Learn the basics of bread: yeast and flour

July 29, 2015

Making your own bread is very satisfying as well as making your home smell great. To get going  these tips will help.

Learn the basics of bread: yeast and flour

Bread-making equipment

You can pick and choose how deep your bread pans are and, if you wish, make the dough by hand. Get these pieces of equipment.

  • Heavy-duty mixer
  • Deep or shallow pans. The deeper the pan, the longer your dough will take to proof.
  • Your home oven probably doesn’t have enough space to bake all your bread at once so you’ll need to stagger preparation accordingly.

Bread ingredients

The basics ingredients in bread are yeast and flour. Yeast causes the dough to rise and the flour gives bread its substance.

All about yeast:

  • Yeast is a plant with millions of living cells. When it is placed in warm water and fed with sugar and flour, it quickly multiplies and emits carbon dioxide. This gas is what makes dough rise.
  • Yeast also provides bread with vitamins and minerals and gives it its pleasant aroma and tasty flavour.
  • Yeast comes in dried and compressed forms.
  • Dry yeast keeps for months so is convenient. You can buy it in handy sachets which are enough for one average loaf of bread.
  • Instant dry yeast, also called fast-rising yeast, withstands higher temperatures than compressed yeast, and you don’t need to mix it with water before you add it to the other ingredients. You just stir it through the flour.
  • You have to combine compressed yeast, often called fresh yeast in bread recipes, with warm water before you mix it in with the other bread ingredients. It has limited shelf life and in an airtight container will keep refrigerated for about 10 to 14 days.
  • Freezing is not an option for compressed yeast as this will destroy many if its cells.

All about flour

Flour provides the structure that holds the expanding yeast together. To be precise, it’s gluten or the sticky combination of proteins that provides this. You add gluten to bread in order to increase its protein content especially when bran or flours from grains other than wheat are used in the mix. You can pick up gluten from health food stores under the description of gluten flour.

  • Most baked goods are made with white flour, but some may contain a proportion of whole wheat flour, wheat germ or bran.
  • Flour from other grains such as rye, barley, corn and millet add variety and texture to bread. For your own speical mix, substitute up to 250 millilitres of the flour in the recipe with the flour mixture of your choice.
  • If you add more than this the result will be a very dense, unappetising, heavy loaf.
  • Wheat, and to a lesser extent rye, are the only two grains that contain the gluten-forming proteins necessary to make light, well-risen breads.

Easy bread

All you need to make your own bread is the right equipment and a few hours for preparation of the dough. If you add a few of your own recipe ideas, even better!


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