Home Baking Association
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Ask The Experts...

Ask the Experts...About Yeast Breads

Q: I love my bread machine. Now I'm ready to explore baking other yeast breads. What tips do you have?

Dear Baker: Aren't bread machines great! You'll find making yeast dough by hand or with the aid of mixers and food processors isn't so tough, either.


  • Dissolving yeast: Lukewarm = 100°F to 110°F
  • Yeast mixed with flour: Very warm water = 120°F to 130°F
  • Dough rising (fermentation): Draft free, 80°F
  • Shaped dough rising (proofing): Draft free, 80°F to 100°F
  • Also, check out ovens with a proofing feature
Generally remember:

How much yeast? Use about 1 to 2 packages of active dry or fast-rising yeast for every 6 to 8 cups of flour. If the dough is high in whole grain flour or sugar, 2 packages may be needed, even with 3 to 4 cups of flour.

¼ oz. dry yeast package = about 2¼ teaspoons or 1 (0.6 oz.) cake compressed yeast. (For more about yeast, go to glossary or member Web sites.)

Check temperatures: Instant read thermometers are best. Yeast is alive and will be killed if exposed to temperatures that are too hot. Always take the temperature of the water before dissolving the yeast or adding liquids to yeast mixed with dry ingredients. The yeast dough also needs a warm environment to assist the dough in rising.

Salt: Salt is important to control the fermentation of bread, as well as to provide flavor and good cell structure. One teaspoon per cup of liquid is an average amount to use. (See glossary listing for salt or visit www.mortonsalt.com.)

1) Speed the process. Fast-rising yeast allows you to save time from mixing to baking, and is designed for hotter water (130°F) added to the yeast, which has been mixed with some flour. The first rising time will only be 10 minutes.

2) Divide or slow the process by using the refrigerator. Once the dough is mixed/kneaded, grease a large, sealable container or plastic bag (allow lots of rising space) and place the dough in it. Seal, pushing out air. Let rise in the refrigerator, being sure to punch it down after about an hour or when dough doubles in size. Then shape it the next day, let double, and bake as directed.

Keep the dough covered. Use dampened, clean, non-terry towels OR spray plastic wrap with pan spray and lay it over the dough, spray side down.

Shaping: Let the dough rise, punch it down, and shape into a smooth ball. Always let the dough rest, covered, for about 10 minutes before shaping. The dough will handle much better when relaxed, especially if you're rolling it out flat for pizza crust, cinnamon, or dinner rolls.

Baking: Always preheat the oven or follow your oven use guide for preheating convection ovens. During the first 10 to 15 minutes of baking, heat causes the dough to expand quickly giving shape to the loaf and forming the crust. If the oven is not preheated, the dough may over-rise and fall.

Place the baking pans so they don't touch oven walls and are 1 to 2 inches apart. For rack placement, see oven use guide or refer to the recipe.

A loaf of yeast bread is done when:

  • Instant-read probe thermometer inserted into a loaf registers 190°F to 205°F internal temperature
  • All surfaces of loaf are evenly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped

Check loaves about 10 minutes before time is completed. If the loaves are very brown on top, shield the loaves by laying foil over the tops and finish baking.

Loaves are done when golden brown on all crusts (don't be afraid to carefully pop loaf out of pan to check side and bottom crusts). A hollow sound also will show it's done.

Check out other Web sites of Home Baking Association members for many bread baking tips and recipes.