I was recently talking to someone who admitted, as I suspect many of you feel, that recipes requiring the use of yeast are a total no-go. Yeast is scary, or I guess I should say I get why you might think yeast is scary. In reality, yeast is awesome and overcoming your fear is all that stands between you and things like homemade pizza, cinnamon rolls, soft pretzels and monkey bread. Probably the only reason I’m not scared of it is because I taught a whole unit on the fungus (yes, it’s a fungus) to my second level cooking class.
A bit on yeast. In most grocery stores you can find “Quick Rise” or “Instant” (same thing), or “Active Dry”. Quick yeast gets mixed with dry ingredients and doesn’t require any time to sit in warm water. Active dry yeast usually needs to proof in warm liquid until it dissolves and becomes bubbly. Have both on hand as recipes will always specify – I usually buy the packets.
Though bread machines probably produce superior results, you can still make bread if you don’t have one. I don’t have one, and I make bread a lot. You also don’t need a standing electric mixer (but start doing push ups now as you will definitely need those biceps for the old fashioned counter-top kneading). This bread is called EASY because it doesn’t need any kneading at all! Scan through the pictures – besides an hour of rest time, this is as simple as mixing together ingredients and baking it in the oven – it’s just like any muffin or banana bread recipe you’ve tried in the past. The best part is that your house smells like a bakery and the bread itself is sweet, tender, chewy, and satisfying in a way that no quick bread can compete with.
If you’re new to the yeast business and getting tripped up by trepidation, TRY THIS BREAD! It can be your gateway bread. It’s also a great afternoon activity for kids; easy mixing, easy measuring, and a scrumptious, kid-pleasing end result.
Easy Cinnamon Bread
Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
Makes 1 loaf (14-16 slices)
3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 c. warm milk*
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. raisins
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. sugar
*Just mix about 2 tbsp. sugar with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon to use for topping
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk milk, butter, and egg.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well until completely smooth.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temp. for 1 hour. At the end of the hour, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Uncover and stir in baking powder and raisins.
6. Grease a 8 or 9 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and transfer dough into pan. Mix cinnamon and sugar (for topping) together and sprinkle evenly across the top.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until bread is set in the center.
8. Cool in pan for five minutes and then invert to wire rack to cool completely.
*Bread slices best when completely cooled. AMAZING toasted. Will keep, sealed tightly at room temperature, for several days.