Tag Archives: yeast

Chocolate Cherry Bread

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Cherry BreadChocolate Cherry Bread combines two foods I love – chocolate and bread. So combining them seemed a natural. I can’t remember when I first tasted Chocolate Cherry Bread but it is among my favorite breads.  Besides how can cocoa, melted chocolate and chocolate chunks all in one bread be anything by super.

Cocoa is a natural and here I have combined it with melted chocolate and chocolate chunks for the greatet depth of chocolate flavor.

This Chocolate Cherry Bread freezes well and is great as a hostess gift. This bread, because of the chocolate in it, can be a slow riser and I often use my proofer to help it along. Try this once and I can assure you fear of bread baking will be in the past – at least I hope so. Continue reading

60 Second Brioche

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Fiinished photoThe title, “60 Second Brioche” (pronounced BREE-ohsh) comes from the article title as it appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine.  While it takes a few minutes to prepare the ingredients, it does indeed come together in about sixty seconds in the food processor, making it the fastest brioche around.

In my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”, the theme was to take a basic dough and make 10 to 12 items using that dough. When I first started learning to make the classic doughs I thought it a shame to spend the time to learn them and then use them for just one or two things.  In the Bon Appetit article, they used the 11 recipes I developed for my book and an additional one I developed for them as they wanted an even dozen.

I learned to make many of the traditional French pastries from Andre Gotti, a marvelous French pastry chef.  After I learned the traditional method, I became a consultant to Cuisinart specializing in pastry using the food processor. I modernized many of the traditional French techniques without sacrificing quality. Brioche was among them. Continue reading

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoThis is truly a Cinnamon Raisin Bread to be proud of.  Based on my Basic Sweet Yeast Dough, it is tall, tender and terrific.

I was recently in Chicago visiting my family.  I saw a bag of cinnamon raisin bread on their counter and had a piece for breakfast one day.  To my surprise, it was the best cinnamon raisin bread I ever had.  When I asked where it came from, you can imagine my surprise when I was told, “Walmart”!  Unfortunately, when I returned home and went to my Walmart, no such cinnamon raisin bread was to be found that even came close to the one I had.

So my task was clear.  Make a better cinnamon raisin bread – and I took this very seriously.  There is nothing I like more than working with yeast breads.  There is something magical in combining ingredients and watching them grow.  Several years ago I wanted to come up with my quintessential sweet yeast bread.  I used honey for sweetness and instant mashed potatoes to keep it soft for days.  Vanilla is used to enhance the flavor and the basic dough is used in more than a dozen sweet yeast bread and roll recipes, some familiar and some new. Continue reading

Croissants – Queen of Breads in France

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.


Finished PhotoThis queen of breads is the preface to the Croissant chapter featured in my book, “The New Pastry Cook”, published by Wm. Morrow Co., in 1986.  It is usually available on ebay and sometimes through Amazon.com.  My teaching assistant brought in a pristine copy he got on www.half.com. I have updated the technique for the final rise to more closely approximate a professional proofer in temperature and moisture.  I also now recommend instant yeast, sometimes known as bread machine yeast which was unavailable at the time.

Of all the pastries thought of as French, the flaky, buttery rolls, called croissants have gotten to be the best known in America.  The word means crescent, and the French give croissants a special place of honor at their breakfast table.

With any layered dough such as croissant dough or puff pastry, the most important process is to get the butter between the layers of dough but not to incorporate it into the dough. When the butter has been properly layered, it will melt in the heat of the oven, forming steam that separates the layers, causing the dough to expand and achieving the much sought after flakiness.  Traditionally, for croissants, this has been done by making a bread dough and rolling it out in a rectangle, two thirds of which is buttered.  The dough is then folded and turned.  The rolling, folding, and turning are repeated several more times, forming hundreds and hundreds of layers of butter and dough.  In this method, the most traumatic occurrence was having the butter break through the dough.  It gave many aspiring at-home pastry chefs a complex they never got over. Continue reading

Yeast as it Relates to Bread

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Different Yeast PackagesYeast cells are single cell living organisms that are a part of the fungi group.  Approximately 15 million are in one pound of compressed yeast.   One of the oldest living organisms, dating back to the Egyptians, it continues to help mankind make bread and beer.  Hieroglyphs show Egyptians 5,000 years ago in bread bakeries and making beer –  maybe not the beer we know, but beer nevertheless.  Both of these were dependant upon yeast, just as they are today.  But it was Louis Pasteur who proved that living yeast is necessary for fermentation.

The yeast most often used today is Saccharomyces cerevisiae which translates in Latin to “sweet fungi of beer.” There are 1,500 strains of yeast that have been identified but that is just 1% of the strains believed to exist but are not yet named.

The yeast we use for baking is a domesticated wild yeast that manufacturing has stabilized and made 200 times stronger than it was in the wild.  Plant scientists decide which characteristics of wild yeast are desirable and put them on a diet of cornsyrup to make them reproduce.  When they reproduce to the desired degree, they are filtered, dried, packaged and shipped off to market. Continue reading