There are nearly as many bread recipes as cooks out there. If you’ve found a recipe that works well for you, I applaud you!
It has taken me many years and plenty of flour to find both a recipe and method that work well for my family and me.
If you’ve struggled to produce a light, fluffy, tasty loaf of bread, I have good news. This method works! And here is why:
- The yeast is warm enough to be activated.
- There’s just the right amount of flour.
- Two 15-minute kneading cycles help develop the gluten in the flour.
- The final rise is completed in a warm environment.
- I preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).
These five steps are critical to achieving the high-rise loaf that’ almost too pretty to eat! I’m happy to explain each one.
- Yeast will not activate until it’s exposed to a temperature of at least 95 degrees (Fahrenheit). However, that’s the minimum temperature to get minimum yeast activity. To fully activate the amount of yeast your bread recipe calls for, the liquid it’s dissolved in should be between 105 degrees and 110 degrees (Fahrenheit). That is the optimum temperature to stimulate yeast activity. If the liquid is more than 112 degrees (Fahrenheit), the yeast will die. That temperature is too hot. Use a digital thermometer to verify that your recipe liquid is in the ideal temperature range. Your yeast will bloom! And do activate the yeast in water that contains sweetener of some kind – sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
- As your dough raises, the yeast needs moisture to remain active. If you use too much flour, the yeast doesn’t have adequate moisture, which will hinder the rise. The loaf will be flatter, dense, and not nearly as tasty.
- There are bread recipes that don’t require kneading. Typically, the rise times for those recipes are three-plus hours. These types of recipes generally produce a low-rising loaf. If you want to create a high-rise loaf of bread within two hours, include two 15-minute knead cycles in your dough prep method. This develops the gluten in the flour you use, which goes hand in hand with a high rise.
- Since the yeast in your bread recipe will be active throughout the dough prep and final rise, it’s essential to keep the dough in an environment that doesn’t rob the heat yeast needs to continue working. Most ovens are an ideal place to complete the final rise. If desired, you can warm the oven slightly before placing your bread pan inside it.
- Once your bread dough rises to the top of the pan or an inch or so above it, you can set the dough aside (on top of the oven works well) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). When we’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to put the dough in the oven before it reaches 350 degrees. However, doing so may hinder the final rise, as that warm temperature provides the last little push yeast needs to bring the bread dough to its loftiest height.
If you’re in the process of finding a traditional bread recipe and method that works for you, these tips can help you achieve the kind of beautiful loaf you might hate to cut into!