Baking Italian Bread with the Magic Ingredient: The Yeast

The flour is one of the main ingredients and the salt and sugar have to be in the right amount, maybe even some amount of honey, but the most important ingredient that makes or breaks your bread is the yeast.

What is Yeast?

Step one into baking is to understand what yeast is.

Often classified as a fungus, it a unicellular organism (contains a single cell).

Yes, a fungus! And it’s very useful too!

How does it work?

You can find yeast in the stores quite easily.

But the one you get is actually dormant, and you will have to bring it to life.

After it is active, it reacts with the starch and converts it to glucose.

It releases carbon dioxide as a result which actually causes the rising of the bread.

If you knead it with your hand you will need to keep an eye on it while it rises in a warm spot, under a towel to keep it dark.

This may offer a challenge depending on your kitchen, but people usually find a way around this.

Tip: use salt to bring out the flavor, but not too much as it can also kill the yeast.

What are the types of Yeast?

Now you are in the store and you want to pick out a yeast to bake for the first time ever, you will see a lot of options.

It may overwhelm you and you may find yourself attracted to the one with the least cost.

But there are different kinds of yeasts as per your baking requirement.

Rapid Rise Yeast: it is actually the same as the bread machine yeast, so if you can’t find one you can use the other. The result will be the same.

Active Dry Yeast: It is a slightly larger in size and so can’t be used instantly. It needs to be dissolved in water before adding to your batter. This is generally known as proofing.

Here is how you can bake an Italian bread on a Pizza Stone using yeast:

Ingredients:

  1. 3 cups unbleached flour
  2. 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  3. 1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 tablespoon water
  9. 2 tablespoons cornmeal

Steps

  1. Take flour, warm water, brown sugar, olive oil, salt and yeast in the pan of the bread machine and select dough cycle.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F after placing the pizza stone in it for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Depress the dough and turn it out onto the floured side. Divide the dough into two loaves and sprinkle them generously with cornmeal. Then cover them up and leave for about 40 minutes till they inflate to twice their size.
  4. Take an egg and beat it together with water. Now brush it on the risen loaves. Make a long cut in the center of the loaves and place them in onto the pizza stone in a quick motion.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes until the loaves become hollow upon tapping on the bottom.

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