edit 10 August 2006: bad coding fixed so whole article is now visible
But we’ve gotten to the point that we’re not that wild about eating store-bought bread. There is good commercially made bread available but it tends to be on the expensive side. And it gets moldy faster than our homebaked bread. Which seems strange, doesn’t it? We put zero preservatives in our bread and commercially baked bread tends to be loaded with preservatives. Go figure…
The great thing about making bread in the summer though is that it can be ready in virtually no time at all. In the winter, bread baking requires the whole day (not that one is sitting around stirring and shaping bread dough all day!! it just takes several hours to rise). But in the summer, because the air temperature is so much higher, bread (or pizza) is ready in a couple of hours and is baked in a matter of minutes on the barbecue.
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I don’t know if the way we deal with yeast gives the dough a jump start or not. Many people now-a-days recommend adding instant dry yeast directly to the dry ingredients. I like to rehydrate active dry yeast first and make sure it’s starting to foam before I add it to the rest of the dough. (Read about Nicky’s (delicious: days) preference for fresh yeast.)
When I first started making bread, I did it because Mom’s recipe told me to check to make sure that the yeast was viable. As I got used to bread baking and read other people’s accounts, I started to simply rehydrate the yeast and add it as soon as it was creamy looking. But around about February, I started thinking that it was possible that these old wives knew what they were doing and I almost always rehydrate and foam the yeast before adding it to the dough. We are convinced that our bread turns out better as a result.
Here is the procedure I follow when I am making bread, the first thing I do is put water on to boil so that I can create lukewarm water (baby bottle temperature) to add to yeast. If the recipe calls for it, I also sprinkle a little sugar into the water then mix it well and leave to stand on the counter. I then mix the other ingredients in a larger bowl; the yeast will usually begin to bubble happily as I’m measuring flour into the big bowl. Once the other ingredients are roughly stirred together, I add the foamy yeast and then knead for 8 to 10 minutes. I cover the dough and leave it on the counter to rise. With the kitchen at around 25C to 30C, that’s plenty warm enough.
On some of the really hot days last week, we actually had to push the dough down a couple of times between 18:00 and 19:00 because we weren’t ready to be baking it yet!
When we are ready to shape and bake, we turn on the barbecue then generously sprinkle flour onto a portable board in the kitchen and divide the dough into equal portions. It takes very little time to shape the dough into discs. The other night, when guests were over, we all shaped discs – something the guests were excited and happy to do. Then someone carries the board out to the back garden, the discs are placed directly on the hot grill. And hey presto! In a matter of minutes, bread is ready!
edit: read more about yeast