Speaking of Yeast…

In a revisit of last week’s post about pizza crust, mention was made by Carol, a faithful reader from Connecticut, about “pizza yeast.” I had heard about this, but never really knew what it was and said I’d return with some info. This is what I’ve discovered. Pizza yeast is, in my description, one step beyond rapid rise. You can throw it in a bowl with some flour and salt, roll it out and make your pizza, no need for a rise. It’s also has “dough relaxers” so it doesn’t “snap back” when shaping it. An interesting concept, but I have made my pizza dough with regular yeast and no rising, and bread on occasion with only one rising (see below). So if you’re in the mood to make your own pizza crust but are worried you don’t have pizza yeast, fret no longer, you can use regular. And if you do have it on hand, it will make for a delicious pie!

So speaking of yeast . . . About eight years ago, there was a PBS cooking show I used to watch called “Breaking Bread with Father Dominic,” a monk who lived I think in Minnesota. Father Dominic is a cool monk, he’d always make his bread in his robe while wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers on his feet. Every week was a different yeast recipe (Fleischmann’s sponsored the show, of course) and when he made something that looked really good, I’d print out the recipe. In doing research for this piece, I discovered he has several bread cookbooks published!

This recipe for Multi-Grain Bread is superb and has only one rising. In the dark, cold winter, I like to make a loaf of this every weekend. It’s easy, as yeast breads go, relatively inexpensive, and you know you’re making something good and delicious for yourself and your family. It makes great sandwiches and toast and also freezes well. Be sure to have a softened stick of butter waiting when this comes out of the oven. I don’t know if there is anything better than a fresh piece of homemade bread fresh out of the oven, do you?

Cooking Notes:
• I’ve typed this as it is written, but I’ve adapted it through the years, so you’ll see my notes in italics.

• If you’re concerned about the small portions of some of the ingredients, I encourage a visit to your local coop and buy things in bulk. That way you can buy as much or as little as you like. Just remember, you’ll probably want to make this again, so it’s great to have them on hand!

Multi-Grain Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
From Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, PBS cooking show

2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups bread flour (I use King Arthur unbleached white flour)
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons rye flour
2 Tablespoons rolled oats
2 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 envelope (or 2 ¼ teaspoon) RapidRise Yeast (I use regular)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
¼ cup flaxseed
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon rolled oats

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, rolled oats, cornmeal, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, honey, and oil until very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Gradually add to dry ingredients. Beat two minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. (I use a wooden spoon.) Add egg, flaxseed, and ½ cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. (Again, I use a spoon.) Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Roll dough into 12 x 8-inch rectangle. (I just use my hands to knead it into shape and roughly measure.) Beginning at the short end of rectangle, roll up tightly as for a jelly roll. Pinch seams and ends to seal. Place, seam side down in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. (I always let it rise longer, more than an hour.) Brush with egg white mixture; sprinkle with rolled oats. (While this is nice addition, I rarely do it.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Remove from loaf pan; cool on wire rack.

Slather a piece with butter and eat!