Chez Madeleine

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

yeast: the newest addition to my kitchen cabinet

What is yeast? I've always wondered this. Maybe I should've done some research for this post, but I haven't had the time, and I'm hoping that some of you will fill me in on its magic chemical componants. I called my mother last night from Publix to ask her if there was any difference between the packets, and the jar, and she just said "yeast doesn't last long"--a vote for the packets. I was making pizza dough. I envisioned myself making lots of pizza dough for hungry visitors, so I bought the jar.

Friday night, I am hosting a dinner party as a goodbye for one of my dearest--and in honor of my recent trip to woodfire oven territory, I decided to recreate a "pizzette" that I had at Cafe Chez Panisse, and make a variety of pies with inspired toppings. I'm picturing crispy pancetta, sweet carmelized onions, crisp pears, soft gooey goat cheese, and big hunks of fresh tomato. I'm going to adorn liberally with garlic and home-grown herbs. I'm waiting until Friday to be inspired by the farmers market. Then I'll pick my favorite ingredients, make some winning combinations, and pray that I don't set off the fire alarm like I did last night making my practice version.

Once home, and armed with my epicurious recipe, I set the yeast free to do its magic thing. I added two teaspoons to 1 cup of "wrist temperature" water. Whatever that means. Added a pinch of sugar (sounds like the latest term of endearment to me "you're just a pinch of sugar"), and waited for the mysterious doughy-smelling mixture to bubble. Once it did, I added flour, dug in and kneaded and mixed until my arms were sore.

I left the bulbous result to rise in a bowl well-coated with olive oil. Then I let out the frustrations of the day by punching the hell out of the dough. Then I said goodnight to the dough and put it in the freezer to languish until Sunday's party. I also baked a pizzette (hence the fire alarm), and topped it with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and thyme and basil. It was crispy, but chewy. The perfect palate for the season's offerings on Friday. That dough just doesn't even know what it will be come in just a few short days. Today is the first day of the rest of its life.


Blogger Srikanth said...

Yeast are tiny organisms (believe fungi) which consume sugars and produce (burp) out carbon dioxide. this is what creates the tiny bubbles of air in bread, or other dough, or put carbonation in our beer. when you relieve your daily stresses by punching the dough, you are redistributing the bubbles so that they create lots of bubbles, not a few big ones. I learned the majority of this from watching Good Eats, pizza and bread episodes. My god, I am SUCH a dork.

8:18 PM  

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