Baking Supplies

Baking Supplies
Includes leavening agents and edible flowers
active dry yeast
active dry yeast
This is the yeast called for by most bread recipes. It's largely displaced the fresh yeast our grandparents used since it has a longer shelf life and is more tolerant of mishandling. To activate it, sprinkle it on water that's 105° - 115° F and wait for it to begin foaming (about five minutes). Look for it in the dairy case--it's usually sold in strips of three packages or in 4-ounce jars. Always check the expiration date to make sure it's fresh. Dry yeast can be stored at room temperature until the expiration date--or within 4 months of opening--but it lasts even longer in the refrigerator or freezer. Always bring yeast to room temperature before you use it. It's important to keep stored yeast away from air and moisture, so use the smallest container you can find and seal it well.
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baker's ammonia, ammonium bicarbonate, ammonium carbonate, baking ammonia
baker's ammonia
Originally made from the ground antlers of reindeer, this is an ancestor of modern baking powder. Northern Europeans still use it because it makes their springerle and gingerbread cookies very light and crisp. Unfortunately, it can impart an unpleasant ammonia flavor, so it's best used in cookies and pastries that are small enough to allow the ammonia odor to dissipate while baking. Look for it in German or Scandinavian markets, drug stores, baking supply stores, or a mail order catalogue. Don't confuse this with ordinary household ammonia, which is poisonous. Varieties: It comes either as lumps or powder. If it isn't powdered, crush it into a very fine powder with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin.
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baker's yeast, baking yeast, bread yeast
baker's yeast
This is used as a leaven in breads, coffeecakes, and pastries like croissants and brioche. It works by converting sugar into carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to rise so the bread will be light and airy. Yeast comes either as dry granules or moist cakes. It becomes less potent after the expiration date stamped on the package, so dough made with it may take longer to rise, or not rise at all. If the potency of the yeast is in doubt, test or "proof" it by putting some of it in warm water (105° - 115° F) mixed with a bit of sugar. If it doesn't get foamy within ten minutes, you'll need to get fresher yeast.
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baking powder, double-acting baking powder, single-acting baking powder
baking powder
Baking powder is a mixture of one or more acidic salts and baking soda, an alkali. These two compounds react when they get wet and release carbon dioxide gas bubbles. These, in turn, cause baked goods to rise. Baking powder is perishable. To test a batch, add 1 teaspoon to ½ cup hot water. If it doesn't bubble, throw it out. Look for baking powder among the baking supplies in most supermarkets. Most recipes that call for baking powder intend for you to use double-acting baking powder. This includes two acidic salts--one that reacts when wet and one that reacts heated. By giving the baking soda two chances to react, it usually results in light and airy baked goods. Less common is single-acting baking powder, which only reacts when it becomes wet. When using this kind of baking powder, you have to get the batter into a preheated oven immediately after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Aluminum-free baking powder is preferred by many cooks; powders made with aluminum lend an unpleasant flavor to delicately-flavored baked goods
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baking soda, bicarb, bicarbonate of soda, bread soda, sodium bicarbonate
baking soda
Baking soda is alkaline, and when mixed with acidic ingredients, it reacts and releases bubbles of carbon dioxide. These bubbles, when trapped inside batter, help baked goods rise. Baking powder contains baking soda, along with acidic salts that react with the soda when they get wet or heated. Recipes that call for both baking powder and baking soda are probably using the baking soda to offset extra acidity in the batter (from ingredients like buttermilk or molasses) and to weaken the proteins in the flour. Omitting the baking soda from these recipes may alter the color or flavor of whatever you're baking, and make it less tender. Tips: Baking soda is used in devil's food cake because it turns the cocoa powder reddish brown. Vegetables cooked in water mixed with baking soda don't lose as much color, though the baking soda makes them mushier and causes them to lose vitamin C. Sprinkling baking soda on a grease or electrical fire will help extinguish it. Placing an opened box in the refrigerator or freezer will absorb bad odors Baking soda is a good, mildly abrasive scouring powder. Store baking soda in a cool, dry place.
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beer yeast
beer yeast
This is used to produce alcohol and bubbles in beer. There are several varieties, each matched to specific varieties of beer. It's available either as a liquid or powder at beer-making supply stores. Don't confuse this with the brewer's yeast that's used as a nutritional supplement. That type of yeast is deactivated, so it won't produce any alcohol or bubbles.
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bread machine yeast
bread machine yeast
This type of dry yeast is highly active and very finely granulated so that it hydrates quickly. Breads made with this yeast require only a single rise, so this yeast is handy to use in a bread machine. Most machines will have you add this yeast last, on top of the dry ingredients. If you're not using a bread machine, add this yeast to the flour and other dry ingredients. It's often sold in 4-ounce jars. You can store unopened jars at room temperature until the expiration date stamped on the jar, but the yeast lasts even longer in the refrigerator or freezer. If you freeze yeast, let it come to room temperature before using.
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brewer's yeast
brewer's yeast
This inactive yeast is rich in protein and B vitamins, and it's used a nutritional supplement. It's a by-product of beer-making, which gives it a slightly bitter flavor. If you object to the bitterness, try nutritional yeast, which is made from the same yeast strain but grown on molasses. It's more expensive but has a more pleasant flavor. You can also buy debittered brewer's yeast. Brewer's yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets. Don't confuse this with active forms of yeast, like the kinds bakers, brewers, and winemakers use. If you eat them, active yeasts will continue to grow in your intestine, robbing your body of valuable nutrients.
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fresh yeast, active fresh yeast, baker's compressed yeast, cake yeast
fresh yeast
This form of yeast usually comes in 0.6-ounce or 2-ounce foil-wrapped cakes. It works faster and longer than active dry yeast, but it's very perishable and loses potency a few weeks after it's packed. It's popular among commercial bakers, who can keep ahead of the expiration dates, but home bakers usually prefer dry yeast. To use, soften the cake in a liquid that's 70° - 80° F. Store fresh yeast in the refrigerator, well wrapped, or in the freezer, where it will keep for up to four months. If you freeze it, defrost it for a day in the refrigerator before using.
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instant yeast, fast rising yeast, fast-rising active dry yeast
instant yeast
This very active strain of yeast allows you to make bread with only one rise. The trade-off is that some flavor is sacrificed, though this doesn't matter much if the bread is sweetened or heavily flavored with other ingredients. Unlike ordinary active dry yeast, instant yeast doesn't need to be dissolved in liquid first--you just add it to the dry ingredients. Look for it in the dairy case--it's usually sold in strips of three packages or in 4-ounce jars. Before buying it, check the expiration date to make sure it's fresh. Dry yeast can be stored at room temperature until the expiration date stamped on the jar, but it lasts even longer in the refrigerator.
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lievito di vaniglia
Look for this in Italian markets.
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nutritional yeast
nutritional yeast
This nutritional supplement has a pleasant nutty-cheesy flavor and is packed with protein and B vitamins. It comes in flakes or powder and is popular with vegans and health buffs who use it to make cheese substitutes, gravies, and many other dishes. It's also a great topping for popcorn. Nutritional yeast is very similar to brewer's yeast, which is also used as a nutritional supplement and is made from the same strain of yeast. The difference is that brewer's yeast is a by-product of beer production and retains some of the bitter flavor of hops. Don't confuse nutritional yeast, which is deactivated, with active forms of yeast, like the kinds bakers, brewers, and winemakers use. If you eat them, active yeasts will continue to grow in your intestine, robbing your body of valuable nutrients. Look for nutritional yeast at health food stores. Get fortified nutritional yeast if you're taking it as a source of vitamin B12.
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potash, pearl ash, potassium carbonate, pottasch, pottasche, saleratus
potash
This is sometimes used to make gingerbread and honey cake. Look for it in German markets.
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potassium bicarbonate
potassium bicarbonate
This is used as a substitute for baking soda by people on sodium-restricted diets. Look for it in pharmacies.
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smoked yeast
This is yeast that's been smoked, giving it a bacon-like flavor. It's used to flavor other dishes. Don't confuse it with active forms of yeast, like the kinds bakers, brewers, and winemakers use. If you eat them, active yeasts will continue to grow in your intestine, robbing your body of valuable nutrients.
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wine ball, wine cube, wine yeast
wine ball
These are balls of brewer's yeast that are sold in Asian markets. They're used to make wine.
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wine yeast
wine yeast
This is used to convert the sugar in fruit juices into alcohol and carbon dioxide. There are different varieties, each best suited to producing a certain wine. Champagne yeast, for example, produces more bubbles than other forms of wine yeast.
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yeast
yeast
Yeast is a one-celled fungus that converts sugar and starch into carbon dioxide bubbles and alcohol. This has made it a useful ally in the production of bread, beer, and wine. There are many varieties of yeast. Bread is made with baker's yeast, which creates lots of bubbles that become trapped in the dough, making the bread rise so it's light and airy when baked. A small amount of alcohol is also produced, but this burns off as the bread bakes. Beer yeast and wine yeast are used to convert sugar into alcohol and, in the case of beer and champagne, bubbles. You should never eat raw active yeast, since it will continue to grow in your intestine and rob your body of valuable nutrients. But once deactivated through pasteurization, yeast is a good source of nutrients. Brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast, for example, are sold as nutritional supplements, and Australians are fond of yeast extracts--like Vegemite, Marmite, and Promite--which they spread like peanut butter on bread.
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yeast extract, Marmite®, Promite®, Vegemite®
yeast extract
This is a nutritious, pungent, and salty paste that's popular in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. It's often spread with butter on bread, or mixed with hot water to make a drink Popular brands include Vegemite®, Marmite®, which is sweeter and perhaps a bit more palatable to Americans, and Promite®, which is sweeter yet but hard to find.
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yeast starter, biga, poolish, Sourdough starter
yeast starter
A starter is a mixture of flour, water, and other ingredients that's been colonized by wild airborne yeast and friendly bacteria. These one-celled immigrants lend the starter--and the breads made with it--a special character. Sourdough starter, for example, contains a strain of yeast that's tolerant of the lactic and acetic acids produced by the lactobacilli. Those acids give sourdough bread its characteristic tang. The French use a soupy starter called a poolish to make their breads, while the Italians use a thicker one called a biga. Up until the late 19th century, all yeast breads were leavened with starters, and keeping a starter alive in its crock was a routine household chore. To keep your own starter alive, wait until it's established, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To keep it healthy, bring it to room temperature once a week and remove all but about 25% of it (either make bread with it or discard it). Replace what you've taken with a mixture of equal parts warm water and flour, stir, then return it to the refrigerator. Properly maintained, a starter can last for decades, developing an ever more distinctive character as it ages. To use a starter to make bread, remove some of it (usually about 2 cups), and use it in place of other forms of yeast. Replace the amount you took with a mixture of equal parts flour and warm water. Discard your starter if it becomes orange or pink, or if it develops an unpleasant odor. It's easy to make starters from scratch, but even easier to borrow some from a friend. Since sourdough starters must be colonized by strains of yeast and lactobacilli that are particular to certain regions (like San Francisco), a homemade starter might not yield sour bread. Your best bet is to get a powdered sourdough starter mix from your supermarket or a mail order supplier.
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