Hey- you know- you are not alone is you find yourself afraid of any recipe with yeast in the ingredient list. Fear not, I have some info for you.
First, let me tell you how I was when I first started making bread.
I was totally frantic when using yeast. I had it in my mind that things had to be perfect. All conditions had to be just right and maybe the moon had to be blue too. I balked at the mess I was about to make. But I was determined to have the bread-y goodness for my family. So I trudged on. After I mixed it, I had it in my head that there simply was no time to do anything but get that dough into something and cover it immediately otherwise it was going to fail. I baked bread like that for quite a while. Rushing it in to a bowl and covering it before I even washed my hands. All the while tense and worried. Seems silly now looking back.
BTW, the first time I made bread was when I was 19 and I never let it rise. A brick, I tell you.C
The secret here is- there really is no magic to make good bread. Quite frankly, it's darn easy. Not to much you can flub up if you got the basics down.
Here are the basics to making good bread.
1. Proper water to flour ratio.
2. a good rise.
3. the right amount of baking time.
Now, I know some veteran bread makers are going to say- pasha, so much more is required than that. Well, yes and no.
Too make a plain ordinary loaf, no, not much more than that is needed. You got your recipe and you follow it. It's not scary. Maybe a little time consuming but not really. You mix it- 20 minutes maybe. And the rise, yes, takes a long time.
Now, as you go along the bread making journey you may find that if you do this little trick it will add more flavor and if you do this little trick it will yield a crusty dough, and on and on it goes. Those things will help you make great bread.
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran- people, your family and friends, will appreciate your effort. Nothing says warmth and goodness like a nice home baked loaf of bread.
Here are a few links to some mighty easy breads for you filled with trepidation bakers:
One Good Thing by Jillee- Carole's English Toasting Bread
This recipe makes four loaves. You can freeze three and have your bread making for the week done in one day. All you do is mix it in a bowl or the food processor, Divide into pans, let it rise to the top of the loaf and bake. That's it!
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day
Lots of books and lots of recipes on their site. Stir it up, let it rise and break off what you want each time you want fresh bread.
For you cheaters out there- some baking soda bread- no yeast but nice bread nonetheless.
And just in case you might be interested here are a few tips that will help you make great bread.
1. Use good flour.
2. Make a poolish or a biga. More info- click here.
3. Make it warm and toasty where you let it rise. I use my microwave. If it is cold out I put a hot glass of water in the microwave with the dough.
4. When shaping loaves, tuck it around and pinch closed.
5. Use a meat thermometer to check for proper temp. 200F.
6. Spray loaves with water when baking to make the loaves crustier.
7. Let the bread cool after its removed from the oven. Optimum time is one hour. (its very difficult but worth it. Sometimes though its worth it just to tear through, melt butter on it and eat it with whatever you fancy- soup... whatever).
8. Read some books on the subject. David Leader and Peter Reinhart are my favorites for the science of bread and great recipes that turn out excellent tasting bread.
Some of the breads I have made:
Anadama (along with a post about the stages of becoming a bread baker.
Olive Spelt Bread
Cottage Cheese Dill Bread
Psychedelic Beet Bread
Rosemary Olive Bread
Dutch Oven Bread
Cheesey Gruyere Buns
Colonial Yeast Bread
Molasses Rye Bread
There is more if you should be so inclined. I just wanted you to get a taste of the bread.