Most home bakers agree that from-scratch yeast bread baking is one of the most satisfying of all baking endeavors, especially as the weather turns cooler in fall. Yet, that “perfect” loaf of bread has continued to elude even the most accomplished of bakers. Homemade basic white bread, for instance, should be far better than anything that can be bought at the supermarket, yet many share their version is not as soft, moist, or even as flavorful as the bread that is commercially made.
Perhaps the culprit that looms largest in bread baking failures lies within the yeast. In order for bread to rise properly, the yeast used to make it must be fresh – so if you are in doubt about the quality of the yeast you plan to use, toss it and buy fresh. The yeast called for in the recipe for Soft White Bread calls for “instant” yeast, sometimes sold as “rapid rise” or “bread machine yeast.” My preferred brand is Lesaffre SAF-Instant Red, which may be purchased on-line from sources such as www.kingarthurflour.com or www.amazon.com.
In addition, to ensure success, I recommend using King Arthur brand all-purpose flour. With a protein level of 11.7 percent, higher than other popular brands of all-purpose flour, you are assured of exceptional results in terms of the structure and texture of your bread. To be enjoyed at its optimum, homemade bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but you can use day-old bread for making simple cinnamon toast, or French Toast, for breakfast.
Before getting started, be sure to read the recipe in its entirety, checking out the accompanying images as you go. And, most importantly, remember to have fun, which is, after all – the real point of baking in the first place.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.