes delicious, chewy, crusty loaves. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheats and yields a more tender bread. All-purpose flour is available unbleached and bleached. Bleaching somewhat reduces the amount of gluten. You can use either bread or unbleached all-purpose flour for bread, but you will need more all-purpose flour as it absorbs less liquid. Whole-wheat flour and rye flour are usually combined with bread or all-purpose flour in yeast doughs.
Mixing the Dough
When mixing bread dough, use a large glass or ceramic bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon, or a heavy-duty electric mixer. Use the paddle to make a soft dough, then switch to the dough hook to knead. Flour and yeast are the basic ingredients in bread making, but other ingredients play a role. Salt slows the rising and enhances the flavor of bread. Fat (butter, oil, or eggs) adds richness, moistness, and softness to the crumb. Milk gives bread a tender, sweet crumb, and sugar promotes tenderness and a golden crust. Because yeast works best in a warm environment, have all the ingredients at room temperature. The amount of flour needed to make a dough will vary according to the type of flour and the amount of humidity in the air (on a humid day, a dough will require more flour).

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