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April 24, 2008

Yeast (Recipe: one-rise pizza dough)

Yeast1

If I were a Twitter person (Would that make me a Twit? Surely not.), if I really knew how to use it, how to encapsulate my day into less than 140-character sound bites, or how to find time to Twitter at all, this would be me, today:

Matzoh, matzoh, matzoh. Enough already.

And later:

Daydreaming about cinnamon buns, bagels, baguettes...

Still later:

Craving pizza w/ extra cheese and mushrooms....

And then:

Just drove past a bakery. Smells wonderful. No no no!

I'm sure if I were a Twit(ter), I'd be Twitting with lots of people who are thinking about bread in a week when we've promised not to go there.

So, instead of obsessing about bread, let's just talk about yeast, the amazing one-celled fungus that converts sugar and starch into carbon dioxide bubbles -- bubbles that get trapped in the dough, causing bread to rise (it's the rising that makes bread off-limits during this Passover holiday).

In The Perfect Pantry, I always keep both active dry and rapid-rise yeasts; they are different strains of the same basic organism. There are other differences, too. Though all granulated yeast is dried to no more than 8% moisture, which renders it dormant until it's rehydrated, active dry must be dissolved in water before being added to other ingredients; rapid-rise can be added along with the dry ingredients. Active dry should be proofed, and doughs made with it often require two rises.

Why use active dry, then, when rapid-rise speeds up every step of the bread-making process? Two reasons: doughs made with active dry yeast taste better, and they have better texture.

If you're planning to use your dough for a highly flavored bread or pizza, rapid-rise is great. For artisan breads that depend on the structure of the dough and few added ingredients, you might prefer to use the active dry yeast and let your dough rise more slowly.

A few more things to know about yeast:

  • It's often sold in strips of three packets, in the dairy section of the supermarket.
  • One 1/4-ounce packet contains 2-1/4 teaspoons of granulated yeast.
  • Substitute the same amount of rapid-rise for active dry yeast in any recipe.
  • Substitute one packet of active dry or rapid-rise for one cake (.6 ounces) of fresh yeast.
  • Store all dry yeast in the refrigerator, or in a cool, dry part of your pantry.
  • Do not freeze dry yeast. (Though yeast goes dormant at temperatures under 50°F, it takes so long to come back to activity after freezing that freezing isn't recommended. But if you must freeze, don't worry, you will not kill the yeast.)
  • All yeast is marked with an expiration date. For best baking results, use it by that date, or discard.
  • Yeast is one of the 13 things every baker absolutely, positively, has to have.

Planning ahead, baking next week for sure.

Twitter, twitter.

Pizza on the grill. What to put on top?

One-rise pizza dough

This recipe, adapted from Good Times, Good Grilling, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, makes 2 thin 11-inch pizza crusts, or 6 individual pizzas.

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp coarse ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rapid-rise yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil

Directions

Lightly oil half of a 12-muffin tin (dip a paper towel in a small bowl of olive oil, and rub the inside of each muffin compartment), and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cornmeal, salt and yeast. With the motor running, add the water and 2 Tbsp of oil. Continue processing for approximately 30 seconds more, until the dough forms a cohesive ball that is smooth and elastic. If it remains sticky, add another Tbsp or two of flour.

Knead the dough a few times on a floured work surface, forming it into a ball. Pour the remaining oil into a large bowl, and add the dough, turning it over until coated with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and set in a warm draft-free spot to rise until doubled (approx. 1 hour). Punch down the dough, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and place each ball in the muffin tin.

You can refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before using, but bring back to room temperature before proceeding. You can also freeze the dough, wrapped in individual zip lock bags.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Oly koeks
Easy whole wheat pizza on the grill

Comments

Hehe ... I love your 'twitter messages' ... why don't you put one at your blog? ;)

Woah, you are making your own pizza doughs ... I'm ashamed that I am cheating with store-bought crusts, for I absolutely agree that home-made is the BEST! :D

As a dedicated pantry person I love your blog. Thank you. But I have a question; why do you not freeze dry yeast? I buy my yeast in bulk (small bulk) from the health food store, and keep it in a glass jar, sealed with a rubber gasket, in the freezer. I have never had a problem with it not performing. But I only buy 6-9 months supply at a time.

Oh dear, now I´m twittering. I bought a mammoth jar of dry yeast at a chinese shop ( strange, but true) and I have no way of knowing if it´s active or not. seems to work just fine, though, so I won´t obsess.

Noobcook, you can see by my Twitter messages that I don't know the first thing about Twitter! But I'll catch up to the rest of the world one of these days, I'm sure.

Una, thanks so much for your comment. I've added a clarification in the post -- you won't kill the yeast in the freezer, but it would be happier in the fridge where it's cold enough for the yeast to be dormant, but warm enough that the yeast will spring back to life quickly.

Lobsterquad, if it works, it works! What I want to know is, did you buy it at a food store or at an herbalist?!

OK. I shall admit it. I never tried using one-rise pizza dough before. But I was playing with the idea of buying ready-made pizza dough. That was just a thought. Alas, I made do with pita as my pizza base. WOOPS! :O

Nice informative post! I love homemade pizza dough... so satisfying to make!

Using fresh yeast is much more common here in Brazil, Lydia. But ever since I started using the dry version, I'll only use yeast once in a lifetime. It's so good to always have it in my pantry without worrying about it going bad in a short period of time!

Good explanation. I don't buy or use yeast often enough (my loss, I know) to be familiar with which kind is what and what the differences are so this is helpful.

Ever since I made pizza dough in the bread machine, I haven't bought ready made. I'll have to keep in mind the difference between the two yeasts. That will make my "special" breads even better. Thanks for the tip.

Great post, Lydia--informative AND fun! I love making my own pizzas and pizza crusts, and really appreciated this article. Well done.

Very informative! Thank you! I like the recipe for the pizza dough.

Paz

Money-saving tip: never never NEVER buy yeast at the grocery in the small packets. You can buy a huge bag of it at Sams/Costco/etc. You'll never use it all -- give big portions of it away when it's still fresh -- but even then, you only have to make bread four or five times a year for a return.

I've also learned to let refrigerated yeast return to room temperature -- otherwise it's a slow-slow-slow rise.

Fresh yeast seems impossible to find anymore, I'm told by grocers that it has such a short shelf-life, there's no keeping it good. I miss baking with it however, especially for sweet breads.

Lydia,
Great post!! Over the last few years, I've stuck to making my own pizza dough & sauce. It's well worth it. Recently I made a pizza with goat cheese and carmelized onions as the topping. It was to die for.

My favorite topping when ordering out? Pineapple. I know, you must think I'm a crazy person. First sour cream on matzah brie, now this.

Only a few more unleavened days to go...what are you eating to break Passover this year? I'm craving for bagels.

Great post. I'm a yeast novice. Maybe someday (if I ever master whole wheat bread) I'll try pizza dough. (And I am resisting Twitter as long as I can. I don't even have time for Facebook, which is less time consuming!)

Tigerfish, I've been making pita pizzas for years -- they are delicious, just a bit different from ones made with your own dough.

Ann, agreed -- I love the smell of yeast breads rising in the kitchen.

Patricia, the dry yeast is so much easier to get here. And I don't bake much, so the little packets really work for me.

Julie, for an infrequent baker like me, the packets of rapid rise get the most use in m kitchen.

Pauline, I'm afraid that if I ever bought a bread machine, I would become totally addicted to having fresh bread every day!

Sandie, Paz: thank you both.

Alanna, I bake so infrequently that I've never thought to buy the big containers at Costco or BJs. For me the packets are fine, but for people who bake more often, your advice is invaluable. And thanks for the reminder about bringing yeast back up to room temp before making your dough.

Karen, okay, maybe I am thinking you are just a wee bit crazy -- sour cream on matzoh, I could handle that, but pineapple pizza has never been my thing! For breaking the fast -- bagels, always.

Kalyn, I think pizza dough (even with the white whole wheat flour we both love) is easier than achieving a good loaf of wheat bread.

Great information on yeast, Lydia!

I just made pizza for dinner lastnight! I almost always use the same recipe, but I'd like to try yours. In Argentina they use bars or cakes fresh yeast, but I have no idea where you can buy that here in the US!

Hahahaha, I TOTALLY hear you about have bread on the brain this week. SOON I can endulge!! But alas...not soon enough for my bread cravings... We're almost there. Once Passover is over, I'll have to give this a try!!

Darling, I think you were born to Twitter! ;)

Veron, thank you!

Rebecca, the only place I see fresh yeast these days is in specialty health food stores. It's much more perishable than the granulated yeast.

Dana, I love using this dough for pizza on the grill, and it's almost grilling season. Enjoy!

Karina, sshhhhh.... that's what I'm afraid of....

Well, I was dreaming of homemade pizza as I traveled home from a business trip last night. This cinches the deal! I never understood the difference between all these yeast varieties, so I'm printing this post out for future reference!

Even on the topics I think I know it all about, you always teach me something new!

I could go for some grilled pizza this weekend...and my safety reminder to all: if a pizza stone is involved, ensure you have very good oven mitts that won't just burn clean through! lol ;-)

Thanks for the clarification Lydia. This is something I did not know about yeast before. So much to learn, no wonder I am not a baker:D

Thanks so much for all that valuable info about yeast~I have attempted to make pizza dough once...seeing yours is sparking my interest to make it again soon. My hubby is completely off meats now, and I could start baking a variety of pizzas!

TW, 'tis the season for pizza on the grill. Even though I live so close to Al Forno, the Providence restaurant that supposedly invented grilled pizza, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I made it for the first time. I'll use store-bought dough if I'm in a hurry, but it's so easy to make this pizza dough and we know that homemade always tastes better.

Mike, thank you so much for your kind words and for the great reminder. I'm guessing this is the voice of experience talking???

B, I'm really not much of a baker, either. So when I do post a recipe for a yeast bread, you know it's going to be easy to make!

Jann, aren't there at least 1,001 variations on veggie pizza?!

i want to make my own yeast for white bread, how do i do it, i've just started making homemade bread I've made my first 2 loaves, also is there a way to make homemade white bread in a crock pot, i hate using the oven it heats up my whole apartment.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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