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MARGARET PROUSE: Out-of-date instant yeast foils first attempt at these sweet treats

Food columnist shares this recipe for Cinnamon Buns in her column this week.
Food columnist shares this recipe for Cinnamon Buns in her column this week. - Contributed

As you might have deduced, I have been baking yeast breads every week, trying to earn the proficiency that comes with experience. 

Last week I tried my hand at baking sweet yeast bread, namely cinnamon buns and, predictably, I learned something.

The first recipe I tried called for instant yeast. One of the benefits of using instant (or quick rise) yeast is that it can be combined with the other bread ingredients without proofing. I followed directions, combining the ingredients and kneading in enough flour to make a soft dough. Then I set the dough to rise and left it to do its work. After two hours, it looked just the same as it had when I put it in the bowl to rise – no change. 

A quick look at the bottle told me that the yeast was far past the best before date. Having successfully used outdated yeast (traditional or active dry) recently, I wanted to know if there was still some life in it, so I proofed a bit in warm water with a spoonful of sugar dissolved in it. It did nothing– not a bit of frothing or foaming, not even a yeasty smell. The yeast was no longer viable.

I tried to rescue the dough, by proofing an equivalent amount of active dry yeast in sweetened water and kneading it in a bit at a time along with a little extra flour. It was an awkward process, but it did help me to create edible, if not excellent, cinnamon rolls. 

Conclusion: if you only use yeast occasionally, it’s a good idea to check the date on the package before relying on it. 

The following day, I started again, using active dry yeast in the recipe that follows, this time with success. Picture is posted on facebook.com/IslandGusto. When I make these cinnamon buns again, I will leave them in the oven for a few more minutes; the timing can vary depending on pan and oven used.


Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Canadian Living: “The Ultimate Cookbook: Recipes from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen”. Juniper Publishing, Montreal, 2015.

310 mL (1¼ cups) butter
60 mL (¼ cup) granulated sugar
125 mL (½ cup) warm water (38 C/100 F)
1 pkg (8 g) OR 11 mL (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast
125 mL (½ cup) milk
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 L (4 cups) all purpose flour (approximately)
375 mL (1½ cups) packed brown sugar
10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon

Bring 125 mL (½ cup) of the butter to room temperature to soften; set aside.

In large bowl, dissolve 5 mL (1 tsp) of the granulated sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

While yeast is dissolving, in small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat; stir in 60 mL (¼ cup) of the remaining butter, the remaining granulated sugar and salt until butter is melted. 

Let cool until lukewarm; stir into yeast mixture. Stir in egg. Add 500 mL (2 cups) of the flour; stir until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make soft dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and springy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.

While dough is rising, melt remaining butter; pour into 3 L (13- x 9-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with 125 mL (½ cup) of the brown sugar. Set aside.

On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into 40 x 35 cm (16- x 14-inch) rectangle. Spread reserved softened butter over top of dough. Mix remaining brown sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over dough. Starting at 1 long side, tightly roll up; pinch seam to seal. Cut crosswise into 16 buns.

Arrange buns, cut sides up, in prepared baking dish. Cover dish with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake in 190 C (375 F) oven until golden and buns sound hollow when gently tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand in baking dish for 2 minutes; invert onto serving platter. 

Makes 16 buns


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.


 

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