Lots of good thoughts from readers this week on the gâteau battu problem. I actually turned out a decent one yesterday, but the rising times were too long…double what the original recipe calls for (4 for rising, 2-3 for proofing) and that’s just too darn long. So I’m going to have another go at it today, employing a sponge this time to give the yeast a running start before the sugar goes in.
Several of you have asked why I don’t use fresh yeast, or better still a dry osmo-tolerant yeast of the kind you can buy from bakery supply houses. The reason is that I try — as much as possible — to use ingredients that most people can easily get their hands on. The way I see it, ordering a pound of yeast most people will likely never use again puts up a serious barrier to entry for folks who might simply want to attempt something new. Therefore, no osmo-tolerant yeast. Overall I try to use plain instant yeast, which is a widely available, very effective and super-convenient product (and no I don’t get free yeast for saying that).
But what exactly is osmo-tolerant yeast? As the name implies it’s a strain of yeast that resists sugar’s attempt to rob the individual microbes of the water they need to live and reproduce, which it does via osmosis.
A better solution, I think, will be to employ a starter, which will build up the live yeast population prior to the introduction of the sweet stuff. Several of you have been kind enough to look up some recipes that rely more heavily on mechanical leavening (whipped egg whites). For now I’m going to resist going in that direction since I want to get this yeast thing figured out. But thanks to all who’ve written in with advice — I deeply appreciate it!