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Apr 21, 2015

Problems with Yeast Baking?

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WITH BAKING, IT’S IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE RECIPE EXACTLY, RIGHT DOWN TO THE SIZE OF THE PAN.  EVEN THE SMALLEST CHANGE CAN CAUSE A RECIPE TO FAIL.

Dough Didn’t Rise

  1. Your liquid may have been the wrong temperature. Using an instant read thermometer is the best way to know it’s correct.
  2. Your yeast may not be fresh and should not be used past the expiration date. Even with a good expiration date yeast has a short shelf life once a package is opened. Even with the small packets, once it’s opened, yeast should be tightly sealed and kept in the freezer, not refrigerated.
  3. You used the wrong size pan. Using a larger pan than is noted lets the dough spread sideways instead of rising upwards.
  4. You changed the recipe. It’s important to follow the recipe exactly, paying attention to every detail.

Dough Too Dry

  1. You did not aerate your flour before measuring. Flour always settles in the bag or container and must be aerated before measuring; otherwise, you will be using too much flour. To aerate flour, using a large spoon or spatula, stir the flour around to incorporate some air.
  2. You measured the flour incorrectly. To measure flour, use a flat-topped measuring cup, gently spoon the aerated flour into the cup until it’s mounded above the rim and level off the excess with the back of a knife. Do not tap the cup or the container of flour.
  3. You used a different flour than stated in the recipe.

Dough Too Sticky

  1. You used too much liquid or not enough flour. Use a cup specific for measuring liquids, have it on a flat surface and view it at eye level to make sure your liquid is at the correct line.
  2. You sifted the flour before measuring, which would cause you to use less flour than required.
  3. You used a different flour than stated in the recipe.

Don’t  you need sugar to feed the yeast?

  • No. You do not need sugar to activate the yeast. This is a half-true old wives tale left over from when yeast wasn’t preserved as well as it is today.

Doesn’t hot water kill the yeast?

  • No. Hot water does not kill yeast. Today’s yeast is more sturdy and accommodating than years ago and can tolerate water or liquid up to 130 degrees F. The killing point for yeast is 140 degrees F. (average tap water comes out at about 120-125 degrees F – my tap water is 127 degrees F)

Click here for my Flour Basics.

Click here for ideas on where to rise dough.

Click here for the difference between baking powder & baking soda.

Apr 21, 2015

Tortilla Tips

If your tortillas are not soft there can be several reasons:

  1. You did not use all purpose flour.
  2. You did not use a cast iron pan.
  3. Your pan was not hot enough.
  4. You did not roll them thin enough.
  5. They are not stored properly.
  6. I store mine by placing them, while they are still warm, in a zip top plastic bag – air tight –  with all the air removed. They are always soft.
Apr 21, 2015

Flour Basics

Learn About Flour from Jenny Can Cook“Which flour do I use for bread, or muffins, or cookies?” “Can I substitute one flour for another?” “Why is my flour mixture so dry?” I hope this helps clarify any questions you have about flour. By the way, with all baking the amount of protein in flour matters. The lower the protein, the softer the baked goods. So here is my simple guideline to baking with flour:

How to Measure (& Aerate) Flour
Flour must be aerated before measuring because it often settles in the bag or container making it heavy  and compact, resulting in too much flour being measured. Aerating basically means fluffing it up and is not the same as sifting. Flour should not be sifted before measuring unless the recipe states to do so. Otherwise sifting will result in too little flour being measured.

If you dip into flour without aerating, you will be getting too much flour and your dough will be too dry. To aerate flour you simply stir it around with a spoon before measuring. To measure, be sure to use a flat-topped dry measuring cup like in my photo. You can see how I aerate flour in my Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake video at the one minute mark: Click here to see it.

After aerating, there are two ways to measure the flour: 1) Scoop & Level – Gently scoop the flour up with a spoon and sprinkle it into your measuring cup until it’s mounded above the rim. Do not tap the cup or the container of flour. Finally, level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. 2) Dip & Level – Gently dip your measuring cup into the flour until it’s mounded above the rim and level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. In my kitchen, a cup a flour weighs 4 1/2 ounces (130 grams).

The Difference Between Flours

Whole wheat flour (about 14% protein/gluten)
Whole wheat flour is not the same as whole wheat pastry flour and should not be substituted for whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat flour is milled from hard winter wheat and is best used only for yeast breads. A loaf made entirely with whole wheat flour will be a dense and somewhat heavy loaf. For a softer loaf, it is often combined with some all-purpose or bread flour. Whole wheat flour is not suitable for other baking like cookies and cakes. *Since it contains the germ of the wheat which contains oil, once opened, this flour should be kept refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

Whole wheat pastry flour (about 10% protein/gluten)
Also called whole grain pastry flour, this flour is good for most recipes that use all-purpose flour when you want to add fiber. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled from a soft summer wheat and is best for baking cookies, brownies, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and some cakes. Results will not be as light and soft as using all-purpose flour but you can also mix part whole wheat pastry flour and part all-purpose flour for soft baked goods with added fiber. (I use this flour the most in cookies, brownies, even pancakes & waffles for extra fiber) This flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat flour and is not suitable for baking yeast breads. Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute – your baked goods will be dense and heavy. Look for whole wheat pastry flour at health food stores or you can order it online. Once opened, it should be kept refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container.

Bread flour (about 14% protein/gluten)
This flour is designed for yeast baking. It helps create more gluten for a better rise in yeast doughs. Use it for yeast bread and pizza dough for a chewy texture and good structure. However, all-purpose flour works almost as well with yeast. From my experience, if you don’t have bread flour, all-purpose flour can be used as a substitute in yeast bread and pizza dough.

All-purpose flour (about 10% protein/gluten)
The name says it all. Use it for cookies, cakes, quick breads, yeast breads, pies, pancakes, etc.

Pastry flour (about 9% protein/gluten)
This flour falls between all-purpose flour and cake flour and can be used in pastries, cookies and cakes. This flour is not suitable for baking yeast breads.

Cake flour (about 8% protein/gluten)
This very fine grain flour is good in light and airy cakes like angel food cake. However, if a recipe does not call for cake flour and you decide to use it, you would use more (2 tablespoons more per each cup). Conversely, if a recipe calls for cake flour and you don’t have it, you can make your own: For one cup of cake flour, measure one cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace that with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I do not use cake flour – I don’t find it necessary. This flour is not suitable for baking yeast breads.

Self-rising flour (about 8 % protein/gluten)
This soft flour is similar to pastry flour but has salt and baking powder added. Many southern recipes call for this flour in biscuits and pancakes but if the recipe calls for all-purpose flour and you substitute self-rising flour, you will need to adjust any added salt and baking powder. (one cup of self-rising flour contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt) This flour is not suitable for yeast breads.

I hope these simple flour basics are helpful. – Jenny Jones

Apr 20, 2015

My Parchment Paper Stuck

If your parchment paper stuck it’s from using an inferior brand. Reynolds brand always works for me. I got a cheaper parchment paper once and everything stuck to it. I only use Reynolds brand – it never sticks. (This is not a paid endorsement, I’m just sharing what works for me). NOTE: Wax paper is NOT the same as parchment paper. DO NOT USE WAX PAPER in the oven because it will melt onto your food.

Apr 18, 2015

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

What’s for dessert? You can never go wrong with chocolate. So I made my double chocolate chip cookies for dessert today. I always use Dutch processed cocoa for two reasons. One, it’s less bitter than regular cocoa and two, it produces a rich dark color as you can see. It’s not always easy to find but right now my store carries Droste brand cocoa so that’s what I use.

Always looking for ways to reduce saturated fat, I reduced it even more today. Instead of 1/4 cup of butter I used 3 tablespoons and then I increased the oil from 1/2 cup to 1/3 of a cup. They were perfect for me but I will make them a few more times this way before officially changing the recipe. No matter how good something sweet looks, if the butter is measured in sticks, I always pass. I know from experience that you can make delicious, healthier desserts with very little and many times, no butter at all. For dinner I made a salad and my vegetable-bean pasta but I only had broccoli so it was broccoli-bean pasta. Then cookies for dessert. Did I say cookies? I meant “a cookie” for dessert. That’s right. One cookie. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

These yummy cookies are made with part whole wheat pastry flour and part a/p flour because any time I can add fiber to my desserts, I do.  And I always add toasted walnuts and pecans. The reason for the mixed nuts is I can never decide, plus using both nuts seems to add even more flavors but I always toast the nuts first. In fact, I toast a whole bag of nuts and then keep them refrigerated for all my baking.

To toast nuts, put them on an ungreased baking pan and bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, turning them over once with a spatula. If anyone tries these cookies with less butter like I did today, please let me know how they turned out. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 16, 2015

One pan dinner

I love being in the kitchen. Today I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast because we all need fiber and these are 100% whole grain, made with whole wheat pastry flour and buckwheat flour. I can always find buckwheat flour at Whole Foods. Then for dinner I made my easy chicken stew.

Homemade One Pan Chicken Stew

I like it on weeknights because it’s quick to make and it all cooks in one pan. After your prep (I won’t lie – there is a lot of chopping) it cooks in about 25 minutes. And look what’s in it: potatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, and mushrooms. There is no meal in this house without vegetables, the more the better. We even had a salad first.

Then for dessert, I made whole wheat lemon brownies. It’s one of my most pupular recipes because it’s impossibly easy and I always make mine with whole wheat pastry flour. Gotta have that fiber! So that’s what I cooked today. … just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Apr 15, 2015

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

Wait ‘til you see how easy it is to make your own homemade whole wheat bread, from scratch, in 90 minutes. This is a delicious, soft loaf that I use for things like sandwiches, French toast, and bread crumbs. It makes fantastic soft bread crumbs like I use in my salmon patties and you can use it to make healthy dry crumbs, the ones I use in my chicken parmesan.

My simple one-rise recipe takes only 15 minutes of hands-on time and the rest is just rising and baking. You’ll save money too. So take bread off your shopping list and make your own. There’s nothing like the smell and taste of homemade bread so I hope you’ll try it. It’s really easy.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Apr 12, 2015

Family Eats

Healthier Mac & Cheese with Veggies

My sister is in town visiting from Canada so I made something quick and easy for dinner. Since we’re both grown up now, I made my grown up mac & cheese. It only takes 30 minutes so we had more time to hang out. You can add different vegetables but I stuck with my original combination of purple cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and tomato. (here’s the recipe)

Breakfast Cookies

Then yesterday I made my giant breakfast cookies and besides breakfast, they came in handy as a snack during the day. Sis said she’s going to make them when she gets home. It’s probably the recipe I make the most because I know how important it is to eat fiber and these have 4 grams of fiber each! (here’s the recipe)

So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones 

Apr 10, 2015

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Brownies

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Bars

What’s wrong with a few chocolate chips for breakfast? It’s okay with me if you’re getting whole grains, oats, banana and walnuts in a delicious breakfast brownie. This new recipe replaces my old breakfast brownie because this one uses ingredients that are more available to everyone.

There are lots of reasons to eat bananas. They’re a good source of vitamins C & B6, manganese, potassium, fiber, biotin, and copper. And the riper the banana, the sweeter it is and the easier it’ll be to mix into the batter. Walnuts provide heart-healthy fats and protein but for the best flavor they really should be toasted first. I toast a bunch at a time and keep them available, refrigerated, for baking. To toast nuts spread on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Oats are breakfast superstars – high in soluble fiber, which is known for lowering cholesterol and keeping things moving. I use regular Quaker rolled oats in this recipe and extra light olive oil but you can use another oil of your choice like canola. So this is my new Breakfast Brownie and I hope you like it. I’m not saying it should BE breakfast, but I am saying why not dessert AFTER breakfast? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Filed Under: Breakfast
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Apr 2, 2015

Healthier Canadian Butter Tarts

Healthier Canadian Butter TartsButter tarts are a distinctly Canadian treat and anyone who grew up in Canada like I did has probably had a butter tart, or two, or three. They don’t exist in the U.S., which is probably a good thing because they are so good. Every once in a while I just have to have a butter tart so of course, I had to find a way to make it a little healthier. But let’s be clear: There is nothing healthy about a butter tart. The best I could do is make the crust without butter, using oil instead.

So there you have it. Now we Canadians can have our occasional fix and the rest of the world can try something new. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones