Who doesn't love a loaf of homemade bread or some fresh from the oven cinnamon rolls?
Yet, many of us are intimated by the thought of working with yeast.
But there is no need to be.
Here are some simple ways to ensure that your baking will come out great every time.
I am going to be talking about dried yeast, but some of these tips will be the same for fresh yeast cakes.
The first thing you need to know is not to use old yeast.
If you have packets go by the expiration date. If you have a jar of yeast, you need to use it within four months of opening. So, even if the expiration date has not passed and it has been longer than four months it may be getting too old to use.
If you are not sure how old the yeast is, you need to try proofing the yeast.
To proof the yeast, you need to use some water or milk from the recipe. Warm about a cup or so. Just warm to the touch. If it is too hot you will kill the yeast.
Usually about 30 seconds in the microwave is long enough.
Put the liquid in a bowl and add the yeast, stirring to dissolve. You can also add a teaspoon of sugar to the mixture. It will cause the yeast to foam up and start working faster.
After five to ten minutes your yeast mixture should be foamy looking and may even have a yeasty smell.
The smell may or may not be there so that is fine either way. But, if there is no foam or building up of the yeast, your yeast is too old and you will need to start over with fresher yeast.
This is the best way for the person beginning to work with yeast.
Another method, if you are sure your yeast is good, is to add it directly to the flour. The benefit of doing this is being able to skip your proofing time and you don't have to worry so much about getting your liquid too hot.
To do this mix half the flour in the recipe with the yeast. Heat up the rest of the ingredients and add to the flour mixture. Beat well and gradually add the rest of the flour.
If you choose to make dough ahead of time and freeze to bake later, you need to use more yeast than the recipe calls for.
Yeast doesn't like freezing temperatures and some may die off so you should use 25% more than if you were baking fresh or keeping it in the refrigerator.
Putting yeast dough in the refrigerator will not stop the dough from rising. It will merely slow it down. So, if you put dough in the fridge make sure to grease the lid or plastic wrap so it will not stick when you take it out.
Dough will keep about three days in the fridge and than should be used.
Either make the dough and stick it in the fridge and take it out when you want, shape it and let rise again and than bake. Or, you can make the dough and let it rise once and shape it into whatever you are making and than stick it in the fridge.
If it is the latter, let the shaped dough warm up for about 20 minutes before baking.
Yeast is pretty easy to work with, once you start doing it.
And once you start, you'll wonder why you thought it would be so hard.