Lessons in Bread Making, Part I

Friday, January 30, 2009

Allie, my friend and expert on all things baking, saying, "Always triple the weight of active yeast when using a recipe that calls for instant yeast."

I was so proud of how my artisan boule loaf turned out yesterday that I jumped into a more complicated whole wheat sandwich bread recipe today, and holy cow! did it prove that I still have quite a lot to learn about bread making. I wanted to try a recipe that required kneading (I don't have a mixer with a dough hook) to test the difference in taste and texture.

After kneading this dough by hand for ten minutes or so (a serious ab and arms work-out), I proudly covered it with a damp cloth and waited. Many hours later, it was apparent that something had gone wrong. Since my friend Allie was over for dinner, she took a peak at the recipe and quickly determined the cause: I had used active yeast instead of instant yeast. Apparently, when a bread recipe calls for instant yeast and you only have active yeast, you must triple the measurement. And so I've learned something new, and have actually studied an online yeast thesaurus!

I'm really having a lot of fun with this new effort to make all of my own bread products (homemade croutons!), being motivated by several reasons to make as many foods from scratch as possible (look for a blog post on this soon), so I seriously can't wait to pick up some instant yeast tomorrow and try again at hand-kneading and baking my own whole wheat sandwich bread. I'm thinking tomorrow's loaf will turn out just right.

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