Friday, May 9, 2008

Yeast Matters

Some weeks ago I told you that I had tried the Almost No Knead Bread (by Cook's Illustrated) recipe and that the jury was still out. I haven't forgotten that and have been working on figuring out why all the testimonials about the bread recipe were so glowing and my results were so - not. I tried it twice and altered the temperature of the oven - the recipe says to preheat to 500 and then to lower to 425 - I reduced the temps by 25 degrees. I think that my oven is a little hot - if you try this recipe use your judgment about the temp and your oven. Anyway, both times the bread was dense and just not as good as I wanted it to be. It took watching the video and paying attention closely for me to realize that - of course - yeast matters. When you're using only 1/4 tsp. of yeast and your yeast is of unknown age, well, maybe it's the problem. Duh. So the third time was the charm and as I write, I'm making it a fourth time. It's good bread. More expensive than I would like because we don't normally drink beer very often here and gosh, once you open the bottle someone has to drink the rest. But I guess sacrifices can be made for a good loaf of bread. I'm going to figure out how to make two loaves at once so that I can more efficiently use the oven heat and of course the beer. I'm trying lately to be more environmentally aware.

So the recipe is available on the cooks illustrated website and I got it somehow without signing up for the "14 day free trial" but now I can't link to it directly. But Breadtopia has two excellent videos that tell you how to do it. It takes 3 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp of yeast, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, 7 oz. of water, 3 oz. of beer and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. I used a measuring cup and didn't weigh it and it worked just fine. Watch the videos for his step by step portrayal of the unusual method. I used my cast iron dutch oven and it worked very well. You have to have a dutch oven that can go in the oven - some have handles that can't take the high heat. Make sure you check yours out before trying this.

My bread looked like this last night. Today it's all gone! It's easy and fun to make. If you've got the equipment I recommend trying it. Good eating!


Miss T said...

So you got it to work! Looks like a nice loaf of bread. Was the yeast the problem?

anncrafts said...

Yes, the yeast was so old that my bread machine bread wasn't rising as much as it should have either. I don't know why it took me so long to realize it!