Friday, 24 December 2010

Yeast for high-sugar doughs

I hadn't put much thought into how yeast works until this morning.  For many years I had sour-dough starters in the fridge, a San Francisco one and two Italian ones, which I used depending on the flavour of the bread I wanted. In my emergency planning - you know, the house catches fire, what do you take, I had thought the computer, my wallet and the yeasts would be what I rescued  Without realising it I had cut down immensely on the amount of gluten I ate, so only had one small slice of spelt sourdough a day at most, with the occasionally (as in once or twice a year) treat of a croissant or doughnut, and fruit crumbles made with spelt (a low gluten flour).

Now that all my waking hours are consumed with my curiosity about how none-glutened flours work I bake all the time.  Today I set out to make cinnamon buns, one of the few things I remember my mother cooking that were really delicious.  She was from Pennsylvania, and sticky spicy fruity rich yeast breads were part of her childhood.  As I grew up in India, and she had to do any baking in a metal box perched over a primus stove, and  had five kids to look after with no washing machine, it is a wonder she ever baked anything.

Whilst researching cinnamon bun recipes I came across a reference to 'osmotolerant' yeast.  This is yeast that can cope with the high amount of sugar in sweet doughs.  Apparently the sugar pulls the moisture away from the yeast, leaving it gasping for breath....well, that is how I see it.  It turns out that it is easy to buy a osmotolerant yeast that can cope with high sugar doughs if you live in the US, and the website even specifies that it is gluten free.

In the UK it is a bit harder.  I found a supplier that does 14kg blocks, but an email I sent to ask if they had samples bounced back as undeliverable - I had clicked on their 'contact me' button on their website.  With a bit more hunting I found another company that does sell yeasts for high sugar doughs, but the ingredients are not listed in such a way as to make it clear whether the produce is gluten free.  If anyone know prehaps you could twll me.  An email to them hasn't bounced back, so that is a good start, but I expect it will be a while before I get an email back, seeing as it is Christmas Eve.  If I can get a sample I will do a comparison with my flours and let you know if it is worth the trouble.

At the moment I have a batch of dough, hopefully rising, based on this recipe:  I am trying it with a straight substitution of my own gluten free flour mix (urid, tapioca, cornmeal) and will tweak if necessary.

I am planning to develop a recipe for these sweet buns that you can store unbaked in the freezer and just bake whenever you want some.  That would make them ideal for leisurely breakfasts when you want something a bit special without any effort.


  1. Hi, excellent blog by the way.

    Have you managed to find any osmotolerant yeast in the UK?

    I'm at my wits end trying to find ssome!!


    1. Hi, I gave up the food business as it turns out I am so gluten intolerant I can't even go to markets to no, I haven't even been looking. I did find an old enquiry to which said they had some...but I didn't pursue. You might want to check them as a source. Let me know, I've been feeling an urge for cinnamon buns lateley and I'm also about to start work properly on the cookery book as I have found a photographer who is interested.


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