Yeast Cookery and Yeast Dough Recipe
Handling Yeast Correctly
Yeast is a living matter composed of tiny cells which, when combined with a liquid and possibly sugar at a suitable temperature, will divide continually. This produces carbon dioxide which forms bubbles in the dough, causing it to rise and give the bread its structure.
Fresh yeast must be really fresh and not dried out; it should be pliable and soft to the touch, creamy in colour and crumbly when broken. Old yeast is hard, cracked and discoloured in places; in this condition it will have lost most of its effectiveness.
To keep yeast fresh, store in a container with a tight- fitting lid, or wrap in cling film. It will keep for 4-5 days in a cool larder or 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze fresh yeast and store it for up to 6 months in the freezer. It is advisable to divide the yeast into workable quantities e.g. 15 g/4 oz pieces, and then wrap individually in foil or freezer film.
Active dried baking yeast is composed of granules similar in colour to fresh yeast. When using dried yeast remember it is more concentrated than fresh and therefore you will need only half the stated amount of fresh yeast. Always read the instructions on the package before beginning.
Yeast works most effectively in a warm temperature and should always be allowed to reach room temperature before use. Make sure all baking ingredients are at room temperature in advance; ingredients such as milk or fat which has to be melted before adding to the dough, should never exceed 38-43°C/100-110°F. Many recipes state ‘leave the dough to rise in a warm place’; the room temperature of most modern kitchens is warm enough for the yeast to act. However, the dough should always be covered with a damp cloth or cling film, to protect it from possiblewhich could prevent its rising, and also to prevent a skin forming.
Basic Yeast Dough
The following method is basically valid for all types of yeast dough. Sometimes a little sugar is added as well.
500 g / 1 lb plain flour
30g/1 oz fresh yeast
250 m118.17 oz lukewarm liquid (milk or water)
50 g I 2 oz butter, melted
1 egg yolk, beaten to glaze
Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. Prepare all the necessary ingredients and equipment. Weigh solid ingredients exactly. Measure liquids precisely and bring them to the correct temperature. Grease a 1-kg/2-lb loaf tin or two 0.5-kg/1-lb loaf tins.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Cream the yeast with a little of the lukewarm liquid, then add the remaining liquid. Pour into the well in the centre of the flour and sprinkle a little of the flour over the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth so that the warmth can circulate beneath it, and leave the mixture in a draught-free place for about 15 minutes, until the layer of flour which covers the yeast shows deep crevices and bubbles appear. It is better to rely on your eyes rather than the clock when judging whether the yeast has stood for long enough.
When ready, beat the yeast mixture into the remaining flour with the melted butter (not too hot), salt and beaten egg. For this it is best to use a large, strong wooden spoon, beating until a dough is formed. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes. If the dough remains too moist and sticks to the fingers, it must be vigorously beaten again. If necessary you can gradually work in a little extra flour.
When the dough has been kneaded sufficiently, sprinkle with flour, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until double in size. This is called the first rising. When well risen, knead lightly again and shape the dough to fit the prepared loaf tin, or form into individual bread rolls and place on a greased baking tray.
Before baking, the shaped dough must be risen again or proved. The tin or baking tray containing the dough should be put inside a large oiled polythene bag. The proving time depends on the temperature at which it takes place but is usually shorter than the first rising period. When placing the dough in a tin or mould, fill only halfway up with the dough and leave until it rises to the top of the tin. While the dough is proving preheat the oven to hot (230°C, 450°F, Gas Mark 8).
Brush the bread with beaten egg yolk and finally place in the oven. Bake the large loaf for 35-45 minutes, the smaller loaves for. 25-35 minutes, and the individual rolls for 15-20 minutes. The cooked loaf should be slightly shrunken from the sides of the tin and when turned out it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.