Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bread of the Angels

Pane degli Angeli

I’ve been looking for my favorite yeast lately – Dr. Oetker, a German brand that makes really superior bread and pastry. Nicer texture, more controlled rise, better gluten, and wonderful aroma. And, you usually only need to use half a packet, even for heavier doughs like whole grain or brioche. And I’ve been craving brioche lately, though for reasons explained below, that hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway, my usual sources for the yeast have dried up because they say they don’t sell through it fast enough. People are so funny – I haven’t found that yeast goes bad or that it falls flat even past the “sell by” date, but the whole obsession with “sell by” dates is a rant for another day. I finally found it in DeLaurenti’s, of course, though I don’t usually think of buying baking supplies there unless it’s fruitcake season. But that’s another digression. Anyway, right next to the Dr. Oetker yeast was this box of what looked very much like Italian yeast – oh, I was so excited – visions of pizza crusts danced in my head. And the name was just perfect “PANEANGELI” – bread of the angels!! Wow, with a name like that it’s got to be good! And the packaging was so pretty! And “Lievito” DOES mean yeast, it’s just that it apparently also has a more generic meaning – which turns out in this case to mean a premeasured mixture of baking soda and baking powder for cakes and cookies! And all of a sudden I have a box of 10 packets!

Now, in retrospect, there WERE some warning signs that should have alerted me, but the box was all in Italian and I kind of skimmed the words as I grabbed it, so I must have seen only what I wanted to see. I get it home and start to look more closely at it, and here are words like “dolce”, meaning “sweet” – still ok for croissants, right? And “vaniglinato” meaning “vanilla flavored” – well, still ok for brioche. . . . . And “istantanea” which of course means instant, which I took to mean “quick rising”. Well, in the end it I’m sitting there with these packets, a little annoyed at myself, but figuring I’ll find a way to use them. I love the Italians! Each packet has a recipe on the back! All different. And numbered so you can track them! And the web site for this product has a “recipe of the week’!

So I have to bake my way through them, of course. So far we’ve got Ciambelle, which are little rings, Crostata di Marmellata, or jam tart, and Torta al Limone, or lemon cake. It’s great, because they all taste really Italian – who knew there was a secret ingredient like this!

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