So, for all of you who had signed up for the bread class but didn’t show up in January, I want to thank you. I think we had about 25 people on the list and 8 that attended. Which worked out just fine because once we got into the kitchen I would have been dead meat within minutes with 25 noise making ladies.
I started the class by introducing myself and promptly had to deal with the curse of the female line of my ancestry. I turned beet red! I tell my daughter that guys will find her blushing charming but I know she will forever curse our blushing gene. Just for all you non-blushers out there, do us a favor and don’t point it out by saying: “Oh, look how cute, you are blushing!” Believe me, we know when we are blushing and it is not something we think of as cute. This just FYI!
Then I gave my spiel (speel?) of how I got into breadbaking. Raised with good, hearty bread when I grew up in Germany and how Wonderbread is an offense to the good name of bread! Did I mention I am fairly opinionated when it comes to bread? I am. There, you heard me say it. So, if you want to learn how to make Wonderbread, you are going to be thoroughly disappointed by my classes. We are going to be making “Crustique Bread”, and bagels, english muffins, no-knead breads, sweet yeast braids and things of that nature.
One of the attendees, was my star student from last year, Patty Darby. In my mind, I crowned her the queen of snowflake rolls. (One of the most requested receipes from last season, ask Patty.) Patty is one of those people who had always wanted to learn how to make bread but thought she couldn’t or shouldn’t? I forget which one it was, but let me tell you, she has taken to bread baking like a fly to the smell of sourdough. And this time she brought along her bestest friend, our Relief Society President Margie Aiono who brought us all to tears with her story about the bread she sent to her son on a mission and the family’s reference to it to this very day as a piece of building material (also known as a brick). So now, poor Margie was traumatized and lacked any confidence in her bread baking skills. Oh, dear Margie! Let me assure you that you have come to the right place at the right time. For no fee at all we will help cure your phobia. Let me assure you that ANYONE can make great bread, even prior brick fabricators (no offense to anyone and I know you are out there). I will teach you to tame the yeast monster and make it your friend. Repeat after me:” YEAST IS MY FRIEND!”
So, for all of you who missed my lesson on yeast, let me give you the short version. There are very few rules:
If the date on the package is expired, don’t use it! (It might still be good and active but not worth the trouble to find out that it is not)
The only way to KILL the yeast is with heat. At about 110 degrees (warmish)) is when the yeast monster thrives and will do anything you want it to, mainly feed on your flour and produce gas (think burping) to aerate your dough.
Even though some companies sell different types of yeast, e.g. bread machine, instant rise, active dry, they are pretty much the same. Instant yeast can just be mixed with the dry ingredients and requires no proofing (mixing with liquid to activate). I buy the little packet of Perfect Rise yeast at Trader Joes or use the SAF bulk pack from Costco.
One yeast packet has usually 2 1/4 tsp of yeast. If a receipe calls for 1 TBSP (3 tsp) I still only use one packet. (I am not that great for following directions)
Whenever you work with yeast, RELAX!!! It’s all good and eventually it all works out.
One thing you can’t do is RUSH the yeast mooster. It will just ignore you, take my word for it. But with just a little bit of planning you can have fresh bread or rolls on the table for either breakfast or dinner.
Do NOT forget to add salt to your dough. At least, when you bite into a brick you know what to expect! Imagine a beautiful crusty loaf, risen to its fullest potential. Imagine your tastebuds getting ready to explode. Imagine the look on your child’s scrunched up face when he asks you: “Mom, did you forget the salt again?” Believe me, you do NOT want to go there.
Our first receipe was the all American Sandwich Bread from America’s test kitchen. Margie Aiono was our hands-on test subject who followed the receipe in class. Well, we didn’t exactly follow it to a T but bread dough is very forgiving. And a good thing it is! Margie took the dough home, let it rise some, put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it until the next day (2 days after bread class). She didn’t get as full a rise as I did with the dough I brought to class, but that was because the dough was still a bit cold and the yeast monsters therefor a bit sluggish. But it was enough of a rise to prove to Margie that her brick laying days were over! Congratulations, Margie!