Easy & Versatile Baking: The One Yeast Dough You Need to Know | Julia Turshen | Skillshare

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Easy & Versatile Baking: The One Yeast Dough You Need to Know

teacher avatar Julia Turshen, Chef, Recipe Developer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Working with Yeast


    • 3.

      Making the Dough


    • 4.

      Making Raspberry Jam Buns


    • 5.

      Finishing Your Rolls


    • 6.

      Hungry for More?


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About This Class

Few things intimidate home cooks more than baking with yeast, but it's the single greatest foundation for endless sweet and savory possibilities in the kitchen.

The secret? You only need to know one dough.

In this inviting 25-minute class, beloved chef and recipe developer Julia Turshen shares how to make a no-fail yeast dough every time — a perfect base for sweet rolls, savory twisted breads, iced buns, and more. You'll learn:

  • How to combine ingredients (properly!)
  • Kneading techniques
  • The how and why of yeast-dough rising
  • Julia's signature recipe for raspberry jam buns

Adding this foundational recipe to your repertoire opens the door to getting creative in the kitchen, mastering an essential yeast dough, and delighting friends and family with delicious baked goods at home!

Image: Julia Turshen's Raspberry Jam Buns

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Turshen

Chef, Recipe Developer


Julia Turshen is a writer. Small Victories, her cookbook, is forthcoming in September, 2016.

She has co-authored such cookbooks as Spain...A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali, It's All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen with Dana Cowin, and The Kimchi Chronicles, Hot Bread Kitchen: The Cookbook, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, and Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food.

She hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe and has written for Vogue, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in upstate New York with her wife, dogs, and cat.

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1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Julia Turshen. I'm a cookbook author. Welcome to my home. This is my kitchen. We're in upstate New York. I wrote a book called Small Victories from a home cook for other home cooks and I've put everything I know into it. The concept is that every recipe is introduced by a small victory, which is a tip or a technique that makes home cooking really approachable, really accessible. Yeast is no different. It's just a tool that helps you make a baked good rise and so, getting to understand it better and knowing how it works, it's opened up so many things in the kitchen for me. So today, we're going to make a really basic yeast of dough that lets you make so many different things and the great thing about that is you can customize it and turn the dough into anything you want. To make them, we're going to first make the dough. We're going to mix a little bit of warm milk and yeast with flour, a little bit of butter because that makes everything better, and then we're going to let the dough rise, meaning we're going to let the yeast do its thing, and then we're going to come back to it, we're going to roll it out, we're going to fill it with raspberry jam, then roll up the dough like a yoga mat, slice it into little rolls. Those are going to rise one more time then we're going to bake them. In learning how to do all this, we're going to learn also how to make anything from little garlic knot rolls to monkey bread, or instead of raspberry jam, you can use prosciutto and roll it up and bake it as a whole big loaf that has a spiral of prosciutto inside which is amazing. Learning how to make this one thing opens up so many possibilities for so many other things and I can't wait to see what you make. 2. Working with Yeast: I think one of the reasons yeast is so intimidating is that there are a lot of different types of yeast. If you go to the grocery store you might see there's ActiveDry yeast, there's rapid rise yeast, there's fresh blocks of yeast that you can get in the refrigerated section, there's sort of a lot of different options without very much explanation. To make things really simple, I always use ActiveDry yeast. It's the one most commonly available which is why I like to use it. All you need to do to activate it, is to put it into some warm liquid. For this recipe today, we're going to use milk which is great because milk has a little bit of sugar in it which yeast really likes and it sort of feeds off of. So, it helps just get going which is awesome. If you're using water you might want to add just like a pinch of sugar to the water just to really have like a safe bet that things will work out. Activating yeast will help develop carbon dioxide and all of your doughs which means it will help them rise, it's like filling a balloon with the air. The most important thing is just to make sure your yeast is active. So, mixing it with a little bit of liquid and it will get like a little foamy on top, maybe a few bubbles will appear. It will look almost a little bit like miso soup, like the yeast will dissolve and we'll see all that happen today. So, I can show you and that just means you are seeing that it's working, which is great because then you add everything else and you know for sure it's going to work. So, as opposed to just throwing it in and hoping for the best you have this moment that gives you this opportunity to just check. It's not unlike if you add baking soda to vinegar or maybe did that like in grade school or something in it like kind of bubbled up. This is much more subtle and it won't like be a volcano, but it will really show you that things are working. So, for the first step to make this really basic yeast to dough, we're just going to get the yeast started. So, we're going to mix it with a little bit of warm milk because it's going to let us know that our yeast is active and working well. So, this is the first step in the yeast to dough recipe and it's not something you can do too far ahead in advance because once your yeast is activated and going you need to add the rest of the stuff to continue the recipe. If you do it too far ahead, it will basically like get going and then just kind of stop. So, it's not something you can do ahead of time, but what you can do is make the whole dough ahead of time. There is a moment when you can just put it in the fridge overnight which is great if you want to make something like these jam buns for breakfast and you want to do the work ahead of time. So, that's totally doable, but the yeast is sort of the first step and you should really be ready to do the rest once you get started. So, to make the dough we're going to use an egg, we're going to use some regular all purpose flour, butter, salt, milk, sugar and some yeast. We're going to use a whole packet of yeast and this is three quarters of a cup of warm milk which I just warmed up in the microwave for about like maybe 45 seconds, but you could do it in a little pot on the stove top if you like. I'm going to pour this in here. I'm just going to add all these to the milk, make sure it all gets in there and sometimes when you cut open the packets some get stuck on top. So, just make sure you get it all out. A packet of yeast is usually two and a quarter teaspoons which is perfect because that's just as much as we need. Then we're just going to stir it together. So, right now the yeast is just kind of floating on top of the milk. So, we're going to stir it and it's not going to sort of mix in completely, but you just want to kind of get it coated with the liquid. So, we're going to stir it and then make sure we leave all the yeast in the bowl and then we're just going to let it sit for about five or ten minutes and when we look at it again all the yeast will hopefully have dissolved, there might be a few little bubbles on the surface and that will let us know that we're ready to go. So, it's been about five or ten minutes and our yeast is ready and if you look at it just kind of from far away it might not look like all that much has happened. It's really subtle when the yeast activates, but what you're looking for is on the surface there's a few tiny little bubbles like the end of like a little a safety pin or something. It also smells like yeast, it smells a little bit like kind of the smell of beer. We're going to stir it and it's going to be completely dissolved. So, all those little granules that came out of the packet are now going to be nice and smooth and when we stir it, it's going to look a little cloudy and almost like a little bit like miso soup when the miso dissolves into the warm water. That is how you know your yeast is ready to go. So, to make the rest of the dough, we're going to add the rest of our ingredients. I'm going to start with an egg which I'll crack into this bowl. So, I like to mix up the egg ahead of time because I find that once it's in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients it can be a little hard to blend together. So, it's just worth taking the time to mix it just in a little bowl. So, we're going to add our flour, just all in one go. I'm going to add a teaspoon of salt and I'm going to add two tablespoons of sugar. If you're making a savory version of this dough you can cut it down to one tablespoon or even just like a pinch, but a little bit of sugar does help the yeast, so it's worth adding. One, two, and then I'm going to add four tablespoons of butter which is half a stick. This butter is at room temperature which makes it really easy to mix. If you tried to cook cold butter into this it would just be little hard pieces of butter that were hard to mix in there. If you didn't take the butter out ahead of time which happens to the best of us, my favorite thing to do is to cut the cold butter into little tiny pieces and then if you put boiling water in a bowl like a ceramic bowl, pour it out and then put that hot bowl over the cut up little pieces of butter, it will help just not melt it, but to soften it. So, that's a really good trick if you didn't plan ahead which happens. So, we're going to add half the stick. It's nice and soft which is great. Then to stir the dough we're just going to mix all of us out before we turn it out and need it. At first it might look really dry, but once you kind of get it going, the flour will mix with all the liquid. Just get everything all combined and what you're looking for at this point is just to have everything mixed together and sort of pull away from the sides of the bowl. It takes like a little bit of muscle, but not too much. So, at this point I feel like it's ready to turn out and start needing my hand because it's sort of mostly all come together. It's pulled away from the side of the bowl. There's not like a bunch of little pieces. At this point too, if there are like a lot of small dry pieces, if it just feels way too dry, you can add a little bit more milk if you need or, on the other hand, it feels way too wet and it feels like a batter more than a dough just add a little bit more flour. That's all it really takes. That's kind of like the nuances of bread baking is like it could depend on how humid the room is or how you measured things or maybe you need a little more, a little less and that's totally okay. 3. Making the Dough: So at this point, once we've just mixed all the ingredients together, the dough, and don't be afraid to really get in there and touch it, this really how you get to know this thing. It should feel really nice and soft. It shouldn't stick too much to your fingers maybe like a little bit. But it shouldn't be dipping your hand into pancake butter or something you're covered with dough if that's the case, you probably need quite a bit more flour. Also if it's really dry and it feels like Plato that you left out too long or something, that's when you need a little bit more liquid. But this is nice and soft. So, now we're ready to knead the dough and the first thing you have to do is get a clear work surface, so I'm just going to put some stuff away. And I have a little extra flour here. This is flour I'm going to dust on the work surface. The goal when you put flour down, when you're kneading dough is, the dough is going to pick up whatever you put there so, you don't want to put too much. It's always better to start with a little bit less then add more if the dough is sticking. Because if you add too much flour and sort of cover your surface in like an inch of flour, you're going to end up with a really dried dough. So just start with a little bit. I like to take a little handful, just sprinkle it. So we're just going to put a little flour on the work surface. Then the other thing I should have done first is take off my ring. If you're wearing any jewelry, it's nice to just put it aside somewhere where you won't lose it just because it won't get all gunk up and everything. So now we're ready to knead our dough. It's going to take it out of the bowl. It's fun, it's being a kid and getting to work with Plato again. So, the whole purpose of kneading dough is you're going to activate the gluten in the dough. And gluten is the protein that's in wheat. It's got a little bit of bad rap these days, but it's totally a great thing because it gives structure to baked goods. When you knead dough, you really get the gluten working and it's what helps make bread and stuff elastic. It gives it that really nice structure and kneading it's just a way to really get that started. So just as like we got the yeast started in the warm liquid, that's what kneading the dough is going to do for the gluten, so that's the reason why we're doing this. I'm going to dust the top of the dough with a little flour, just so it doesn't stick too much. Then, we're going to start kneading. So, when I knead, I always push the dough away and then pull it back on itself, and then I give it a little turn and then we just keep doing that movement. So basically, that means you're kneading it really evenly which is great because it means everything gets well combined and a nice really smooth dough. So you kind of do this push away and then pull it back over itself. Give it a little turn. Just like that. As you're going, this dough is a little sticky, I feel it sticking to the surface a little. So I'm just going to put a little bit more flour. So, we're just going to do the push, pull back, a little turn, and if you see real bakers like in bread bakeries, and staff doing it, it's like it's athletic, it's amazing to watch them. You can really get a workout, if that's important to you. So push pull. So, even just after a few folds, after just a minute of kneading, it already gets so much softer, more well combined. And we're just going to do this for a few more minutes till it's really smooth. Sometimes, you'll see in books people will say, it's almost like a baby's bottom. Which I think is kind of adorable. But you just want it really smooth and elastic. That's the goal. The biggest mistakes or missed opportunities are not turning it because then you're not treating the whole batch of dough evenly. So the whole goal is to just get like an even knead over the whole thing. So that's why I like to push and pull, and turn it a little each time. You're not going to mess it up as long as you're working it. But I think the most important thing is to keep turning it, and also just to really be mindful of how much flour you need and if it's too sticky just add a little bit more. But on the other hand don't add too much. So it's kind of like I can't tell you exactly how much because it's going to depend on your surface. This is like a really sealed piece of wood, so it's not too porous. If you're working on wood that might absorb a little bit more liquid, it could change how much flour you knead, but just trust your instincts, they're really going to serve you well here. I also like to use this part of my hand, the heel of my hand, to push. I just think it gives me the most force which is good. So this is obviously quite a bit of work and it is something a machine could do. If you have a standing mixer like a kitchen aid. Your kitchen aid can really mix the dough for you and knead it. I like to do it by hand because not everyone has a kitchen aid. Also, I find it a really meditative thing and it's nice to really work with your food. I think anytime you put a little bit of hard work into something, the outcome is therefore even more enjoyable. It's a nice thing to do. I think it's a really relaxing. I like making this thing early in the morning and anytime a day. But it's just it's a nice pause. I think cooking and the age of constantly being on our phones, and screens and stuff, it's nice to do something with your hands and just get into it. So I really enjoy it. But you could absolutely do this in a electric mixer if you have one. I would say it probably would be maybe four or five minutes on a medium speed with a dough hook. I think that feels pretty good. You know it's done when the dough feels nice and smooth. It's still going to be about the same size as it was when we took it out of the bowl, but we're going to let it sit and rise. Let all that gluten that we just worked up, we're going to let it relax and we're also going to get an opportunity to see the yeast really do its thing. So, when we come back to this dough in about an hour, it's going to be twice as big and really soft and a little bit puffy. So, for your deodorize, we're going to put it back in the bowl that we mixed it in. I do that just because I don't want to make another bowl dirty. But you can use a clean bowl if you want. So I'm just going to stick it in here and then cover it. I just use a clean kitchen towel but you could use plastic wrapper, really anything and then put it in the warmest spot in your kitchen or anywhere in your home that's kind of warm, and you want it to be away from draughts. So like I wouldn't put it near a door that's going to get opened a bunch of times. But it only has to sit for about an hour, and just don't do anything. Just let it do its thing. And we're going to come back and see it in an hour. 4. Making Raspberry Jam Buns: The dough has sat for an hour, and at this point, it should be pretty much doubled in size, really soft and puffy. The reason I got that way is because the yeast did exactly what it's supposed to do, and it put sort of natural gas into the dough that just like a balloon makes it pop up, so, here's the reveal. So, it's a lot bigger, it's softer and you can see how nice and elastic the dough is. Sometimes the top will be a little bit dried, but that's totally okay, we're going to roll it out. So now, to roll it out, I just press it out with my hands, almost like you're making a pizza. Just to get it a little bit flat, and then just put a little flour on both sides. It smells really good, it smells like bready and yeasty. Then, we're going to roll it into like an oval, so whatever it works, but just nice and flat and thin. When I'm rolling dough, whether it's a dough like this or a pie crust, I always try to put force evenly, even pressure throughout so that you don't end up with dough that's like big here and small here, something like that. Start at the middle and push out. Then, just like when we're kneading the dough, just give it a little turn. I think it's easier to turn the dough than yourself. You'll see, this is a really nice dough to work with. Sometimes pie crust and stuff can crack or break when you make them, they can be a little scary to work with. This dough is really forgiving; it rolls out really evenly and nicely. Just from the middle and push out. That looks pretty good to me. I would call that maybe like a quarter of an inch thick, not paper-thin or anything like that, but not too thick either. The thinner it is, the more spirals you're going to get in the final jam buns. So, at this point, we're going to put raspberry jam and turn these into raspberry jam rolls. But you could also go in so many directions. You can cover this in soft butter, and chopped garlic, and a little parsley, roll it up, slice it, and you'll have the most amazing kind of garlic, not garlic buns. You can layer it with fleshed prosciutto, roll it up and just bake it as a whole like a loaf of bread, and that way when you slice it, you get little spirals of prosciutto throughout the whole thing which is delicious. Before you even roll it out, you can just break the dough into little pieces, roll them into small little balls of dough, toss them with butter, and sugar, and cinnamon and unpack them in a baking dish and you got the most delicious monkey bread. You can also spread it with goat cheese and herbs, roll it up, make like goat cheese and herb rolls. The possibilities are really limitless; you can make it into anything you want. So, I'm going to spread this dough with raspberry jam, mostly, because I love raspberry jam so that's why I chose it, but you can use any type. You can use strawberry or blueberry apricot, anything you'd like. These are preserved so they have all the seeds and stuff. I like that texture. A friend of mine really prefers it just with seedless raspberry jam, so whatever works for you, you can use anything, there's really no rule about it. My favorite tool for this job is a little offset spatula, which is like a real pro tool. You don't need it, you can use a dinner knife, it's no big deal. But this just lets you spread it nice and flat, but not have your hands on the dough at the same time. But if your hand hits some raspberry jam, that's not like the worst thing in the world. I like to mix it up a little bit first so it gets nice and soft. Then the recipe calls for about two-thirds of a cup but you can just eyeball it. You just want a thin layer across the whole surface of the dough and I don't really think you can have too much. Okay, let's start with that. So, just spread it nice and thin like almost you're putting tomato sauce on a pizza. I just want a nice even layer. Okay. So, next we're going to roll it up, and we're going to roll it pretty tightly because you want the dough sort of always be in contact with the jam so you get a really nice perfect little raspberry jam bun. So, I'm going to start here. Just fold it over a little bit and just keep rolling it, just like a yoga mat, if you do yoga. Okay. I'm going to put it a little closer. Okay. So next, we're going to slice them and then put them on a sheet pan. So, I'm just going to clear the decks a little bit. For pretty much everything I make, I always lie it in a sheet pan with parchment paper because it makes cleanup a lot easier, which to me is very valuable. These are my favorite thing. They're pre-cut pieces of parchment that you can get from baking supplies stores that fit in the pan so you don't have to wrestle with a big roll of parchment. So, if you do a lot of baking, it's a nice little thing to get for yourself to make things easier or small victory. But of course, you can just take out a sheet of parchment from a big roll and it's totally fine. So, I'm going to cut them into 12 even rolls and my favorite way to do that is to cut it in half and then cut each half and half, so that way, you can keep them nice and even because if I just start going like this, I end up with some later this wide and some later that wide, which isn't the end of the world but it's nice to make sure everyone has the same size one so there's no fighting at the breakfast table. So, I'm going to cut it in half, half here, half here, and then each of these in thirds. Okay. So, now I'm going to put all the rolls on the pan, and when you turn them over, the little bottom seam, I always like to make that sort of facing in so that all the little seams can be in a huddled together, because otherwise, when they bake, they're going to go out and you're going to get raspberry jam buns that go in different directions, which again, is not the worst thing in the world, but this way, they keep in a really nice shape. You want them touching each other but not shoved against each other, but it's not like a cookie where you want space between. You want them to touch each other so that they keep really nice and soft when they bake. Because if they're separate on the sheet pan, when they bake and the hot air goes all around them, they'll brown all around. So, this way, you get that nice little bit of darker, crusty outside, and then a softer middle, so you get a really nice combination of textures. So, now that these are all cut and spaced together, we're just going to let them rise one more time because we just work for those so much, we rolled it out, we beat up all that herb that we work so hard to get into it. If we let them sit again, we're going to cover them with a towel, it can be a plastic wrap, whatever you have. We're going to get all that herb back. So, in about an hour, we're going to look at them again and they're going to be nice and puffed up, just like the dough was when we took it out. 5. Finishing Your Rolls: A raspberry jam buns have rested for about an hour, so now, as you can see, they've risen again. So, this is the second rise. So, all that air that was built up that we've been knocked out when we rolled the dough, we've now gotten all that back. So, they look great and they're ready to go in the oven. But first, we're just going to brush them with a little egg wash, which is just an egg mix with a tiny bit of water, and that's going to help them get really caramelized and browned, and all the fat and the egg will just help, just really make them really like a little bit glazed and browned, which is awesome. So, I whisked up an egg with just a little water and this is just a little brush, but you can honestly just do this with your hand if you want. This is like a silicone brush that my mother-in-law gave me. So, I just like to brush the tops and then also any exposed parts so like the sides of the buns. Basically, anything you brush will get caramelized which is a great thing. So, you can't put too much of this. These are ready to go in the oven. They're going to bake at 350 for about 20, 25 minutes. Start checking them around 20, and just wait until they get really nice and brown, and all that little bit of jam that's exposed gets really caramelized. So, the raspberry jam buns are almost done. So, we're going to make a really quick, super simple frosting that we're just going to drizzle on top of them when they come out. Because we're going to put half a cup of creme fraiche. I'm going to call that half a cup. Then, add a little bit of powdered sugar, just to sweeten it. I like powdered sugar for this because it dissolves instantly. Then, just a little bit of vanilla for a little extra flavor. So, that's the whole frosting. Just those three ingredients. It's a little bit thick now, but when it hits the warm raspberry buns it'll sort of melt and kind of go everywhere and it's really messy but I think that's why it's really good. I love this because the creme fraiche has a little bit of like a tang, so it's sweet but it's not too sweet and it kind of offsets the really sweet flavor of the raspberry jam. So, the jam bun should be totally done. They look great. I love how the jam that's exposed get a little bit caramelized and stuff, and all the little outside bits are really nice and brown and crunchy, but then you still get that nice soft inside because we put them touching each other. So, this is an exciting moment. So now, we're going to put the creme fraiche frosting on them. I kind of like to just sort of dab a little over each one, but it does not need to be perfect. Then, just kind of spread it out a little bit. Then, as the creme fraiche warms up on the jam buns, it will melt a little bit, but these are good to go. Okay. So it's been a minute. So, the creme fraiche frosting just sort of totally melted and it got really kind of gooey and messy which is exactly what you want. If you make these ahead and the creme fraiche gets a little bit solid, you can always pop it in the oven for a minute, or you can bake the buns, keep them on their own, and then heat them up, and then put the creme fraiche frosting so you can really, no mistakes. Then, the only last step is to eat them. So, I like the corner bits. I hope that seeing how the dough gets made really opens up your mind to all the possibilities this dough gives you. It's really kind of a blank canvas. The dough can be turned into just a simple dinner roll. Just roll it into little pieces, brush them with a little melted butter, sprinkle them with salt, bake them, and they're the perfect almost a parker house roll, but even a little bit simpler. You can really go in so many directions and that's my favorite thing about cooking and baking as all the different places you can go. But the yeast is sort of the first step and you should really be ready to do the rest once you get started. I really hope you enjoyed these raspberry jam buns, and I can't wait to see what you come up with with this dough. 6. Hungry for More?: