Active Yeast vs Rapid Rise

December 17, 2006

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The infamous No-Knead Bread that Mark Bittman wrote about in The New York Times. Yes, like everyone else I’ve made it. (At this point, at least a dozen times!) It wasn’t the “no-knead” part that appealed to me (for the feeling of kneading a yeast dough is one of my favorite things ever), but the fact that the recipe came from the Sullivan Street Bakery. The bread from there is amazing–always reminds me of my Grandfather’s bread—and raises my estimation of any restaurant that serves it! So once I saw that it was from SSB–even before all the buzz–I knew I’d have to make it.

My first attempt should have been a disaster, but actually turned out partly fabulous/partly inedible. Three things combined to make it so: When I went to make the dough, I didn’t have Instant or Rapid Rise Yeast, just Active Yeast. But as it was midnight and I was not about to run out for yeast, I went ahead and used the active. And at first it seemed fine:

but after 12 hours of rising, not too much had happened in the magic bowl:

So I decided to go for the 18 hour rise and see what would develop… did get bigger, but not as much as I had expected….but then at the last minute I was invited to a party–one of those amazing, only-seen-in-the-movies type of parties, so I had a decision to make: stay home, bake the bread and miss hours of the party…or leave it and see what happens overnight. Hmmm…

Guess what I chose?

Yup, that’s right, I left my little covered ball of dough and went of in search of the high life. *smile*

And by the time I got home (um, the next day…) and was coherent enough to think of baking it off, it had puffed up to the top of the bowl, and had probably been rising for about 30 hours all told.

But the extended rising time paid off—thank you ‘Active Yeast’!– because the resulting bread smelled and looked perfect both inside:

and out:

So where does the ‘partly inedible’ come in? Because I had done some other blog reading about the recipe and incorporated the suggestion that it needed more salt. Well, I upped it far too much, and after just one glorious slice slathered with butter….Carolyn & I both decided it was too salty to eat and chucked the rest. My first-born no-knead loaf–in the trash! *Sigh*

But there were so many good points, even with the yeast and salt mishaps, that I was inspired to run out and get some instant/rapid rise yeast (despite the lingering effects of last night’s adventure!) and start again immediately.

And this time?

It rose magnificently…

Smelled glorious while baking, looked beautiful…

And the taste?

Crusty and chewy and remarkably like Grandpa’s!
Filed Under: Bread/Pastry, Recipe, Savory

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