How to Leaven Bread Recipes

by: padre art

Leaven Bread Recipes by generating the gas bubbles (CO2) that gives dough and loaf its lightness and volume. These bubbles can be created in a number of ways:

Chemical leavening - The two common household chemical leavens are baking powder and baking soda.

Soda breads need at least one other ingredient in this type of bread recipe to be acidic (like buttermilk) so it can react with the baking soda and produce the bubbles.

Familiar "quick breads" are:

  • Banana bread
  • Biscuits
  • Muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles

French Bread Recipe at bottom of page!!

payton mixing banana bread

Nana’s Banana Bread

2 or 3 bananas, very ripe
2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


Cream sugar and shortening until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt then blend in portions with the egg mixture. Mash the bananas and blend into the dough.

Grease the loaf pan and fold in the dough. Bake in an oven at 350° F. for 50 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack before slicing.

You can leaven bread recipes easily.

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Leaven bread recipes easily.

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Yeast Leaven

Yeast exist in the air all around us, in the bloom on fruit and its ubiquitous nature helped it leaven bread recipes for our early ancestors. The yeast feed on the flour and other nutrients in the dough and produce the CO2 to give our bread its rise.

Ever since the early 1800’s we have had the ease and reliability of prepackaged, pure cultures of bakers yeast to leaven bread recipes. While this is a handy convenience there is an easy way to enrich and enhance the flavor of your usual bread recipes.


There are three common methods of creating a growing culture of yeast to leaven bread recipes:

Pate Fermentee

The first, poolish, is a moist batter while the other two are more like a dough.


A poolish is very easy to make.


  • 2 ½ cups of bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Yeast

Mix the ingredients, making sure all the flour is hydrated. Cover and allow it to ferment until it gets bubbly (3 to 4 hours) then refrigerate. Use within three days to make bread.

Pate Fermentee

The pate fermentee is the traditional pre-ferment for French bread. It has more body than the polish. Knead it for about five minutes and then let it rise.


  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Yeast

Blend the ingredients into a soft dough, tacky but not sticky. Knead for 5 minutes until the bread dough is soft and pliant.

Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Place in fridge and use within three days.

basket of bread


Biga is the Italian version of the pre-ferment. Use the same recipe as the pate fermentee but leave out the salt.

The amount of yeast in these pre-ferments is about 1/2 tsp but if you want to use an entire package just be sure to only refrigerate only overnight and use it the next day.

You can also freeze a pre-ferment for up to 3 months.

Leaven Bread Recipes using these methods to create delicious bread. Click here for more bread recipes!

French Bread Recipe

This traditional French Bread recipe produces a delicious loaf with a slightly sweet taste from the sugar that is naturally produced by an enzyme reaction during fermentation.


1 batch of pate fermentee
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 package yeast

Remove the pate fermentee from the fridge and cut into a dozen pieces one hour before needed. Mix with all the other ingredients to make a coarse ball of dough, moist but not sticky.

Knead for ten minutes to give it a silky, elastic texture. Place in lightly oiled (olive oil) bowl, cover and let rise for two hours.

Handle the dough gently as you remove it from the bowl and divide into three pieces for baguettes or two for loaves.

Place shaped dough on baking sheet dusted with corn meal. Cover and proof (let rise) until nearly double in size (about 1 hour).

Pre-heat oven to 500° F.

Place the baguettes or loaves in the oven, reduce temperature to 450° F. and bake for ten minutes, then rotate 180° to bake evenly for another 15 minutes or so. Cool on rack for 1/2 hour.