The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

RL Beranbaum vs. Julia Childs

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CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

RL Beranbaum vs. Julia Childs

Question #1: Please clarify for me what is meant when Julia Childs in her baking video says that it is necessary to feed the yeast with salt and sugar at the very beginning of the process.  However, Rose Beranbaum in her Bread Bible on pg. 45 says that "salt can kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact with it."  Question #2: Why is it that when after the first proofing I go to knead the dough and rather than being elastic it bounces back and won't allow me to knead it?  It is hard for me to keep my kitchen above 70 degrees in the winter.  Is there a relationship between the temp and the dough ....

sphealey's picture
sphealey

First, what is the copyright year for the Julia Child book? A lot has been learned about breadmaking in the last 20 years, and much advice from 1970s cookbooks (even good ones) does not match what is now known. Of course, you can still make good breads from those recipes - which leads to:

 

Bread Science discusses the interaction of yeast and salt in Chapter 2. Both the book and the interaction are complex, and at the end the author states that the actual chemical processes are not well understood despite being studied intensively since 1840. It is clear that high concentrations of salt in direct contact with yeast do kill it, and that in lower breadmaking concentrations the salt contributes to the eventual death of the yeast. But in between mixing and the End of All Yeast(tm) there is a complex process where the salt helps the dough develop.

 

Personally when I am adding the salt direct to the flour mixture I add the yeast first, mix it around, then add the salt and mix around. Others add the additional yeast to the poolish, mix it up again, then add that to the salt/flour mixture. But all this is contradicted by the "no knead" method where the original video shows the baker dumping the salt right on top of the yeast before mixing! And it works...

 

Sugar gives yeast something to grow on. Floyd has likened it to "junk food for yeast". With today's modern yeasts, if you have enough time sugar isn't usually necessary. But you can use it to (a) sweeten the bread (b) speed up the rising cycles for faster results when desired (c) as called for in a recipe you are trying to duplicate/understand.

 

sPh

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Always nice to run across another question with no definitive answer; keeps us all humble.  Thanks.