Crazy Jar Lady
Successful Yeast Breads
My Aunt used to teach classes on making yeast breads at the local cooking school. Once I asked for lessons, she taught me too. It then took some practice to get good at yeast doughs. Aunt made homemade bread for herself a couple times a week. She also made all the rolls for our family dinners, back in the day. (I miss her something fierce.) While I don't make bread every day; I do a few times a year and find myself making bread more often now than ever before. There's alot to be said for a fresh loaf of bread or rolls with dinner. And even more to be said about homemade cinnamon rolls! Can you argue that the smell of the dough baking isn't just plain heavenly? Aunt taught a particular method that I outlined in Herbie. I wanted to expand a little bit on that; just some hints to go along with whatever recipe you decide to use.
If you don't want dead dough, always always bloom the yeast in the warm liquid with the sugar (or honey) so the yeast can wake up and start to work. If your yeast has died, this will also give you a heads up so all the ingredients for the dough aren't wasted. I do this anytime I'm going to make a yeast dough, sweet or savory.
Fat decreases yeast's capability of creating gas and rising the dough. It coats the little buggers and won't let them work. Add the chosen fat to your dough about halfway through adding in flour. Butter, shortening, oil; doesn't matter, just hold off adding it til about the middle of the flour additions.
Eggs act the same way as fats do on the yeast. If your recipe calls for eggs, also add them about halfway through the flour additions to keep the yeast working.
Salt regulates how crazy the yeast get at rising your dough. Every single bread dough needs salt to regulate the yeast. (I don't know the science behind it, please comment if you do!) Add the salt along with the flour at the beginning of mixing.
If you have trouble with your hands/wrists like I do (old carpel tunnel injuries); feel free to get some help with kneading the dough. Either enlist a family member to do that part or drop the dough in the Kitchenaid and knead it that way. I don't have too much trouble when making a single loaf but if I'm working on several batches of rolls for a dinner OR a larger bread dough recipe that makes multiple loaves, I will have the mixer do the kneading work. Nothing like hearing the joints in your hands and wrists literally "crunching" from the effort.
There's a million different yeast dough recipes for any kind of bread you can imagine. Experiment and have fun. Aunt never used a recipe, she mixed with her heart and it always turned out wonderful.