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#SourdoughSeptember Day 21

Today I thought I’d have a quick look at the different ways of making bread rise.  This won’t be by any means comprehensive (and I apologise for the lack of pictures!) but it will hopefully give an idea if the differences between the main raising agents.
These are the oldest form of bread.  You grind up grain, mix it with water, maybe some oil or salt or spices, cook it on a hot stone and you have a tasty, nourishing food found all across the world.  Before long, however, people realised that if you can get air into the bread it makes it much easier to eat and digest.
Baking Soda
The simplest and quickest way to make bread rise is to use baking soda. This makes soda bread which is traditionally associated with Ireland.  Soda bread requires no kneading, you just mix up the ingredients, shape it into a round, cut some deep slits in it and bake it.  The soda causes a chemical reaction which produces bubbles of gas which give the bread some lift.
We’ve obviously talked a lot about sourdough here over the last few weeks so I’ll just do a very quick recap.  There are naturally occurring yeasts which live on wheat and which therefore are present in flour.  By mixing flour and water you can create the right conditions for these yeasts to multiply.  As they feed on the sugars in the flour they produce carbon dioxide which makes bubbles which raise the dough.
Fresh Yeast
At some point during the 19th century brewers and then bakers worked out how to isolate and cultivate specific strains of yeast which are ideal for fermentation.  Today fresh yeast is produced by isolating a single yeast cell which is then multiplied in a vat of sugar until it produces huge blocks of pure yeast.  Fresh yeast works in much the same way as sourdough except that, as it is more concentrated, it works faster and with more potency.
Fast Action Yeast
Also sometimes called ‘Instant Yeast’, this is dried pellets of yeast produced in much the same way as fresh yeast but with added chemicals.  These range from a simple rehydrating agent to a veritable chemical cocktail designed to enhance the reliability and effectiveness of the yeast.  It’s worth noting that bread made with fast action yeast cannot be called ‘Real Bread’ as that label does not permit the use of additives.
So there we have it, lots of ways of making bread rise.  Hopefully we’ll get back to baking tomorrow 🙂


4 responses »

  1. Yeast is fascinating stuff. But technically it’s classified as a fungi rather than a bacterium as you described it above.

  2. Pingback: #SourdoughSeptember | Bread ovens and bicycles

  3. Pingback: #SourdoughSeptember Day 25 | Bread ovens and bicycles

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