Sunday, January 22, 2012

Olive: Yeast

Round One,
          Hello people or nobody...The purpose of this blog is stated above, it will be more or less bits of information or at least enough so you (and I) could maybe hold a conversation on the subject and sound reasonably smart. I enjoy how food actually works not just the quick answer but the more scientific approach. So here we go...

      So for my first entry I decided to talk about the roll (pun vigorously intended) that yeast plays in bread. EXCITED YET??
      Yeast does a lot of different things in bread but this time we will focus on how it makes bread rise and how it flavors bread.
      Yeast is a very interesting ingredient as it is a living bacteria and reacts to things like any living being does. For example, temperature effects the yeast a lot, when it is too cold it goes dormant, if it gets too hot it dies, but when it is at its favorite temperature (70-90 degrees) it actually grows. This "favorite" temperature is called proofing or fermenting which all yeast bread recipes call for. When it grows it begins to get hungry, its food of choice: sugar! Yeast has the ability to convert the starches that flour has into sugar, if there is not any added sugar in your recipe. A feeding yeast cell gives off carbon dioxide gas, this carbon dioxide creates little pockets in the dough which cause the bread to expand and rise. Like I said though yeast is very effected by temperature so when you bake the dough the yeast dies and the carbon dioxide evaporates leaving behind all of those tiny holes in the bread which is why your baked bread looks like a sponge when you cut it open.

      The flavor in your bread also greatly depends on the development of the yeast. The longer the yeast develops (or ferments) in your bread the more complex, flavorful, and interesting your bread will be. For the same reasons your 65 year old grandfather is probably way more interesting than your 3 year old nephew, things that are older just have more time to become unique, right?  For example, sourdough bread gets its unique flavor from a "culture" usually consisting of flour and usually an acidic fruit juice which ferments and creates a natural form of yeast. This culture is fed by adding flour to it and handled correctly can be cultivated for years, sometimes passed from generation down to generation making the bread a "one-of-a-kind" and quite amazing if you ask me!

      This is a masive topic with endless directions to be talked about, and if your like me these 2 paragraphs didn't answer all your curiosities but i already deleted about 2 pages worth of info and i have to keep it brief so for now thats all you get...

   Next topic: The different kinds milk. How does a cow know when to make 2% or chocolate milk?? Is there an ice cream cow?? I hope so.