Here's a little story about eating local.
I ran out of SAF-instant yeast
a few months ago. And I decided to wait before replacing it because:
1. To my knowledge, SAF instant yeast isn't sold in any grocery store in Milwaukee.
2. The shipping charge when ordering it from the Baker's Catalog, $5.50, is equal to the price of the item itself.
3. I thought that I would wait until I had something else to buy from the Baker's Catalog so as to maximize the value my shipping dollar. In the meantime I would use whatever yeast one can find at the supermarket.
That was a mistake. As I found out the hard way, the kind of yeast you buy in the supermarket that comes in what Jamie Oliver calls sachets (i.e., packets) is not a good product. The pizza dough made from the sachet yeast (I haven't baked bread with it in years and don't intend to) is harder to work with, not as supple, more likely to tear. The crust turns out less flavorful, less crisp on bottom and less airy in the middle. All in all, sachet pizza is a pretty dull date. I would never have thought that the kind of yeast you use makes a bit of difference when baking pizza but it does. And it is worth spending $11/lb. on good yeast, since that is still much cheaper by the pound than buying the sachets. The only problem is if you are only baking with yeast once or twice a year. Then a pound of yeast is a waste and you have a real problem.
Where does SAF-instant yeast come from? According to the package, it's made in Mexico for a company
based in...wait for it...Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To get their product, though, I have to order it from Vermont. Whatevs.
There is one more nice thing about buying saf-instant in the 1-lb. brick: the sound of the vacuum-sealed package taking a breath when you snip it open.
I keep coming across recipes for pizza dough that demand a minimum 24-hr rise. Maybe it depends on the yeast, and a long fermentation is the way to go with sachet yeast. If you're using instant yeast, a two hour fermentation (i.e., rise) is fine. I can't believe it could taste better.Pizza dough
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp saf-instant yeast
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup body-temperature water
semolina for dusting
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes. It should still be a bit sticky but it will come together as a smooth ball. Leave to rise in a greased, covered bowl for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate and divide in two, shape these into balls and cover on the countertop.
Heat the oven to 500 with a stone inside. I like to preheat at least half an hour before baking. Flatten the first dough ball with your fingertips pressing in an exaggerated charade of piano playing, stretch it over your fists, toss it in the air, pull the edges out and make it into a circle. Spread it on a baking peel dusted with semolina and top with whatever you like. Jarred spaghetti sauce and supermarket mozzarella are surprisingly good if the crust is excellent. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are dark brown. Then bake the second pie while you eat the first.
Depending on how filling your toppings are and how much other food you serve, this should feed three or more adults. Last evening we had it with a watermelon and feta cheese salad with red wine vinegar, shallots and olive oil. Danny Meyer
says this has been the year for "watermelon as a replacement for tomato," but I've been making this salad for at least a couple of years, so there.