Showing tolerance

When I posted about my attempts to make the Welsh fruit bread bara brith last year, I mentioned so-called osmotolerant yeast: yeast specially developed to cope with dough with a high sugar content. At the time, this sort of yeast was only readily available through commercial wholesalers. Since then, Bakery Bits have started selling ‘Saf Gold’ osmotolerant yeast from the French company Lesaffre.

You can read about the challenges that ‘enriched’ doughs pose in my earlier post. Sugar, in particular, slows down yeast fermentation, sometimes so dramatically that, in practice, the dough won’t rise at all. I compensated by doubling the quantity of yeast I used. Now that a retail supplier is offering osmotolerant yeast, I was interested to try it out. Since bara brith had given me such a headache when I first attempted it, it was the logical test bed for the magic ingredient.

Saf Gold is an ‘easy blend’ dried yeast that can be mixed into the other ingredients without first reconstituting it in water. I used 7g – the usual amount for a dough made with up to about 6-700g of flour. The first rise took just over an hour – a fair bit quicker than my original double-the-yeast recipe. After I shaped the dough and left it to prove, it doubled in size in under an hour. I got called away at just the wrong moment and it slightly over-proved, in my opinion.

Bara brith proved

As a result, the dough mushroomed over the sides of the tin a bit. That’s no more than an aesthetic defect, although it troubles my perfectionist temperament. I used currants, dried cranberries and candied citron in this loaf. Citron, or citrus medica, is a very old citrus shrub that produce huge fruit resembling overgrown lemons. Unlike the lemon, citron is almost all peel and pith. The candied rind is a pale green colour and has a subtler flavour than preserved peel from oranges and lemons. As with the yeast, I got this uncommon ingredient from Bakery Bits. They do seem to have cornered the market in baking obscura.

Bara brith osmotolerant yeast

Since osmotolerant yeast can be used exactly like normal easy-blend dried yeast even in dough that doesn’t contain sugar, you can use it for all your non-sourdough baking. This is just as well, because Saf Gold only comes in 500g bags. That’s a lot of yeast for even the most committed domestic baker to get through.

Bara brith sliced osmotolerant yeast
Anyway, I was impressed by how effective the yeast was in raising this dough. I’ve got some more experimenting to do, but I’m pretty confident that it will perform well in all kinds of enriched doughs as well as plain bread.

I also acquired some of the mysterious Sekowa ‘Spezial-Backferment’ from Bakery Bits and have been playing around with it – more of which in due course…