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

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. Next fastest is a dough hook. If kneading by hand, you can beat the soft dough first with an electric mixer to help develop the gluten, then stir in the rest of the flour and knead by hand.

Rising. To rest or to rise, the doughshould be placed in a warm, draft-free spot so the temperature will stay constant. If it's too hot, the dough rises so fast the texture is uneven. You can measure proofing by the look and feel of the dough: at the perfect state, tiny bubbles appear under the surface, although the dough looks smooth and firm. When you press the dough with your fingertip, it will hold the impression but not settle; under-proofed dough springs back.

When the dough is overproofed, you willsee more and bigger bubbles, and the surface will look rough or strained and ready to collapse. When you make an impression in the dough, it will sag.

Oven spring. With the first blast of heat inthe oven, steam from moisture in the dough causes the dough to swell before it is set. This is called oven spring and gives the loaf a full, rounded appearance. If overproofed, the loaf settles and sags after the oven spring.

Fast Yeast White Bread

This recipe gives you options at everystep; the fastest way is first. You can apply these techniques to other standard yeast-bread recipes and the whole-wheat recipe on page 219.

3 to 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast, 1package fact-acting yeast, or 2 packages active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Container. Combine 3 cups of flour,yeast, sugar, and salt in 1 of the following:

1. Food processor with dough or metalblade.

2. Large bowl of electric mixer with adough hook.

3. Large bowl of electric mixer with rotarybeaters (start with 2 cups flour).

4. Large bowl if making bread by hand.

Heating liquids. Choose from 2 methods:

Microwave oven. Pour milk into a glass orplastic measuring cup; add butter. Insert the microwave oven temperature probe, place cup in the oven, and plug in the probe. Set the temperature for 130|.

On the stove. Melt butter in a 1- to 2-quartpan over medium heat. Add the milk, then heat until it registers 130| on a thermometer.

Mixing. Choose one of these four ways:

1. Food processor. Whirl the flour mixturejust to blend. With the motor running, pour the warm liquid through the feed tube. Shut the processor off when dough forms a ball and pulls from container side, 30 to 45 seconds. If dough is sticky, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time and mix in short bursts. Do not knead.

2. Dough hook. Pour the warm liquid intoflour mixture. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are wet. Then beat at high speed until dough pulls from sides of bowl and forms a ball, about 5 minutes. If dough sticks, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until dough pulls free. Do not knead.

3. Rotary mixer. Start with 2 cups flour;add remaining dry ingredients. Pour warm liquid into flour mixture. Mix slowly until dry ingredients are moistened. Beat on high speed until dough is stretchy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove beaters and stir in 1 cup flour. Scrape dough onto lightly floured board to knead.

4. By hand. Pour warm liquid into flourmixture; beat with heavy spoon until dough is stretchy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape dough onto lightly floured board to knead.

Kneading. If you combine the dough byrotary mixer or by hand, you must knead it; these pointers are useful:

Lightly dust dough with flour to makesurface less sticky to touch. Always handle dough gently; you want to avoid tearing or breaking the thin, nonsticky skin that develops on the dough. For a light, evenly textured loaf, avoid working in any more flour than absolutely necessary.

The kneading process involves lifting theedge of dough opposite you over the center of the dough. In a forward motion with the palm of your hand, press dough gently to hold together; rotate a quarter-turn and repeat. Continue until dough feels smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes.

Resting. Cover the dough in the bowl oron a board with plastic wrap and let rest (stand undisturbed) 10 to 15 minutes. (If resting is omitted, the loaf will be a little moister.) Uncover the dough and flatten it with the heels of your hands to press out as many air bubbles as possible (if using a dough hook, beat out air).

Shaping. On a lightly floured board,knead dough (omit quarter-turns) into a smooth, evenly shaped roll about 10 inches long; pinch ends and fold under roll to form a load about 1/2 to 3/4 inch shorter than the pan (dimensions give below).

Rising. Put loaf, smooth side up, in agreased 4- by 8-inch or 5- by 9-inch loaf pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place away from drafts until loaf just about doubles in size.

To determine if dough has risen enough,flour your little finger and gently press it about 1/4 inch into a corner of the loaf; the indentation should hold its shape. If not proofed enough, it will spring back; if overproofed, it will settle further (if so, knead out air and repeat rising).

Baking. Uncover loaf and bake in a 425|oven until well browned on top, about 30 minutes. Turn loaf out onto a rack to cool. Slice and serve, or wrap airtight and store at room temperature up to overnight. Makes 1 loaf, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds.

Fast Yeast Whole-wheat Bread

Make fast yeast white bread, preceding,but omit 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and add 1 cup whole-wheat flour. Combine whole-wheat flour with 1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, and salt, according to mixing method. Rising will take a little longer.

Photo: One package offast-acting dry yeast speeds up bread making, cuts proofing time by about a third

Photo: Two packagesof regular active dry yeast work even faster, but they double cost, too

Photo: Mix (1/2 to 5 min.)

Photo: Knead (0 to 10 min.)

Photo: Rest (0 to 15 min.)

Photo: Shape (5 min.)

Photo: Rise (15 to 45 min.)

Photo: Bake (30 min.)

Photo: Warm slices of freshly baked bread--made in about 50minutes by taking all the shortcuts--await butter and honey

Photo: Kneading and resting. After resting 15 minutes, rounds of kneaded dough have increased to different volumes (numbers refer to number of packages of yeast used). Dough made with 2 packages regular yeast is so active that bubbles show on the surface

Photo: Shaping and rising. After shaping, double-yeast dough is ready to bake in about 20 minutes; within another 20, the remaining loaves will reach the same volume--even the one on the right, which skipped the resting step

Photo: Which is which? With the exception of small variations in the size and shape of each loaf (expected and predictable even when you use the same method every time), all of these breads look, feel, smell, and taste about the same
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1987
Words:1844
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