Yeast Bread for the Novice Baker

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Nothing beats the taste of a fresh baked loaf of bread and butter (Sorry, to anyone gluten-free, low-carb or Keto). Using yeast gives bread a lighter feel, but can pose some obstacles for baking for anyone not familiar with it. I have previously had many issues with my breads not rising properly, and making them very dense. I have a few tips for making the perfect yeast bread for the novice baker to help get that nice fluffy loaf every time.

  1. Buy individually packaged portions of traditional or fast rise bakers yeast. It may be slightly more expensive then buying bulk multi-use packages, but you are always guaranteed that the yeast is alive. When using multi-use packages, you run the risk of your yeast dying on you, causing a sour flavour and a dense loaf of bread. IMG_0696.jpeg
  2. Pay attention to if your recipe calls for traditional or fast-rising yeast. Fast-rising is a great option to cut back on some rise time. But, if not incorporated properly with the appropriate amount of rising time, can lead to dense loaves of bread. A lot of times, it is easier and more effective to use the type of yeast called for in the recipe you are following.
  3. When baking french loaves (as described below), placing a pan of water under the the loaf pan and having the boiling water in the oven while baking helps to keep the loaves moist on the inside while crisp on the outside. This is one of my favourite tricks for baking a crispier breads. IMG_0679.jpeg
  4. Avoid over mixing ingredients. By over mixing ingredients you risk the loaves becoming heavy and tough. Some guides recommend mixing by hand to avoid this, but I still love using my electric mixer with a dough hook. I just making sure to be mindful to only knead the dough for 5-10 minutes on low speed to allow for a thorough mixing, but not overly worked.

This evening I decided to bake some french loaves. These loaves have a bit of a crunch to the outside, with softness on the inside. They also store great in the freezer! I am expecting to have my parents and in-laws over this weekend, and having a homemade loaf helps to really gives dinner that extra flare.

French loaf 

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Prep time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 4-8 hours

Cook Time: 16-18 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 package of regular active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cup of very warm water

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour

  1. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 package of yeast, and warm water into mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour until bubbly and risen.
  2. Mix in salt and remaining flour. Mix in thoroughly and kneed for 5-10 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a a greased bowl, rolling the dough ball in the grease to fully coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour and double in size.
  3. Grease a cookie sheet. Place dough on a floured surface, cut in half and form into two long loaves approximately 14-16 inches long, and place on greased cookie sheet.
  4. (This step is optional) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit in fridge for 4-24 hours – this will help to develop the flavour and texture. Let stand for 1 hour after removed from fridge. If you do not want to do this step, leave loaves on baking sheet allow to rise for an additional hour prior to baking.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a pan filled with water on bottom rack and allow oven to pre-heat and water to boil.
  6. Cut loaves diagonally on top, and spray with cold water to give outer layer a french bread texture (I didn’t have my spray bottle, so my loaves outer layer is a little smoother looking which is okay as well if that is what you prefer). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the bread is golden and crisp.
  7. Allow loaves to rest prior to serving. Fully cool to avoid crumbling while cutting.

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(Shameless post of my dog checking out the bread!)

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