fungal fear: the tale of two yeast breads

IMG_2712Miss Fats apologizes for that title: she knows how it sounds.  But seriously: she’s got a fear of baking with yeast.  This is not some deep-seeded, repressed childhood problem: it’s completely irrational.  Yeast baking tends to take hours and hours of waiting and work, and can often go terribly wrong.  There’s nothing worse than spending all that time to create a disappointing product.  So it’s essentially been years since Miss Fats has tried baking with yeast, but about a week ago, she had the urge for a new project and one of those little packets ended up in her grocery basket.

She is always pinning recipes for cinnamon rolls and various breads that look insanely delicious, but Miss Fats has never bitten the bullet and just freakin’ tried to make them.  However, she stumbled upon this simple olive oil-based morning bun that seemed manageable: not to mention she had all the ingredients.

IMG_2718Recipe in hand, Miss Fats set aside a whole day to tackle these buns.  She began by trying to wake the yeast up with a little warm water and sugar: did not go well.  She followed the instructions: letting them sit in their warm little bath but she was not convinced they were alive.  Obviously Miss Fats obsessively googled what properly proofed yeast looked like while all this was going on: it did NOT look the same.  However she decided to press on with her pathetic looking bowl of spit-foam and just make the dough.  Naturally, her brain turned off and she accidentally ended up using a 1/3 cup measuring cup instead of the 1/2 cup she assumed she’d grabbed.  This created some problems as she was integrating the flour into the dough, which was looking real sticky… Unfortunately she didn’t realize her mistake until more than halfway through the process.  She half-heartedly added more flour and threw the dough in a bowl to rise, totally convinced it was going to be a brick.

However Miss Fats could not deal with a total bread failure.  So she decided to give it another try. She realized the morning bun recipe was in fact a focaccia bread base, so worst-comes-to-worst: she’d have buns and a loaf of bread.  Blaming her yeast (not her brain), she went out and purchased a new packet.  Again, the proofed yeast didn’t come out as planned and that bowl of rising dough was looking real flat.  Low point.  Using the correct measuring instrument, she followed the recipe again and hesitantly threw the dough into a bowl, placing it in the warmest part of her apartment.  Luckily this batch began to rise along with Miss Fats’ spirits.  (She just pretended first batch dough didn’t exist.)

IMG_2743Miss Fats decided to alter the original recipe with some of the delightful preserves currently taking up space in her fridge.  She opted to fill these buns with butter, lemon curd and cherry preserves.  After rolling out her dough (with some effort: that shit is sticky), she spread melted butter all over it (because why not).  Next came the lemon curd and cherry, each spread over half of the rolled-out dough.  Doing her best to not make a mess, Miss Fats rolled up this gooey, jam-y mess and pinched the ends real tight.  She then cut that log up into twelve rolls, placing them into a 8×8 pan to rise again.  As you can see, this made a huge mess: oops.  Too much jam. Oh well.

IMG_2751She let the rolls sit out to rise again (so much waiting!), and finally checked on that forgotten bowl of rising dough.  To her surprise (literally 3 hours later), it had actually doubled in size.  Having no real idea what to do, she stretched the dough out onto an oiled baking sheet and pressed little holes with her fingertips to create focaccia’s dimpled look.

IMG_2723more waiting.

About an hour later, Miss Fats finally stuck the buns in the oven, fairly sure that they’d bubble over with jam and create a huge sticky mess of burnt sugar at the bottom of her oven.  These are the risks you take: she likes to live dangerously.

IMG_2774But they didn’t!  Somehow they turned out puffed, golden brown and oozing with fruity delight.  Clearly they looked at little naked, so Miss Fats decided to throw together a cream cheese glaze.  In a little bowl, she mixed about 4 oz of softened cream cheese, milk, lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth.  Then obviously she slathered those hot buns in this tangy, sweet sauce.

IMG_2777Yep. Take it in.

IMG_2791While they were still warm, Miss Fats dug into one of those sticky sweet buns which were surprisingly tender and chewy on the inside and crispy on the top.  The cherry preserves weren’t too sweet and went well with the cream cheese topping: think reconstructed danish.  She will say that these could have used more butter.  The subtle olive oil flavor of the dough was nice, but the excess of butter fat might always win on the baked good front.  Overall Miss Fats was incredibly pleased: she could not believe these little dudes actually came to life.

IMG_2761And back to the bread.  Feeling much more positive, Miss Fats finished off the focaccia loaf with a hearty dusting of kosher salt, some z’taar, and threw it in the oven to bake.  She was riding that hot bun high pretty hard, so even if this bread turned out as hard as a rock, she would have been elated with herself.

IMG_2764However it didn’t!  Instead Miss Fats got a fluffy, crunchy loaf of focacia bread!

Now how the hell to eat all this bready goodness? Called for a cheese plate.  Luckily Miss Fats’ a friend happy to oblige.  And Miss Fats and the breads lived happily ever after… then end.

Now Miss Fats probably won’t go baking bread every week, or even attempt a sticky bun for months, but she’s officially demystified the scary world of living yeast friends.  And bread week was awesome (she nom’d on that loaf for days), and just may have spurred a new special hobby to break out on those days when Miss Fats is stuck inside her lame apartment writing for hours on end.  Everyone deserves a fungus break after all.

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