Making Bread Soothes the Palette and the Soul

| 3/25/2015 9:33:00 AM

Country MoonNothing says home like the aroma of homemade bread straight from the oven. This task that used to be a necessity but lost its significance as commercial bakeries came into being is now making a comeback as folks are realizing the health benefits and pleasures of making their bread from scratch.

Yeast, of course, is the ingredient that makes bread rise and can offer challenges of its own for bakers who do not understand the basics. I have actually heard people say they were scared to try yeast recipes because they thought they just looked too hard. On the contrary, working with yeast offers many unique rewards.

Yeast is just one of many leavening agents that make baked goods rise. Baking powder and soda are two more common ones which do not require kneading and rising time like yeast. Have you ever watched someone kneading dough? The rhythmic movements of “working the dough,” as it is called, take a person back to the days when men and women actually worked with their hands to create baked delights that just say “home.”

What I didn’t know through the years is that yeast is really a microscopic, single-celled fungus that is used to make bread, wine and beer. Bet all those people who say they don’t eat mushrooms because they don’t eat fungus didn’t know this!

Like most things, nothing is as simple as it first appears to be. Yeast isn’t just yeast. There are actually four main categories; compressed fresh yeast, Brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast and active dry yeast.

Fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast is mostly used by professionals because it is highly perishable and must be used in a short time after opening. When used in making breads and pastries, it greatly improves the grain, texture and flavor of the dough.

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