4/27/09

9 Yeast, Active Dry or Instant?

What yeast should I use?
Can yeasts be used interchangeably?
Which is better?
How do I store yeast?


These are questions I get asked OFTEN.
Basically, there are 2 types of yeast:

Active Dry Yeast
Instant Yeast (aka Bread Machine, Rapid Rise, Quick Rise)


I have always used Active Dry Yeast (ADY).
Red Star and Fleischmann's are two common brands. They are both the same.

ADY is also known as Baker's yeast. It needs moisture and at least 2 rises (fermenting and proofing). I add this yeast to HALF of my dry ingredients, add my liquids (110-115 degrees) stir, and let sit (sponge) for 10-15 minutes.




This is a close up of ADY. The granules are larger than Instant Yeast.

It is dried at a higher temperature than Instant Yeast.





This is a close up of Instant Yeast. The granules are much smaller.

It is dried at a lower temperature.




I haven't used Instant Yeast (IY) until I made No Knead Bread. I tried both ADY and IY with No Knead Bread and got different results. The bread with the ADY was flatter and more dense.

IY does NOT need water...you can add it directly to your flour. If you add IY to water, the yeast will clump together. Breads made with IY only need ONE
rise.** You make your bread dough, let it 'rest' for 10 minutes (to
allow the dough to relax for shaping), shape the dough, let it rise ONE time, and then bake.

**Correction: Many readers have noted that they can get more than one rise on Instant Yeast. Rapid Rise is only good for ONE rise. Rapid Rise has recipes specifically formulated for its yeast. You CAN use Instant Yeast on one rise, if you prefer.

Can you use substitute ADY for IY and vice versa?
Yes, but you need to use less IY (25% less) if the recipe calls for ADY.
If the recipe calls for IY (i.e No Knead Bread), you need to use more 25% ADY.

1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast
1 teaspoon Instant Yeast = 1 1/4 teaspoon Active Dry


Now, which is better? I am not sure. Many users of IY like it because it saves them time. I am lucky that I have time to bake bread. I am also lucky to live at a high altitude that requires a shorter rise time (25-50% faster). I usually allow at least 2-3 hours of staying at home to make my bread with ADY. If you use IY, you can make most breads in less than an hour. I have tasted bread with IY and have found it to have a good texture, softness and great taste.

Proponents of ADY say that shorter rise times do not allow the dough to develop flavor and bakers that use ADY get more consistent results. A second, even third rise for breads rise more quickly with each subsequent rise. Personally, I like ADY.

What is in Instant Yeast? I am not sure. After searching the Internet, I have found these words associated with IY and possible ingredients in IY:

enhancers
genetically engineered
ascorbic acid (a dough conditioner to increase loaf volume)
sorbitan
monostearate (assists in dissolving)
Vitamin C (added to promote good loaf volume and structure)
fermentation
dough enhancer

How do I store yeast? (there is no storage difference between ADY and IY)
Unopened in original vacuum packed container: up to 4 years
Opened: in freezer safe container = 1 year
Rubbermaid/Ziploc container in fridge = 6 months
Room temperature in cupboard=2 months

If you have any questions, feel free to email me or respond to this post!


Sources: BreadWorld.com (Fleischmanns Yeast)
What'sCookingAmerica.net
RedStarYeast.com(Saf Yeast)

4/24/09

4 Simply Banana Bread

Banana BreadMy good friend Janet, makes a really good banana bread.

It is simple and easy to make.

Sure, you can add chocolate chips, nuts and all sorts of stuff, but I like simple. Reminds me of simpler things of younger days....


When my life gives me over ripe bananas, I make banana bread.
Don't wait for them to go black.
These are ready... not too dark, but beginning to get too soft to eat.

If you have too many ripe bananas, you can always mash them, measure, and freeze them for later. They will go a little dark, but will taste great, just the same!



I remember peeling and mashing bananas on a plate with a fork for my mom's banana bread.

Welcome to the 21st century!

You can put them in a blender, but I like to use my $10 immersion blender in a 2 cup glass measure....saves washing another dish!



I used 3 large bananas and 2 smaller ones. I have so many bananas, that I am doubling this recipe.

To get 1 cup of banana puree, it will take about 3 medium bananas.

From here, you can use this puree in your recipe or freeze for later. To use them in smoothies, pour into ice cube trays, let freeze, and pop them into a freezer bag.



I am using 2 cubes of butter.

You can use margarine if you want.









Since the butter is a little cold, I soften it by mixing it for about 30 seconds in my mixer.








I add 2 cups of white sugar.

You can do 1 cup of brown, 1 cup of white. It will be a little darker in color and have a slightly different flavor.





Mix the butter and sugar really well. This is important.

One time, a friend just dumped the butter, sugar and eggs in all at once.

She had a lumpy mess.






Once you have creamed your butter/sugar, add eggs.

I really should crack the eggs into a separate bowl...

Ummm....no egg shells here!

Just checking.





Blend the eggs until you have this creamy yellow mixture.






Slowly pour in your banana puree into your creamed mixture.












Blend until thoroughly mixed.







Add 4 cups flour.

Remember, I'm doubling this.










2 teaspoons of baking soda.

Look at this picture two times.







1 teaspoon of salt.









Turn your mixer on and blend until you have this wonderful, creamy, banana bread batter.

You may need to scrape the sides and if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, scrape the little bump on the bottom of the bowl to catch all the leftovers...






This is how thick your batter should be.








Spread into a greased 9x5 large loaf pan.

This is a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan. I love it. It is seasoned, I don't have to grease it every time, and it is easy to clean...just rinse and wipe dry!

If I could find an 8x5 stoneware loaf pan, I would use it for my bread. *sigh*




Your batter should fill the pan at least half way.

This is helpful to know if you are using another size loaf pan, like a mini-loaf (3x5 1/2"). Mini loaves will only take about 30-35 minutes to bake.






Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes.

Insert a toothpick into one of these beautiful cracks.

If it comes out doughy, give it another 5 min.

If it comes out clean, it's done!



Mmmmmm.....

This is so good. Tender, moist, and with a crispy crust.

I love it hot out of the oven with butter that just melts into the bread.



So, what do you make with your ripe bananas?


Banana Bread

from Janet
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

4/23/09

4 "What's For Dinner?"

I don't know how to cook.
I wish I knew how to cook better.
I don't have the time to cook.

I hear these comments often. I am fortunate that I have a mom that learned to cook, bake bread, and had a meal on the table just about every night. I am lucky that I have the time to cook. I am not a gourmet cook, yet I love to create something that my family enjoys. I love the memories that I have of coming home from school and having cookies and milk. I want those same memories for my kids.

I met Liz Edmunds, author of The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner book. She is an amazing, smart, and energetic woman who has been through it all.

Her mother always had a dinner meal ready every night, with her family around her at the dinner table. Liz, as a young mother of seven children, she recognized and appreciated what her mother was able to do...every night! Like me, she wanted the same memories of homemade food and togetherness around the dinner table.

She understands women and the hectic lives that we live today...whether you are in college, a single mom, a parent of many children, or an empty nester with no children at home. Getting a healthy homemade dinner ready every night can be a challenge! She answers that challenge in her new book and gives us her 30 years of experience.

Do you feel like you don't know how to cook? Check your newspaper. Chances are there are free cooking classes in your area. Community schools, grocery and kitchen stores are always hosting monthly classes. Get together with another mom, learn to make a meal and split it. Try a new recipe, take notes on what went well, and try it again. This is how I am learning to cook.

When I was in college, I had six roommates. We each took a turn and planned a meal. We ate together almost every night and forged close friendships. In the end, we exchanged recipes. As a young mother, I had pizza every Friday night and spaghetti every Monday. I would try to rotate my main dish meats each night....beef, chicken, pork, fish/meatless, repeat. I quit when one of my kids said, "Spaghetti? Again?"

This is Liz's dinner menu plan...it's even better.

Monday: Comfort Foods
Tuesday: Italian
Wednesday: Fish/Meatless
Thursday: Mexican
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Grill Night
Sunday: Traditions

She creates a two-week menu plan and it only takes her 10 minutes. The ten minutes that she spends SAVES her frustrated, hectic minutes of scrambling to put something together at the last minute.

You can check out and download a sample/blank menu and grocery list here.

Need ideas for recipes? Check out Liz's recipe index. Her easy recipes will definitely help those that say, "I don't know how to cook." For additional recipes, get together with friends or neighbors and host a meal or cookie exchange. Everyone brings a meal/cookie plate with copies of recipes to share. This is a good way to taste recipes that work in your area. As the Food Nanny, Liz answers desperate calls by going into the home and giving one on one instruction in meal planning, preparation and organizing shopping lists.

The best thing you can do for your family is to have dinner ready at the same time every night. Enlist the help of your children or spouse! You can learn to cook. You can plan a meal. You can create two weeks of meals. You can create some memories that will last a lifetime for everyone in your family. Go for it!

4/21/09

0 Poppy Seed Cake

Poppy Seed CakeThis is my husband's favorite cake. I bake it for his birthday and he makes it several times a year when he craves the moist yellow cake with the crunchy bits of poppy seeds.

My mom showed me her recipe book and pointed to a poppy seed cake recipe.

"Is that your recipe?" she asked.


After scanning the recipe and seeing that it called for sour cream, I said, "No."

"Well, I want your recipe for your poppy seed cake."

There was a time that I asked my mom for her recipes. Now she is asking me for mine.

Well, folks, the recipe actually came from my mother-in-law. I'm not sure where she got it.


I have never been able to successfully frost a bundt cake.

This is what I like to do with this recipe INSTEAD of frosting it.

I slather lots of butter/margarine inside the bundt pan. Fill every nook and cranny.

It's important.




Then I take a cupful of granulated sugar and coat the inside.

Turn it round and round.

Cover every nook and cranny.

It's important.



You want it to totally cover your pan, glistening everywhere.

Why? It releases your cake from the pan...

and

it gives a nice sugar coating/crunch to the outside of your cake!



This batter is basically a yellow cake mix that has a small package of vanilla instant pudding in it, 4 eggs, 1/2 c. vegetable (I use canola) oil, 1 c. water and 1/4 c. poppy seeds.

Although, I don't use that many poppy seeds...

I use only 2 T.
That's the joy of baking your own cake. YOU get to decide how much to put in!



I bake it in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Ooooohhhhh.....

This cake doesn't need frosting.






I put a plate on top of the bundt pan and flip it over.

It's hard to capture all its sparkly goodness.






This is a moist cake that is sure to please anyone.

The recipe is now yours, mom.

And everyone else's!

Enjoy!



Poppy Seed Cake
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

4/20/09

2 Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti Pasta

 As I was backing out of my driveway, a FedEx truck came by and delivered this package.

Me? A package?

I was excited!





I saw this sticker and figured, I better hurry and put it in the fridge...

I wonder what it is!







I opened the box and found this lovely note from Foodbuzz. As a publisher for Foodbuzz, I am able to participate in sampling some of the products that come their way...


This is my first one!





I quickly took out the brown wrapping...










discovered several blocks of ice...










and Bouitoni's new line of fresh pasta!

I love pasta. Especially fresh pasta.

I couldn't wait to try it.






I took a closer look at it.

It was Wild Mushroom Agnolotti pasta filled with Grana Padano and Parmesan cheeses...
Hmmmm....I'm not a fan of mushrooms....


But I'll give 'em a try!





I thought I would use whatever ingredients I had on hand.

I took 1 pound of London Broil and sliced it thinly across the grain.

It is easier to slice it thinly if it is partially frozen.







I put it in a pan with 2 T. of margarine.



I let it cook part way through...I wanted to get the pasta ready.




Meanwhile, I found some sour cream.

Used one cup.









and put 2 T. of all purpose flour into the sour cream for a thickening.









I added 1/2 c. of water to the sour cream mix...










and cut up 1/4 of a bouillon cube. Next time, I'm going to try instant....










then ground in about 1/4 t. of black pepper.









I got a pot of water ready.

This will only take 4-6 minutes to cook...

I like that!






The pasta sunk to the bottom and then slowly rose to the top. At four minutes, they were all surfacing.

You have to take them out before they fall apart...







I put the sour cream mix...










and stirred it all up.

Now, you can use this as a stroganoff and serve this over noodles or rice.

I know, I know...stroganoff is Russian, not Italian.





But hey, it's worth a try...

Looks good....let's see how it tastes.







Lots mushrooms and cheese.
My sixteen year old tried a bite. He discovered he only likes mushrooms on disguised on a pizza.
My husband LOVES mushrooms...and LOVED this pasta. He would definitely try it again.
Me? Well....just looking at the chunks of mushrooms...let's just say it looked good! Sorry. I'm just not a mushroom lover!
If you are, definitely give this a try!
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