I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a post that I think will be quite helpful to a few people who are friends of mine. Not that my other posts aren’t helpful – you know, pictures of wood piles and such – I just think this one might assist someone in avoiding one of the more annoying purchases the supermarket has to offer. That purchase is bread yeast – or bread machine yeast, to be more precise.
About six months ago, I decided that I was going to start making bread for Laura and myself (or me – which is it?). The decision wasn’t based on any health concerns or any strange or odd way of being, it was simply based on the fact that whenever I wanted to make something to eat and bread was one of the ingredients, it seemed like we were always out. Of bread, that is. I could buy two or three loaves in the grocery store, but somehow, magically, whenever I needed bread, the third loaf that I hadn’t gotten to yet was moldy or we were out of bread all together. It was sort of like being beholden to the bread – or the grocery store – or someone. I’m not sure who, but I just felt that the bread situation had to change because after all my years on this earth, I hadn’t figured out a solution to my problem. I needed something more consistent and something that I had more control over.
I’ve had a bread maker for years. I used to make a heck of a lot more bread than I did up until six months ago. I think the lull in the middle there was me losing interest in the “doing things with my hands in the kitchen” thing, or perhaps it was just pure laziness. For a while there, buying my bread in the store worked. All I had to do was make sure I had enough bread in the kitchen and if any went bad, I’d grudgingly feed it to the birds.
I guess none of this really matters. What I’m here to tell you is that for you bread makers out there who are buying yeast in the grocery store, you’re getting ripped off. I got ripped off so many times during my early bread making days. Don’t believe me? Here, take a look at the price on the lid of a Hannaford bread yeast jar I just pulled out of the fridge:
Hannaford Bread Yeast Lid
Now, I have to tell you that I didn’t pay that much for this yeast and that I finished what was in this particular jar long ago. I think the yeast was on sale (I hope it was) and I re-use the jars for my new yeast.
Here’s the Hannaford bread yeast jar:
Hannaford Bread Yeast
And here’s a jar of Fleischmann’s yeast that I’m sure looks very familiar to anyone who makes bread. This stuff is very expensive at around $8 per four ounces. I’ve actually seen it cost more than that.
Fleischmann’s Bread Yeast
So, how is my post going to help you today? Well, I’m about to clue you in to a way to never again pay $2 or more per ounce for bread yeast. I pay only $.35 per ounce and Amazon and Red Star is the answer. Check this out…
Red Star Active Dry Yeast
The picture above shows the bag I’ve got sitting in the freezer right now. It’s probably about half way gone, but when I received it, it weighed 2 pounds. I just store it in there and when one of my yeast jars gets kind of empty, I refill it from the bag. And guess what – the entire 2 pounds of yeast only costs $10.99 on Amazon. Just go to Amazon and search for yeast if you’re interested in getting some. And if you’re curious as to what other yeast costs, check out the jars in the Amazon search results. I’m sitting here right now looking at a jar of active dry yeast that costs $9.50 for 4 ounces. That’s crazy. And those packets are even worse.
When I started looking around for a larger amount of yeast to purchase than the measly 4 ounces that runs out really fast, I had a few concerns. The first thing I wondered was whether or not I could freeze any yeast I wasn’t using. I wasn’t sure if I could use an entire 2 pounds before the expiration date. Well, from the reviews on the product page, people claimed that you could freeze it. Yeah, but would it still make dough rise after it’s been frozen? I’m here to tell you that it does. I’ve been using this yeast for months now and the majority of what I’ve used has come out of the freezer. The bread rises perfectly.
This brings me to the next concern I had. Does this Red Star yeast work in bread machines? I didn’t see that claim written anywhere on the product page. Again, people claimed that it did work and I’m here to tell you that after months of using it in my bread maker, it works fabulously.
I was talking to my good buddy, Steve, about bread a while back when I mentioned that I make my own. I told him that I was currently making about two loaves a week and that it was simple white bread from a recipe in a book my mother gave me about 20 years ago. It’s funny – on the page right next to the “Country White Bread” recipe is the “Luscious White Bread” recipe and on that page, my mother wrote “Very Good!” as a note to self. Oh, it’s the little things.
Anyway, Steve asked me for my recipe and I never gave it to him. It was so simple that I didn’t think he needed it, but since I’m pretty sure he’ll read this, I’ll give the recipe here.
Country White Bread by Jay (in bread maker – one and a half pound loaf)
– 1 1/2 cups of warm water
– 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
– 1 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar
– 3 cups of flour
– 2 teaspoons of salt
Here’s what I do. I have a lot of practice. I turn on the bread maker and let it sit for a few minutes. This gets the heating element warm. Then, I either take the one and a half cups of warm water from the faucet or take it from the faucet cold and microwave it. Either way, I put warm water in the bread maker. Then, I spread the two and a half teaspoons of yeast out on top of the water. I let that sit for about a minute so it can start dissolving into the warm water. After that, I spread the one and a half tablespoons of sugar on top of the yeast. This pushes the yeast down a bit and submerges it in the water. What I’m trying to do here is mix up the yeast a little without the use of a spoon. If I used a spoon, the yeast would stick to it and I would lose a little.
Note: Only mix the sugar with the yeast, not the salt. Yeast eats sugar and doesn’t like salt. Use the flour as a separator.
After I put in the sugar, I dump in the three cups of flour. I used to use pure bread flour but have recently started diluting the bread flour with one cup of regular all purpose flour. I found that this really has no noticeable effect on the bread, but does allow for use of the regular flour. I can buy all purpose flour in 25 pound bags, while the bread flour only comes in 5 pound bags. Let’s just say I kept on running out of bread flour so the fact that I could successfully supplement my bread with all purpose flour is a good thing.
On top of the pile of flour, I put the salt. I know that I wrote above that the recipe calls for two teaspoons of salt, but I’ll be honest with you here when I tell you that I only use one teaspoon. Laura and I are getting up there in age and the less salt, the better. Two teaspoons seems like so much and I lost heart for that a while back.
Let the bread maker do it’s thing for three hours and fifty minutes and there you have it – a one and a half pound loaf of bread.
A quick tip for you is this – set the bread maker up at night before you go to bed and let it cook over night. The bread machine turns itself off automatically. When you wake up, things will be cool to the touch and it’ll be easier to shake the loaf out of the container. Also, when the loaf is loose, stick it in a big one gallon zip lock bag and throw it in the fridge. This way (being cool), it’ll be so much easier to slice and you won’t end up with fat two inch pieces. With the firm bread I have now, my slices are as thin as half an inch. And that’s by hand. If I had an electric knife like my parents have, I might even get things thinner.
There you have it folks – my bread making tips for the day. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to respond. Peace.