Many people would much rather buy a loaf of bread from a bakery rather than make it themselves. Although many of us would like to eat fresh homemade bread, very few are willing to take the time and effort to bake one. This is understandable because the process involves strenuous kneading and two long waits for the bread to rise. However, through the 25 plus years of the Cookery School, what inspires me to keep on teaching this skill is the look of delight on students faces as they take their first loaf of bread out of the oven. It is an experience akin to catching your first fish but better. As an instructor, it is very gratifying to know that I have passed on a skill that will touch their everyday lives forever.
A good recipe for people working with yeast for the first time is the Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread. No kneading is required and it only involves one rising. This bread takes about an hour and a half to make. The actual preparation is only five minutes and the rest is waiting time for rising and baking. A wet dough ferments more rapidly than a dry one.
In contrast, white bread involves kneading and double rising and knocking back. Most of the time spent in making this type of bread goes into rising and baking. However, the end result gives one intense satisfaction that is hard to put into words.
Yeast is a living organism, and it would be helpful to keep this in mind when you make brown yeast bread. The yeast feeds on sugar and creates carbon dioxide bubbles that expand in the oven and causes the bread to rise. There really is no reason to be intimidated when working with yeast. Just like us, it has a sweet tooth and it likes being warm. The average temperature of a kitchen is warm enough for yeast to grow although a temperature higher than 50 degrees centigrade will kill it therefore make sure that you do not use water that is too hot.
Rather than bakers yeast, you can use dried yeast instead. The method is the same but only use half the weight required for fresh yeast. Give it a longer time to rise. You may also use fast acting yeast; just follow the instructions on the packet. Take note too that dough which contains 25 grams or 1ounce of yeast rises faster than one with only 20 grams or 3/4ounces.
It is also important that you ask questions before you buy yeast because many of the fresh ones available these days have been genetically modified.
The kind of flour we use for brown soda bread is stone-ground wholemeal flour. Breads have different flavors and textures because different flours are used to make them. The amount of natural moisture in the flour depends to the atmospheric condition therefore the quantity of water needed is not set. Water should be altered accordingly but a good rule of thumb is that the dough should be just too wet to knead. It does not have to be kneaded.
We add sweetness to Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Breadby using treacle, although molasses, white or brown sugar, golden syrup, honey or Barbados sugar (soft, dark, brown sugar) are also good. Your choice will depend on the kind of flavor you want your bread to have. BOLA TANGKAS