How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

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black jack
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How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by black jack »

I was looking at the thread on continuing shortages during the pandemic and noticed that some people are still having trouble finding yeast.

For those that have yeast, and may be concerned about running out, try "long slow rise" baking to conserve your supply.

I bake bread weekly or more. I typically mix a dough using 5 cups of flour, for which I use 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of yeast, which is 12 times as much yeast as I'm using. The recipe also has a 2-hour rise, while I need a 12-hour rise. The equation is simple: use less yeast = allow more time for the dough to rise. The little yeasties will continue to multiply, until they run out of food.

Using less yeast works especially well in the summer, as yeast like (i.e. multiply faster in) temps in the 70s (my kitchen) or 80s (my upstairs). In the winter when my kitchen is in the 60s, that 12-hour rise can become a 24-hour rise (okay, so the equation is a little more complex: rising time = amount of yeast + ambient temperature). For cold kitchens, putting the dough into a cold oven and turning on the oven light bulb can create a warm rising space.

Bonus: a long rise approximates the taste of sourdough bread, without you having to become the vigilant parent of a sourdough starter.

By the way, for those of you who haven't (yet?) taken up shutdown baking, I'll let you in on a secret: like investing, baking bread is easy, though for whatever reason many people want to complicate it (*cough Peter Reinhardt's The Bread Baker's Apprentice cough*), with the result that many other people feel daunted by it. I have friends who are amazing cooks (I'm not one) who regard my bread baking with awe because they think yeast is hard to work with. It's not. And our ancestors baked bread for millenia without thermometers, precision stoves, mixers, refrigerators, standard measures, uniform protein levels of wheat, etc, etc.

I use instant yeast, I don't proof it, I don't worry about the temperature of the water added to the flour (room temp is fine, warmer water will make the yeast multiply faster, but at 110 degrees or so the water will kill the yeast), I don't knead the dough (the yeast will do the work for you, given time), I don't worry about precisely how long the rise is (about 12 hours in summer, longer in winter, however long it takes for the dough to double in size), or preheating the oven (not needed), or the oven temp (anywhere from 375 to 450 has worked fine), or the amount of time for baking (at 375 I give a loaf of bread an hour, but a little more or less doesn't matter). Try it for yourself! Just the smell of fresh-baked bread will make you happy. But be forewarned: once you make your own bread, you may never again be satisfied with store-bought bread.
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)
frugaltigris
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by frugaltigris »

Thanks for these tips. The first thing I grabbed from Sams when Covid19 started was yeast. I am glad I got enough supplies to last a year of baking bread.
PoppyA
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by PoppyA »

A nice primer! Thank you.
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Tubes
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by Tubes »

I have found that for a bread machine, using 1/2 or even a bit less yeast, works just fine. I was really surprised how low you can go and still keep the same cycle.

I've kneaded my own too. The machine is just so easy so I take the shortcut frequently.
jebmke
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by jebmke »

We have gone the sourdough route. Proofing can run 12-18 hours. The longer it runs, the more "sour" you get. The more you knead, the more chew you get. Have to feed the beast (starter) every once in a while. Loaf normally lasts us about a week or so - not big bread eaters.
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alpenglow
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by alpenglow »

jebmke wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:07 am We have gone the sourdough route. Proofing can run 12-18 hours. The longer it runs, the more "sour" you get. The more you knead, the more chew you get. Have to feed the beast (starter) every once in a while. Loaf normally lasts us about a week or so - not big bread eaters.
+1 on the sourdough!
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happyisland
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Re: How to make a little yeast go a long way in baking

Post by happyisland »

Yes! My favorite new pandemic hobby is learning to make sourdough. I make a batch of two loaves once per week and freeze one. It's a bit tricky, but very delicious when you get it right. (And there's no yeast to buy, which is a bonus.)
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