This post needs a little background. In short, we moved to Georgia. I couldn’t find bread we liked here, so I started making a knock-off recipe of Dave’s Killer Bread. I make bread at least once a week now and that’s what we use for toast and sandwiches.
Fast forward to the beginning of October and that’s when there was a hitch in the giddy-up.
I lost my bread mojo for a couple of days. It was gone, people.
It’s the first time since I started baking that my bread did not rise. Henny Penny, the sky MUST be falling! And it didn’t just happen once. It happened twice. In a row. The insult. The shame. We were thisclose to going on one of those no-carb diets and I couldn’t let that happen.
I blamed it on the yeast.
Then I blamed it on the flour.
Do you know what it probably was? Complacency. Routine. That feeling of when you drive home and after you arrive you can’t remember anything about the drive. You’ve done it so many times your brain is on auto-pilot.
Except this time my brain must have just fallen asleep, skipped out of town, taken a long vacation.
I think that in my auto-pilot state, I killed the yeast by getting my water too hot. That’s right, yeast is the Goldilocks of baking, so it seems. Yeast can’t be combined with water too hot or too cold…it has to be juuuussssst the right temperature in order for it to activate properly.
So, I very carefully measured the water temperature on my 3rd attempt to get my baking mojo back.
It was especially painful to me because I had to use the very tool that I had poo-pooed my husband for buying because It was ridiculous that he needed to instantly be able to check the temperature of his beer during the home brewing process. Crow was tasting a lot better than my non-rising bread, so I sucked it up and used the gadget. It’s the Thermapen and we got it on Amazon. I still think it’s too pricey for everyday bread use…I can understand not wanting to ruin a batch of beer though. I have no complaints about how fast it works. It’s awesome. This Thermowand got almost as good ratings on Amazon and is a 1/4 the price. Much more palatable in my book.
Turns out, the Thermapen really does measure water temperature instantly. I was aiming for a water temperature of 115 degrees fahrenheit. That’s the temperature the experts say is ideal for this scenario to activate the yeast. This water came out of the tap.
Lo and behold, with the water temperature in the sweet spot, my bread rose beautifully and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Actually, I did a fist pump and a victory dance around the kitchen island. While there is no evidence of my dancing skills, I did preserve the moment with this iPhone shot of my bread rising.
See those seeds and quinoa? Happiness people. Taste bud happiness.
Since that day, I’ve even branched out and made other yeast breads, like hamburger buns. There’s no stopping me now! *insert evil laugh here*
Bottom line and with a large amount of melodrama, all was right in my world again. It’s safe to say that I use the thermometer more than my husband. Although, I try to not let him know how darn vital that doodad has become in the bread-making process. The victory would go to his head.
So, for extreme culinary happiness people, learn from my mistakes. Measure your water temperature. Trust me.