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HOW TO BAKE: FIVE FACTORS TO GET YOUR BREAD TO RISE
There are five important factors that make the difference between light, airy bread and a dense flop. None is difficult to manage—in fact, yeast is quite forgiving—but you’ll be a better bread baker if you understand these factors.
Yeast is a living organism. As with any other living organism, it needs an acceptable environment in which to grow and multiply. As the yeast grows, it produces carbon dioxide gas that lifts the dough and creates an airy structure.
Five factors that affect how fast yeast will grow
Factor 1: Temperature
Yeast is extremely sensitive to temperature. Ten degrees difference in the temperature of the dough profoundly affects the growth rate of yeast.
The temperature where yeast grows best is around 78 degrees. The temperature of the dough is the result of the temperature of the water that you use, the flour temperature, and the temperature in your kitchen. Water that is 110 to 115 degrees mixed with cooler flour is intended to create a dough temperature close to this 78 degrees. In a bread machine, we use cooler water because of the warm, closed environment of the bread machine.
Factor 2: Time
The longer the yeast is allowed to work, the more gas is created. In the right environment, yeast doubles and doubles again.
Factor 3: Quantity of Yeast
The quantity of yeast in the recipe makes a difference. Usually, a baker controls the rise with other factors and does not change the quantity of yeast. However, in a very cool environment you may want to increase the yeast slightly and in a very warm environment, reduce the yeast.
Factor 4: Quantity of Water
Dough must be soft and flexible in order to rise properly--a factor of how much water is in the dough. If the dough is stiff, it is difficult for the expanding gases to lift the dough and create volume. After your dough is kneaded, it should be soft and nearly sticky. As a general rule when mixing bread, error on the side of too much water.
Factor 5: Salt
Salt kills yeast and a too salty dough will impede yeast growth. One-half teaspoon of salt in a recipe makes quite a difference.
Why do we care how fast the bread rises? In a bread machine, it is critical. On the counter, within reasonable bounds, it probably doesn’t make a difference. In fact, the flavors trapped in bread dough improve with age. A long, slow age creates terrific bread. Still, you are a more competent baker if you understand what is going on inside that ball of dough.
Courtesy of the Prepared Pantry - www.preparedpantry.com
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