Fermen…. tation

Anyone who didn’t take microbiology at Cedar Crest College won’t get the title of this post and that’s OK. You see, we Cedar Crest Alumnae had this professor who had an unhealthy relationship with microorganisms- specifically Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or Yeast as its friends call it. She loved to talk about fermentation, a biological process that yeast does very, very, very well. Any time she would talk about it, she would say “Fermen…” and then wait for what seemed like 20 minutes for someone to complete the word for her. No one would, so she would eventually say “…tation.” Sometimes the pause would be so long that we would all forget what she was talking about and she just looked like some crazy lady spouting random syllables.

Crazy or not, my professor had the right idea. S. cerevisiae is one awesome little microbe. Why? Because the fermentation process that it is so good at creates 2 of the best inventions ever- Bread and Beer! Here’s a quick and dirty synopsis of fermentation:

Yeast eat Sugar

Yeast belches out alcohol and carbon dioxide (gas)

This weekend, me and my pack moved to a new house (which also is why I haven’t posted anything for a little while). To try to make the new house feel more home-y, I thought I would bake a loaf of bread a la Ma Ingalls.

Charles, I have a bad feeling about this.

I used the “Simple Whole Wheat Bread” recipe from allrecipes.com. Easy-peasy. Or better yet, Easy-peasy IF you pay attention to what you are doing.  I did not. I was baking and doing laundry and unpacking. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

1. I combined the yeast, honey and water and walked away- I forgot to add the bread flour. The poor yeast sat there for a half hour doing a whole lot of nothing.

2. I did not pay attention to the fact that there was no foamy action going on and continued with the recipe anyway.

3. The dough rose just fine (thanks to fermentation!) BUT after transferring the dough to the loaf pan I realized it was really late at night so I decided to leave it overnight to do its final rise. BIG mistake. I got home late the next day. The dough was sitting for almost entire 24 hours. All the carbon dioxide that makes the dough rise escaped. My dough flattened out. I baked it anyway because, well, what did I have to lose?

The alcohol, however, stayed put. My simple honey whole wheat now tastes and looks like a beer bread without the benefit of having beer in it. I am not even posting pictures of it because it is just that embarrassing.

Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn. Tell us the lesson we should learn.

Always pay attention to what you are doing and respect the yeast!