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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 22, 2020
As you might have deduced, I have been baking yeast breads every week, trying to earn the proficiency that comes with experience.
Last week I tried my hand at baking sweet yeast bread, namely cinnamon buns and, predictably, I learned something.
The first recipe I tried called for instant yeast. One of the benefits of using instant (or quick rise) yeast is that it can be combined with the other bread ingredients without proofing. I followed directions, combining the ingredients and kneading in enough flour to make a soft dough. Then I set the dough to rise and left it to do its work. After two hours, it looked just the same as it had when I put it in the bowl to rise – no change.
A quick look at the bottle told me that the yeast was far past the best before date. Having successfully used outdated yeast (traditional or active dry) recently, I wanted to know if there was still some life in it, so I proofed a bit in warm water with a spoonful of sugar dissolved in it. It did nothing– not a bit of frothing or foaming, not even a yeasty smell. The yeast was no longer viable.
I tried to rescue the dough, by proofing an equivalent amount of active dry yeast in sweetened water and kneading it in a bit at a time along with a little extra flour. It was an awkward process, but it did help me to create edible, if not excellent, cinnamon rolls.
Conclusion: if you only use yeast occasionally, it’s a good idea to check the date on the package before relying on it.
The following day, I started again, using active dry yeast in the recipe that follows, this time with success. Picture is posted on facebook.com/IslandGusto. When I make these cinnamon buns again, I will leave them in the oven for a few more minutes; the timing can vary depending on pan and oven used.
Adapted from Canadian Living: “The Ultimate Cookbook: Recipes from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen”. Juniper Publishing, Montreal, 2015.
310 mL (1¼ cups) butter
60 mL (¼ cup) granulated sugar
125 mL (½ cup) warm water (38 C/100 F)
1 pkg (8 g) OR 11 mL (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast
125 mL (½ cup) milk
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 L (4 cups) all purpose flour (approximately)
375 mL (1½ cups) packed brown sugar
10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon
Bring 125 mL (½ cup) of the butter to room temperature to soften; set aside.
In large bowl, dissolve 5 mL (1 tsp) of the granulated sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
While yeast is dissolving, in small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat; stir in 60 mL (¼ cup) of the remaining butter, the remaining granulated sugar and salt until butter is melted.
Let cool until lukewarm; stir into yeast mixture. Stir in egg. Add 500 mL (2 cups) of the flour; stir until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and springy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
While dough is rising, melt remaining butter; pour into 3 L (13- x 9-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with 125 mL (½ cup) of the brown sugar. Set aside.
On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into 40 x 35 cm (16- x 14-inch) rectangle. Spread reserved softened butter over top of dough. Mix remaining brown sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over dough. Starting at 1 long side, tightly roll up; pinch seam to seal. Cut crosswise into 16 buns.
Arrange buns, cut sides up, in prepared baking dish. Cover dish with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Bake in 190 C (375 F) oven until golden and buns sound hollow when gently tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand in baking dish for 2 minutes; invert onto serving platter.
Makes 16 buns
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.