Saturday Night Food Lab

The last month or so this is how I've spent my Saturdays

AM: Go the YMCA
Noon or 3pm: Watch Michigan football, eat lunch
3-5pm: watch Food Network, specifically Throwdown with Bobby Flay, get dinner ideas
6pm: Go to Meijer, buy what I need to make my crazy Food Network recipe
7pm-12am: Make some crazy meal

So I have decided to call it Saturday Night Food Lab, since Lauren and I generally try to make something we've never made before. This coming Saturday should be really interesting, because boneless skinless chicken is on sale at Meijer this week ($1.99/lb!!). My preliminary guess is something like chicken cordon bleu or some other chicken dish that requires flattening chicken with a meat hammer.

But before that happens I need to share the disaster of this past Saturday night. Saturday afternoon Lauren and I watched Throwdown with Bobby Flay. In this episode he had a sticky bun battle with Joanne Chang of Boston. We thought that might be a nice thing to have either as a late night snack or for nice, easy breakfast. The sticky buns have to rise and proof for a total of about 5-7 hours, so it was best to get started early.

The recipe is not hard. Warm milk, flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and yeast. Oh how I hate yeast. So we make these sticky buns about 7pm Saturday night and the first step is to add yeast and sugar to warm milk, then let it sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. "Foamy" isn't exactly a scientific measurement. So we stare at it, see some bubbles around the edge and a think skin on top and wonder if that is considered "foamy". We let it sit for a few more minutes and doesn't get any foamier so we decide that is probably what they mean. After all its warm milk, sugar and yeast, what is there to screw up?

We do all the other steps, add the flour and let the dough hook go to work. We set it aside and check back in hour later to see if our dough ball has doubled. Maybe? I doubt it, but I don't have a set of those calipers doctors use to pinch your body fat during a physical, so I can't really be sure. When it comes to dough, I kind of have an out of sight, out of mind attitude. Using my eyeball to determine whether or not a dough ball has increased in size just doesn't work for me.

So we proceed with the 4 hour refrigerated proofing, assemble the "goo" and pastry, cut the sticky buns and let them rise in a finished state for another hour. At this point its after midnight and I can see the writing on the wall. Even if they're any bigger than they were an hour ago, they're still not big enough. We bake them anyways and about 1:15am we sit down to a nice treat of unleavened sticky buns. Basically brown sugar syrup covered hockey pucks.

Sunday we go through all of this again, using a different packet of yeast. This time the milk/yeast/sugar mixture seemed thicker, had slight yeast bubbles on top and had been thoroughly brought to temperature and remained at the recommended temperature for activating the yeast for a full 20 minutes or so. The dough ball never rose and is still sitting its bowl this morning.

This is the third time we've struck out making some kind of yeast dependent breakfast pastry. I hate yeast. It freaks me out every time I make beer because I have to use yeast and the instructions always say that the yeast will begin fermenting within 12-15 hours but if nothing has happened within 48 hours you have a problem. However I've never once had the yeast become active within the 12-15 hour early period. It almost always takes 36-48 hours, which basically become an awful 1-2 days of me wondering if I was careless and just wasted $40 worth of beer ingredients. But even so, I've not yet had a batch of beer go bad on me because of problem with yeast, and beer takes about 6 weeks and 18 hours longer than sticky buns.

I just don't get yeast, and that bothers me even more.


Rach said...

I've only attempted a bread recipe that involved yeast a few times...and each time wished that I would have bought the pilsbury kind from a tube. Kudos for giving it a go. Too many variables...did Bobby's recipe specify the type of yeast? or the kind of milk? or if it was important to have the egg yolks at room temp? Or what specific order to mix the ingredients? I hate yeast. Those food network punks always make it look easy. On a side note, this lady makes it look easy too and I want to punch her in the face.

baorao said...

we tried a few different combinations last night and it definitely isn't the yeast. water worked. milk did not. so something is wrong in the recipe. the milk totally overwhelms the yeast, so we're going to try again tonight by adding the yeast and sugar in water. Then we'll proof it, add the flour and add the milk later I guess.