You might be thinking as many do — why spend the time and effort making yeast breads when it is so easy to just pick up a package of the frozen kind at the supermarket? My answer is that there definitely is a difference.
For many years, I always made yeast rolls when we had a big family dinner at our house. I remember my mother-in-law saying she could make a meal of those yeast rolls and butter. She was serious — she liked them that much.
I haven’t made yeast rolls for quite a while, and my granddaughter reminded me of this recently when she said she would really like to have some again.
While looking through some loose recipes in a folder, I found my yeast rolls recipe and also a recipe for beignets. Just the thought of beignets makes my mouth water.
I will never forget the first time my husband and I went to New Orleans and discovered beignets. We would always go away with powdered sugar all over us, but we didn’t care. We kept going back. Needless to say, he was thrilled when I learned to make beignets.
Anyone can make yeast breads by simply following a few basic instructions. The most important thing to remember is when dissolving the yeast, never have the water too hot. This will kill the yeast and it loses its rising power.
Now grab an apron and try your hand at these easy yeast breads. You will be glad you did.
SIMPLE YEAST ROLLS
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup boiling water
1 egg, beaten
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Let stand about 5 minutes. Combine remaining sugar, salt, butter and shortening in a large bowl. Add boiling water and stir until butter and shortening are melted. Cool slightly. Add dissolved yeast, stirring well. Add egg and 1 1/2 cups flour, beating at medium speed until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down and turn onto a well-floured surface. Knead several times. Shape into 2-inch balls and place in greased pan. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen rolls
FRENCH MARKET BEIGNETS
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 tablespoon oil
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Heat the milk and add sugar, salt and nutmeg. Cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over the 2 tablespoons lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. To the warm milk mixture, add oil, egg and yeast. Mix with wooden spoon. Gradually add flour until a soft dough is formed. Cover with wax paper and then with a clean towel. Let rise in warm place until doubled. Turn the soft dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently. Roll to 18 x 12 inch rectangle. Cut into 36 small rectangles (about 2 x 3 inches). Cover and let rise about 30 minutes. Fry few at a time in deep fat at 375 degrees. Drain on paper towels and put in brown lunch bag, and dust generously with powdered sugar.
— Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont, Alabama, has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including, “Simply Southern and More.” Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.prudencehilburn.com.