We were at our friends Kathy and Dave for a New Year’s Eve party, as you do. I did a sourdough intro course for Kathy a few months back – present for a Special Birthday. She’s someone who likes clear instructions so I gave her some along with a bag of preserved fruit to make a Christmas brioche.
New Year’s Eve she was lamenting the fact that, while the taste was good, the brioche had turned out a bit brick-like.
Why is there always someone at parties who can’t shut the fuck up and knows something about everything? Well he was in attendance and he has big ears too. “Did you keep the salt and the yeast separate?” he asks. (Apart from anything else he doesn’t know we are talking about natural leavening.) “Well, that explains it. Oh! and you soaked the fruit in brandy? No wonder it didn’t rise.”
Sometimes you know that rolling your eyes is the only response worth making to a big ego and a little scientific knowledge. But it got me thinking about the contrast between scientific “fact” (certain substances inhibit yeast development) and the baker’s skill and knowledge in juggling with conflicting elements to produce the desired result. Just as well we didn’t mention the honey …