Most people that I talk to about SMAK have one question for me: do you prefer baking or cooking? I have a difficult time answering this question. I truly love doing both. However, when baking something like Cracked Wheat and Barley Pull-Aparts that utilizes active dry yeast, I have a love-hate relationship with the experience.
The frustration typically enters the scene when I have to start working with the yeast. Will it activate properly? Will the dough rise and double in size like it is supposed to? Will the rolls even turn out? These are all questions that course through my brain within seconds. But what I've learned is that you have to just forget about it. Cover the factors that you do have control over and then just go with it. If you have to start from scratch, okay. Tally that as another learning experience.
Quick tips for when working with active dry yeast:
- Keep Rising Dough Warm - the ideal temperature range for yeast is between 70 and 80 degrees F. If you live in an older house with drafts, put the dough in a warm place, free of drafts, such as a warm (but off!) oven.
- Butter, Eggs, Milk and Sugar Slow Yeast Activity - be aware that if you are baking bread with a lot of these ingredients, the dough will not rise slower or not at much as usual. there is nothing wrong with this, it is simply something to be aware of.
- Store Unused Yeast in the Freezer - this will pause the yeast's activity and lengthen its lifespan.
Don't worry if your grocery store doesn't have barley flour - mine didn't either. What I love about situations like these is that it forces you to think outside the box. While Mariano's didn't have the flour I needed, they did sell pounds of whole barley grains. Solution? Buy the whole grains and use my Vitamix to make my own barley flour.
I made this pull-aparts for my family Thanksgiving dinner and they were a hit! I loved it so much that I am planning on trying to recipe again, but as a full loaf of bread - it would be great as toast in the morning or as bread for a sandwich.
What's your experience with active dry yeast? Do you love it or hate it?
Cracked Wheat and Barley Pull-Aparts Recipe from Cooking Light Serves 16
2 cups boiling water 1/3 cup medium-grain bulgur (cracked wheat) 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided 1 tablespoon honey 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) 3.25 ounces barley flour (about 1 cup) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 large eggs, lightly beaten cooking spray
- Combine 2 cups water, bulgur, and 1/4 teaspoons salt in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until bulgur is tender. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Add water to soaking liquid if needed to measure 1 cup. Heat the liquid in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 1 minute or until warm; keep liquid warm.
- Place 1/4 cup soaking liquid, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let yeast mixture stand for 5 minutes or until bubbly.
- Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flours, remaining 3/4 cup soaking liquid, bulgur, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, olive oil, and eggs to stand mixer. Mix at low-speed for 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 16 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll dough into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing against dough and surface while rolling. Arrange dough balls 1 inch apart on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Cover; let rise 40 minutes or until doubled in size (rolls will be touching).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake rolls for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove rolls from pan, and cool on a wire rack.