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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

TASTE
Homemade bread shortcut secret: instant yeast

 •  Daily bread


By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Kathy Summers is a great believer in the healing power of homemade bread not just as a healthful and inexpensive food but as a way to focus and still the mind.

She bakes almost every day and found it a therapeutic activity when she was battling cancer. The recipe below illustrates the shortcut technique she has developed.

It is vital to use instant yeast, which can be found in supermarkets in small packets or in larger bulk bags in kitchen-supply stores. "Instant" is not to be confused with rapid-rising or active dry yeasts. Instant yeast contains enhancers and works in about half the time. (Yeast nomenclature is a bit confusing, but you can't go wrong with anything that says "instant." Summers' preferred brand, and that of many shortcut bakers, is SAF-instant.

KATHY SUMMERS BASIC WHITE BREAD

• Canola oil cooking spray

• 2 1/2 cups warm water

• 2 tablespoons instant yeast

• 1/3 cup canola oil

• 1/3 cup honey

• 5 1/4 to 6 1/4 cups bread flour

• 2 level teaspoons salt

For optional glaze:

• 1 beaten egg or 1 tablespoon melted butter for loaves; 2 tablespoons melted butter for rolls

Spray two 9-by-5-inch nonstick loaf pans with canola oil cooking spray. For rolls, spray a 6 1/4-by-11 1/4-inch heavy-duty baking pan. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together warm water and yeast and stir until yeast dissolves. Add oil and honey and stir until well-blended.

Measure 3 cups flour and stir into yeast mixture along with salt. Continue to add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well between additions, until dough sticks together and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. It may not be necessary to add all the flour.

Measure 1 more cup bread flour. Lightly flour the work surface and the dough and knead. Fold the dough in half. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough down and away from you with a rolling motion; do not heavily squash the dough. Turn the dough one-quarter turn and repeat for five minutes until dough is smooth, elastic and easy to handle. As you work, continue to lightly flour the work surface and the dough when it gets sticky. Stretch but do not tear the dough. If dry clumps stick to your hands, wash your hands; don't try to incorporate clumps.

For loaves: Cut dough in half. Place the smoothest side of a piece of dough down, press the air out with your hands, smooth out to form a rectangle and fold the dough away from you. Pinch the seam and push and tuck in the ends. Place the dough in a loaf pan, seam side down. Adjust so it is symmetrical. It may not fill the entire pan. Repeat with second loaf.

Allow to rise 10 to 15 minutes, until almost double in size.

For rolls: Cut the dough into 12 to 15 equal pieces. The smoothest part of the dough will be the part of the roll. Without tearing, stretch and tuck the ends of the dough under to form a ball. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces. Allow to rise 10 to 15 minutes until doubled in bulk.

Glaze dough, if desired.

Place on middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake 15 minutes, rotate loaf pans or baking sheet. Bake an addition 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown on tops, sides and bottoms. Loaves should sound hollow when tapped with your finger on the bottom. Or use an instant-read thermometer: soft breads like this should bake to 190 degrees.

Makes 12 slices.

Per slice (no glaze): 180 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 5 g protein

Here's a whole-wheat bread even children will appreciate, since it's made a bit more tender and light by the use of part white bread flour.

KATHY SUMMERS' PART WHOLE-WHEAT BREAD

• Oil spray

• 2 1/4 cups warm water

• 2 tablespoons instant yeast

• 1/4 cup canola oil

• 1/3 cup honey

• 3 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

• 2-3 cups white bread flour

• 2 level teaspoons salt

For optional glaze:

• 1 beaten egg or 1 tablespoon melted butter for loaves; 2 tablespoons melted butter for rolls

Proceed as above. This bread should bake to about 200 degrees internal temperature.