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What Are You Baking?

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Last year my MIL gave me a tall jar of instant yeast (from KA, I think) that she had kept around for more than half a dozen years, always in the freezer. I brought it back, put it in my freezer, and it has worked fine in every recipe I've used it for. I typically keep yeast packets in the freezer and they don't always seem to keep their strength over time. Not sure what accounts for the difference.

The two factors that affect yeast are heat and moisture. For storage, I prefer the freezer instead of the refrigerator because I feel the moisture levels are better controlled since nearly all the water molecules in there are in a solid state (ice). I also avoid purchasing yeast at the supermarket because of concerns regarding the temperature it has been kept during the distribution and storage. (I suspect this is what accounts for the difference you are seeing, Pat.)

I buy SAF yeast in 1-pound bags from King Arthur Flour, keep it in tight-sealing tupperware containers in the freezer and have found that it will be fine even a year (or more) later.

This looks like one to try. Legant just posted about making it the other day too (dinner thread).

Great minds think alike, Miss L? :P;)

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I buy SAF yeast in 1-pound bags from King Arthur Flour, keep it in tight-sealing tupperware containers in the freezer and have found that it will be fine even a year (or more) later.

I have a bag that has been in my freezer for at least 3 years and the yeasties still function perfectly. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

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I have a bag that has been in my freezer for at least 3 years and the yeasties still function perfectly. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I'm pretty sure this is the same yeast that I got from my MIL that is still fine after years in the freezer.

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English Muffins from Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. The batter is rather easy to make (no kneading involved), although you do need muffin rings to cook them. They are much better than store bought and freeze very well.

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I'm making biscotti this afternoon. I got an early start getting ingredients out but still haven't started making the dough ;).

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I'm making a concerted effort to clean out the pantry, so I'm modifying a peanut butter cookie recipe into a Nutella cookie recipe. Extra cocoa, more salt, scrapings from a vanilla bean.... Here's hoping they taste as good as they smell in the oven because I've got two giant jars of Nutella thanks to a trip I made to Costco whilst hungry.

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...Here's hoping they taste as good as they smell in the oven because I've got two giant jars of Nutella thanks to a trip I made to Costco whilst hungry.

If you're looking for more Nutella recipes, there's a recipe for Nutella cupcakes here that I tried a few years ago. I recall people liking them.

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Pain au Levain made with my starter and no added yeast. Gotta love that oven spring! The house smelled great this morning.

post-37-127214722329_thumb.jpg post-37-127214723882_thumb.jpg

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Pain au Levain made with my starter and no added yeast. Gotta love that oven spring! The house smelled great this morning.

That is some gorgeous bread. My starter has been unattended for a very long time and I'm not sure it's viable any more.

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That is some gorgeous bread. My starter has been unattended for a very long time and I'm not sure it's viable any more.

What is very long? Has it been in the fridge?

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What is very long? Has it been in the fridge?

It's been in the fridge but untouched for probably 9-10 months.

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Pain au Levain made with my starter and no added yeast. Gotta love that oven spring! The house smelled great this morning.

post-37-127214722329_thumb.jpg post-37-127214723882_thumb.jpg

Whew, that's some good looking bread!

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It's been in the fridge but untouched for probably 9-10 months.

Should not be a problem to restart.

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Should not be a problem to restart.

Thanks. I guess I should try instead of assuming it's no good. At the very least, if it turns out there's something irredeemable about it, I can get the extra container out of my refrigerator.

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Thanks. I guess I should try instead of assuming it's no good. At the very least, if it turns out there's something irredeemable about it, I can get the extra container out of my refrigerator.

It might take a few refresh cycles to get enough of a yeast population so give it some time.

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After a couple of months of oatmeal, I'm back to craving baked goods for breakfast. I modified Ina Garten's sour cream coffee cake by halving the recipe, putting in half white whole wheat flour, using yogurt instead of sour cream, and adding about a half cup of mango preserves to the streusel that goes in the middle of the cake. Despite the reduction in fat, the crumb is still amazingly tender, and the jam works really well. I may not have any left for breakfast...

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1/2 whole wheat English muffins. Made yesterday to enjoy this morning with sunny-side up eggs.

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1/2 whole wheat English muffins. Made yesterday to enjoy this morning with sunny-side up eggs.

What recipe did you use?

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What recipe did you use?

The one from my new favorite and much used book, Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart. It requires that you have crumpet rings to bake them. There is also a recipe for them in his The Bread Baker's Apprentice that does not require the rings, but I have not tried that one yet. And with that recipe you can make a loaf of English Muffin bread which sounds interesting.

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Yesterday I baked and this morning I glazed a chocolate chiffon cake with 5 spice powder. The spice was both in the cake and in the glaze on top. Despite problems with execution (foremost among them a power failure during baking that wreaked havoc with my oven temperature and timing), this cake was fantastic. it is so soft and moist as to be amazing. I have a very hard time getting cakes to be moist, and this was perfect.

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whole wheat oatmeal raisin cookies. They didn't spread out and look kind of funny, but that that puffiness may be in their favor. They're kind of addictive.

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Chocolate chip cookies using a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. One might criticize their academic approach to recipe creation, but it's hard to be critical of the results - browned butter, a higher ratio of brown to white sugar, and letting the sugar and liquid rest to aid its dissolution (and subsequent browning during baking) makes for a pretty amazing cookie.

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Chocolate chip cookies using a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. One might criticize their academic approach to recipe creation, but it's hard to be critical of the results - browned butter, a higher ratio of brown to white sugar, and letting the sugar and liquid rest to aid its dissolution (and subsequent browning during baking) makes for a pretty amazing cookie.

It's true that Mr. Kimball is persnickety, but there's something to be said for having someone else go through the trials and errors for you. I once read that Kimball's pet peeve is people who substitute ingredients in their recipes, and I get that. Just read reviews at Epicurious and you'll see that some people substitute many ingredients, surely producing a dish that could not possibly resemble the original. Not that substituting is necessarily bad-I do it a lot. However, you can't give a recipe a poor review if it has morphed into something else.

That being said, I plan to make lemon-pistachio biscotti later today. I'm going to usethis Giada recipe, substitute pistachios for almonds, and add lemon extract :lol:.

And, I'm not sure about the white chocolate-still thinking on that.

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Here are the above mentioned lemon-pistachio biscotti. I went for the white chocolate dip, but it seized.

Cheap crap-ola.

4582371406_f5dc83cfc6.jpg

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Baking projects over the last few days -

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (from Joy of Baking) - Not overly moist, so not what I think of as a very traditional carrot cake. But I like this recipe for cupcakes in particular, because it's moist enough and holds its shape well; my other go-to carrot cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen is great as a layer cake but a bit too oily to be eaten by hand.

White Russian Cupcakes - A friend had posted online the recipe for this Cake Mix doctor-like concoction involving yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, Kahlua, vodka, cream, etc. This was not my idea, but another friend who really likes sweet liqueurs was dying to try it. She loved them so I gave her half the batch. Personally I'm not a fan of Kahlua or yellow cake mix (and especially not the two together, as I now know)... so I think my half is going down the disposal eventually.

Banana Bread "Cockaigne" (from Joy of Cooking) with added chocolate chips and walnuts - This recipe involves creaming butter and sugar and beating the ingredients together; I've always used melted butter and just folded everything together for quick breads - getting out the mixer defeats the purpose of "quick." It had good flavor, and came out very attractively shaped with a nice domed top, which I had sprinkled with more chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. So, very pretty. But not surprisingly the texture was like a creamed-butter cake. I think I prefer the denser crumb that comes from the melted butter, even though my quick breads then invariably look like neatly stackable bricks.

(Upon further reflection-and allowing the banana bread to rest for a couple more days-I have revised my opinion and think it's actually pretty quite tasty, even if it is, technically, banana cake.)

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