The Food Matters Project is a weekly recipe share based on the best-selling cookbook The Food Matters Cookbook:  500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living, by Mark Bittman.  Each week myself and fifty other food bloggers cook a recipe selected by that week’s host, adding our own interpretations, insights and experiences.  The result is a forum that promotes healthier eating habits centred around plants and a lifestyle more conscious of the world around us.

I used to get really intimidated by any recipe that required yeast.  So much so that I avoided these recipes entirely, even though they are some of my favourites to eat.  Yeast always scared me.  I always question if I should I use instant or traditional dry yeast?  My mom swears by traditional dry yeast and will sub in this kind even if the recipe says instant yeast.  My grandmother on the other hand, always used fresh yeast.  I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m sure I’ll give it a whirl eventually.

Another question I wrestled with is to proof or not to proof and if sugar is necessary while it’s proofing or not?  And the ever so important question, how warm should the liquid be that you’re adding to the yeast?  Lots to consider here people!  Thankfully, I have overcome my fear and I can now fully embrace those recipes that intimidated me in the past.  Breads, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, krafne all of these use to make me sweat – but not any more!  If you’re still fretting over risen breads, fret no more!  Here are a few tips to guide you along.

Active Dry Yeast

When using this type of yeast I buy individually, vacuum sealed packages and use the entire package, even if the recipe calls for less.  This type of dry yeast needs to be proofed.  Proofing simply means that you have activated the yeast with a warm liquid and a little sugar and given it time to rise and bubble.  Follow the directions on the package.  Usually it’s about a 1/4 cup of warm liquid (the milk or water should be warm but not uncomfortable to put you finger in).  Measure the liquid in a measuring cup with one teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the liquid.  Stir once or twice gently and allow to proof for 15 minutes or until it has doubled in volume.

Instant Dry Yeast

This yeast does not require proofing or rehydration.  Simply sprinkle in with the dry ingredients and I always like to ensure that the liquid I am adding is warm.

The recipe this week was chosen by Melissa from The Faux Martha.  It’s a great recipe for a hearty and wholesome bread.  The original calls for strictly whole wheat flour.  I decided to sub in 1 cup of oat flour and throw in some honey, raisins and cinnamon and make it a cinnamon raisin bread.  The next time I make this bread I think I will lighten it up by substituting 1 cup of white flour for the whole wheat.  That’s the beauty of bread recipes, they’re so flexible.  There are so many options for additives and flavourings that every time you make a loaf you can have a totally different result.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

For this week’s recipe please see Melissa’s blog, The Faux Martha.  To see the lovely loaves that the other participants baked click here.  To see my variation see below.

I substituted 1 cup of oat flour for whole wheat flour (2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup oat flour)

3 tablespoons honey

1 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained (the raisins will drain the bread of the moisture if you add them in without rehydrating them first)

1 tablespoon cinnamon