Oprah Winfrey has a TV talk show that features called "Oprah's favorite things". She gives away these chosen favorite things to her audience. I can barely watch it because I've always wanted to be in the audience on that particular day. But where this is going is it got me thinking about all of my favorite things that make my life great and I'd like to share it.
As I was making a batch of cinnamon rolls this morning, I was reminded how far I have come in the area of yeast baked goods. When I was starting out in my twenties, I could not get the yeast package work properly enough to get my dough to rise and therefore any rolls, bread, or pizza dough I made tasted like hard rubber. I wanted the light, airy, soft, and chewy texture I loved biting into. After finishing college, I went to work for a local Pacific Northwest dry mix baked goods company and was introduced to a product called SAF instant yeast. Not to be mistaken with the active dry yeast sold in little packets where you add warm water and sugar, then wait while the yeast start the fermentation process before you can even add it to your dry ingredients. On the other hand, instant yeast does not require any coddling or worry prior to making the dough-it's nearly foolproof. You just add it to your dry ingredients and when you add water and mix, the yeast goes to work...instantly producing a dough that rises and voila you are on your way to making cinnamon rolls that would make Cinnabon shareholders nervous.
This favorite ingredient has taken away the guess work and fear that many of us have of baking yeast-leavened products. So, look for it in your supermarket and if they don't have it-keep looking it's worth it. It usually comes in a vacuum sealed bag at room temperature. Once opened, put the bag inside a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer. Here is the substitution for your recipes: for every 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour, add 1 tsp instant yeast. There you go-have at it, you're going to love it.