Wednesday 4 March 2015

Beauty and the yeast!

A block of Bioreal - that's organic yeast!

This is a post about that most feared bread making subject - yeast.

When I teach classes, I always have people who who ask what yeast to buy, how much to use and so on. The most basic advice I give them is, when beginning, to use a tiny bit more than is recommended by a recipe. This will usually ensure a good bake and once you gain a bit of confidence, you can start to reduce it a little for subsequent loaves, until you end up at the recommended amount. (However, avoid using recipes on the back of most flour packets - they are usually woefully wrong! See my previous post for details. )

I always used to use Fast Action Dry Yeast. It's reliable, readily available and reasonable. You simply add the required amount to the flour and mix in. However, it does contain additives that some may find disagreeable.

100g tub of Easy Bake/Fast Action Dry Yeast

Sachets of Fast Action Dry Yeast - 7g each

This type of yeast normally comes in green packaging. At classes I always bring along a tub, plus I bring along it's friend, the yellow tub of yeast, also known as Dried Active Yeast.

100g tub of Dried Active Yeast

The difference between the two is significant. The yellow tub does not contain as many additives. It is this yeast that requires proving before you can use it. You add the required amount of yeast to a bowl of warm water and leave for ten minutes, or until it starts to bubble/prove, then you add it to the flour.

A QUICK WORD OF WARNING ABOUT YEAST AND SALT! They are not happy playmates. Salt will attack and 'kill' the yeast if they are placed on top of each other when weighing out. The solution is to weigh them out on separate sides of the bowl. :)

Of course, there are other types of yeast. For the more adventurous you can harvest your own wild yeast, known as a sourdough starter, or a poolish. There are many recipes for how to get a starter going, but all you need is some starong white bread flour, some bottled water and a tub with a lid! This is how it should look just before you use it!

Sourdough starter - I can smell it from here!

Once again, the bubbles are very important. If it's not bubbling/proving, then it has less chance to rise in the oven.

Recently, I have started to use organic yeast. It's called Bioreal and is available from Bakery Bits. Quite simply, it's the best yeast I've used. 

Bioreal - 1kg 

Using organic yeast is very easy. You multiply the normal amount of yeast by two when using it. You follow the normal rules about not mixing it with salt and you can keep it in your fridge for several weeks. If you're put off by having 1 kg of it, then smaller amounts are also available from Bakery Bits . Just ask my good chum Patrick!

It's worth the effort. The taste and smell brings back the bread you used to buy at your local bakery. You know the one!

So go forth and buy some yeast!

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