Monday, October 8, 2012

No-Fail, No-Fuss White Bread

Bread Machine Loaf
There are some products and some companies that I'm a little bit giddy about.

A recent conversation went something like this:

Red Star Yeast: Hey, Donna, we have a new yeas--
Me: Oooooh, really? Really? Where can I buy it? What is it? I want some!!!
RSY: --st, and we'd like to send --
Me: Oh! Oh! OOooohhhhh! Can I write about it? Can I? Can I??? Huh? Huh???
RSY: you some samples and ... Donna...?
RSY: Are you there?
Me: *preheating oven*

Okay, that might be over-dramatized, but the idea of a new kind of bread yeast had me chomping at the bit to give it a try. And then the box arrived. With a BOW. I mean, really, it was like a PRESENT.

And it is a present ... for one of YOU. Somebody who comments here will get the same package I did with some yeast, some spiffy aprons, a reusable shopping bag, a wooden cutting board, and a coupon to buy some more yeast.

And ... the person who wins here will be entered to win a KITCHENAID STAND MIXER from the absolutely awesome folks at Red Star Yeast.

Yes, I'm shouting. I want to make sure you heard me. There are a bunch of bloggers involved in this promotion and the winners on each blog will be entered to win the big prize of a stand mixer. Pretty awesome, huh? And I'm pretty lucky, so maybe that will rub off a little bit. I'd love for someone who reads my blog to get in on that new-mixer action.

Meanwhile, back to the yeast.

This new product is called Platinum yeast and it's part of the instant yeast family, and it's blended with yeast improvers that help make bread-baking a little more foolproof. Those improvers strengthen the dough so there's less risk it will collapse, and they give the dough a better oven spring - that rise you get when the bread is baking.

To put the yeast to the test, I made two identical loaves of bread - or as identical as anything can be in a home kitchen. Right off the bat, I could see that the yeast improvers made the dough feel better. If you're a bread baker, you'll understand that - there's a certain smoothness and bounciness that you get, and you know that you're going to get a nice loaf of bread.

And guess what. There was more oven spring, as promised.

I used my basic no-frills bread recipe, with no special handling. Just tossed everything into the stand mixer, and let it go. I used bread pans because it's easier to compare volume. Here's the results:

Platinum yeast loaf on the left. 
Yep, that's the new yeast on the left. Both loaves are a little, er, lopsided because of the way I placed them in the oven. But you can tell that one rose a LOT more than the other.

While this was a pretty dramatic difference with plain white bread, I think the real benefit will be with more challenging doughs, like those with whole grains or higher sugar levels.

On the other hand, everyone needs at least one go-to, never-fail recipe. This is mine. I've kneaded this by hand, in the food processor, and in my stand mixer. I've baked it free-form, in loaf pans, and I've made buns from this recipe as well. I've also used the same recipe in my bread machine, but with just 1 teaspoon of yeast instead of the full amount - that loaf is the top photo.

Sometimes when I make this recipe, I change the sugar to honey or maple syrup, or I use butter instead of oil. But this is the recipe I use when I need a simple no-fail loaf of white bread. And now with the new yeast, it's even more reliable. And taller.

No-Fail No-Fuss White Bread

Another bread machine loaf.
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) Platinum yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Sprinkle cornmeal the bottom of a 9x5 bread pan. (if you want added insurance that the bread won't stick anywhere, you can spray the pan with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has doubled, flour your work surface lightly and turn out the dough. Form it onto a tight log about 8 inches long, to fit into the pan. Place it in the pan, seam side down, and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Set aside until the dough has risen about the top of the pan by about an inch, about 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and slash the top of the loaf down the center, lengthwise. Place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 50 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Want to Win?

Part of what the winner will receive.
This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only, and the prize will be shipped directly to the winner by Red Star Yeast. The winner here will be eligible to win a Kitchen Aid Mixer in a separate drawing to be held by Red Star Yeast on November 12, 2012.

This giveaway starts when this posts and ends on Sunday, October 14 at midnight, mountain time.

For the first entry (mandatory) leave a comment telling me what tour favorite bread is.

For additional entries (you can do as many or as few of these as you like):

Tweet a link to this contest, then come back here and leave a comment telling me that you tweeted.
Follow Red Star Yeast on Twitter then come back here and tell me that you followed.
Pin any photo from this post to Pinterest and leave a comment here telling me that you've pinned.
Like Red Star Yeast on Facebool and leave a comment here letting me know you followed.
Follow Red Star Yeast on Pinterest.and leave a comment here letting me know you followed them.

So there you go, one mandatory entry and five optional ones. Good luck to everyone!

I'd be sooooooooo excited if someone from my blog won the Kitchen Aid mixer. But if not, the winner here will still love the goodies from Red Star Yeast!