Honey Hefeweizen Boule Loaf. Simple, easy and delicious. Perfect recipe for first time bakers!
Last year, with a camera crew in my face, I interviewed the head brewer at my favorite Los Angeles brewery. “All I am is a yeast wrangler. I don’t work for the brewery, I work for the yeast.” He laughed until I asked him about the times when the yeast rears its stubborn head and won’t do what it’s told. He gritted his teeth and scratched the back of his large mass of curly hair as his laughed turned painful, “How about we don’t talk about those batches?”
Fair enough. Even without experiences with failed brewers yeast, I’ve felt the soul crushing defeat of bakers yeast that has a mind of its own. There are a few things you can do to show that yeast who’s boss. Make sure the yeast isn’t expired (expired yeast is actually dead, it won’t work), make sure the temperature is exactly where you need it (it’s different for rapid rise and regular yeast, it’ll say on the package what temp is best), and let it rise in a warm room.
Even with all these safeguards, sometimes yeast just wants to be an asshole and refuses to rise, it still happens to me every once in a while. It’s rare for me to have a failed loaf, and even with the occasional baking breakdown, it’s still worth it, it’s still an obsession I indulge in on a weekly basis. It’s still incredibly gratifying.
Other than scrapping it all and starting over, there is one trick I’ve learned to revive a dead loaf. Place about a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and heat to the correct temperature. Add a package of yeast and wait for it to get foamy (this is called proofing and should happen in a few minutes), stir into a paste. Knead the yeast paste into the dough and hope for the best. If that doesn’t work, throw it in the trash, cuss like a sailor, and go get pizza. You’ve earned it.