"Have low expectations of each experiment but high expectations of yourself to keep at it."
~Yuvi Zalkow, from "I'm a Failed Writer #1: Revisions"
I'll be honest. I'm no gourmet cook. But, in another life, I would be a master baker. I would dive into culinary classes, learn the art of cream puffs and petit fours, tease my friends and family with a loaf of freshly baked bread that I whipped up, on the fly.
Yeast would be my friend.
But, I studied literature in college; I rarely thought about baking. The closest I came to rising dough was during my junior year, when I worked behind the counter at a bakery shop. It was only after I married and had kids (i.e., two finicky eaters, one of whom is allergic to eggs) that I dreamed of making everything from scratch and discovered that baking, like writing, is a mixture of chemistry and art.
Especially when it comes to yeast.
Talk about finicky.
I've made Easy Bread Dough from my Betty Crocker cookbook, attempted a more difficult recipe for Whole Wheat Molasses Bread, and subjected my family to several experiments in pizza crusts. What I've learned is that "easy" is a relative term, whole wheat bread can rise like a boulder (and weigh the same in the end), and pizza dough can taste like cardboard.
But, I keep at it. Working with yeast is like writing for me. Victoria said it well in her post here last week, when she paired crafting a story with the art of the pastry:
...[R]ewriting and reworking a recipe is the same thing--it comes from the desire to make something good and finding out you need more practice, more poetry books, and a lower oven temp.Practice. And, persistence. After I read her post, I donned my apron, pulled out my most recent pizza dough recipe, and then approached a sack of flour and a handful of yeast with determination.
The early work of measuring and mixing went well and yielded a pretty ball of dough.
I covered it and let it rise, knowing that Yeast doesn't like me to hover. Later, I rolled out the dough and created a near picture-perfect crust. Look at that, I thought.
I celebrated by loading up the pizza with extra cheese.
Into the oven.
I won't lie. It wasn't the best-ever, but this crust was better than the last. And, that's all that matters.
Do you have a special brand of yeast that works every time? I need to know.