I’ve been reading a few cookbooks about bread making and it’s actually pretty interesting. It appears that the basic process and ingredients for bread making are the same with a few slight differences according to the type of bread you are hoping to create. There seems to be large conversation about the kind of yeast you use and people seem to be divided into some clear yeast camps. This is what I know about yeast:
• Types of Yeast:
· Cake Yeast- the traditional yeast; needs to be dissolved in water. Typically used by high-end bakers and can be sold in bulk.
· Active Dry Yeast- the traditional dry yeast needs to be dissolved usually with a bit of sugar. Some people report that they would only use this kind of yeast if they wanted the bread to have a sweet overtone. Active dry yeast has to be rehydrated first. (Use water that is no hotter than what you can comfortably put on the back of your wrist. If the water temperature is higher than 49C(120F), the yeast will start to die.)
· Instant Yeast– contains a bit of yeast enhancer (citric acid, maybe some other stuff?) and is possibly more concentrated than active dry; does not need to be dissolved. This seems to be the most popular kind of yeast by most bakers, according to cookbooks and blogs, and it can just be tossed into the mix as a dry ingredence and does not need to proof.
· Bread Machine Yeast- exactly the same as instant, just in a different package. Some bloggers use bread machine yeast as an all purpose yeast and use outside of their bread makers.
· Rapid Rise Yeast-larger amounts of yeast enhancers and other packaging changes to the granules. Does not have to be dissolved. Works very fast and its intended for straight dough that you want to complete within an hour or so. Generally not used by artisan bakers who seek slower, not faster, rise.
· Bread flour- is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.
· All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheat, and has a bit less protein than bread flour — 11% or 12% vs. 13% or 14%. You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour, but would not be nearly as good made with bread flour
· Whole Wheat flour is simply wheat that has been milled into flour with some, or all, of the germ and bran still attached. Different varieties of wheat contain different amounts of protein, and the more protein is contained in the flour, the higher gluten it has.
· Self raising flour is generally all purpose flour that has had baking powder mixed in, and do not require any additional baking powder to be added when making biscuits, pancakes or muffins.
I am glad that I spent some time chatting with Melinda and Ben about the basic bread making process before I dove into the reading. Their instruction and scaffolding have made all of the difference in helping reduce my uneasiness about yeast. I am finding that it is important for me to couple conversation with independent reading. I need to process verbally and its great to have someone who I can ask clarifying questions.