Yeast Equivalents

A lot of people are confused about the different types of yeast and what to use if a recipe calls for one kind, but all you have is another.  There are three basic types of yeast:  fresh (or cake), instant, and active dry.

Fresh yeast, as the name implies, is the freshest, most active yeast you can get. It is sometimes also referred to as “cake yeast” as it is usually sold in 2-ounce compressed cakes.  Unfortunately, it has a very short shelf life and can be hard to come by.

Active dry yeast is the least active of the yeasts, so you have to use more.   

Instant yeast is fairly new to the consumer market and is what many artisan bread books call for.  It is more active than active dry, but not as much as cake yeast.   It used to be marketed as Rapid Rise Yeast, basically because if you use the same amount as active dry, it will work faster.

So what do you do if you have one yeast and your recipe calls for another?  Easy — you convert it.  The table below will show you how.

Since the BBA recipes all call for instant yeast (except for the sourdoughs, of course), I’ll start with conversions for instant yeast if you want to use fresh or active dry:

Instant to Active Dry:  multiply by 1.36
Instant to Fresh:  multiply by 3
Active Dry to Instant:  multiply by 0.75
Active Dry to Fresh:  multiply by 2.2
Fresh to Instant:  multiply by 0.33
Fresh to Active Dry:  multiply by 0.45

To be clear, the first type of yeast listed is what the recipe calls for, and the second is what you have on hand and want to use.  So, for example, if you wanted to use Active Dry yeast for the Anadama recipe, you would use 2 3/4 teaspoons yeast (2 x 1.36 = 2.72).

If you want to be sure your yeast is viable, check out this quick and easy yeast test.

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Oasis Naan {TWD-BWJ}

I am so pleased to be hosting this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia recipe! This was a particularly good pick for me, as I love naan but had never made it myself. I’ve had several recipes bookmarked to try at some point, but never quite got as far at making them. So hosting this week finally gave me the push I needed to try my hand at baking naan. And, boy, am I glad it did!

This recipe begins with a batch of Persian Naan dough (recipe below), which was a breeze to throw together. I began by measuring tepid water into my mixing bowl, then sprinkling yeast on top.

The recipe calls for active dry yeast. Since I always use instant yeast, I turned to my handy yeast conversion table and saw that I would need 0.75 teaspoon of instant yeast for every teaspoon of active dry yeast in the recipe. Since the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons active dry yeast, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast. I stirred the yeast into the water, then added 3 cups of flour, one at a time, using my dough whisk.

At this point, I put the bowl on the stand mixer and began using the dough hook to mix in the salt and remaining flour.

After mixing in 6 cups of flour, the dough was still quite sticky, so I added more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it stopped clinging to the sides of the bowl.

It took an additional 7 tablespoons of flour to get the dough to the point where it was tacky but not sticky. The recipe said to knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. I mixed it on medium-low speed with my stand mixer for about 7 minutes.

I put the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turned it to coat both sides with oil, then set it aside to rise for 2 hours.

After 2 hours the dough had more than doubled in size, which I expected given the amount of yeast in the recipe.

About 15 minutes before the dough reached the 2 hour mark, I put my unglazed clay tiles on the oven rack and began preheating the oven to 500°F. It takes both the oven and the tiles longer than you might think to reach such a high temperature (don’t trust the “oven ready” beeper), and I wanted my tiles to be smoking hot by the time I was ready to begin baking.

While the oven was preheating and the dough finishing its rise, I chopped 2 scallions and got out some coarse sea salt and cumin seeds.

To shape the naan, I divide the dough into 8 pieces. Normally, I scale dough when dividing it. But naan is a rustic bread, so I didn’t really care if the pieces weren’t exactly the same size.

I preshaped each piece of dough into a ball and flattened slightly. Then, working with one dough ball at a time, I rolled the dough into a 6-inch circle, which I sprinkled with water and docked with a fork.

I moved the dough to a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal, then rolled out a second dough ball. Once I had two naan on the peel, I sprinkled them with salt, green onion, and cumin seeds.

I loaded the dough into the oven and began preparing the next two dough balls. I baked the naan for about 8 minutes, until they were well puffed and the scallions began to take on some color.

The naan baked up puffier than what I’m used to getting at an Indian restaurant. But it was delicious — better than any restaurant or store-bought naan I’ve ever tried. The bread was soft and chewy, and the cumin and scallions gave it a deep, subtle flavor that definitely reminded me of the best Indian dishes I’ve had.

And speaking of Indian food, I served the naan with homemade butter chicken — a perfect pairing.

If you love naan but have never made it yourself, give this recipe a try. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. You may never buy naan again.

Persian Naan Dough (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tepid water (80°F to 90°F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast [or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast]
  • 5 to 6 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon [Kosher] salt

Directions

  1. Put the water and yeast in a large bowl and stir to blend. Add 3 cups of the flour, about a cup at a time, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon [or dough whisk]. Beat for 1 minute, or about 100 strokes, to develop the gluten.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture and start adding the remaining flour, again about a cup at a time, stirring after each addition and then stirring until the dough is too stiff for you to work. You may not need to use it all.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it vigorously, adding more flour as necessary, until it is smooth and easy to handle, about 10 minutes. [Or mix with stand mixer on medium-low speed with dough hook for about 7 minutes, adding flour as necessary until dough does not cling to sides or bottom of bowl.]
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to cover the entire surface with oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it has more than doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Don’t worry if it goes longer — it will be just fine. If it’s more convenient, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the dough rise overnight; bring the dough to room temperature before continuing.

Oasis Naan (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Persian Naan dough, fully risen
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped (white and tender green parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon (approximately) cumin or caraway seeds

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and line with quarry tiles or a baking stone, leaving a 1-inch air space all around. (If you do not have tiles or a stone, place an inverted baking sheet on the oven rack.) Preheat the oven to 500°F. Set aside a baker’s peel or dust a baking sheet with flour.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball; flatten each ball with lightly floured palms. Roll out the dough into circles about 1/4 inch thick and 5 to 6 inches across and sprinkle with water.
  3. Each circle needs to be well pricked all over, with the exception of a 1- to 2-inch border. Traditionally, this is done with a dough stamp, a round utensil with concentric circles of thin spikes. Alternatively, you can use a roller pricker (also known as a pastry docker), the tines of a fork, or the pointy metal loop at the bottom of a whisk. Whatever you choose, you want to prick the dough with determination, flattening the center of each circle.
  4. Sprinkle each center with coarse salt, chopped scallions, and a pinch of cumin or caraway seeds.
  5. Slide the breads onto the hot quarry tiles using the baker’s peel (or slide onto the baking sheet), and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops start to color.
  6. Remove the breads and cool on a rack for about 5 minutes before wrapping them in a cotton towel. These are best served warm.
  7. The breads are best eaten shortly after they’re baked, but they’ll keep, wrapped in a towel, for a day. For longer storage, wrap the [fully cooled] breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Keep the breads in their wrappers while they thaw at room temperature, and then warm them for a few minutes in a 400°F oven before serving.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls {BOM}

It’s October, so naturally the BOM (bread-of-the-month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group would be something featuring pumpkin. However, unlike the very pumpkiny Pumpkin Gingerbread we made a few years ago at this time, the pumpkin in these dinner rolls is there more for texture and color than flavor. In fact, several of the bakers reported not tasting any pumpkin in the rolls at all. My friend Kayte, avowed pumpkin hater, made these rolls and loved them.

I found the recipe here. I made a few changes to the recipe. I used my yeast conversion chart to convert the active dry yeast called for in the recipe to instant yeast and ended up cutting back the amount of yeast in the recipe, as it seemed like way too much to me. I substituted bread flour for the flour. And I reworked the mixing instructions to make the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Makes 24 rolls (Adapted from Peter Reinhart)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

Directions

  • Stir together flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in electric mixer bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low with paddle attachment until well mixed, approximately 1 minute.
  • Switch to dough hook and knead on low speed for 5 minutes, adding flour or water, as necessary, to achieve a smooth, elastic dough that is tacky, but not sticky.
  • Place dough in large oiled bowl and turn dough to oil top. Cover bowl with a clean, lint-free towel and allow dough to rise in warm place until doubled, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

  • Turn dough out onto lightly floured board or Silpat. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into 12 pieces.

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough under your palms into a rope approximately 10-12 inches long.

  • “Tie” the dough rope into a knot. (For detailed shaping instructions, click here.)

  • Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Cover pan and let rolls rise until nearly doubled, approximately 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Just before baking, brush the rolls with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt).
  • Bake the rolls for about 16-18 minutes, or until golden and baked through.

  • Serve hot from the oven, plain or with butter, honey butter, or pumpkin butter.

These rolls were absolutely delicious — softy, yeasty, and as good as any dinner roll I’ve ever eaten. I baked one pan on the day I made the dough and refrigerated the other pan for a few days before baking. Both batches came out great.

These rolls will be appearing on my table for Thanksgiving this year and for many years to come. Give them a try; I’d be willing to bet they’ll be on your Thanksgiving table, too.

Recipe: Maple Oatmeal Bread — September BOM

The September BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group is Maple Oatmeal Bread, a recipe posted by Floyd at The Fresh Loaf. This is an easy and delicious recipe. It comes together quickly with ingredients you most likely have on hand.

 

Maple Oatmeal Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
5 cups flour

  1. Put the oats into a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the oats and set aside for an hour.
  2. Mix the yeast, syrup, salt, and oil into the oats. Mix in 3 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl and let rise for an hour.
  3. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is the correct consistency. Knead for 10 minutes. Cut the dough into two pieces, then shape it into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 – 50 minutes.

While the oats soaked in the water, I assembled the remaining ingredients. I substituted instant yeast for the active dry yeast. Referring to my yeast conversion chart, I knew I needed just shy of two teaspoons of instant yeast. I mixed the dough, which was very wet, as it initially had only three of the five cups of flour in it.

I set the dough aside to rise for an hour. I was surprised that it didn’t rise very much, maybe by about 40-50%, but I decided to move forward with the recipe as written.

After the dough rested for an hour, I mixed in the remaining flour, one-half cup at a time. However, after mixing in the remaining two cups of flour, the dough was still quite wet. I decided to add extra flour as I kneaded the bread. I kneaded in flour — a lot of flour. I didn’t measure it, but I would guess I kneaded in at least an additional two cups of flour. I reread the recipe several times to try to figure out what happened, but I’m sure I followed the recipe to the letter.

Even after adding so much flour, the dough was quite wet. I was able to shape it into loose loaves and transfer them to the pans before they spread too much.

After 45 minutes proofing time, the loaves hadn’t risen much, so I expected quite a bit of oven spring. I might have let them proof longer, but it was late, and I wanted to bake the dough and get to bed.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the loaves rose quite a bit in the oven, which indicates to me that they were underproofed going in. The next time I bake this bread, in addition to cutting back the water by 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup, I will allow the dough to ferment and proof until it nearly doubles.

Despite the issues I had with this recipe, the result was worth the effort. As you might imagine, the maple smell while the bread baked was amazing. It even drew my 13-year-old out of her “cave”! The bread was delicious fresh from the oven, the crumb was soft and slightly sweet, and the crust had just a bit of crunch to it.

But it was the next morning when this bread really started to shine. It made the most amazing toast. Slathered in butter and smelling of warm maple syrup, it was all I could do not to eat an entire loaf for breakfast.

This is definitely a recipe worth making again, even if it might take a little experimentation to get it just right.