Yeast: How I Loathe Thee

I hate yeast. I hate bread. I don’t mean I don’t like to eat it. I love to eat it. Fresh out of the oven, nutty whole wheat, flaky and crispy. I love it all.

And while I pride myself on being a pretty fantastic cook (I cook 90 percent of our meals when I’m home), I have never been able to make bread. I can’t do it.

I’m a follow-the-recipe kind of guy. I don’t vary from the recipe. I don’t mess with how much corn starch, flour, sugar, etc. Somebody did a lot of scientific research writing that recipe, and I’m not about to substitute white flour with whole wheat flour willy-nilly.

So yesterday I found idiot-proof bread recipe. You don’t even have to knead it, for crying out loud. There are only three ingredients, but one of them was yeast–my arch nemesis.

It’s a new year, I told myself. I’m a grown man, I told myself. I can do this.

Well, apparently, no I can’t.

The first problem came when the recipe said the dough would be shaggy. What in tarnation does that even mean? I know Shaggy from Scooby Doo, but that didn’t seem to apply. And shaggy means hairy, but my dough (thankfully) didn’t sprout hair. What it did do was look exactly like an albino cow pie, and about the same consistency.

The dough is supposed to raise for 12-18 hours; the longer the better, the article said. So I dutifully waited 18 hours. The dough is supposed to have bubbles, the article said. And it did! Maybe I had finally found the one kind of bread I could make.

What piled out of the bowl was soupy, runny, and still sticky. The jury was out whether or not the dough was shaggy, because the jury didn’t know what shaggy meant either. I had followed the recipe to a T, but the dough was still a horrible mess.

I pressed on. I dusted with flour, I covered with plastic, I folded and tried raising it. Two hours later my pile of dough still looked like a cow pie. The article says, “dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger”. Mine didn’t double at all, and just sticks to your finger. It looks exactly like something that grows in size and takes over the town in one of those movies they used to show late at night, or on Saturday afternoon on the UHF channels back in the 80s. The dough sits there, like a sleeping sentient being. Like a bloated pimple on a whale. It’s cooking right now, and it smells delicious, but I know that when it comes out of the oven it’s going to be a flat, hard, tasteless pile of crud.

Because that is how all my bread turns out.

I’m going back to cooking bacon. I have a few new recipes to try.

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12 Responses to Yeast: How I Loathe Thee

  1. CTW says:

    Really funny post. Did it turn out?

  2. L.T. Elliot says:

    "Like a bloated pimple on a whale."

    ROFL! Seriously, Marion. You're brilliant. Ha ha ha!

    I hope the bacon recipe works out. =]

  3. Rebecca says:

    I'm scared of yeast too, but have never said it out loud. So, cousin, maybe this aversion to yeast is in our blood.

  4. Matthew Buckley says:

    I like that explanation, Rebecca. I'd rather claim that I inherited the problem, rather than I just couldn't get it.

    Carol, it…didn't really turn out. The taste was ok, but it was only about an inch high. Slather enough butter and jam on it, and then eat it with a fork, and it was ok. Probably the best way I can describe it is scrambled bread.

  5. Kristi Stevens says:

    I would like to point out that I found that bacon ice cream recipe for you. So if it's good you owe me a bowl.

    I share your aversion to baking bread. I even screw it up in the bread machine. A few months ago I put a loaf in the machine and let it rise. In the middle of the night it walked right off the counter.

    Living ingredients cannot be trusted.

    Great post. Very funny. Hope the bread turned out all right.

  6. Daron D. Fraley says:

    I agree with Kristi. Living ingredients can't be trusted.

    I wonder… Perhaps yeast will always become sentient in your presence. And then hate you. Are you sure that is not your superpower? Better than belly-button-changing.

    I am sure there will be a bunch of readers who have no idea what I just said. :) I like that.

  7. Tom and Mel says:

    Mar, that was really funny! You are so descriptive and clever! How much of it is true though? Do you really cook 90% of the time when you're home? Was Sue just being funny when she said you made the most delicious "artisan" bread? I have a recipe for whole wheat bananna bread you can try (just made it tonight) and it's delicious, quick and easy and requires NO yeast! ;-) let me know if you're interested in it! Oh, and Tom asked for creamed corn and "creamed green beans" for Christmas dinner (I didn't make either for him, poor guy) but I thought of you when he requested them! :-)

  8. Matthew Buckley says:

    Maybe 90 percent is a little high, but I cooked breakfast and dinner today. We skipped lunch. I have a roast thawing in the fridge. I'd say at least 75 percent of the time. :)

    Yeah, I'll take your banana bread recipe. As long as it doesn't require yeast.

  9. Elena says:

    I have to say that sounds like the weirdest bread recipe on earth. The problem wasn't you. No kneading? Have to knead, sorry. Rise for 12-18 hours? Any more than a couple, especially at this altitude, will make it rise too much and then collapse and turn it into your cowpie, unless it rises in the refrigerator, or unless you're punching it down every hour or so. Eighteen hours of punching sounds like no recipe anyone would ever want to try. Bread isn't hard if you get a decent recipe, keep the temp right, and don't let it rise too long. If you want, I can give you a better one, with only four ingredients, that actually works.

  10. Elena says:

    Also, in my recipe, nobody expects the dough to be shaggy. Whatever that means.
    Don't blame you if you don't want to try it. I find dough-thumping therapeutic, personally. Especially when I'm angry. Not that I've made bread in the last six months. At least. Who has time to hang out and babysit dough all day?

  11. Tayna says:

    Mar, such a funny post! I'm so impressed with how much you cook- and a little jealous! You need to come on up and I'll teach you how to make bread. You need a wheat grinder and bosch mixer though. I don't remember how to do it the old fashion way! I also want to know what new game you have for us to learn. We got another new one- agricola. On New Years, Darin, the 3 boys and I stayed up until 2:00 A.M. playing it. It's really fun. I don't know how much we will play it though becuase it's so long. Still fun!

    Don't give up on bread though. It can be mastered.

  12. Trent says:

    ok so I have made this recipe or a variation thereof Americas Test Kitchen did a show on it. It rises so long to develop the gluten (you use VERY little yeast) They use beer in their variation I just used more water. I did use a scale to measure the ingredients. http://www.americastestkitchentv.com/recipe.asp?recipeids=4748&iSeason=9 is a link to the recipe (you do need to register if you don't want to just enter my e-mail address)

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