Thursday, September 17, 2009

Basic Bread Ingredients


Fresh Yeast - Contains about 70% water, tend to prove quickly and should be kept at a low temperature. They last in the fridge for 1 month at 0°C to 5°C. Although they last much longer in the freezer, the freezing step tends make them less active and you have to use a larger quantity to make up for that. They can be added straight into the flour before mixing and kneading.

Dried Yeast - It has a much longer shelf life. Before using dried yeasts in dough, you should soak them in warm water with sugar added for 10 to 15 minutes, to wake them up. Dried yeasts have a lasting leavening power but not commonly used due to the additional "waking" step. Use only half the amounts if the recipe states fresh yeast.

Instant yeasts - You may put them directly into the dry ingredients before mixing. If you're making a small quantity of bread, it's advisable to get instant yeasts in individual small packets from supermarket. Once a packet of yeasts is open, they slowly lose their leavening power, and it's hardly noticeable until you've spent all the time kneading the dough. Thus, try your best to use up the whole packet and chute any leftover. Use only 1/3 the amounts if recipe call for fresh yeast.

No matter which yeasts you use, always keep the leftover in the fridge.


Eggs make the bread more fragrant and nutritious. Eggs also make the bread fluffy and glossy. The lecithin in egg fat is a medium for both water and oil. It is also a natural emulsifier that keeps the baked goods moist.


An indispensable ingredient in bread making apart from flour and yeasts, water gives flour elasticity after kneading. Water is also the essential medium for yeast fermentation. In case you use vegetable juice or other ingredients with high water content, you should further reduce the amount of water. Otherwise, your dough will be too wet.

Milk Products

Milk gives bread a special taste; enhances its nutritional value and colour; while making it more chewy and spongy. Milk products like evaporated milk, condensed milk, regular milk or milk powder are commonly used in bread making. As fresh milk has limited shelf life, milk powder is considered the best substitute.


Grease enhances the texture of bread and lubricates the dough in the proving process. Grease also helps raise the dough; makes the bread fluffy; extends the shelf life of baked goods; and enhances their fragrance and nutritional values. Most bread has a fat content around 6% to 12%. Adding too much fat would make the bread tough and retard the proving activity.


Salt is another essential ingredient in bread. Not only does it enhance the fragrance of the bread, it also strengthens the gluten structure in the proving process to give the dough softness, resilience and leavening power. Salt suppresses the action of yeasts and is used to control the leavening ratio. Dough without salt tends to be less stable and may be over-proved. Most bread has a salt content from 0.8% to 2.5%. Adding too much salt would make the bread too salty and insufficiently raised.

Sea salt has an unique taste.


Sugar provides the nutrients for yeast fermentation. Besides adding taste, sugar also makes the bread soft and gives a nice colour. Sugar also keeps the bread moist and acts as a natural preservative.

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