Bonnie Pollack writes;
> #1. Why can't I use all purpose flour. I have some to get rid of two
> large packages
You can... and it may produce a nicer loaf of bread to your taste. I
keep both all purpose and bread flour on hand... and sometimes mix the
two dependent on the bread style I am making.
> #2 What is gluten and where is it sold? And if I have to add it, in
> what quantity?
Gluten is the component of flour that traps, after being developed by
kneading, the carbon dioxide gas produced by the yeast and causes the
bread to rise. Gluten content of flour runs ~8-10% (cake and pastry),
~11-12% (all-purpose), ~13-14%(bread).
You shouldn't have to add it normally with all-purpose or bread flour.
> #3 Can bread be salt or sugar free or does the yeast need them to
Sourdough bread is naturally sugar free as the yeast strain gets its
nutrients from the flour only.
Commercial yeast has been developed to be most effective with sugar as
its food so omitting the sugar in an active yeast recipe will starve
the yeast and your bread with not rise as much.
It turns out that salt acts as a dough conditioner in addition to being
a flavoring... so again your rises may not be as great if you omit it.
> #4 What is "proof the yeast"
Testing that is still alive. Generally by putting a dry active yeast in
a sugar and water solution and seeing if bubbles are produced showing
that it is still active.
> #5 Why do measurements have to be so exact? I cook with "pinches" and
> get crazy when asked to do something EXACTLY.
Too many variables otherwise. A bread machine steps through its cycles
regardless of the condition of the dough. If you are making bread by
hand you can (and will) make adjustments for too dry or too wet, etc.
Small variations cause big problems in the final bread if not
> I have most of my trouble with the yeast packets. Some of the
> recipes ask for a 1/4th more or less. I dump the entire packet and it
> seems ok.
Since yeast is a living organism, capable of multiplying, and does
multiply in the dough, its variation is the least critical.
Exam over? Great. :-)
You may want to look at --
I have pointers on this web page to various sourdough FAQ sources and
Darrell Greenwood, Vancouver, BC email@example.com
My web homepage... http://mindlink.net/darrell_greenwood/