If you want to tap into your inner homesteader, breadmaking is the perfect starting point. Breadmaking fills your kitchen with tantalizing aromas, produces delicious results and offers therapeutic effects, like relieving anxiety and instilling a sense of calm.
While it may seem intimidating, baking homemade bread is easier than you might think. You only need four simple ingredients to bake a basic loaf: flour, salt, water and yeast. Yeast is a leavening agent that breathes life into bread and causes the dough to rise, creating a light, airy texture. But there are different leavening agents you can experiment with. Here’s an overview to get you started.
Active dry yeast, the most common type for baking bread, must be activated before use. To initiate this process, mix the active dry yeast with a warm liquid. Once activated, mix it with the remaining bread ingredients and knead it to activate the gluten in the flour. This prepares the dough to trap gas during fermentation, causing the dough to rise and giving the bread its characteristic airy texture.
Also known as quick-rise yeast, fast-acting yeast or fast-rising yeast, instant yeast speeds up the activation process. It’s formulated to be mixed directly into the other dry ingredients of the dough, simplifying the process. If you’re in a hurry or using a bread machine, this yeast will be your best friend.
Did you know you can use beer as a leavening agent? Beer infuses your loaves with a distinct taste and a moist, tender crumb. The carbonation adds a light, airy texture and a bolder flavor profile. Embrace experimentation and explore different styles and their characteristics to create breads with unique flavors that cater to your preferences. Even if it takes a few tries, don’t worry – you can sip your brewski while perfecting your dough to create the ultimate loaf.