Yeast/No-Yeast Bread with Same Recipe?

My elementary summer school group is studying ancient cultures. We have learned that the Egyptians sometimes used yeast, so I want them to make bread. Since I’m also a science teacher, I really want them to examine the effects of yeast on bread dough.

Is there a simple bread recipe that can be used with or without yeast? In order to be more scientific, I’d rather have the recipes be as close to identical as possible, with yeast being the only ingredient that differs.

In my mind I’m picturing the two different uncooked doughs, one that rises and one that doesn’t, producing two different loaves of bread that are different but both still edible. Is this possible? I don’t bake bread so I don’t really know where to start.

What a cool experiment!

Yeah, you could definitely do it, though you can’t really make bread without yeast or some other type of leavening such as baking powder - you’d get a brick, not anything edible.

What you could do is make something like crackers (no yeast) versus a flat style bread - focaccia or pizza dough.

Contrast, for example, this recipe for matzo crackers and this recipe for focaccia.

The primary difference is that the focaccia has a little bit of sugar and yeast in it. You can easily leave the sugar out - it’ll just take longer to rise (2-3 hours versus 30 minutes).

You could also regulate the amounts of olive oil & water between the two. I’d use 1/2 cup water and 2 T. oil for both recipes - the focaccia will be a little harder to work with because it’ll be wetter, and the matzo will taste a little less olive-oily, but both recipes will work. However, if you’re OK with the amounts of water being slightly different, use the amounts called for in the recipes, simply because both doughs will be easier to work with that way.

If you end up doing it, I’d love to hear how it turns out, and what the kids thought. Great idea!

I’d start simply by using the same exact Basic White (or Wheat) recipe and omitting yeast in one batch. You’ll end up with a giant hockey puck. Of course, that was what bread was for a long time, and most of the people in Egypt had terrible teeth from gnawing tough bread with bits of stone in it from grinding. So how do you make it more edible? You forget the loaf pan and make something like crackers, matzo or flatbread, not loaf bread.

What if you add yeast and roll that one out thin? You get uneven bubbles and a lot of burning. A little thicker and you get something like pita, with a few big holes in the center.

I think what your students will discover is that when you have yeast, a loaf is great. When you don’t, you make it thin before baking and you have a cracker or trencher.

Here’s a great website on breads in Ancient Egypt.

matzoh is the jewish unleavened bread, and really the only difference between that and yeast raised bread is that it was not allowed time for local yeast to take up residence and leven it. You can simply add a packet of yeast and raise it as normal.

Yes, you can make a simple kneaded bread dough out of just flour, water, yeast and salt. You can make a hard, dense version by leaving out the yeast, which will make it sort of a bread-brick like very solid pumpernickel.

If you mix up the flour of the yeastless version into a sludge with water and let it sit for several hours, it will acquire some airborne yeasts and will ferment and rise like yeasted dough, though not as much. If you leave it around for days, you’ll get sourdough (tasty or rather bitter, depending on what the microorganisms in your local environment are like).

Use at least part reasonably fresh whole-grain flour for your bread experiment to get a somewhat better flavor on the yeastless version.

As a professional baker I’d say that if you made the same recipe, one without yeast and on with, you would get two very different end products. Both could be edible, but the one without yeast would be short, hard, and dense. As said by a previous poster in this thread, a giant hockey puck.

I’ve got some books on different kinds of breads, let me go get some more references. And the bread with yeast the Egyptians had most likely would have been closer to a flat pita loaf, not the tall, softer loaves we eat now. Pita uses very little yeast, and it’s not so much to make it rise but to condition the dough.

Thanks for the help, all! Lots of good ideas…I’ll either do the crackers or just let them see that the “brick”, while edible, definitely isn’t as enjoyable as the yeast bread.