Fast Rise Breads with Your Mixer
I have been baking our daily bread for 50 years…and in that time I have tried every innovation to make it easier and faster and still get great results. I think that fast yeasts, Instant or Bread Machine yeasts, have made the most difference, cutting bread making time almost in half with no loss of that yeasty, nutty flavor and texture, and it doesn't need to be "proofed" first, but can be added right to the dry ingredients.
We make a variety of sandwich-style breads for toast and sandwiches. I can make a simple 24 ounce loaf of white bread for about 50¢; and that’s using expensive, but delicious butter for the fat. I usually make a whole-grain loaf of some type, as well as hamburger and brat buns, dinner rolls, and the like regularly. No long list of chemicals in our breads; just wholesome, simple ingredients.
I have gotten my regular bread baking to under 2 hours from start to finish, and that includes mostly waiting for the bread to rise and bake. Here are some hints to help make bread-making a lot easier than when I started making it years ago.
Instant and Bread Machine yeast are the same, and have really shortened my bread-making time. I buy 1 pound packages of Fleischmann’s Yeast at Sam’s very reasonably, the little packets cost a fortune for regular bread bakers. Saf is another good brand of instant yeast.
The advantages of the fast yeasts, is that no proofing is needed, and the first rise is only a rest for 10 minutes, not an hour! At first, that seemed unbelievable, but the results are excellent. The short rest means you don’t have near as many big bubbles to get out before you shape your dough into loaves or rolls.
The mixer does the kneading. After blending in all the flour, I change to a dough hook to knead my dough. For most bread, 6 minutes with the dough hook gives good results. For sweet dough, I usually use 4 minutes. Yes, I can and have kneaded my bread by hand, but after 50 years, I’m happy to let the mixer do the work.
I let my dough rise right in the mixer bowl. If you cover it tightly with a silicone cover or plastic wrap, you don’t even need grease the bowl or pan, it will scrape right out. I then use a little soapy water in the mixer bowl to wash up my beaters, scrapers, etc.
The second rise, after shaping your loaves or buns or rolls, is also usually shorter than with active dry yeast, just until it is doubled. Remember that they will also rise in the oven, called “oven-spring”.
Here are the steps to convert your older recipes to this method.
Set aside 1 cup of regular flour from the total amount. Mix the remaining flours and other dry ingredients, including the instant yeast, in your mixer bowl.
Heat the fat and other liquids (except eggs) until hot to the touch (120-125°) with an instant read thermometer. (Some yeast directions call for up to 130°, I don’t like to get that hot…I don’t want to kill my yeast.) I usually use my microwave and a glass measuring cup for this. A minute to a minute and a half frequently is sufficient, and a good starting point. If the recipe calls for "proofing" the yeast in water, add that water to the other liquids.
Stir the liquids into the dry mixture.
Add the eggs if called for in the recipe.
Mix in only enough reserved flour for the desired batter or dough.
Change to a dough hook and knead or knead by hand.
Cover the dough tightly and let rest 10 minutes. This is the “first rise”.
Shape dough or stir down the batter.
Cover; let rise until doubled in size. Most dough will require less than the normal rising time.
Bake as the recipe calls for.
Remember, all of these recipes can be made by hand if desired. I certainly made them that way for years.