Flour: All-purpose flour is the most widely used flour. It contains a special protein called gluten the structure builder of bread. When mixed with liquid and kneaded or beaten, the gluten stretches and gives elasticity to the dough by trapping bubbles of gas formed by the yeast. Some flours, such as rye and whole wheat, lack sufficient gluten and usually are used in combination with all-purpose flour. Self rising flour, which already contains leavening and salt, is not often recommended for yeast breads. However, all recipes were tested with self rising flour; adjustments are indicated when necessary.
Yeast: Yeast is a live plant that gives off a gas that makes dough rise: It is very sensitive-too much heat will kill it, but cold will stunt its growth. Yeast is available in several forms: regular active dry yeast, quick-acting active dry yeast and compressed yeast. All of our recipes have been tested with dry yeast. Most of the recipes follow the traditional method of dissolving the yeast in warm water (105 to 115F). However, some recipes yield better results by mixing the yeast with the flour, then beating in very warm water (120 to 130F).
Liquids: Water or milk are the most commonly used liquids. Water gives bread a crisper crust; milk, a velvety texture and added nutrients.
Sweeteners: Sugar, honey or molasses provide "food" for the yeast, enhance flavor and help brown the crust.
Salt: A flavor agent that is needed to control the growth of the yeast and prevent overrising, which can cause the bread to collapse.
Fat: Added to contribute to tenderness and flavor.
Eggs: For flavor, richness and color, eggs are sometimes added.