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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buying Yeast

     Yeast may not be something most folks think about buying, however, let me show you one way to save money on buying yeast. Most recipes calling for yeast call for Active Dry Yeast. This is the yeast that you must proof in warm water first, before adding to the dough. (Cold water won't activate the yeast, but if the water is too hot, it'll kill the yeast.) Fleischmann's Active Dry yeast comes in a 3 packet strip.
     At my local grocery store, that 3 packet strip costs $1.57. Each packet is 1/4 ounce, or 7 grams. I purchased Fleischmann's Active-Dry yeast in bulk, for $6.48, in a 2 lb bag. This is the exact same product, but sold in a bulk bag. Each packet above contains .25oz, 7 grams, or 2 1/4 tsp of yeast. It works out to 49 cents a packet for .25 oz. I can get the equivalent of 128 packets out of the 2lb bulk bag, which works out to 5 cents for the same .25 oz. Huge difference in my opinion. Yeast can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the freezer, and you can use it frozen. Active Dry yeast can also be bought in small 4oz brown jars. Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast can be bought in either the 4oz jars or the 3 packet strip. When I had the bread machine yeast, I stored the jar in the refrigerator.

      While I'm talking about yeast, let me explain about another kind: Instant Dry Yeast. Instant yeast differs from Active-Dry Yeast in that it doesn't need to be proofed (or activated) in warm water first. You can add it directly to your dough in with the dry ingredients. You can use it in recipes in place of the active-dry yeast or in place of bread machine yeast. It's convenient and a quicker, easier to use yeast.
     I recently discovered Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast. It's a quick and easy way to make your own pizza crust and it requires no rise time or proofing. It claims to be "specifically formulated for making easy pizza crust dough - no frustrating "snap back" when rolling or pressing dough out." And as it says as well, "Make your crust any way you want it - thick, thin, whole wheat, with herbs or cheese - the possibilities are endless!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cream Puffs with custard filling

     I recently discovered an easy recipe for homemade cream puffs. It's from the Extension Club Favorites, compiled by Hall County Extension Clubs in Grand Island, Nebraska, Second Edition 1961.
     Sorry to say I don't have a photo to upload of the cream puffs as they were eaten too fast! lol We had the cream filled cream puffs with a bit of whipped cream on top of the custard under the lid, but you could dust the tops with powdered (confectioner's) sugar.

Cream Puffs

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted flour
4 eggs

Heat water and butter to rolling boil in saucepan. Stir in flour all at once. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture leaves the pan and forms into a ball (about 1 minute). Remove from heat. Beat in the 4 egs, one at a time. Beat mixture until smooth and velvety. Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake until dry. Allow to cool slowly. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees F. Makes 8 large puffs.

The easiest way to make the custard filling is to follow the directions on a can of Bird's Custard Powder, if you can find it. (It's imported from England). If you can't find that, here is another recipe from 1961 for the filling.

Rich Custard Filling

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 eggs (or 4 egg yolks)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in saucepan. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it boils. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir a little over half of this mixture into 2 beaten eggs, or 4 egg yolks beaten. Blend into hot mixture in pan. Bring just to boiling point. Cook and add vanilla.

Cut cream puffs in half. Let custard cool before filling cream puffs.