Yeast: what they are and cooking uses
Yeasts are microscopic fungi that proliferate very well in "environments" loaded with sugar or complex carbohydrates. In nature there are thousands of yeast, used for many different things.
- Sunday, 24 May 2015
In cooking, yeasts are most commonly used to prepare cakes, biscuits, frying batters, pizza, homemade bread and many other preparations.
The process that starts when we make something containing yeast, bread for example, is the fermentation of the yeast itself: in absence of oxygen, yeast produces energy, transforming the sugars into carbon dioxide, a result that we can see ourself when we cut bread and we see all those little holes in it, produced by carbon dioxide. This process provides a much lighter bread, easier to digest, but we must be careful not to put too much of it, as it may cause side effects to health, such as allergies or inflammations. When used in large amounts, the mixture not only be indigestible but will also have an unattractive smell of yeast.
The most commonly used yeasts are:
- Fresh yeast, which is usually found in the refrigerated section of supermarkets in small loaves of 25 grams;
- Dry yeast, which is sold in bags of approximately 7 g each;
- Sourdough, which would be worth a separate article, is made at home, and tooks a lot of caring, almost like a son;
- instant yeast, which is used to prepare cakes or sweets in general and can be either with vanilla flavour or not.
A little 'time ago, I tried to make this bread that does not require manual skills to be done, therefore also suitable for those who are not particularly good in cooking or who do not have much time on their hands, because it is really simple. The recipe is from a famous New York baker, Mark Bittman, a reconstruction of the original recipe from Jim Lahey, who found a way to make the preparation of homemade bread something accessible and affordable for everyone.
Let's see how:
345g of warm water
1g of instant yeast for bread (I put 1 teaspoon)
8g of salt (I put a little 'more)
olive oil to brush the top
extra flour for dusting the work surface
Two bowls, medium large
A steel pot suitable for cooking in the oven (okay even terracotta, pyrex glass or cast iron) of about 24 cm in diameter, with lid.
Put all the ingredients together in the food processor with dough blade and run for about 10 seconds. The dough will be sticky but do not worry, it's normal. Put a little 'oil in a bowl and put in the obtained dough. Let it rest for a couple of hours covered with a cloth, possibly by putting it in a warm place.
While waiting for the last half hour of rising, turn on the oven to 250 degrees and place the pot (without the lid) inside.
When rising time runs out, put the loaf of dough into the hot pan, (be careful, it'll be very hot!) without adding any oil or otherwise. Cover with a ovenproof lid and cook for 45 minutes. Then remove the lid, brush a drop of olive oil on the surface of the bread, adding even some poppy seed or pepper, that's my case, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until you notice a nice golden color. The bread will be ready at this point.
Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before eating. You will be very proud of it, once you'll have it in hour hands, a great satisfaction! The crust is crunchy and the crust....to die for.