Fatal Kitchen Accident & A Miracle on Thanksgiving
Do you know when accidents happen? Well, I’m going to guess that they most likely happen when you have a deadline and are trying to meet it while multitasking. I was trying to get ready to meet my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, and I was responsible for the bread, homemade dessert, and sweet tea. I had already baked several loafs of bread, so I wasn’t a stranger to the process; however, knowledge of science would have been helpful and would have saved me from this fatal error.
The product that is frequently used to make bread dough rise is yeast. The yeast used is “active” yeast, which means that it is alive. What I didn’t realize is that there is a reason why the liquid mixture you add yeast to is supposed to be at least 110 degrees but not higher than 130. A simple error–a shortcut–could cost you the life of your yeast. In this case, it was temperature. The liquid was approximately 160 degrees, and high temperatures are “fatal” to yeast. My dough didn’t rise. I was quite upset. I was hoping to take home made bread for us to have with our meal. Without checking everything out, I decided to try to “fix it.” Some people say that once the error is made there is nothing that can be done to fix it, but I did.
This is my miracle. I dissolved another packet of yeast into water110 degrees. Nothing was happening. A layer of frothy bubbles foams on top of the water when the yeast begins reacting, so I increased the temperature to 115 degrees. I didn’t notice as much frothiness as previously, but I thought, heck, may as well go for it. I placed the dough back in the stand mixer and pulled it apart in several places. I poured the water in and began kneading again. Once it was worked in, I went through the whole process again putting it in a warm oven to rise. It did rise, just not as much as usual.
A quick ending? Fresh bread was still on our table for Thanksgiving. The flavor was still good. The difference was it was a bit more dense because of the extra kneading. I didn’t realize you could kill yeast. I mean…does it have a little yeast heartbeat? How can you kill yeast?!! Apparently, by heating it above 130 degrees or baking your bread at too high a temperature. There you have it. My fatal accident turned miracle. Ultimately–my Thanksgiving Chemistry lesson on Yeast.
Did anything crazy happen in your kitchen this year? Leave us a comment.