Bread baking: Trying out RapidRise yeast

The sourdough is on hold for the moment and I’ve been making the usual batch of regular white bread about every week (recipe in this Random Thoughts post – scroll down).  Last time at the market, though, I picked up Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast by mistake, as the packaging is identical, on quick glance, to their regular 3-packet activated dry yeast (I’m not particular to any brand yeast – this is the only one they usually stock).  Not having a bread machine means that I haven’t tried these “rapid” yeasts before.  I’ve always suspected the bread would have less flavor, too.  Now, though, the trial is on.

Live-blogging a new bread yeast cooking trial doesn’t exactly, uh, keep you on the edge of your seat, but I’ll post comments about it below.  Here is also a very interesting forum discussion over at the Fresh Loaf about the two yeasts.  At the end of today’s trial (way down at the bottom of the post, later on this evening), I’ll give my own one-trial verdict.

The trial

Today’s morning mix-up:  Oops!  RapidRise.  Will follow instructions, mixing yeast with dry ingredients (I mixed the salt in first, just because) and see what happens.  Of note, the recipe is a bit different, using milk instead of water and melted butter instead of oil.  Ingredient temperatures were kept in the usual lukewarm range that’s safe for activated dry yeast, not the 120-130 degrees a rapid yeast is supposed to like.  The dough did get puffy under my hands while kneading, which is different from the regular dry yeast or a sourdough.  I did add a few tablespoons of oil after kneading up the dough, per usual.

Ten minutes later:  Waited 10 minutes for it to rise: per the packet, this replaces the first rise in a two-rise recipe.  Nothing much changed, actually; it just got a little puffier.  I decided to treat this like a regular yeast dough and see what happens.

11:27 a.m.  Seems to be progressing normally, perhaps a little faster than usual considering that the dough is milk based and has a higher solid fat content than my usual recipe.

1:54 p.m. First knockdown of the dough. It’s not as cohesive and puffy as a regular batch would be, but I’m giving it a second rise before shaping and putting it into the pans to rise.

Roughly 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Not quite live, as I had to go to work before blogging this. At around 5, the dough wasn’t doubled, even after three hours, but I knocked it down, shaped it and set it into the pans anyway. Things took off after that. The loaves were ready to bake in a little over an hour, and I put them into a 350-degree F. oven for roughly 35 minutes.

The result

RapidRise bread loaves

RapidRise bread loaves.

Not bad overall. On the plus side, the degree of oven spring in each loaf is pretty amazing, considering the milk and butter used in the dough. The crumb is somewhat comparable to a typical milk-based bread made with regular dry yeast, and the flavor is good, too, if maybe a little yeasty tasting. The only negative in the overall product is that the crumb has more air bubbles in it, though this doesn’t interfere with the texture. It makes a good sandwich. What I don’t like so much in the making of the bread is this yeast’s tendency to get all gung-ho at first and then kind of “faint” in the homestretch. I like something that works steadily. However, the rapid response is nice in the final rise and baking.

Final opinion: It’s okay. I’ll probably use quick yeast once in a while but not on a steady basis.

Categories: Cooking

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