Baking is a great way to spend a rainy day. Practicing baking different things and experimenting is always fun. My favorite thing to make are cinnamon rolls. They key to making flaky pastries is all about the dough. The fat is what holds the dough together, locking in all the delicious and yummy flavor, but the yeast is what really makes the recipe work the way it should. Here are a few tips when your making a dough with yeast.
1. ALWAYS use UNSALTED butter.
2. “Softened” butter is MUCH different then “melted” butter. When you melt the butter you are separating the butter, causing the fats to harden and clump.
3. NEVER add anything but what the dough recipe calls for. Especially if using yeast. In called for ingredients can disrupt the yeast from fully activating, resulting In your dough not rising as it should.
4. Always give the yeast enough time to dissolve before adding the mixture to other ingredients.
5. Do not distrust rise time. The longer the rise the better the dough will taste.
Test the yeast before beginning. If you’re concerned that your yeast may not be active, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in a 1/2 cup of warm water (110 to 115°F). Slowly sprinkle one packet of yeast into the water. Stir the mixture and set a timer for 10 minutes. In 3 to 4 minutes, the yeast should have absorbed enough liquid to activate and will come to the surface. If at the end of 10 minutes the yeast has multiplied to the 1-cup mark and has a rounded crown, it’s still very active and fresh and can be used in your recipe. Remember to deduct the 1/2 cup of water used for the test from the total liquid used in the recipe. This process is sometimes referred to as proofing the yeast.
Use a yeast or candy thermometer to accurately determine the temperature of liquids. Yeast is a living organism. If the liquid in which the dry yeast is dissolved is too hot, it will kill the yeast cells. If it’s too cold, the yeast will remain dormant and won’t raise the dough. Use very warm liquid (120 to 130°F) if the active dry yeast will be added to dry ingredients. If it’s to be added to liquid ingredients, use warm liquid (110 to 115°F).
Place dough in a warm spot to rise. Yeast dough rises, or “proofs,” best when the temperature is 80 to 85°F. To make sure the dough is warm enough:
Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and/or a cloth towel.
Place the bowl on a wire rack over a pan of hot water in a draft-free spot.
OR place the bowl on the top rack of an unheated oven. Put a pan of hot water on the rack below it.
OR turn the oven on at 400°F for 1 minute, then turn it off. Place the bowl on the center rack of the oven and close the door.
Active dry yeast is the most commonly available form for home bakers. It is available in 1/4-oz packets or jars. Store jars in the refrigerator after opening. Be sure to check the expiration date before baking.
Instant yeast is a dry yeast developed in the past thirty years. It comes in smaller granules than active dry yeast, absorbs liquid rapidly, and doesn’t need to be hydrated or “proofed” before being mixed into flour. “Bread Machine Yeast” is instant yeast that may include ascorbic acid, a dough conditioner.
The longer the rise the better the dough will taste.