Simple Soda Bread
Photography by Jodi Pudge Image by: Simple Soda Bread<br />Photography by Jodi Pudge
There are a number of steps to making breads that you'll be proud of. Except for the kneading, they don't require much time – or effort.
The right water temperature
The water you combine with active dry yeast should be slightly warmer than lukewarm, about 110°F (45°C). To test, sprinkle a little on your wrist; it should register as slightly warm. For quick-rising (instant) dry yeast mixed with dry ingredients, water needs to be warmer to be effective, about 120°F to 130°F (50°C to 55°C). It should still feel comfortable to the touch, but use an instant-read thermometer to ensure it's at the correct temperature.
Testing the rising power of your yeast is an important first step in our bread baking recipes. In a bowl, combine warm water and a little sugar to nourish the yeast (but not enough to make the bread taste sweet). Sprinkle dry granular yeast over the surface, place the bowl in a warm spot and wait for 10 minutes – if frothy foam rises, that's the proof that your yeast is alive and raring to grow. If there are no bubbles or increase in volume, the water might have been too hot or the yeast too old. Check the expiry date on the package. If you've been treating yeast like a prized antique, begin again with a freshly purchased package that hasn't yet reached its best-before date.
Flour: How much is enough?
When you initially stir in flour, it's prudent to not add the entire amount called for in the recipe. Why? Flour varies slightly in dryness from season to season, and from brand to brand, and, alas, from the North American practice of measuring by volume instead of weight. Save out the remainder recommended in each recipe and use it to flour the counter before and during kneading.
Step-by-step bread baking techniques you won't want to miss:
• How to knead dough with your hands
• How to properly rise bread dough
Have all your bread baking equipment? Check your list with our photo gallery:
Photo gallery: Equipment you need to bake your own yeast breads
Image featured above: Hazelnut Honey Bread
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