There is something about yeast baking that is very satisfying … it makes me feel self-sustained and primitive. Years ago, I was motivated to try baking bread after reading Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks cookbook. She raved about a bread recipe she got from a lady in Nova Scotia and called it Neil’s Harbour Bread. I can’t remember how my first batch turned out, but I know I had many disappointments in spite of Mom’s occasional advice. My Mom is the best yeast baker so I did not tell her about my flops. There was the time I put my dough into the oven to rise, turned the oven on and forgot to turn it off when it was warm. Suddenly there were flames coming from the oven – the tea towel was burned, the dough ruined and the plastic bowl melted. Don’t try that!
There is one thing about yeast baking that is different from other cooking and baking; the dough will not wait. When it is risen, you need to be ready to do the next step. So plan to do your yeast baking when you are puttering around the house and can keep a close eye on what the dough is doing.
I am not an expert but I will tell you two things that I have learned. One is I always do the yeast slightly rounded in the measuring spoon. I use Fermipan instant yeast which is much easier to use than the yeast that needs to rise in water and sugar. The second thing is, do not add too much flour. When I make a new yeast recipe, I rarely add as much flour as requested. When you are finished kneading the dough, it should pull up slightly when you touch it, but not stick to your fingers. Toward the end of the kneading process, add only a sprinkling of flour at a time; knead that into the dough, then decide if more is needed.
This is Mom’s fabulous Cheese Rolls recipe that she has made for a very long time and still makes them for family dinners. There is one niece of mine that will devour 3 or 4 of these in one sitting – she shall remain anonymous.
Mom’s Cheese Rolls
1 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups all purpose flour,
2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
Heat milk, white sugar, butter and salt until all is butter is melted.
Pour milk mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Add warm water and eggs. Mix.
Add 2 cups flour, sprinkle instant yeast on top, then mix with a spoon.
Add more flour slowly, then add cheddar cheese. If the mixture is too warm, the cheese will melt so check this before you add the cheese.
Add a little more flour, and knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky.
Cover and let rise until more than double.
Shape as you wish and place in a greased pan. Mom always makes 2 tiny balls of dough and puts them in a muffin pan.
Let rise until doubled again.
Bake at 350º F for 15-20 minutes.