Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Beauty and the Yeast

Vintage Cheddar Loaves

A real-estate agent once told my mother that that best way to sell your house is to make sure you have fresh bread baking in the oven. The woman claimed that the fragrance of fresh bread in the oven was enough to entice even the most scrupulous of house-hunters into purchasing the shabbiest shack on the street. Unfortunately we never got the opportunity to test out this theory. But I must say that passing a bakery early in the morning with its perfume of baking bread floating amidst the crisp morning air was indeed reason enough to cross the threshold and buy something. The bread I guess, just sells itself, and what a beauty it is.

I love bread. I love sourdoughs, I love baguettes, I love brioches, but really any bread will do. Whoever said carbs were bad should be sent to the loony bin; bring on the carb-fest any day. Carbs are great and I will defend carbs to the very end.

But sadly I must confess that for some time now, I have been convinced that yeast has a personal vendetta against me.

There, it’s finally out in the open, no more pretence, my feelings about yeast are laid bare for all to know. Yeast just doesn’t like me, and to be honest I don’t care much for it either. I love bread, but I don’t get along with yeast. Whenever I see a recipe requiring any sort of yeast, I avert my eyes, and avoid it as if it were a black cat on Friday the 13th. Because of this, sadly no breads are ever baked in my oven. No intoxicating aroma of baking carbs waft through my kitchen; bad news if I were to decide to sell a house.

Vintage Cheddar Loaves

I don’t know what it is about yeast, but all my experiences with it have left me soured. When it comes to baking with yeast, there have been one too many disappointments, one too many failures, one too many catastrophes. What emerges from the oven look more like rock formations, rather than something edible and would probably be of more interest to a geologist than a baker.

However recently, I decided to tackle this fear of baking with yeast. If I could overcome my trepidation towards pastry-making I’m sure that this won’t be any different. Now I have come to think of yeast as the stray dog that likes to bully the neighbourhood kids. It can smell your fear, although if you approach it with a certain amount of bravado and confidence it will just leave you to be. So off I go towards that bull terrier called yeast; my gait confident, my head held high, ready to tackle this beast.

Vintage Cheddar Loaf with Tongues

I used Donna Hay’s recipe for Aged Cheddar Breads; the recipe sounded simple enough and I would seriously have to doubt my ability to read if I were to stuff this up. All that was required, to put it bluntly, was to throw everything into a bowl and knead away. Simple, right? And the result?

Well, let’s just say that there’s no rush to open my own bakery. The bread was quite tasty, the sharpness of the parmesan and the mustard seeds and the delicate texture of the cheesy interior is quite delectable. Although I have to say the bread came out a little bit too dense for my liking and after eating half a loaf, I felt that my stomach had expanded to the size of a Nepalese tepee. Be that as it may, the recipe is so simple and foolproof, that if you are a beginner in bread-making, you won’t be able to stuff it up. So if you need a boost in confidence when it comes to baking bread, give this recipe a try.

Vintage Cheddar Breads
DH Magazine (Issue 3)
serves 6

Cheddar Tounge

2 tsp active dry yeast
½ tsp sugar
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 cups plain all-purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
40g vintage cheddar cheese, cut into 6 logs

Preheat oven to 200ÂșC.
To make the dough, place the yeast, sugar water, flour, salt, olive oil, parmesan and mustard in a large bowl and mix to a soft dough.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic,
Divide into six pieces and flatten slightly into discs.
Place a piece of cheddar on each disc and roll to enclose.
Place each roll in a greased and floured 9 x 5 mini loaf tin.
Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.Serve warm.


Anonymous said...

I'll try this for sure. Thanks!

Erielle said...

That looks delicious, especially with the mustard seeds. I like the fact that it doesn't take hours to rise. Could be made on a weeknight!

Cheryl said...

Cheese in the middle of bread...

I just fainted.

I think you did quite an awesome job tackling your fears of yeast. I believe I have the same fear.

Anonymous said...

How lovely! There are few things that go together better than cheese and warm bread - maybe chocolate and peanut butter, but that's it :)

Anonymous said...

It looks like you did a fine job! Sometimes when breads are dense, they just need a little more rising time or higher hydration.

You could try the no-knead bread of NYT fame (the one that swept through the baking blogosphere last Nov). I also highly recommend Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Bread Bible" for lots of great info about yeasted breads (NAYY).

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Don't give up...these look really lovely and must have been tasty.

Cerebrum said...

1) Those little bread papers are adorable!

2) The breads look yummy!

3) I admire you for attacking your fear like that. And getting results like these. Just keep it up, working your way in there slowly and before you know it, you'll have a fridge full of sourdoughs. If you don't manage to kill them, as I do. Yeast may live in my kitchen, but wheat sourdoughs - do not. Ahem.

4) LOVE that title!;-)

Callipygia said...

I wouldn't have guessed that you struggle with yeast. These look beautifully flecked and shaped. Great job.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine this being awesome just out of the oven. Did the cheese harden once cold? Stupid question, i know. The answer would be an obvious yes, maybe slightly (i'm imagining cheese toasties) but i couldn't help asking anyway.

Looks fabulous, jen. Love the bread cases.


Anonymous said...

I have had the same fear about yeast until I tried a foolproof foccacia recipe found here:

I can highly recommend it and no need to knead!

Another jen

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Cheese and bread - two of my favorites! I'll have to try this one.

Great job taking on the yeast. I'm sure a whole new vista of baking possibilities will open up for you now!

Anonymous said...

jen you are so cruel taunting me with stuffed cheddar breads! my stomache is growling and frightening my coworkers! delicious!!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous and I love the red wrappers! Love the title too ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love working with yeast. Everything about it, the smell, the feel, the taste. But it takes a lot of bread to get to that point. And any bread that oozes melty cheese will help!

Peabody said...

My mom always had something baking when she was selling the house.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

i really like what your agent said.makes so much sense...the smell of bread is the smell of home,of comfort,of mum !your bread looks lovely and the paper cases just makes this post a fav.i guess i have the yeast fear too.still no luck with bread in the oven.but this inspires me.Thanks.

Anonymous said...

By the looks of things, you and yeast have got quite a good working relationship! Glad to see you back and making such deliciousness again :)

Mandy said...

Wow! this is the kind of recipe a novice bread baker like me needs. Thanks!I will definitely try it out!

Warda said...

You did very well for somebody who is afraid of yeast. The bread looks delicious and I couldn't get my off of that mini cake tin. I have to buy them.
For the density of the bread, let it proof longer next time it may be the reason.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound too difficult to make and looks really nice... Thanks for the recipe.

leonine194 said...

my gosh! that seems terrible, delicious.....

Helene said...

I am glad you decided to try again. Yeast is very fickle, but beautiful when it does behave. Nice looking bread!

Freya said...

Great recipe, I love the cheese oozing out the middle. Does this go a bit hard though when the bread has cooled?

Jen said...

Ninie- I highly recommend it. Let me know how you go!

Erielle- Definitely a very easy and convienient bread to make and as you said perfect on a weeknight when the last thing you want to do is wait for your dinner.

Cheryl- I think I still have that fear of yeast, although I am conquering it a little bit at a time.

Shawnda- Yes, I agree, there are few combinations like cheese and bread and choc and PB that go togther so perfectly.

June- Perhaps next time I shall let the dough prove a little longer.
Yes, that no knead bread sounds very intriguing and since everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon I might as well too.

Mykitcheninhalfcups- They were tasty indeed and don't worry I have come a long way to give up now. There will definitely be more attempts on the way.

Zarah Maria- Thanks for your encouragement. I will definitely be giving breadmaking more of a go now that I have gotten over this intial hurdle.

Callipygia- Thanks, it's nice to see that I was able to fool people into thinking I was some bread making genuis... not really. But I am hoping to be some day.

Mae- Yes, those cases are beautiful aren't they. And the cheese did harden slightly once cooled, although a few seconds in the microwave fixed that.

Another jen- I did see Nikki's foccacia recipe, and now that I have gotten over this first attempt I am probably ready to try some other breads. Thanks for the heads up.

Cookie baker Lynn- Yes, I am actually thinking what other breads I can give a go now.

Aria- I'ms so sorry to have turned you into some growling monster, but hopefully you will be able to give this a go to satiate that hungry belly of yours : )

Fruittart- Thanks, thanks and thanks!!!

Natalia- I am hoping to get to that stage where I am very comfortable with yeasty breads. I am slowly getting there though.

Kate- I urge you to give it a go someday, whatever bread you make, even if it is a diaster the first time you will still enjoy the process.

Ellie- Thanks, it's nice to be back.

Novice baker- Yes, it is definitely a great recipe for first time bread makers. Give it a go!

Rose- Thanks for the advice I will definitely take that into account next time I am making bread.

Windy- It's not too difficult at all. And if you have the finnesse for bread making, then it's a snap!

leonine19- Thank you : )

Hemene- I am yet to tame the yeast beast although I am now more willing to give it a go.

Freya and Paul- Yes the cheese does harden slightly, I guess the trick is to eat them when still warm. Although because they were so dense this was impossible. I just poopped them in the microwave for a few seconds to get the ooze back in the cheese.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments eveyone, really appreciate it : )

Anonymous said...

That looks like a really tasty bread. I'm proud of you for tackling your fears... you produced beautiful results.
Where did you get those gorgeous bread holders? I must get my hands on some of those!

thehungrycat said...

My GOD that looks fantastic. I'm ready to sink my teeth in!

Anonymous said...

yesterday I discovered your blog, what a surprise! really beautiful. this bread made me simply get crazy, that's why I told my boyfriend to make it (I love cooking, but he is the one for the bread)... yesterday night we ate it: great! thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen, the bread looks yummy. I like the idea of something in the middle of a baked product, like molten choc cake. I still haven't found a good recipe for that. And where did you get the cute paper cases for the bread? - Nora