Most American recipes for bread call for adding sugar or honey, or both, to the dough. Why is that? Is it because the yeast available in the U.S. needs that sugar boost? Is it because American flour needs the boost to rise and produce a good baguette? Or is it just because Americans have such a sweet tooth? I don't know.
CHM recommended SAF yeast as the best yeast to buy and referenced the company's U.S. web site. On that site, there's a recipe for making a nice baguette de pain. Here are the ingredients:
BaguetteFor the instructions, go to this SAF web page. Notice that the recipe includes sugar. Is that just for American tastes?
Makes one loaf.
1 (¼ oz. pkg.) or 2¼ tsp SAF Perfect Rise Yeast
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup water (110º-115ºF)
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
1 tsp cornmeal (for dusting the baking surface)
On SAF's French web site, there is no recipe for making baguettes. But there are two recipes for pizza dough, and neither one calls for sugar or honey. Why is that?
Evelyn has succeeded in making good baguettes at home in Alabama. Another successful American baker is Chris from California. Walt and I met her and her husband last year when they were spending a few days in a gîte near Montrichard, just 10 miles from Saint-Aignan. To read about Chris in California's bread-baking adventures, look here and here on her blog.
The King Arthur Flour recipe for baguettes that Chris has used contains no sugar or honey, just flour, yeast, salt, and water.
Does anybody know why most American bread recipes call for sugar and honey, while the standard French ones don't? Is there some technical reason? Or is it just a matter of taste?
Even Julia Child, in her book The Way to Cook, points out that the standard French bread dough is made with flour, yeast, salt, and water. And then on the next page, in her recipe for making French bread, she includes ¼ teaspoon of sugar!