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Making Yeast Bread

Prepared by Louise Freedman
For Grades 3-6

Do you know that yeast is alive? It is a one-cell fungus that grows by budding and separating into individual cells. It forms tiny spores. Fungal spores float in the air all around us. They are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope. There are many different kinds of yeast. Some are harmful, causing infections in humans, and some contaminate fruits and vegetables. Others are helpful, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the other yeasts that we use for making bread. The same yeast is used to make beer and wine.

Recipe for Two Loaves of Yeast Bread

Ingredients Equipment
2 cups warm water 2 large mixing bowls
1 tablespoon Red Star yeast Mixing spoon
2-3 tablespoons sugar Measuring cups and spoons
1 tablespoons salt 2 oiled baking pans
1/4 cup canola oil (optional) Towel to cover bowl
4-5 cups unbleached flour Hot pads
oil to coat one bowl and the baking pans  
  1. Add water to un-oiled bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top. Add sugar and let stand for about 10 minutes or until the surface becomes foamy. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Add salt, mix, and then add oil.
  2. Slowly add flour in small amounts, mixing each time until it becomes too difficult to move the spoon. Using your hands, continue to add flour until it no longer sticks to your hands. The dough should still be very pliable and form into a ball.
  3. Set the ball in oiled bowl. Cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until double in size.
  4. Move the dough from the bowl to a working surface, and punch it down. Divide the dough into two balls with a knife. Knead each dough ball counting 100 times. You do this by pressing dough down with the palm of one hand while folding part of it with the other hand. It's fun!
  5. Shape each loaf to fit your oiled pans. Allow them to stand in a warm place for 45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are firm when you press your finger on top. Cool loaves on a surface that will not burn.

Once you learn how to make yeast bread, you can bake breads with different types of flour; use seeds and nuts in the batter; even make sweet breads. You will find many wonderful recipes in cookbooks.

Questions and Comments

  1. What's happening to the yeast? Warm water and sugar provide food for the yeast. Watch the reaction as it starts to foam up.
  2. Why salt? It slows the yeast activity.
  3. Flour? It provides protein and food for the yeast.
  4. Rising? The yeast cells multiply producing carbon dioxide gas which causes the dough to expand.
  5. Kneading? It improves the dough by developing gluten. It also compresses the gas pockets. Gluten is what holds it together.
  6. Baking? The yeast cells continue to grow with the heat, but as the temperature rises in the oven the yeast cells die. We should thank the yeast for giving us this wonderful food source that is an important part of our diet.