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Watch the Dough Grow


Many thanks to our participants who did such a great job in the hands-on, introductory class on yeast breads – as part of our "Bringing Back the Basics: A DIY Approach to Living" series. Especially on such a cold, windy evening!

Participants got to take home a loaf of batter bread and practice preparing the honey whole-wheat bread recipe at the end of this blog post. You should give it a try too!

Yeast are a tiny organisms that grow in warm, moist environments, like those used in making bread. Yeast release carbon dioxide (CO2) gas that cause bread dough to stretch or expand. This process is called "rising" or "proofing." This rising takes more time than the chemical leaveners used in quick breads (baking soda, baking powder), so plan to spend a few hours making yeast breads.

Many products can be made from yeast dough.

  • Loaves of bread may include sourdough, wheat and whole wheat, multigrain, and rye.
  • Rolls from dough add variety. Try shapes such as cloverleaf, crescent, crown, knots, braids, or fan.
  • Other breads made from yeast dough include bagels, English muffins, sweet rolls, raised doughnuts, pizza crust, pretzels, and pita.
  • Specialty breads can be made at home, but are more often found in stores. These may include high fiber, fortified or enriched (added vitamins and minerals), or gluten-free.

Mixing Methods

The most common mixing method is the "conventional" method. Yeast is dissolved in warm water at a temperature of 105-115°F. Sprinkle the yeast onto the water and let sit several minutes to activate or "bloom" the yeast. You may start to see foam or bubbles form after those few minutes. Stir to completely dissolve yeast. Add in remaining ingredients per recipe directions.

Another method is "rapidmix." Yeast is mixed with some of the dry ingredients. Warmer liquids (120-130°F) are used since the yeast is not directly bloomed. Rapidmix doughs are lighter and springier than doughs from the conventional method.

A no-knead yeast bread is "batter bread." Recipes for batter bread have more liquid and rise in the bowl or baking pan without kneading. These breads have a courser texture than kneaded breads.

Basic Steps

  1. Mix ingredients per recipe directions.
  2. Knead on a clean, floured surface about 8-10 minutes, adding in extra flour as needed to prevent sticking. When dough is smooth and elastic, it has usually been kneaded enough.
  3. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, usually about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Shape dough into loaves or other desired shapes. At this point, some recipe will let dough rise again until doubled.
  5. Bake per recipe directions until golden brown.

With these steps in mind, you too can make tasty yeast breads!

Recipe Corner

Honey Whole-Wheat Bread (2 loaves, about 36 slices)

A classic sandwich bread you can make at home! Honey provides sugars that feed the yeast. Homemade doughs work well with up to half of whole wheat flour.

2 (1/4-oz) packets active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (heated to 105-115°F)
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup oil
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
Butter, softened

1. Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water in large mixing bowl. Stir in honey, salt, oil, 1¾ cups warm water, and the whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the all-purpose flour until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl and forms a ball.
2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding in enough flour to keep dough from sticking to hands.
3. Place dough in greased bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.)
4. Punch dough down; divide in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into rectangle about 9"x18." Fold into thirds, overlapping the 2 sides.
5. Roll dough tightly toward you, beginning at one of the short ends. Pinch outer edge firmly to seal. With one side of hand, press each end to seal; fold ends under.
6. Place loaves, seam sides down, in 2 greased loaf pans, 9x5x3-inch. Brush lightly with softened butter. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.
7. Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the top. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

**A baking mat is helpful, but not necessary, when kneading. To minimize mess, tape sheets of plastic wrap to a clean table or counter and use as a kneading surface.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 110 calories, 2g fat, 200mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Source: UI Extension, Homemade Breads, 2010



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