The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from the Newbie

Andylute's picture
Andylute

Hi from the Newbie

Hi all!

Lessee here...

I'm 55 and live in the Jerusalem 'burbs here in Israel. (Um, I'm here because I like to bake, not because I want to talk about "the situation" as we call it, which, as a matter of fact, I do NOT want to talk about please.) I inherited a love of baking from my late Mom, may she rest in peace. I'm into muffins & bake a batch just about every week, on Fridays as we get ready for Shabbat (the Sabbath). I hate making the same-old same-old & like to try different kinds, different recipes, etc. (I like what Chef Gusteau says in Ratatouille: "You must not be afraid to try things that may not work!") I will usually take a dozen or so muffins to our synagogue for after Saturday morning prayers. I do not use white flour, white sugar or margarine in anything. I usually use 70% whole wheat or 70% whole spelt flour (which you can get in any supermarket here) and anything from demerara sugar, to molasses, to maple syrup, to agave syrup, to honey as a sweetener.

Lately, I've started baking bread as well, also on Fridays for Shabbat. I've used 70% spelt flour, 70% whole wheat flour and a ready-made blend of whole wheat, whole spelt & whole rye flours which I get at a health food store in Jerusalem. The attached photo is of loaves that I made with 70% spelt flour. I like to keep it simple: Just four, yeast, salt, minimal sugar, oil and water; no eggs or egg-wash. My wife does the braiding which I cannot get the hang of. My wife (most important) and our guests seem to like my bread & I like making it.(Even our 17-year-old, yeah, a teenager, one of them, scarfed half a loaf of bread I made last week with 70% whole wheat and said it was good. From him that's a compliment!) 

My questions are:

1) I use instant yeast. How different will the breads be if I use fresh yeast? Is it worth it?

2) I bought some whole barley flour and want to experiment. This recipe looks OK. Any tips or comments?

3) I usually let the dough rise (covered, of course) outside on our patio table in the sun. What do I do on non-sunny and/or cool/cold days?

4) I keep the instant yeast, which comes vacuum-packed in little packages, tightly sealed in the fridge after I've opened it. Is this right?

5) Baking rocks!

6) I'm a rank amateur at all this and would be grateful for any & all comments. Thank you (plural)!

Be well & be in touch!

Andylute

 

 

 

 

 

Sylvaneer's picture
Sylvaneer

1) Two issues with fresh yeast from my perspective:  a) In the US., it is difficult to source outside of urban areas unless you're a commercial baker; b) Shelf life - challenging to use up before it loses it's oomph.  Plus, instant yeast works fine.

2) Try it and see!  Report back.

3) Where I live (southeastern U.S.), a sunny patio would be way too warm and would lead to over-proofing.  I aim for the 75 F degrees and will often move bread around the house, depending on what time of year it is:  Warm bathroom, warm office, closet, etc.  I have a thermometer I move around to monitor temperatures.

4) Yes.

5) Yes!

6) The longer you do it, the better you get at it.  Your 'feel' for the bread develops very quickly.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Members here are really supportive and it's always fun to see what surprises are in store from newly minted bake-aholics. Braids look great - my wife has been hounding me to do a challah - looks like a new project may be on the radar !

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your braided bread is beautiful. As far as a warm proof, if you a microwave you can heat a cup of water, then put your dough in the microwave with the humid cup of water. Or maybe leave your bread in a cool oven with the light on.

Dan

 

HeidiCooksSupper's picture
HeidiCooksSupper

I've used instant yeast for a few years now with a short hiatus as the parent of a sourdough starter.  The starter was fine, behaved well, etc. but it's like having a pet who gives no love in return.  I finally let it die and went back to the ease of instant yeast.  For real sourdough flavor, we head to a bakery.

Instant yeast has lots of advantages. A pound of it is cheap. It will survive well over a year in the fridge (opened) and several years in the freezer (unopened) -- I learned the latter when I made the mistake buying four pounds at a time to get a bargain price.  A single pound lasts me about 15 months. It doesn't need proofing and sits in a dry bowl next to salt without suffering any ill effects.  It's happy to be treated like just another dry ingredient. I've yet to have it fail.

As to temperature and proofing, my general understanding is that heat, time and flavor are basically a sliding scale.  When one goes up or down it effects the others.  More heat = less time.  Less time = less flavor.  You will see bread recipes that proof for anywhere from 45 minutes in a warm, moist environment to overnight or more in the fridge.  Trial and error will help you know what you like best.

Your question about barley brings up a truism: the further you stray from wheat, the more peculiarities arise.  I'm not very familiar with barley because hubby can't eat it but I am with rye.  For any change in flour you probably need to change the proportions of ingredients, the times for kneading/proofing/etc., baking time/temp, and expectations.  For example, a very-high hydration, well-kneaded, white wheat flour dough results in a bread with big holes and lots of air.  Make the same recipe but use rye flour and you will make a brick-like doorstop.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.  Rye bricks are lovely sliced thin & topped with smoked salmon spread.

emmsf's picture
emmsf

 Welcome! I’ll comment on two of the questions you have asked. As another commentor said, I don’t think you need to aim for such a warm spot, and slowing the Proofing/rising process can actually result in a much more flavorful bread. 75°F is plenty warm enough. I think that’s especially true of the first rise/bulk fermentation, where great flavors can develop. As for barley flour, it’s one of my favorite ingredients since I think it has a beautiful, earthy taste to bread.  However, it has been my experience that barley flour is very thirsty. If your recipe has been well tested it should work, but if you experiment and add barley flour to other recipes, you may want to increase the hydration overall. Good luck! 

Andylute's picture
Andylute

Hi all!

Thanks for the responses!

About fresh yeast here. You can buy it in the refrigerated section at the supermarket usually next to dairy products, ready-made humus, tofu, etc. It is sold either in individual single-use cubes or little single-use sachets.Image result for Shimrit yeast

I think I will try fresh yeast for that barley bread recipe I found. I want to make a half recipe. One tablespoon of fresh yeast equals 4 grams of instant yeast, about 1/8 of a teaspoon. How can I measure out that little? So I will buy a cube / sachet of fresh yeast & see how it goes. Wish me luck.

Kendalm referred to challah; this is what he is referring to. Although traditional challot (plural) are usually made with eggs in the dough, my wife & I definitely prefer ours without. Bread with eggs in it, I think, is too close to cake; at least it is for us. Not to be sexist (G-d forbid!) but I think braiding bread is definitely a feminine art. I watched the videos but the challot I tried to braid looked more like tangled shoelaces than proper challa. 

Thank you all for your advice about where to let the dough rise.

How did you all (why doesn't English have a word for second-person plural?) come to baking?

Andylute

 

Abe's picture
Abe

Converting from dried yeast to fresh yeast and vice versa one needs to use 3x the weight when using fresh yeast instead of dried yeast.

So if a recipe calls for 3g dried yeast then the fresh yeast equivalent would be 9g.

English is a marvellous language where we've done away with all that second person plural stuff. It makes life less complicated.

P.s. as a man I think that was sexist against men. I think you'll find baking appeals to both sexes equally.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Hi Andylute - it's near impossible to measure instant accurately for small batches and that why i prefer fresh. Here in los Angeles you have to hunt hard to find it but always have a brick in the freezer and thaw a little when needed. Btw its hard as concrete if you freeze it. Usually ill by a brick - cut off a three to four week supply and leave that in the fridge and rest goes to the freezer. Great stuff and I just loooove the smell (call me crazy)

As for English - it's a very contextual and gender neutral language. Take for example in Hebrew (pulling from memory here) is it not true that if you said 'your friend' a listener would know the gender of the friend and the second person based on suffix conjugation ?  

yozzause's picture
yozzause

if you want to be able to measure small amounts accurately you can get jewlers/druggies scales that measure from 0.1gram  up to 2kg in some cases. they are quite cheap on ebay from china for around $10 australian post included.

 A must if you are wanting to go small 1 loaf test batches or to measure jewels or the other stuff! 

regards Derek

Andylute's picture
Andylute

Hi all!

Lessee...

First, Abe, I think you might've misunderstood me. Baking is a very manly (and womanly) art. But braiding dough for challot is, I think, a decidedly feminine thing. At least I haven't got the hang of it.

Kendalm, you are correct. If you say 'my friend' in Hebrew, anyone hearing you would know the gender of your friend and, depending on the particular word you used, whether your friendship was strictly platonic or perhaps something more. I cannot believe that fresh yeast can be so hard to find in the USA. Every neighborhood grocery here has it. I suppose that's because baking challot for the Sabbath & major holidays is such an ingrained part of Jewish culture. 

So we bought a cube of fresh yeast when we went shopping Thursday after work (which is when we usually do our weekly shop). According to the "use by" date, the stuff looked to be very fresh. But when I went rooting around the fridge Friday morning (not a work day here but Sunday is), I couldn't find it. My wife hadn't seen it either. We assume it got lost in the shuffle as we were packing our bags at the supermarket on Thursday. So I went to the grocery in our neighborhood which had little cubes of fresh yeast but were not nearly as fresh according to the "use by" date. I bought one anyway. I proofed it in warm water (as per the barley bread recipe I used; half quantity) to which I added some blue agave syrup. I waited the specified 10 minutes but it didn't get frothy or bubbly or anything at all. I am guessing that this means the yeast was a bit spent. (Right?) I could've chucked it and used instant yeast but I really want to get the hang of fresh yeast. So I followed the rest of the recipe and came up with:

 

The dough did not appear to rise much so I was a little antsy about how they would turn out. They came out as follows:

They tasted fine, as in really good. A bit dense-ish but soft inside & with a lovely flavor. If we didn't know that they contained barley flour

I don't know if we could have told.

Ooh, now that I post the flour photo I see that the flour was 2 months past the sell-by date. Hmm, could that have been the problem? As we did not go into Jerusalem as we usually do on Friday mornings & go to a big health food shop there, we bought the flour at the little health food shop in our 'burb. Well, I also made these muffins with the same barley flour and they came out delicious.

I will bake the same barley bread recipe this Friday with much fresher fresh yeast and see what happens. (For the rest of the flour in the bread I used a little bit of 70% whole spelt flour that we had & then 70% whole wheat.)

How were / are your weekends?

Be well & be in touch!

Andylute

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I find that it's sometimes misleading and generally prefer to trust the sell by dates - and, to boot, the type of sugar also matters and ! Another thing is adding too much sugar can dehydrate the yeast so if you don't proof it right you may get a false negative.  I'm not trying to paint a picture where proofing yeast is so hard but just saying if it's withing sell by from a reputable market it's very probably just fine to use. Now if you had it in the fridge for 5 weeks or more then proofing makes sense (IMHO).   seems doubtful that your use-by should be too much of a problem - what maybe the challenge is trying to rise a dough with low gluten - just a thought. A mix of say 50/50 wheat / barley might be a consideration. As for challah I think you can imagine here in LA every other street corner has a deli and bakery with rugulah, babka, challah the works - the fresh yeast thing is more to do with the American lifestyle of doing things quick and fast. Although professional bakeries can easily get the fresh stuff the consumer has to be a little more determined. As for Shabbat or major holiday - most will just pick a challah from the bakery on the way home - if you announced you baked your own - you can't imagine the reaction - it would be as though a miracle happened !

oldskoolbaker's picture
oldskoolbaker

Over 50 years I would estimate that I've braided a quarter of a million loaves. My wife has no problems with my masculinity. I also do a decent job decorating cakes.

Andylute's picture
Andylute

I certainly did not mean what I said about braiding in a negative, chauvinist or sexist way. I guess it was a poor attempt at humor.

I've more or less given up on cakes. I dp muffins. Diabetes runs in my family. While I do not have it (I get my blood checked every year), I have a low tolerance for overtly sweet foods including icings, frostings, etc. When I was a little kid I would always scrape it off slices of birthday cake.

Are you a professional baker? What kind of cakes do you like to bake?

Andylute's picture
Andylute

Hi folks!

Well, round #2 with fresh yeast & whole barley flour didn't go so great either. I bought one of those little sachets of fresh yeast (see the picture in my July 26 post) & made sure it was very fresh. The water I mixed it with was the right temperature & the yeast-water mixture seemed better (after 10 minutes I could see little bubbles rising). I followed the exact same recipe and it still didn't come out right. It barely rose  & last week's batch tasted better. So, this week I will go back to 70% whole wheat flour & instant yeast. I'll chalk this one up to experience. To paraphrase Chef Gusteau, this was definitely one of those things that did not work. (I made these muffins with the barley flour & they came out great.)

I found this recipe that I want to try for our upcoming Rosh Hashanah (New Year) holiday, on Sept. 10-11.

I also want to try rye challah. I found a recipe (in Hebrew, that's why I'm not posting a link) that calls for 500 grams of whole rye flour, 500 grams of white/bread flour (I'll use 70% whole wheat or 70% spelt), 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tbsp. dry yeast & about 2.5 cups of water. This is about the only rye bread recipe I've seen that is not sourdough.

What has everyone been up to?

Be well & be in touch!

Andylute

yozzause's picture
yozzause

There is an article on TFL    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12137/barley-flour that might be worth visiting, if you are using straight Barley Flour I think will be your problem not the Fresh yeast.

regards Derek 

 

Andylute's picture
Andylute

Thank you Derek!

When I'm ready to give barley flour another go, I will try it.

I went back to my recipe for 70% whole wheat flour & instant yeast this past Friday & the challot came out just fine.

Andylute