Working with yeast has become something I don’t think twice about. When the dormant yeast granules meet a little warm water and sugar they come to life and are ready to do their work.
This is easy for me to say now but my first experience with yeast was far from successful.
My mother did all the cooking during our growing up years at home, our job as children was to enjoy all the goodness that came from her kitchen. One summer day while relaxing in the back yard she sent me inside for the first time to start the yeast for her and to my recollection the last. A delicious focaccia was surely in store for lunch.
She instructed me to mix a little warm water and sugar then add a tablespoon of yeast, well it was more like a soup spoon of yeast since my mother never owned and to this day still doesn’t own a set of standard measuring spoons.
Not knowing the first thing about yeast or anything else pertaining to cooking or baking I assumed she had made a mistake about the sugar and instead meant salt. Without checking first I took the liberty of correcting her and felt quite proud about it. I soon found out that indeed yeast prefers sugar… we ended up waiting a little longer for that focaccia!
That experience has forever been impressed on my mind remembering it often over the years. I consider it a lesson well learned!
Cheddar twists are the product of yeast doing some of its best work. Soft, light, fine textured and delicious describes them well. Today I came across some left over cheddar in the refrigerator from the Cheddar Biscuits made a couple of weeks ago and decided to use it up before it turned into a science experiment.
Another lesson I learned from my mother was to never waste food!
3 tablespoons sugar
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
1 egg, lightly beaten
- In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour with the sugar, yeast and salt.
- Heat milk until warm and add to dry mixture. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shredded cheese and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Punch dough down and divide into 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8 to 10 inch rope.
- Fold each rope in half and twist 2 to 3 times, pinch the ends closed.
- Place twists on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a damp towel and let rise 20 to 30 minutes until doubled.
- Brush twists with beaten egg and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
- I generally prefer to proof my yeast before adding it to the rest of the ingredients just in case it doesn’t activate, this saves time and ingredients if the yeast doesn’t bloom. To proof yeast mix about ¼ cup warm water with a teaspoon of sugar, add yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes or until it foams and rises to the top. If it doesn’t foam, discard it’s not going to work.
- Moisten hands with a little water before rolling dough pieces into ropes, this prevents the twists from unwinding and also better retain their shape..
- Beat 1 teaspoon of water into egg before brushing onto twists, this loosens the consistency of the egg making it much easier to brush on.
- These twists freeze well.