Magazine article Sunset

Just How Fast Can You Produce a Loaf of Yeast Bread?

Magazine article Sunset

Just How Fast Can You Produce a Loaf of Yeast Bread?

Article excerpt

Just how fast can you produce a loaf of yeast bread?

No time! That's why most bakers or potentialbakers dismiss making yeast breads. Yeast manufacturers, however, have responded to busier life styles with a new, fast-acting dry yeast that, when used with a modified method for mixing and handling dough, will cut bread-making efforts in half.

But does this new yeast work appreciablyfaster? And how does it compare to doubling the quantity of regular yeast? What happens if you let dough rise only once? Most important, do timesaving techniques produce loaves as delicious as those made by traditional methods?

Spurred by these questions. Sunset editorstook to the test kitchen. What we discovered (many dozens of loaves later) will help you to turn out a loaf of tender bread in less than 60 minutes and definitely within 1 1/2 hours--about half the time required to make yeast breads by coventional methods.

The texture of these quick-method breads(see recipes for white and whole-wheat following) is slightly coarse, rather like whole-wheat bread, but the crumb (bite) is tender. Regardless of which short-cut method you use, the loaves' texture and flavor will be similar.

What you can do to speed up bread making

If you want to speed up standard yeast-breadrecipes, you have two ways to go: make changes in the yeast or alter the way you put the dough together.

Changing the yeast. One choice is to substitute1 package fast-acting dry yeast for 1 package regular active dry yeast; both kinds cost about the same. A different strain, quick yeast is also more finely ground and thus absorbs moisture faster, rapidly converting starch and sugars to carbon dioxide, the tiny bubbles that make the dough expand and stretch.

To speed things up even more you candouble the amount of regular yeast. The air bubbles tend to be slightly larger and less even; the yeast aroma and taste are a bit stronger, particularly in white bread.

Changing the method. Another timesavingstep is to skip softening the yeast in water. Instead, combine regular or fastacting dry yeast directly with the dry ingredients. All the liquids (including fat) are then heated to 130| (higher than the 110| optimum for softening yeast) and mixed with the dry ingredients. The dry ingredients cool the liquids enough to protect the yeast.

Conventional yeast dough rises or proofstwice, doubling in size each time. After the first proofing, usually about 1 hour, you knead the dough to force out the air bubbles, then shape it and let it proof again, usually at least 30 minutes. The second round of bubbles tends to be smaller and more even, and the bread bakes light and tender. Skipping the first proofing--or reducing it by 75 percent-- also saves time; the term for this shorter process is resting. With less proofing (resting), the breads we baked were a little denser; with no rest, they had a slightly "gummy' chew like English muffins. However, tasters approved the results of these shortcuts.

Other considerations or timesavers

Heating liquids. A thermometer is desirable.Or program a microwave oven and temperature probe to heat the liquids; you don't have to watch them.

Salt. Up to a certain point, salt inhibitsyeast activity and makes the bread texture finer. Add too much salt (usually an inedible amount), and the yeast barely works. With no salt at all, the dough rises faster, often overproofing before you expect; as a result, bread falls slightly when baked. Unsalted bread can have larger, uneven holes; the dough tends to feel stickier, too, and is harder to handle.

The recipes that follow call for minimalsalt, for flavor. You can double this quantity for taste, or leave it out. $Kneading. You knead dough to develop gluten, the elastic protein that permits wheat-flour bread to hold its shape when baked. Kneading takes only seconds in the food processor. …

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