Yeast is used in baking bread. There are a few dessert recipes that call for yeast such as Christmas bread, sweet rolls, and bee sting cake. It’s also essential for beer production.
Basil Vegetable Strata
I’ve been cooking this strata for years, and my family just can’t get enough! Fresh basil gives the healthy brunch dish an added flavor boost. —Jean Ecos, Hartland, Wisconsin.
Blueberry French Toast
Brussels Sprouts au Gratin
In our house, Brussels sprouts have always been popular. When I topped them with a creamy sauce, Swiss cheese and bread crumbs, it became a new holiday dinner tradition. —Gwen Gregory, Rio Oso, California
Pretty Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns
I make sticky buns and cinnamon rolls quite often because my husband loves them. One day I had some fresh pumpkin on hand and decided to try pumpkin cinnamon buns. We loved the results! —Glenda Joseph, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Ham ‘n’ Egg Casserole
I like to prepare this breakfast bake when I have ham leftovers and day-old bread on hand. It’s a delicious brunch dish. I love that it’s prepared the night before, which allows me to focus on making other dishes for the meal. —Elizabeth Hesse, Springville, New York
A statue of a servant kneading dough, from Egypt, Old Kingdom, 5th Dynasty, c. 2494–2345 BCE
There are several general classes of dough:
Pretzel-Topped Sweet Potatoes
Cornmeal Pan Rolls
These delightful golden rolls are always requested at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The recipe is one we’ve enjoyed for years. —Vivian Eccles, Gridley, Kansas
Herb Focaccia Rolls
Yeast rolls speckled with fresh thyme and rosemary are a breeze to make without kneading and long wait times. Break out the good butter for these adorable rolls. —Linda Schend, Kenosha, Wisconsin
Sweet Chipotle Pretzels
Pretzels are a great snack food. I love this recipe because it is sweet as well as spicy, but not too spicy. It’s a great combination for munching. —Geraldine Saucier, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Both of my boys really enjoyed helping me make this butterscotch monkey bread when they were young. It seemed to taste twice as good when they helped fix it. It’s one of our favorites for breakfast or as a snack. —Carol Allen, McLeansboro, Illinois
Potato Stuffing Casserole
I adapted this recipe from a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, and it’s indicative of the fine German cooking found in this area. If you’re looking for an alternative to mashed potatoes, try this dish. —Elsa Kerschner, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania
Autumn Sweet Rolls with Cider Glaze
I love cooking with pumpkin because it’s versatile, colorful and nutritious. Combining it with chopped apple and cider gives these glazed rolls their autumn appeal. —Jennifer Coduto, Kent, Ohio
Is Carbon Dioxide Safe in Food?
As we have learned, many of our most common food and beverages use carbon dioxide, but does this come with any risks?
Carbon dioxide might seem harmless at first glance. After all, we exhale it with every breath, and plants need it for survival. Yet, the presence of carbon dioxide itself is not necessarily a problem, but it is the volume in any given environment that can rise to dangerous levels.
The fact that carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless makes it dangerous at high levels.
Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it also displaces oxygen. At high concentrations this will cause asphyxiation. In the event of a release, it’s easy to succumb to exposure, especially in a confined space like a tank or a cellar.
Early symptoms of being exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide include dizziness, headaches, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Because of these severe negative health effects, many accidents and fatalities do occur in the food and beverage industry from carbon dioxide releases.
Without proper detection methods in place, everyone at a facility could be at risk. This is fairly common when one person shows symptoms of high carbon dioxide exposure and nearby workers attempt to help, only to become victims as well.
Many bakeries, restaurants, and beverage industries working around CO2 use the Remote CO2 Storage Safety 3 Alarm to provide employees with the ability to visibly measure the CO2 levels and trigger an exhaust fan should CO2 levels increase to a harmful level.
A Bloomberg study stated, “The equivalent of half a kilogram of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere for every loaf of bread produced in the UK”.
This is just one safety example of CO2 in regards to the baking industry and why use of a CO2 safety monitor to can provide safety solutions to those in and around this invisible, deadly gas.
Aside from just implementation of CO2 in bread baking, another application which involves CO2 in bakeries is the cryogenic freezing of baked goods. In order to freeze a product for preservation, many industries in the baking fields use liquid nitrogen or CO2 as a freezing agent.
According to Baking Business, “Bakeries freeze raw, par-baked and fully-baked foods to extend shelf life, retain moisture and flavor, and increase distribution capabilities.”
Whether you are preserving baked goods with nitrogen or looking to gain the perfect appearance and volume in bread making with CO2 – the gases are all commonly used and safety solutions are available.
The team at CO2Meter is proud to have the opportunity to provide technologies and protect customers and workers near stored inert gases such as carbon dioxide, or even nitrogen in cryogenic applications.
Overall, be mindful this holiday when you are baking and having loved ones over to celebrate. Even though you may not see, smell, or taste the inert gases – they are there.
Meat Loaf & Mashed Red Potatoes
Satisfy the meat-and-potatoes eaters in your house with this satisfying dish that all cooks up in one pot! Talk about classic comfort food. —Faith Cromwell, San Francisco, California
Lance’s Own French Toast
When my young son, Lance, helps me make this French toast, he knows in what order to add the ingredients and even how much to measure out. This dish is perfect for the whole family! —Janna Steele, Magee, Mississippi
Working with Yeast Dough
Because so many different factors go into yeast dough rising, it is difficult to give definite times. If the room is cold, it will take longer, if it is too warm, it will go faster.
Also making a big difference the amount of yeast used. Artisan breads generally use smaller amounts of yeast for longer rising dough so it develop more flavor. American types of loaf breads are prone to using more yeast for a quicker rise, especially if ingredients other than flour, water, salt and yeast are used.
Sweet doughs invariably use more yeast per cup of flour.
There is a temptation by some bread bakers to use more yeast for a quicker rise. The problem with that is it produces CO2, alcohol and organic acids at a much faster rate. Acid, such as the alcohol produced, weakens the gluten in the dough causing it not to rise well. In other words, too much yeast will cause the opposite of a quick rising dough.
You can always cut back on the yeast, which will cause the dough to rise slower creating a very strong gluten structure to support a good rise in the oven. Allowing dough to rise overnight with a small amount of yeast will product a superior loaf.
One of the things that can greatly alter the rising time is how frequently you make bread. If you bake a lot of yeast products, there will be wild yeast in your kitchen which will aid in the rising of your products. If you bake infrequently with yeast, very little will be in your kitchen so it may take longer for your dough to rise.
Any product that uses dairy should be refrigerated for a slow rise. I usually make my sweet dough the day before I want to shape and bake it as it is easier to handle that way. The dough won’t be as springy when rolling and will shape much easier. I allow it a first rise at room temperature, punch it down and then transfer it to the refrigerator.
Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
These irresistible rolls are perfect as an Easter brunch idea! – Louis Jacobsen, Dallas, Wisconsin
Pretzel Gelatin Dessert
This is one of my mother’s absolute favorite desserts. The salty pretzel crust is the perfect complement to the sweet cream cheese filling. —Erin Frakes, Moline, Illinois
Baking the Finished Product
Knowing a few things about the final process, will help give you the loaf you are looking for.
Make sure the oven is completely preheated before putting the bread in. If it is a lean bread, the temperature is usually fairly high. For sweet breads, the temperature is lower as the dough usually contains butter, sugar or honey and possibly milk or cream, making it ripe for burning at high temperatures. I double pan any sweet bread, or bread with a lot of butter, chocolate, honey, cornsyrup, etc. This slows the heat to the bottom of the bread so that, when finished, the bottom is about the same color as the top of the bread.
Creating Steam in your Oven – I don’t usually create steam in the oven when I bake sweet breads. But often do for lean breads where I want a crusty finish. The steam should only last about 8 minutes. Professional ovens have steam injectors so it is easy to give it several bursts of steam to obtain a crusty finish. There are several ways to create steam.
Water – A pan, such as a 9×13 inch pan, can be put in the bottom of the oven and filled with several cups of hot water.Ice Cubes can be added to the pan instead of water. This has the advantage of not having to pull out a pan of really hot water from the oven after about 8 minutes.Misting – Another method is to use a mister and spray the oven every 2 minutes for the first 8 minutes of baking. Some people spray the interior of the oven before putting the product in to bake. I don’t favor this one, as I once blew out the oven light which was a mess to clean up.
Chocolate Pretzel Rings
If you like chocolate-covered pretzels, you’ll love these simple snacks. They’re fun to make any time of year because you can color-coordinate the M&M’s to each holiday. —Kim Scurio, Carol Stream, Illinois
Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls
I remember my mom making these rolls almost every Saturday so they’d be ready to bake on Sunday for company or someone just dropping by. Although they take a little time to prepare, they’re really not all that difficult to make. And there’s nothing in the stores that can compare to them! —Jean Fox, Welch, Minnesota
Get ready for rave reviews with these crisp breadsticks twisted with Greek-inspired goodness. Best served fresh from the oven. —Jane Whittaker, Pensacola, Florida
Potato Pan Rolls
My family loves these rolls and requests them often. They don’t take long to make because you use quick-rise yeast. —Connie Storckman, Evanston, Wyoming
Cinnamon Roll Cherry Cobbler
Red Hots and canned cherries flavor this memorable dessert from my childhood. I hadn’t had it in years, so when I found my mother’s recipe, I had to make it to see if it’s as good as I remembered. It is! —Betty Zorn, Eagle, Idaho
Cranberry-White Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
A basket of warm cinnamon rolls is a sure way to impress family and friends. Add cranberries and chocolate to the ingredient mix, and these treats are irresistible.—Meg Marriott, Tacoma, Washington
You can use baking soda as a substitute for yeast. To do this, you need to add an acid to the mixture. Use equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to equal the amount of yeast used in the recipe.
Seeded Butternut Squash Braid
Crunchy, green hulled pumpkin seeds (better known as pepitas)add a slightly nutty taste to this rich and moist bread. Because of their high oil content, pepitas can spoil quickly. Make sure you store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. —Cheryl Perry, Hertford, North Carolina
Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls
Turn a box of red velvet cake mix into this easy dessert—or breakfast! The icing tastes good and makes a pretty contrast with the rolls. —Erin Wright, Wallace, Kansas
Where to Buy Yeast
The three most common brands of yeast you may find in your local supermarket are Fleischmann’s Yeast, Red Star, and SAF Perfect Rise Yeast. Dry yeast is granulated and comes in little 1/4-ounce packets (approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons) or loose in a jar. Fresh yeast can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. The packages may look a bit like foil-wrapped butter.
With only 4 ingredients, these delicious rolls are ready in no time. They’re fantastic with herb butter or jam. —Glenda Trail, Manchester, Tennessee
Can’t-Eat-Just-One Cinnamon Rolls
My cinnamon rolls have been known to vanish quickly. Once I dropped off a dozen rolls for my brothers, and they emptied the pan in 10 minutes. —Regina Farmwald, West Farmington, Ohio
Gooey Lemon Rolls
My mother made these hard-to-resist rolls when I was young. I always warm up after having one, and so will your family. —Cora Patterson, Lewiston, Idaho
Choose a Bread Yeast
It might seem like a basic question, but what is yeast? It’s essential to know about this ingredient for successful yeast breads. Yeast is a microscopic fungus (don’t let that turn you off) that feeds on sugar in the bread dough to make little carbon dioxide bubbles that get trapped in the dough and make it rise. It works slowly and helps develop flavorful dough. Yeast for bread recipes comes in various forms; be sure to use the yeast specified in your bread recipe.
Active Dry Yeast: This is the most common yeast for home baking because it’s easy to use and yields reliable results. Look for these tiny, dehydrated single-cell organism granules in packets and larger jars ($5, Walmart).
Quick-Rise Yeast (also called fast-rising or instant yeast): A more active yeast strain, it cuts the dough preparation rise time by about a third. Quick-rise yeast ($5, Walmart) can be substituted for active dry yeast except in bread recipes requiring the dough to rise in the refrigerator and dough using a sourdough starter. In many cases, you can transform any bread recipe into a quick yeast bread recipe simply by using quick yeast.
Compressed Yeast (also called fresh yeast or cake yeast): This type of yeast comes in small foil-wrapped square cakes and is sold in the grocery store’s refrigerator section. It works well for bread, especially loaves with long rise times, but this style of yeast has a short shelf life and must be refrigerated. Soften it in warm water according to the package directions before using.
Starters: Sourdough bread is made without added yeast. A starter allows wild yeast to grow, which enables the bread to rise naturally, giving the bread a tug-apart texture and sour, tangy flavor. The starter is made of yeast, warm water, flour, and honey or sugar, and it ferments over five to 10 days. You can keep the starter going for an extended period by adding honey or sugar every ten days to “feed” it (if you’re sharing the bread recipe, for instance).
Baked Oysters with Tasso Cream
I love nothing more than a cold beer and a shucked oyster, so when my partners and I opened Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham, Alabama, we wanted to add them to the menu. We love making them, we love serving them and our guests love eating them. —Taylor Hicks, Las Vegas, Nevada
Blue Plate Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich
Turkey with gravy makes divine comfort food that reminds me of old-time diners on the East Coast that serve open faced turkey sandwiches just like this one. Happily, my gravy is not from a can. —Chris Schwester, Divide, Colorado
Best Ever Mac & Cheese
This golden-colored soup is brimming with an assortment of seafood and is paired with savory, colorful sourdough toast with spread.— Lauren Covas, New Brunswick, New Jersey
Soft Giant Pretzels
My husband and our friends and family love these soft, chewy pretzels. Let the bread machine mix the dough, then all you have to do is shape and bake these fun snacks. —Sherry Peterson, Fort Collins, Colorado
Green Onion Rolls
Better double the batch! These savory, elegant rolls will disappear fast. —Jane Kroeger, Key Largo, Florida
Parmesan Garlic Breadsticks
These tender breadsticks fill the kitchen with a tempting aroma when they are baking, and they’re wonderful served warm. My family tells me I can’t make them too often. —Gaylene Anderson, Sandy, Utah
Yeast is present in a wide variety of baked goods. Try these:
Grilled Cheese, Bacon and Oven-Dried Tomato Sandwich
Take your grilled cheese sandwich to a place it’s never been before with crispy bacon and tangy tomatoes and five—yes, five!—types of cheese. —Josh Rink, Taste of Home Food Stylist
Sourdough bread gets its distinctive flavor from the sourdough starter that is used in place of a package of active dry yeast. This starter naturally develops yeast over time, with a sharp sour taste. The strong flavor of sourdough bread lends itself well to a savory bread pudding, bread bowl for dips and breakfast sandwiches. Check out our answers to the most common sourdough questions.
I love to experiment in the kitchen with simple ingredients like refrigerated biscuits. The results are usually a big hit—these super fast breadsticks are an example. —Billy Hensley, Mount Carmel, Tennessee
Sunday Brunch Casserole
My father was a chef, and this was one of his favorite recipes. He served it in the hotels where he worked as well as at home. Whenever it’s served today in my home, it never fails to bring back fond memories of a table laden with food and encircled with family and friends enjoying the aromas, tastes and laughter. —Roy Lyon, Coupeville, Washington
The Flavor in Bread
The flavor of bread can be controlled by three things. The flour used, the amount of browning during baking and the flavor built up during fermentation.
Dilly Turkey Melt
This is a hearty grilled sandwich with a distinctive and delicious combination of ingredients. The pickle slices add a bit of fun, and the barbecue sauce provides a hint of sweetness that’s irresistible. —Henry Mujica, North Riverside, Illinois
Honey-Squash Dinner Rolls
Puffy dinner rolls take on rich color when you add squash to the dough. Any squash variety works—I’ve even used cooked carrots. —Marcia Whitney, Gainesville, Florida
Hot Brown Turkey Casserole
If you’ve ever tried the Hot Brown Sandwich at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, you’ll love this version. It can be assembled ahead and refrigerated; just adjust baking time accordingly if cold. —Diane Halferty, Corpus Christi, Texas
This golden bread has a soft, tender texture and the perfect amount of cardamom flavor in every bite. Slices are especially good with a cream cheese spread or fresh honey butter. —Carla Miller, Pasco, Washington
While we love our traditional Thanksgiving recipes, sometimes we want to change things up. This sourdough stuffing is a fun twist on an old favorite. Whenever we make it after the big feast, we like to add a cup or more of leftover cubed turkey. —Pat Dazis, Charlotte, North Carolina
Best Ever Crescent Rolls
My daughter and I have cranked out dozens of these homemade crescent rolls. It’s a real team effort. I cut the dough into pie-shaped wedges; she rolls them up. Short on time? Try our Test Kitchen’s favorite crescent rolls. —Irene Yeh, Mequon, Wisconsin
Overnight Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
Recipes that don’t tie me to the kitchen—that’s what I’m all about. I make this luscious dish the night before breakfast or brunch with guests. —Patricia Harmon, Baden, Pennsylvania
Pull-Apart Caramel Coffee Cake
The first time I made this delightful breakfast treat for a brunch party, it was a huge hit. Now I get requests every time family or friends do anything around the breakfast hour! I always keep the four simple ingredients on hand. —Jaime Keeling, Keizer, Oregon
Butternut Squash Rolls
With their cheery yellow color and delicious aroma, these appealing buns will brighten your buffet table. Plus, I’ve found this recipe is a wonderful way to use up squash from the garden. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
S’mores Monkey Bread Muffins
When it comes to mini versions of anything, I’m sold! These muffins are ooey-gooey individual-sized monkey breads made with frozen dinner roll dough, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. They couldn’t be easier to make, and kids just love them. —Tina Butler, Royse City, Texas
Garlic Knotted Rolls
Using frozen yeast dough is an easy way to make homemade rolls. These cute knots add a special touch to any menu.
Cinnamon Apple Cider Monkey Bread
I use the cold-weather staple apple cider—plus apples and more cinnamon—to turn plain cinnamon rolls into monkey bread. My boys love the sticky sweetness. —Kelly Walsh, Aviston, Illinois
Honey-Oat Pan Rolls
These tender rolls are a welcome addition to any meal. Whole wheat flour and oats make them nutritious, too. —Arlene Butler, Ogden, Utah
PB&J French Toast
My grandpa made an awesome breakfast for us grandkids: French toast that started on the griddle as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. —Lindsey Folsom, Dorsey, Illinois
Extra Quick Yeast Rolls
Making homemade rolls usually takes a lot of ingredients and time, but this recipe makes it so simple! They come together quickly, and they freeze well, too. —Eleanor Paine, Junction City, Oregon
Grilled Pesto, Ham and Provolone Sandwiches
These Italian-style sandwiches are loaded with zesty flavors. To lighten them a little, use fat-free mayo. We serve them with minestrone or a crisp salad. —Priscilla Yee, Concord, California
Pasta is typically made from a dry dough that is kneaded and shaped, either through extrusion, rolling out in a pasta machine, or stretched or shaped by hand (as for gnocchi or dumplings). Pasta may be cooked directly after production (so-called “fresh pasta”) or dried, which renders it shelf-stable.
Doughs for biscuits and many flatbreads which are not leavened with yeast are typically mixed but not kneaded or left to rise; these doughs are shaped and cooked directly after mixing.
While breads and other products made from doughs are often baked, some types of dough-based foods are cooked over direct heat, such as tortillas, which are cooked directly on a griddle. Fried dough foods are also common in many cultures.
- Yeast bread dough after kneading, before rising
- Yeast bread dough after rising (proofing), for 40 minutes
- Dough being cut into noodles with a pasta machine
Mini Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Maple syrup sweetens these lovely little cinnamon buns. I make the dough in my bread machine before popping the rolls in the oven. My husband prefers them warm. —Juanita Carlsen, North Bend, Oregon
Bacon, Egg & Avocado Sandwiches
My husband wanted bacon and eggs; I wanted a BLT. We settled our standoff with an irresistible sandwich we’ve had many times since. —Patti Darwin, Lubbock, Texas
Company Stuffed Pork Chops
These comforting pork chops bake to a perfect golden brown, and the stuffing is incredibly moist. It’s one of my favorite dishes to serve to guests because I know they’ll love it. —Lorraine Darocha, Mountain City, Tennessee
BLT Egg Bake
BLTs are a favorite at my house, so I created this recipe to combine those flavors into a warm, cozy casserole. It was such a hit, I served it to my church ladies group at a brunch I hosted. —Priscilla Detrick, Catoosa, Oklahoma
The most basic of the loaf yeast breads, white sandwich bread is easy to make. And because these loaves are made with a standard bread flour or all-purpose flour and no additional flavors, white sandwich bread is incredibly versatile. After learning how to make basic yeast bread, try using the slices to make bread pudding, stuffing, meat loaf and much more. You can also experiment with swapping out some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour to make whole wheat bread.
Sourdough Bread Bowl Sandwich
I created this recipe for when my husband and I go to the lake. I don’t like to spend a lot of time hovering over a stove or grill, especially in the hot Oklahoma summer months, and this filling sourdough bread bowl sandwich is ready in minutes. For extra flavor, brush melted garlic and herb butter over the top prior to cooking. —Shawna Welsh-Garrison, Owasso, Oklahoma
How Much Yeast to Use
This chart from Red Star Yeast.
It includes cake yeast which is rarely found but I left it in as a comparison.
To use instant yeast in place of active dry yeast, 1 ¾ teaspoon of instant yeast is used in place of 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast.
However, the amount of yeast to use can be altered by whether the recipe is a a lean or rich dough. Rich doughs that include sugar, eggs and butter require more yeast than lean doughs consisting of water, flour, salt, and yeast.
According to Red Star, if the ratio of sugar to flour is more than ½ cup sugar to 4 cups flour, an additional 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast per recipe is needed.
If too much yeast is used, the bread can rise too quickly, resulting in not much flavor and it can become misshapen when baked.
Cornmeal Parker House Rolls
My mom deserves the credit for making this recipe a family tradition. These sweet, tender rolls have been on every holiday table at her house for as long as I can remember. —Lisa D. Brenner, Harrisburg, Nebraska
Pecan Caramel Candies
Salty and sweet, these candies are the perfect little snack. Form a kitchen assembly line with your kids, and the making becomes just as fun as the eating. —Julie Wemhoff, Angola, Indiana
Pretzels are a traditional German bread that involves boiling shaped bread in water and baking soda. The twists are then baked to a glossy brown crust and pale fluffy inside. Soft pretzels served with mustard or cheese sauce make a great appetizer, and small, crunchy pretzels are a go-to snack.
From tortillas to pita and naan, flatbreads include a wide range of round, flat breads that are typically cooked on a skillet or grill. Because of their shape, these breads are perfect for turning into a pizza, folding into a taco or gyro or using to sop up tikka masala sauce.
Usually baked round or in a rectangle, focaccia is a thin bread with a tender crumb. Though they can be left plain, most focaccia is topped with bright ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, olives or herbs. Take a look at how one home baker turns her focaccia into a work of art.
Prepare Your Bread Dough
- Use an electric mixer to beat a portion of the flour and the remaining ingredients together, ensuring all flour and yeast are moistened.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible (avoid an electric mixer at this stage because it can strain the motor). Stir the batter until the dough looks ropey and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Test Kitchen Tip: Always add the minimum amount of flour in the range given in your bread recipe. If you add too much flour in the process of making dough, the bread can become heavy and dry.
Using Bread Flour
Substituting bread flour for all-purpose flour in bread recipes can be tricky. Bread flour contains more gluten and protein than all-purpose flour, making it ideal for baking bread. However, when using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, you usually need less bread flour. For the best results, use the type of flour specified in your recipe rather than substituting one for the other.
Knead the Bread Dough
- To knead the dough, fold it and push down with the heel of your hand.
- Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- You’re finished kneading when the dough is soft and smooth but not dry and holds together nicely in a ball.
Test Kitchen Tip: Lightly flour your hands before kneading to keep the dough from sticking to them.
Basic Types of Yeast Dough
- Soft dough: Extremely sticky; used for breads that don’t require kneading.
- Moderately soft dough: Slightly sticky and used for rich, sweet breads. It requires 3 to 5 minutes of kneading.
- Moderately stiff dough: It is slightly firm to the touch and used for most nonsweet bread. It requires 6 to 8 minutes of kneading.
- Stiff dough: Firm to the touch; holds shape after 8 to 10 minutes of kneading.
Creamy Strawberry French Toast Bake
On Sunday mornings I like to take it easy, but I also want my family to have a nice breakfast. This recipe allows me to sleep in but still feel as if I’m a fabulous mom. Win! —Alynn Hansen, Mona, Utah
Sticky Cinnamon-Sugar Monkey Bread
You can do all the prep work for this monkey bread the night before. I prepare the dough pieces and put all the sauce ingredients in the pan so it’s ready for the morning. You can sprinkle chopped nuts in with the dough pieces before pouring the sauce on and baking. — Diana Kunselman, Rimersburg, Pennsylvania
Island Breezes Coffee Cake
With the island flavors, this simple pull-apart bread is perfect for a spring brunch. —Debra Goforth, Newport, Tennessee
Braided Onion-Potato Loaf
Ever wonder why a bread recipe includes mashed potatoes? The potato’s starchy quality absorbs liquid during the kneading stage, and it holds onto that liquid during baking. The bread finishes with a crisp, brown exterior crust and a flavorful, moist interior that helps the bread keep longer. —Joan Ranzini, Waynesboro, Virginia
Active Dry Yeast
According to King Arthur Flour, Active Dry Yeast is considered slower to get going but eventually catches up to the instant yeast which is a quicker starting yeast. Fleischmann’s and Red Star are the two most prevalent active dry yeasts in the super markets. They come in 3 packets and in jars as well as vacuum packed.
Because active dry yeast is subjected to extremely high temperatures to dry out cake yeast and form the granules, many of its cells are destroyed in the process.
Because the outer cells are dead, this yeast must be dissolved in a warm liquid to activate the living cells in the center.
Is CO2 Important in Baking?
Non-bakers may not realize that besides ingredients like flour, sugar and eggs another common ingredient is baking soda, baking powder, or in the case of bread, yeast. These “magic ingredients” work with the other ingredients to release carbon dioxide (CO2).
For example, when leavening agents such as baker’s yeast or baking soda are added to bread dough, they release CO2 which forms bubbles to give the dough the perfect consistency and structure for it to rise. CO2 creates the light and fluffy texture in baked goods by filling the batter with pockets of gas as it bakes.
Carbon dioxide also happens to be one of the major gases responsible for leavening in baking. In cakes, it comes from the reaction of sodium bicarbonate under acidic conditions. That’s why for thousands of years bread has been made with only flour, yeast and water (skip the yeast and you have unleavened bread).
What’s more is that the added CO2 further results in the scrumptious bakery breads we gather today such as rye, brioche, sourdough and even that delicious holiday cornbread.
Bakeries use carbon dioxide all the time, especially in the final proofing stage before baking (resting to increase the volume of the bread). In a closed area with hundreds of loaves of bread, this can cause the CO2 levels to rise to potentially dangerous levels. This is why a large, artisan bread company in Minneapolis recently began using our CO2 Storage Safety Alarm to protect their employees from high levels of CO2 in enclosed bread rising rooms.
Fun Fact: One of a baker’s goals is to increase the volume of the bread to make it more “airy” and tasty. A loaf of bread will nearly double in volume, which you can see by looking at the holes in bread caused by CO2 bubbles.
During the proofing process, when CO2 is produced it begins to apply pressure which makes the dough rise. If the bread is not allowed to expand enough it may rise in the oven. If it is allowed to expand for too long, it may be “over-proofed” and deflate the dough.
Chimichurri Monkey Bread
The herby goodness of my favorite sauce shines in this nostalgic bread recipe that comes together quickly thanks to refrigerated biscuits. Serve warm as an appetizer with marinara for dipping, or as a side to an Italian entree. —Eden Dranger, Los Angeles
Garlic Bread Pasta Torte
My kids love to stuff spiral pasta inside bread for a clever dinner torte. We save the bread crusts to make garlicky croutons for salad. —Melissa Birdsong, Waleska, Georgia
Delicious Almond Braids
Similar to an almond crescent, this coffee cake is light and flaky with a rich almond center. It’s versatile, so you can serve it for dessert, breakfast or brunch. It tastes as if it came from a high-end bakery, but packaged puff pastry dough makes it easy. —Gina Idone, Staten Island, New York
What Is Yeast?
Yeast is an egg-shaped single-cell fungus that is only visible with a microscope. It takes 20,000,000,000 (twenty billion) yeast cells to weigh one gram. To grow, yeast cells digest food and this allows them to obtain energy.
When baking yeast-leavened bread, the yeast ferments the sugars in the flour and releases carbon dioxide. Because the dough is elastic and stretchable, the carbon dioxide cannot escape. The expanding gas causes the dough to inflate or rise. Yeast is also an essential ingredient in brewing beer. The yeast eats the sugar in beer and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.
The structure of the dough can be affected by many things. If it is a lean dough, the amount of water in the dough will give it a tight structure or an open, holey one. Baguettes have a tighter finished structure using less water than does ciabatta, which can be so wet as to be difficult to manage for the best open structure when baked. It’s sort of like trying to manage a wiggly blob when shaping.
Sweet dough will always have a tighter structure due to the ingredients, including the liquid.
Also the liquid used in the dough will make a difference. Yeast loves potato water and literally gobbles it up.
In the past, the instructions for loaf breads at the time were to keep adding flour while kneading the dough until it no longer stuck to the board. It invariably ended up with too much flour in it. The lack of hydration is what made the dough stale so quickly. Later I discovered that the dough, lean or sweet, should be soft which does not necessarily equate to sticky although it sometimes does.
While some people take great pride in hand kneading their bread to perfection, I am not one of them. I simply don’t have the time nor the desire. So I use my heavy duty mixer and a dough hook to knead my dough. I do knead it by hand for a minute or so to smooth it out before putting them to rise.
In any case, the kneaded dough should pass the windowpane test. A small piece of dough is stretched thinly with your fingers until you can see through it. If it breaks or will not stretch thinly enough, knead it some more until it does.
Ham & Jack Pudgy Pie
Pepper jack cheese adds spicy flavor to these warm, melty sandwiches. —Terri McKitrick, Delafield, Wisconsin
Berry-Stuffed French Toast
Both kids and grown-ups will enjoy the creamy filling and sweet syrup that flavor these French toast sandwiches. Vary the recipe by substituting fresh blueberries and strawberries and the corresponding jam. —Monica & Lisa Hannahan, Dayton, Ohio
Rotisserie Chicken Panini
This ooey-gooey, melty delight is packed with bacon, chicken, cheese and just enough lemon to tickle your taste buds. Other chicken panini recipes don’t compare!—Terri McCarty, Oro Grande, California
Sour Cream Fan Rolls
I received this recipe from an e-mail pen pal in Canada. The dough is so easy to work with, and it makes the lightest yeast rolls. I haven’t used another white bread recipe since I started making this one. —Carrie Ormsby, West Jordan, Utah
Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese is a classic quick and easy meal. I love experimenting with different combinations. This is one of my favorites. —jessie Apfe, Berkeley, California
Chili Baked Brie
Chili and garlic powder shine in this cheesy loaf that’s best right out of the oven. It’s always a favorite when I entertain. —Mary Spencer, Greendale, Wisconsin
White Chocolate Party Mix
You won’t be able to stop eating this irresistible white chocolate party mix. The light, sweet coating is great over cereal, peanuts, pretzels and M&M’s. —Norene Wright, Manilla, Indiana
Upside-Down Banana Monkey Bread
Everyone digs in to monkey bread thanks to its pull-apart shape. We add banana slices and pecans to top this already scrumptious showpiece for a brunch or family gathering. —Donna Marie Ryan, Topsfield, Massachusetts
Once exposed to the air, the yeast should be stored in the refrigerator. You can store yeast in the freezer, which will pause its activity and prolong its shelf life. Just be sure to place it in a well-sealed container before freezing.
Mini Reuben Casseroles
These cute and creamy little casseroles have the classic flavors of a Reuben sandwich. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Soft Beer Pretzels
I’m always looking for new ways to combine fun flavors, and what goes together better than beer and pretzels? Not much that I can think of. That’s why I put them together into one delicious recipe. —Alyssa Wilhite, Whitehouse, Texas
Caramel-Pecan Monkey Bread
The kids will get a kick out of pulling off gooey pieces of this delectable monkey bread. It’s hard to resist a caramel-coated treat. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Pillow-Soft Dinner Rolls
The dough for these rolls has a nice texture and is simple to shape. You can make them as simple buns or shape dinner rolls into different styles for some panache. —Norma Harder, Weyakwin, Saskatchewan
Go to Recipe
Best Ever Breadsticks
Present these delicious breadsticks alongside an Italian favorite like lasagna or spaghetti. They’re an attractive and edible addition to the table setting! —Carol Wolfer, Lebanon, Oregon
Gluten-Free Fluffy Dinner Rolls
The dough for these gluten-free dinner rolls is stickier than traditional yeast bread, but if you keep beating for 2 to 3 minutes in the mixer, it becomes workable. The dough balls fit in the pan nicely with seven rolls on the perimeter and two in the middle. —Doris Kinney, Merrimack, New Hampshire
Braided Orange Wreath
All eyes will turn to this gorgeous braid when it is set on the table. This orange-scented bread will disappear in no time.—Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
Whether they’re twisted into a ring or are left straight, breaded breads are always a showstopper. Depending on what flavor you go with, braided breads can be sliced and served with a cup of coffee for an easy breakfast, or baked for a special occasion like challah for Shabbat or ricotta Easter bread.
There are several reasons for wanting to increase the amount of organisms in your dough without adding additional yeast. Among them are rich doughs. A lot of sugar, eggs, milk or cream will slow the ability of the dough to rise. However, loading up these doughs with lots of yeast can lead to a “ yeasty taste” and can actually be counterproductive. So a sponge is often used to introduce more living yeast cells into the dough without increasing the amount of yeast.
A sponge consists of a small amount of flour, some yeast, water and sometimes a pinch of sugar are mixed together. They are then covered and allowed to rise until doubled. Since yeast is a living organism, you can see how when the sponge has risen, you have just increased enormously the number of live organisms ready to help raise a rich dough.
Lean dough often depend upon variations of this theme under the names, bigas (Italian), levains (French) Poolish, a liquid starter or sometimes they are just called starters. They all do the same thing, which is to allow very little yeast to be used. These often ferment for several hours or overnight introducing more flavor into the dough.
Another pre-ferment is to save a piece of dough from a batch made the day before and add it to the new batch of dough.
King Arthur Flours has a wonderful discussion on preferments that help clarify the confusing differences among all the different types. It is so important, I have included the entire discussion here.
“A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough. The subject of preferments is one that can cause immense confusion among bakers. The variety of terminology can bewilder even the most experienced among us. Words from foreign languages add their contribution to the complexity.
A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough. The preferment can be of a stiff texture, it can be quite loose in texture, or it can simply be a piece of mixed bread dough. Some preferments contain salt, others do not. Some are generated with commercial yeast, some with naturally occurring wild yeasts. After discussing the specific attributes of a number of common preferments, we will list the benefits gained from their use.
- pâte fermentée
- madre bianca
These terms all pertain to preferments; some are quite specific, some broad and general. The important thing to remember is that, just as daffodils, roses, and tulips all are specific plants that fall beneath the heading of “flowers,” in a similar way the above terms all are in the category of “preferments.” Let’s examine several of the terms listed in more detail.
Pâte fermentée, biga, and poolish, are the most common preferments which use commercial yeast. As such, we can place them loosely in a category of their own. We place sourdough and levain in a separate category.
pâte fermentéePâte fermentée is a French term that means fermented dough, or as it is occasionally called, simply old dough. If one were to mix a batch of French bread, and once mixed a portion were removed, and added in to a new batch of dough being mixed the next day, the portion that was removed would be the pâte fermentée. Over the course of several hours or overnight, the removed piece would ferment and ripen, and would bring certain desired qualities to the next day’s dough. Being that pâte fermentée is a piece of mixed dough, we note that it therefore contains all the ingredients of finished dough, that is, flour, water, salt, and yeast.
bigaBiga is an Italian term that generically means preferment. It can be quite stiff in texture, or it can be of loose consistency (100% hydration). It is made with flour, water, and a small amount of yeast (the yeast can be as little as 0.1% of the biga flour weight). Once mixed, it is left to ripen for at least several hours, and for as much as 12 to 16 hours. Note that there is no salt in the biga. Unlike pâte fermentée, which is simply a piece of mixed white dough which is removed from a full batch of dough, the biga, lacking salt, is made as a separate step in production.
poolishPoolish is a preferment with Polish origins. It initially was used in pastry production. As its use spread throughout Europe it became common in bread. Today it is used worldwide, from South America to England, from Japan to the United States. It is by definition made with equal weights of flour and water (that is, it is 100% hydration), and a small portion of yeast. Note again the absence of salt. It is appropriate here to discuss the quantity of yeast used. The intention is not to be vague, but it must be kept in mind that the baker will manipulate the quantity of yeast in his or her preferment to suit required production needs.
For example, in a bakery with two or three shifts, it might be suitable to make a poolish or any other preferment and allow only 8 hours of ripening. In such a case, a slightly higher percentage of yeast would be indicated in the preferment. On the other hand, in a one-shift shop, the preferment might have 14 to 16 hours of maturing before the mixing of the final dough. In this case the baker would decrease the quantity of yeast used. Similarly, ambient temperature must be considered. A preferment that is ripening in a 65°F room would require more yeast than one in a 75°F room.
sourdough and levainThe words sourdough and levain tend to have the same meaning in the United States, and are often used interchangeably. This however is not the case in Europe. In Germany, the word sourdough (sauerteig) always refers to a culture of rye flour and water. In France, on the other hand, the word “levain” refers to a culture that is entirely or almost entirely made of white flour. While outwardly these two methods are different, there are a number of similarities between sourdough and levain. Most important is that each is a culture of naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria that have the capacity to both leaven and flavor bread. A German-style culture is made using all rye flour and water.
A levain culture may begin with a high percentage of rye flour, or with all white flour. In any case, it eventually is maintained with all or almost all white flour. While a rye culture is always of comparatively stiff texture, a levain culture can be of either loose or stiff texture (a range of 50% hydration to 125% hydration). With either method, the principle is the same. The baker mixes a small paste or dough of flour and water, freshens it with new food and water on a consistent schedule, and develops a colony of microörganisms that ferment and multiply. In order to retain the purity of the culture, a small portion of ripe starter is taken off before the mixing of the final dough. This portion is held back, uncontaminated by yeast, salt, or other additions to the final dough, and used to begin the next batch of bread.
During the initial stages in the development of a sourdough or levain culture, it is common to see the addition of grapes, potato water, grated onions, and so on. While these can provide an extra nutritional boost, they are not required for success. The flour should supply the needed nutrients for the growing colony. Keep in mind, however, that when using white flours, unbleached and unbromated flour, such as those produced by King Arthur® Flour, are the appropriate choice. Vital nutrients are lost during the bleaching process, making bleached flour unsuitable.
How does the baker know when his or her preferment has matured sufficiently and is ready to use? There are a number of signs that can guide us. Most important, it should show signs of having risen. If the preferment is dense and seems not to have moved, in all likelihood it has not ripened sufficiently. Poor temperature control, insufficient time allowed for proper maturing, or a starter that has lost its viability can all account for the problem.
When the preferment has ripened sufficiently, it should be fully risen and just beginning to recede in the center. This is the best sign that correct development has been attained. It is somewhat harder to detect this quality in a loose preferment such as a poolish. In this case, ripeness is indicated when the surface of the poolish is covered with small fermentation bubbles. Often CO2 bubbles are seen breaking through the surface.
There should be a pleasing aroma that has a perceptible tang to it. Take a small taste. If the preferment has ripened properly, we should taste a slight tang, sometimes with a subtle sweetness present as well. The baker should keep in mind that a sluggish and undeveloped preferment, or one that has gone beyond ripeness, will yield bread that lacks luster, and suffers a deficiency in volume and flavor.
There are a number of important benefits to the correct use of preferments, and they all result from the gradual, slow fermentation that is occurring during the maturing of the preferment:
- Dough structure is strengthened. A characteristic of all preferments is the development of acidity as a result of fermentation activity, and this acidity has a strengthening effect on the gluten structure.
- Superior flavor. Breads made with preferments often possess a subtle wheaty aroma, delicate flavor, a pleasing aromatic tang, and a long finish. Organic acids and esters are a natural product of preferments, and they contribute to superior bread flavor.
- Keeping quality improves. There is a relationship between acidity in bread and keeping quality. Up to a point, the lower the pH of a bread, that is, the higher the acidity, the better the keeping quality of the bread. Historically, Europeans, particularly those in rural areas, baked once every two, three, or even four weeks. The only breads that could keep that long were breads with high acidity, that is, levain or sourdough breads.
- Overall production time is reduced. Above all, to attain the best bread we must give sufficient time for its development. Bread that is mixed and two or three hours later is baked will always lack character when compared with bread that contains a well-developed preferment. By taking five or ten minutes today to scale and mix a sourdough or poolish, we significantly reduce the length of the bulk fermentation time required tomorrow. The preferment immediately incorporates acidity and organic acids into the dough, serving to reduce required floor time after mixing. As a result the baker can divide, shape, and bake in substantially less time than if he or she were using a straight dough.
- Rye flour offers some specific considerations. When baking bread that contains a high proportion of rye flour, it is necessary to acidify the rye (that is, use a portion of it in a sourdough phase) in order to stabilize its baking ability. Rye flour possesses a high level of enzymes compared to wheat flour, and when these are unregulated, they contribute to a gumminess in the crumb. The acidity present in sourdough reduces the activity of the enzymes, thereby promoting good crumb structure and superior flavor. “
What Is Yeast Bread?
As the name suggests, yeast breads are made with yeast (as opposed to quick breads, which are the other main type of bread and don’t contain yeast). Combining warm water and sugar with yeast causes the yeast to multiply and release carbon dioxide, which, when mixed with dry ingredients, creates a soft loaf of bread. We can show you how to proof yeast and how to use yeast the right way.
Breads made with yeast also require kneading. Working the dough helps develop gluten, a protein that gives bread structure and texture and keeps those yeast gas bubbles within the loaf. Since kneading can initially be a bit tough on the gas bubbles that have been built up, yeast breads need one or two rest periods as well.
If your yeast doesn’t work, your yeast bread won’t work, so that’s why you should always test yeast when baking.
Ham ‘n’ Swiss Chicken
This saucy casserole allows you to enjoy all the rich, traditional flavor of Cordon Bleu with less effort. It’s a snap to layer the ingredients and let them cook all afternoon. Just toss a salad to make this meal complete.
Soft Sesame Breadsticks
I’ve been making these tasty breadsticks that go with almost any meal for years. Since they use ingredients like flour, sugar, baking powder and milk, it’s convenient and inexpensive to mix up a batch. —Nancy Johnson, Connersville, Indiana
A favorite for appetizers and accompaniments to a big bowl of pasta, breadsticks are long, individually sized breads that can be soft or crunchy. Breadsticks can be baked plain or topped with parmesan and garlic. By the way, here’s how to make copycat Olive Garden breadsticks.
Easy Potato Rolls
After I discovered this recipe, it became a mainstay for me. I make the dough ahead of time when company is coming, and I try to keep some in the refrigerator to bake for our ranch hands. Leftover mashed potatoes are almost sure to go into these rolls. —Jeanette McKinney, Belleview, Missouri
Skillet Cinnamon Rolls
I love using cast iron to get a nice crust on these skillet cinnamon rolls. The pan also makes an impressive serving dish on the table without it looking as if you tried too hard. —Danielle Williams, Newport, Rhode Island
Sesame Herb Pull-Apart Bread
The beauty of this bread is that all the prep work is done a day ahead. The savory herbs make it irresistible. —Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma
Mother Lode Pretzels
I brought these savory-sweet pretzels to a family gathering, and they disappeared from the dessert tray before dessert was even served! My family raves about how awesome they are. —Carrie Bennett, Madison, Wisconsin
Toad in the Hole Bacon Sandwich
Switch up the cheese—pepper jack comes with a nice kick—or use sliced kielbasa, ham or sausage in place
of the bacon in this versatile grilled cheese sandwich. This recipe couldn’t be easier to double to serve two. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
Asparagus Ham Strata
You can easily prepare this the night before for a luncheon, or in the morning for dinner. I serve it year-round for large groups, like my card and garden clubs, and make it for picnics and other occasions. Nearly every time I do, someone requests the recipe! —Ethel Pressel, New Oxford, Pennsylvania
Toffee Apple Cinnamon Buns
This recipe was my dad’s favorite growing up. He would sit and watch his mom sprinkle the dough with sweet filling, carefully roll it up and cut it into rounds. The anticipation waiting for them to come out of the oven was almost more than he could bear. —Jeanne Holt, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s the difference between bread machine yeast vs. active dry yeast?Bread machine yeast is specially formulated for use in a bread machine. It becomes active more quickly than active dry yeast. In addition, while active dry yeast generally needs to be dissolved in water before use, bread machine yeast can be mixed directly with other dry ingredients. Therefore, we do not recommend substituting one yeast for the other in your recipes.
- What is nutritional yeast?Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast commonly used in vegan and vegetarian recipes to add nutrients and a satisfying cheese-like flavor. Because it is inactive, however, nutritional yeast cannot be substituted for other yeasts in bread recipes.
- Can I make bread without yeast?Bread without yeast is known as quick bread and relies on baking soda or baking powder (rather than yeast) to make them rise. Banana bread, corn bread, scones, biscuits, and muffins are all examples of quick bread.
- What type of yeast bread is best for beginners?
I’ve made so many of these delicious rolls that I think I could make them blindfolded! I always take about 200 of them to the senior citizens’ dinner at our church. After shaping the rolls, you can freeze them, then just thaw and bake when you need them. —Debbie Johnson, Centertown, Missouri
Badger State Stuffing
Your family will love the contrasting sweet, savory and slightly tart flavors in this spin on a Thanksgiving classic. Feel free to use your favorite beer or dried fruit to make the dish your own. —Andrea Fetting, Franklin, Wisconsin
Italian Ricotta Easter Bread
I changed our family’s traditional Easter bread by adding ricotta and a few other ingredients. The almond flavoring works wonders! — Tina Mirilovich, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Cappuccino Cinnamon Rolls
Distinctive coffee flavor accents the filling of these ooey, gooey rolls. The glaze goes on while they are still warm—they won’t last long!.
—Sherri Cox, Lucasville, Ohio
Apple Pull-Apart Bread
For a fun sweet treat that’s certain to satisfy, try this recipe. Drizzled with icing, each finger-licking piece has a yummy surprise filling of apples and pecans. It’s well worth the bit of extra effort. —Carolyn Gregory, Hendersonville, Tennessee
Cinnamon Bun Cookies
I love cinnamon rolls, but working with yeast can be scary. These cookies give you the taste of a cinnamon roll in cookie form—no yeast required! They look like flattened cinnamon rolls and feel special enough to serve around the holidays. —Erin Raatjes, New Lenox, Illinois
Surprise Monkey Bread
When my neighbor hosts brunch, she always asks that I make this monkey bread recipe. I also make a savory version with garlic and cheese for dinner. —Lois Rutherford, Elkton, Florida