I grew up enjoying all the wonderful things my mother baked using yeast. At Easter it was hot-cross buns, and Limpa bread, Thanksgiving called for her dinner rolls, Christmas meant stollen and sweet breads. At other times we had cardamom bread, pizza, cinnamon raisin bread, and the list goes on and on. My Mom was the one who always baked yeast items for bake sales, or to give as gifts. Her fingers understood what the dough should feel like when it was “right”, and for her to do this was no big deal. Unfortunately she did not teach me!
When I was a young mom with three small children, I decided one day that I would make raisin bread. I had no problem with assembling and mixing all the ingredients, smooth sailing so far. Now came time for the dough to rise. I recalled my mother setting her bowl of dough over a pan of hot water and covering it with a towel. Magically it rose nice and high, so I did the same thing. After about an hour I checked it, but my dough hadn’t risen, not the tiniest bit … then I realized I had left the heat turned on under the pan, and the water in the pan was boiling. I think I cooked the yeast before it had a chance to grow. Well, throw that one away!
Undefeated, I tried again. This time, to raise the dough, I covered it and put it in a preheated 200 degree oven. I know what you’re thinking here, but yes, I did turn off the oven, and waited for 1 & 1/2 hours. When I checked my dough it had risen … a little. So feeling successful, I put it in a bread pan and baked as directed. The resulting loaf of bread was small, hard, and tough with little bits of charcoal in it that once had been the raisins.
OK, that was it for me. No more baking with yeast, I’ll just focus on all the other kinds of baked goods, and be really good at those. For years that’s what I did, UNTIL I learned about bread machines. The next year I got one for Christmas, and that was the turning point for me. No more fear of yeast after that.
I use my bread machine to mix and bake breads, or use just the dough cycle to mix and raise the dough, after which I remove it, shape, fill, roll or whatever, and bake. Success at last.
The recipe I have for you today comes from my Mother’s recipe box. It is for a sweet dough, and my favorite way to enjoy it is with dried fruits added. I made a few adaptations to the recipe to bring it up to date with today’s dietary life style.
Vera’s Fruited Sweet Buns
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/8 tesp. Instant yeast
Mix these ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight. Mixture will become bubbly.
All of the starter
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons soft butter
2. Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tesp. Salt
1 tesp.butter flavoring, or 1 tesp.Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor ( from King Arthur Flour)
1 tesp. Instant yeast
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed diced candied orange peel and diced candied citron
( you may substitute any combination of dried fruits to equal 2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tesp. Vanilla
1 Tablespoon water
Put all the dough ingredients in the pan of a bread machine in the order recommended by your machine. About half way through the mixing , add the dried fruits slowly, allowing the machine to incorporate them into the dough. Let the machine progress through to the end of the dough cycle, when the dough will be significantly puffed, but may not be doubled.
Remove dough to a kneading surface, and gently deflate. Divide it into 12 equal size balls.
Place them into a greased 9″ x13″ pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together topping ingredients until syrupy, then drizzle over the dough. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Baking time depends on size of dough balls, so start checking for doneness at 35 minutes and add a minute or two as needed till done.
NOTE: Be sure to eat at least one while still warm!