Thursday, June 28, 2012

A great Edition for any home!

I can't emphasize enough, that anybody who wants to learn to cook, is passionate about doing so, and would like to save money by cooking fresh rather than a box, this cook book is a MUST have. The edition I have was given to me by my Mom when I was in high school, to put away in my hope chest. What I absolutely love about the cookbook is that it is like a little culinary school for self teaching. I like it as my go to book for a lot of the basic recipes (I.E. Chocolate Chip cookies, banana bread, etc.). Another feature of the book that I LOVE is the part where you learn about the different produce, spices, meats, measurements, canning tips and substitutions. There is also a recipe index at the back of the book with the different color labels for each section that is easy to see and direct yourself to, and even at the very back of the book there is another section that is alphabetized based a specific ingredient so that if you have more of an ingredient than you needed for one recipe (or you bought a lot and became afraid it will go bad before you use it) you have an idea of something else you can make with it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

At yeast we can now be friends.

Yeast: One word in the dictionary that could paralyze me at the very thought of working with it. While some things in baking just come naturally to me, yeast took a little more time and effort to be friends with. By the way, yes I can work with yeast! I don't have all the answers, but I do have some answers to questions I had when I first started baking bread.

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast in a jar = 1 packet of Active Dry Yeast.

There are different kinds of yeast, make sure you have the correct one your recipe calls for. 

When using yeast in a jar from fridge, measure the amount you need and allow it to get to room temperature before adding it to your recipe.

A thermometer for cooking is very helpful to have on hand, especially when getting the correct temperature water so you don't kill the yeast. When dissolving yeast directly in the water before adding it to the flour mixture I have seen the water temperature needs to be between 105-115 degrees(F). If you add the yeast to the direct flour mixture and then add a water mixture to that, I have seen the water needs to be between 120-130 degrees(F). (This is for the Active Dry Yeast blend). 

The bread dough needs to rise in a warm place away from any draft. I use the inside of my warmed up microwave (30 seconds), which I warm up before putting my gigantic bowl of bread dough into it. I have also heard of people using the inside of their warmed oven to do this.

A rolling pin is great when getting the gas bubbles out before forming the loaf to allow it to rise a second time. I personally use a french rolling pin because the tapered edges are easier for me to use.

I hope some of the input will help some of you bakers out there. I bake my bread by hand and do not use a bread machine, I do not know if the same rules apply to yeast when using the bread machine, but I can only imagine they are similar if they aren't the same. For those of you new bakers out there, don't give up on the yeast, it's tricky but I promise that with enough trial and error you will learn how to work with it.