"The temperature in the room will affect the time it takes the dough to rise."
Few things are as enticing as the smell of yeast bread baking. The aroma is not only inviting, but easily managed, no matter whether you are an experienced hands-on baker, a bread machine fan or a novice. Bread consists principally of flour, yeast, salt and liquid, and with a bit of knowledge about these ingredients, anyone can make bread.
Begin with good quality, fresh flour. Most yeast dough recipes specify bread flour because it has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. Protein causes gluten to develop in bread dough. Gluten forms a structure that holds the dough together after the yeast makes it rise, and keeps the dough from collapsing as it bakes. Flour has a shelf life of about a year after which the protein content deteriorates.
Yeast also has a shelf life. All packages of yeast are dated and once the date has expired, the yeast should be discarded. There are many brands of active dry and instant dry yeast. Fresh yeast, found in the dairy section of the grocery, is also available in some areas. Experiment to see which brand and type suits you.
Most recipes specify whether liquids are to be used cold, at room temperature or require heating. Barely warm liquids work best since milk or water that is too hot can kill the yeast.
Salt is added to bread to give it flavor. It also retards the development of the yeast, and in some recipes sugar is added to compensate for the salt.
The Needs of Bread Dough
It's important to remember that bread dough can be affected by two outside factors. The humidity will affect the amount of flour needed to keep the dough from being sticky. If it's a very humid day, a tablespoon or two of extra flour may be needed. When the dough is made by hand, it's kneaded on a floured surface and extra flour is worked into the dough so it doesn't stick to the kneader's hands. If it's a very hot, dry summer day, the dough probably won't need any extra flour and in very dry areas, may even require an extra teaspoon of liquid. The same theory works when using a bread machine or electric mixer. The dough won't knead properly if it's too wet, but the trick is to add the least amount of flour possible to keep the finished bread or rolls light, rather than heavy.
The temperature in the room will affect the time it takes the dough to rise. If it's winter and the kitchen is cool, bread may need a few minutes extra rising time added to what is indicated in a recipe. And in the middle of July, bread may double in size in less time than is expected.
Although some bakers prefer to make bread dough by hand or using the dough hook on an electric mixer, the manual or dough cycle on a bread machine is also capable of producing wonderful dough. The machine mixes the ingredients, kneads the dough and allows it to rise one time. The cycle ends and the dough is removed from the machine for shaping.
The recipes that follow can be prepared by more than one method. The rolls are a family favorite and the dough is easy to handle. The pizza dough is very stretchy and a bit trickier to manage but worth it.
Gloria's Yeast Rolls
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup butter (not margarine)
- 3-1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- Combine the water, half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat until the butter is almost melted, but do not let the mixture boil.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Combine 1 cup of the flour, the salt, sugar and yeast in large bowl of mixer.
- Add the milk mixture and beat on medium speed 2 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup flour and the egg, beating 2 more minutes.
- Add 1-1/2 cups flour and beat one minute.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes, adding as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as needed to keep the dough from being too sticky.
- Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about an hour.)
To use a 1-1/2-pound or 2-pound bread machine:
- Heat the milk mixture as directed above. Let it cool.
- Then dump the milk and all the remaining ingredients except for 4 tablespoons flour into the bread machine pan.
- Set the cycle for Dough or Manual and press Start.
- Allow the dough to begin mixing and add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to keep the dough from being too sticky.
- Remove the dough from the machine when the cycle ends. The dough should have risen one time in the machine.
- After the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl (or the bread machine pan) and place on a lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 24 pieces and shape into balls.
- Place on two greased cookie sheets and cover with wax paper.
- Let the rolls rise 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.
Perfect Pizza Dough
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup bread flour
- 1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Place the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order given, or follow the order specified by your bread machine.
- Select Dough or Manual cycle, adding an additional tablespoon of flour if the dough seems sticky.
- When the cycle is complete, remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.
- Punch the dough down, flouring your hands lightly.
- Press the dough into shape on a pizza pan sprayed with non-stick spray.
- This dough is very elastic, but just keep working to spread it over the pan.
(If using a pizza stone, shape the dough on a cornmeal-dusted peel.)
- Cover the dough loosely with wax paper and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Brush the dough lightly with olive oil.
- The dough is ready for pizza sauce and the desired ingredients.
- Follow the baking directions for your pizza pan or stone.
To make the dough by hand:
- Combine the two flours, the salt and the yeast in a mixing bowl.
- Combine the water and olive oil and pour into the center of the flour mixture.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a rough ball.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and shiny, about 7 minutes.
- Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick spray.
- Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let rise until double in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Remove from the bowl, punch down, and press into shape as directed above.
- Cover and let rise 20 minutes as indicated.