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Wednesday Food: Conquering Yeast

After last week’s post I continued making cinnamon rolls and attempting to overcome my yeast anxiety until they’d bent to my will and produced satisfactorily risen dough.  Jms’s recipe was my most successful.  I came out of the cinnamon-sugar bender with a few lessons learned.  Then, I moved on to bread.  Pictured on the right is this fantastic no-knead bread, and on the left is this excellent low-fat banana loaf (no yeast required).  If you undertake baking with yeast make sure that you are wiser than I am and these points are already second nature.

  • You can’t deprive yeast of their heat.  I live in a very cold apartment.  Leaving dough to rise in the kitchen when it’s 61ºF will not do.  Find a radiator to keep it company, or set the bowl of dough in a bain marie.
  • Don’t compromise rise time.  When the recipe says “let the dough rise for __ hours,” they say it for a reason.
  • Active Dry and Instant Yeast are quite different.  They are interchangeable but proofing, quantity, and rise time change.  Red Star calls it “Quick-rise” for Fleischmann’s it’s “RapidRise.”  These are the only products I’ve used so far, if anyone has thoughts on starters/ live/ wild cultures, please advise.
  • The difference between all-purpose and bread flour is worth knowing.  It’s all about protein, and it means a lot to the little fermenting buggers.  It will also improve your gluten window.
  • THIS is a gluten window.  And this generous person provides us with visuals.  Having proper elasticity has everything to do with resulting texture and density.
  • Finally, never leave your dough unattended or at least unprotected when you have gluten-addicted felines.

And don’t forget you don’t always need yeast, but sometimes just a bottle of beer for bread baking.


January 19, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. I covet those egg cups.

    Comment by jms | January 19, 2011

  2. My compliments! That ‘no-knead’ bread looks great!

    I always overcome ‘yeast anxiety’ with using fresh yeast. And indeed, ‘heat’ is an important, if not the most important factor, altough not really ‘heath’, but ‘warmth’ (yeast being ‘little buggers that love warmth of about 30 degrees Celsius’, so I was told in a ‘baking course’).

    Comment by visitor | January 19, 2011

  3. Ebolden’s post reminded me that I haven’t made the no-knead bread recipe in over a year, which omission I corrected yesterday. It is very nearly foolproof — I was only roughly approximate in my ingredient measurements, used active dry instead of instant yeast, and the dough is always so wet and sticky that I’ve never been able to shape it into a ball, or really do anything other than slop it out of the bowl and into the baking pan. It doesn’t matter — it always turns out incredibly delicious.

    Comment by jms | January 24, 2011

  4. marry me, bolden. marry me.

    Comment by Buck | January 25, 2011

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