Ingredients used in yeast baking

Ingredients used in yeast baking

It is important to understand the functions of ingredients used in a dough, in order to comprehend the process of yeast baking.

Yeast is a living organism. In the presence of warmth and the addition of sugar and moisture the yeast will grow and produce carbon dioxide, which acts as a raising agent. The dough then rises, ensuring that the final product is light in texture. During the baking process the gas escapes and the shape of the loaf is retained.

Wheat flour is normally used, although other types of grain flours such as rye, buckwheat, oats and barley may also be used. These types of grain have less gluten and it is therefore essential to add a percentage of wheat flour which has a higher gluten content. Gluten is an elastic substance found in wheat flour and through kneading, the gluten develops to form a framework around the carbon dioxide; which helps the product to hold its shape.

Types of Wheat Flour:

CAKE FLOUR is the whitest, most refined flour available and produces a light, fine bake.

WHITE BREAD FLOUR is light and creamy in colour due to the small percentage of bran present. This flour is generally used in most types of white bread.

BROWN BREAD FLOUR or sifted meal provides the same volume and texture as that of white bread flour. The colour however, is darker due to a higher percentage of bran.

WHOLEWHEAT FLOUR contains practically all the bran and wheat germ present in the wheat grain. This bread is naturally coarse, heavy and dark in colour. For a finer and lighter texture, substitute half of the wholewheat flour with cake or bread flour.

The liquid should be 400C, or body temperature. It is most important that you prepare the lukewarm water correctly. The above temperature is obtained by adding one part boiling water to two parts of cold water. Cold liquid slows the growth of yeast down, whilst too hot liquid destroys the yeast cells. The amount of liquid used, is determined by the type of flour and the natural moisture of the flour. Too little liquid prevents the gluten from stretching and produces a smaller baked product which stales rapidly. It is difficult to state the correct amount of liquid, as the amount and quality of the gluten in flour is not always the same. The absorption ability of the flour is also affected by temperature and humidity. A mixture of milk and water can be used to increase the nutritional value and enhance the taste and texture of the product. Milk should be scalded to lukewarm, before it is added.

Salt controls the fermentation process, improves the flavour and strengthen the gluten in the flour. Yeast is destroyed by direct contact with salt and spices. This can be prevented by first mixing these ingredients with the flour, before adding the yeast. The general ratio is 2ml yeast for 250ml flour.

Eggs are mainly used in sweet bakes. They contribute to a finer texture, rich colour and additional flavour. In most cases eggs may be substituted with oil, without affecting the taste. In the case of a rich cake dough, the addition of oil can possibly produce a dry textured product. Egg yolk makes the gluten more pliant, ensuring a better texture. It is standard to use “large” eggs when baking.

Salt controls the fermentation process, improves the flavour and strengthens the gluten in the flour. Yeast is destroyed by direct contact with salt and spices. This can be prevented by first mixing these ingredients with the flour, before adding the yeast. The general ratio of salt is 2 ml to 250 ml flour.

A small amount of sugar is a good source of food for the yeast. It sweetens the dough and gives an attractive brown crust. Too much sugar will, however, retard the growth of yeast. Avoid direct contact of yeast with sugar, as the fermentation process will take place more quickly than desired.

All types of shortening, such as butter, margarine and oil contribute to the flavour and keeping quality of a bread. A moderate quantity increases the elasticity of the dough and produces baked products which are greater in volume. As a high quantity of fat retards the development of gluten, it is advisable to knead the fat into the dough only after the dough has been made. For better results, butter and margarine of a firm texture are recommended. Lard gives a soft crust with a light texture, whilst oil not only gives a fine texture and thin crust, but also prevents the bread from crumbling when it is sliced.

Ingredients such as dried fruit and cheese, cause a heavy dough. This dough takes longer to rise and requires more yeast in proportion to the quantity of flour. Cheese and fruit must always be added after the first rising period, whereafter, the dough can be shaped as desired.

To speed up the rising process Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), can be added. It is available in tablet form from most pharmacies. Dissolve 125 mg Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), in a little of the prescribed liquid. This should be sufficient for 1kg flour.

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