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*This recipe was previously published as a guestpost at BakerStreet.tv*
Why is yeast so intimidating to so many of us? Is it because yeast is a single-celled living organism, which has to die in order for our breads to rise? Perhaps. But in reality the reason for being intimidated by yeast is probably more based on fear that our breads won’t rise. When I began baking with yeast that was always a concern in the back of my head. Nowadays I’m more comfortable baking with yeast.
I personally found a few steps or tips that helped get me get over my fear of yeast. The first was making sure the liquid called for in bread recipes was warm. The warm temperature helps the yeast activate. Many recipes will give you exact temperatures that the water should be. I don’t use a thermometer, instead I go by what feels like luke-warm temperature. The next tip that always put me at ease about yeast rising is proofing. Yeast proofing is when the yeast is dissolved in warm liquid before bringing all ingredients together. By proofing the yeast I can then see if it foams, which means the yeast is alive, or if nothing happens then the yeast is dead and no good for baking. In cases when the yeast does not foam then I simply discard the water yeast mix and begin all over. That way I won’t have to wait until the bread is baked and end up with a flat, heavy brick of a bread. Another thing I do is mix the sweetener, called for in a recipe, with the warm liquid and yeast. I read somewhere that the sugar helps the yeast activate.
The tips or steps above are once I like to use no matter if the recipe calls for mixing the yeast with the dry ingredients or not. Yes, I am aware that you don’t need to proof instant yeast. That is just something that I like to do and you can choose otherwise, we all have our ways of doing things. This is what has worked for me and may or may not work for you. You’ll only find out what works best for you by experimenting and tweaking your skills.
While I don’t consider myself a master baker tackling a basic yeast bread is a walk in the park. I promise that even the most novice bakers can handle this simple olive oil bread. The recipe I’m going to share is one of my favorites and go to bread recipes. It is a small loaf perfect for a small family.
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Easy Olive Oil Bread
2 cups or 240 grams bread flour or all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cups (175 ml) warm water
1 small packet of instant yeast = 1 tbsp
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, good quality
extra flour for kneading
extra olive oil to brush bowl and bread
1. In a small bowl combine honey, water, and yeast, stir to combine a bit. Put aside to proof yeast for about 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt. Once the yeast has foamed you can proceed to step 2.
2. Make a well in the center of flour bowl. Pour the olive oil, then the water-yeast mixture into the center of flour bowl. Using a wooden spoon stir until a wet dough forms, then switch to your hands for kneading. Depending on how wet the dough is, and the humidity in your kitchen, you will need to add a little bit of flour at a time to form an elastic dough that does not stick to your hands. Continue kneading until a smooth dough is formed, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove the dough and set aside, brush or rub a little bit of olive oil inside the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl, brush with a little oil, cover and leave to rise in a warm place.
Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in sizes.
Once doubled, preheat oven to 375f or 190c and prepare a baking sheet or bread mould. Remove the risen dough from the bowl, gently knead into desired shape or place inside bread mould.
Leave to rise another 10 minutes. Place bread in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
The bread will feel crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The honey also gives it a slight sweetness which I love. It is perfect as a side to pasta night, as a sandwich bread, or to simply enjoy with your favorite spread alongside some coffee or tea.
What about you, what is your favorite bread to bake?
This bread is being sent to Heather’s BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread) event. Link up yours