Friday, August 24, 2007

Basic Dough

Recently my baking prowess was challenged with yeast. I've never been one for yeast products, in that while my mom would make buns, bread and cinnamon buns - it was always so labour intensive - always all by hand in this monster sized bowl - that she could rarely get her arm into - being short with high counters and then add a big bowl - it's interesting. So I've relied on the dough cycle of our bread maker as of late - but it's lackluster at best. So long explaination short, I decided to make one batch of dough in the food processor and one in the Kitchen Aid - granted both recipes are minor in size compared to my mom's but I don't need a few dozen buns.

Scared? Yeast? It's okay it's actually nothing to be scared of. Some tips - buy the individual envelopes - ensures your yeast is fresh and really, are you going to plow through an entire jar in the near future probably not. Check the expiry date. Good so basically this is the one time you actually want to grow something in your kitchen - unlike the other times when your leftovers start growing appendages. To make it grow, you've got to make it comfortable and happy - via warm water and sugar. Carbs are the energy source for everything - this is no time for a Atkins diet for yeast.

So then:
1/2 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tsp of sugar - I used Agave but whatever you want

Combine in your mixing bowl, set that aside somewhere warm, and let it bloom - it gets foamy and yeasty smelling, about 10 minutes

Meanwhile prepare:

3/4 cup room temperature/warm liquid - I used water for the calzones and milk for the cinnamon buns (Alton Brown actually has an awesome recipe that uses buttermilk - I'm going to be looking into that one)
3 cups flour - I used 2 cups all purpose and 1 whole wheat - if you have w.wheat pastry flour you could bump up the ratio to 1:1
2 tsp sugar (omit for savory)
1 tsp salt - to taste
1 T fat - olive oil, canola or melted Earth Balance

Once your yeast, is yeasty - place it on the appliance your using with the dough hook or proper blade and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until just combined and then dump out onto a floured surface and knead. Put all the frustrations of your day into this, until your rough dough is smooth and stretchy. Place into a greased bowl and massage the top of your dough with some fat - just a little. Cover and place somewhere warm. Let rise until doubled - about an hour. Punch down - and let rise again.

From here it's ready for whatever application you need it for - calzones - just roll it out and place on a cornmeal lined baking sheet or even better a pizza stone (haven't got one of those just yet- HINT!)...
Or for cinnamon buns divide the dough in half, rolls out into a rectangle - brush lightly with margarine, cover with a generous amout of cinnamon and brown sugar - roll into a log and slice. Place into a greased pan and let rise about 15-20 minutes - or longer if you're patient. Bake at 350 until golden.

See it's simple - seriously.

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