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electricsky's avatar

Anyone here ever made their own bread...?

Asked by electricsky (825points) May 8th, 2009

I’m about to make my own bread (meep!), since I have nothing else to do and I have all the things I need (I think?). Anyway, this is the recipe (the most basic one I could find – no need to over complicate things my very first time)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/8 cup water
The thing is, I have two different kinds of yeast. I don’t know which one to use. I have active dry yeast and fast rise yeast. Which kind of yeast should I use?

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12 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

I have only ever baked bread with active dry yeast, I have never used the fast rise variety. I can tell you this: the key to baking bread is the temperature of the water you mix the yeast with. It has to be warm enough to activate the yeast yet not so hot as to keep it from activating it.

In case you are interested, a great book on bread is Beard on Bread by James Beard. It is full of great bread recipes and lots of great tips for baking bread. IMHO there is nothing more tasty than a slice of home made bread right out of the oven smothered with butter! Good luck and enjoy!

chyna's avatar

@SuperMouse You are so right. Hot bread right out of the oven… So glad I can’t seem to make it right or I would weigh a ton.

shrubbery's avatar

I have a couple of times, taught by locals in a rural village in the mountains of Lesotho. From my experience, SuperMouse is right, the temperature of the water is important. When we didn’t know this, our bread came out all doughy and sticky still, even though it had been cooking for forever. Then again, I don’t think we had the paraffin stove on high enough either. The trick is to get the right combination of all the variables for what you’ve got.

janbb's avatar

What doe the recipe tell you to do with the yeast and how long does it rise for? If the recipe calls for you to put the yeast in warm water and then the bread has to rise for an hour (and sometimes be punched down and rise again), they are looking for you to use the active dry yeast which is the standard kind to use.

Darwin's avatar

@SuperMouse – Beard on Bread is an excellent book with one caveat – the man really. really liked salt. I found that I need to cut the quantities of salt in half to produce a palatable bread. However, once I adjusted the salt I found his recipes otherwise were terrific.

@shrubbery – I suspect your problem was that the stove wasn’t hot enough. If the yeast isn’t activated you get a solid brick as no gas bubbles are produced to make it rise. In the old days this sort of thing was called “hard tack” and was eaten by soaking it in a liquid of some sort.

@electricsky – I, too, have only ever used active dry yeast, and yes, the temperature of the water was very important.

SuperMouse's avatar

@shrubbery is completely right about the variables. Another important thing is where you place the dough to rise. It has to be a somewhat warm area or it won’t rise. One friend told me she put it on top of the fridge. I always just put it in an area with some sunlight.

@Darwin, do you cut the salt in half or by more or less?

Darwin's avatar

@SuperMouse – I am not a huge salt-eater so I actually cut the amount of salt in half. The resulting bread was excellent and plenty salty enough for me.

skfinkel's avatar

I always use dry active yeast as well. I think the temp for the yeast is important because the yeast can die (yeast is actually alive) if it is too hot, and they get lackadaisical if too cold. Warm works, though, and you know it because you see the yeast bubbling up, eating the sugar.

The other thing is you have to knead the dough enough. If you have a bread kneading hook on the kitchen aid, it needs to go for about ten minutes. Otherwise, by hand, the dough needs to be very smooth and elastic. Making bread, especially with the help of a machine to knead, is not hard, but fun and delicious. Especially good if you are planning to be home for a while, so you are there while the bread rises, and then has to be punched down and rise again.


Jeruba's avatar

So what is the right temperature for the water?

cyndyh's avatar

@Jeruba: It depends on the kind of yeast and somewhat what you’re doing with it. I’ve used active dry, cake, and quick rise or “instant” yeast. Fleischman’s has a web page about substituting one for another in a pinch. And the food network site used to have an “about bread” page that explained a lot of the yeast specifics. (I don’t know if it’s still there. I had trouble finding it about a month ago.)

With quick rise or instant yeast you don’t need to “proof” the yeast first. It saves you those 10 minutes or so when we all used to wait for the yeast to start puffing and bubbling while it’s eating the sugar. When I’m using quick rise I can effectively use tap water after it gets hot and starts steaming (about 105 F). I think if you get it above 115 F you’ve killed it.

@electricsky: Your recipe has no sugar in it. I’d take a closer look at that. Too little and the yeast won’t rise. Too much and the yeast may rise too fast and fall before it’s done. You can cut some salt, but if you cut too much the dough never gets the elasticity it needs to hold the rising bread together.

dynamicduo's avatar

The only difference between active dry yeast and fast rise (or instant) yeast is that you generally proof active dry yeast for a few minutes beforehand, whereas with fast rise yeast you’re fine just mixing the yeastie beasties in with the dough.

The two can be substituted for each other in a pinch (you just use less of one type)... I can’t find my link anymore! I’ll look for it later.

The water should be lukewarm. Like @cyndyh I use hot (but not the hottest) tap water. I add some sugar to the yeast when proofing to speed things up, you can also proof them in hot water only.

I agree with the observation that your recipe could use a tablespoon or two of sugar. But give it a try without the sugar, then do one with, and compare the outcomes!

I will note, I am a lazy kneader who often abandons it after a few minutes, and yet my breads always come out delicious. So don’t be afraid to deviate from the recipe a little bit :)

Val123's avatar

Good luck (hint, for very SPECIAL bread substitute dark beer for the water!)

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