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.
Daydreaming about cinnamon buns, bagels, baguettes...
Craving pizza w/ extra cheese and mushrooms....
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.
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.
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
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.
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