Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cake Yeast Update & Semolina Sesame Loaves (For Frannie)

Baked on February 17

As I wrote about earlier this month here, I have been tracking the longevity of one pound of cake (or "fresh") yeast that I purchased before Christmas.  My plan had been to bake comparison loaves of Italian semolina (one with cake yeast and one with dried) as a way to discover if there was any discernible difference in taste, texture, or anything else.  Since this is a very basic loaf, I figured this would be a good way as any to perform this test.

My stash of cake yeast was dwindling and it was closing in on two months since purchase. For the last three or four weeks I had been adding a pinch of sugar to the slurry of yeast and warm water just to make sure that it was still viable.  I had never stored cake yeast in the refrigerator this long, and to my surprise, it still smelled pretty fresh. (Cake yeast gone bad smells REALLY BAD.) Well, I had waited one week too long!  The yeast didn't bubble up. Cake yeast funeral took place in my compost heap, where it is supposed to give a good microbiotic boost to the friendly organisms doing their thing out back.

So, there was no no bake-off.  I still made two loaves with dried yeast, but as this is a very basic bread that I make often, I'll be brief.  This is my friend Frannie's favorite, so she got the extra loaf.


2 c. semolina flour (coarser grind, recommended for pasta) 
2 c. bread flour
1 3/4 c warm water
1 T barley malt (syrup, NOT non-diastatic barley malt)
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix a soft dough using your favorite bread-baking method.  For this bread, I make sure I knead using the dough hook for a good five minutes. It is a rather wet dough.

Mixing and Method
Mix, knead, rise, deflate, shape.  Set two lidded baking pots of choice in a cold oven and preheat to 450F for 30 minutes. Carefully tip risen loaves into the hot pans, slash, spritz with water, and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.  Cover with the hot lids and bake for 25-30 minutes.  (I always check the temperature of a loaf after 25 minutes. If it is not yet over 200F, I set the uncovered pan back in the oven for another five minutes and check again.


I did not record the weight of these loaves, but they were probably 1# 8 oz, maybe more, since they had filled out the pans pretty well.  Great, crispy crust with the sesame seeds adding a flavorful crunch.  These loaves went FAST!  Frannie was happy. 

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