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Yeast is the heart of bread making. There are basically two types: COMMERCIAL or dehydrated or fresh yeast you buy from the grocery store, also known as Active Dry Yeast, Instant Active Dry Yeast or Fresh or Cake Yeast. The other kind is called PRE-FERMENTS AND SOURDOUGH STARTERS, or yeast you can cultivate in your home kitchen, buy dehydrated from an online source or obtain from a friend. They are known under popular names such as Sourdough, Sponge, plus a wide variety of others.
Unyeasted dough that is chemically leavened by baking soda or baking powder, known as QUICK-BREADS, is discussed in another section.
Different bread mixing methods or ways of introducing the yeast to the recipe are used, depending on the type of yeast being used. (Some yeast can be proofed prior to use). All yeast, no matter its source, goes through a process called fermentation. It is responsible for leavening the dough, creating the texture of the crumb (inside), maturing the gluten from the flour and providing the characteristic yeast leavened flavor and aroma. In order to function properly, all yeast needs food, moisture and a warm environment.
All yeast is very sensitive; too much heat will kill it, and cold will slow its growth. Too much salt or too little salt in the recipe hinders fermentation, and when added at the wrong time, it can kill the yeast.
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