You know those cooking blogs that have beautiful picture after beautiful picture of perfectly executed pastries and a French word in the title? This is not one of those blogs. I love to cook, but like most real people, things don’t always go as planned. Hence the word “adventure.” That’s a euphemism for “WTF, the jar of yeast said ‘refrigerate after opening’, so I did, and now it’s totally inactive”. Which is tonight’s culinary adventure!
Since moving a couple weeks ago to start grad school, I have resolved to cook myself dinner on a regular basis, despite the fact that I am only one person and cooking for one person is less than inspiring. Not to mention challenging if you dislike wasting food as much as I do. So the other night I made Leftover Pizza, the toppings of which were the remains of all the food I had been eating during the week: asparagus, bacon, goat cheese, and canned diced tomatoes (which I blended for the sauce; I don’t like regular tomato sauce). I made the dough from an authentic Italian recipe that is probably not very different from any other recipe you might find, which goes a little something like this (for 2 pizzas):
100.0 B% 198.7 g 2 c flour
79.8 B% 158.5 g 2/3 c water
1.6 B% 3.2 g 1 tsp active dry yeast
1.0 B% 2.0 g 1/2 teaspoon sugar
5.1 B% 10.1 g 2 tsp salt
2.3 B% 4.5 g 1 teaspoon oil
(B% means baker’s percentage.)
The dough, however, never rose. I had an unleavened pizza. Since pizza is supposed to be flat, this wasn’t so bad. The fat dense crusts were pretty yummy, actually. But it was so dense that it was hard to cut without messing up all the toppings. I would post a picture, as is the custom on blogs about food, but it was not very pretty. I told you this wasn’t that kind of blog.
But if you won’t be wowed by my culinary prowess and photographic skill, you may yet learn from my mistakes. Today’s moral is: you must be careful not to kill your microscopic pets before you put them in a 500 degree oven. Yeast are like lobsters that way. Everyone says refrigerating yeast is good, so perhaps it just needs to be taken back to room temperature before it’s ready to pump out the CO2. This website says just that (although I take that with a grain of salt, since the website also seems to say that yeast makes dough sticky and glutinous, which is patently false; the flour and water do that on their own). Yeast grow best between 50 and 99 degrees F. Refrigerators are at about 40 degrees F, so my yeast just didn’t have time to warm up and get metabolizing during the very short rise I gave my pizza. Next time I’ll use warmer water and/or take the yeast out ahead of time.