Ok, I admit it. I’m scared of yeast.
It’s alive. It needs looking after. It’s possible to kill it.
Up until 2 weeks ago I hadn’t ever baked a loaf of bread from scratch and actually up until a few years ago I had a fairly strong dislike of bread.
I mean, I’m Chinese and so growing up there was a distinct lack of bread, save for soggy homemade sandwiches (with crust, oh the horror!) for school lunch and the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip which was served at the Italian restaurant we went to every now and again.
These early experiences, especially the dread of being forced to eat sandwiches at school (slightly squashed and with huge blobs of butter), left me very disdainful of bread (and indeed butter…). In fact I even remember carefully opening my sandwiches, lifting out the ham and cheese filling, painstakingly scraping off every smear of butter and then sneaking the bread into the bin without the dinner lady noticing (and woe betide you if she did notice as you’d quickly find yourself being made to eat whatever you’d just thrown away, straight from the bin).
But then about 3 years ago everything changed. A German friend of mine invited me to her house in Munich for Oktoberfest. Every morning a selection of local breads of every shape, colour and flavour appeared on the kitchen table. The first morning I ate 10 rolls piled with sliced meats and cheeses. And from that point on for the rest of the time we were there, I ate more bread than I had ever eaten before or since.
Upon returning home I finally understood why my German friend was constantly complaining about the bread in the UK. Supermarket bread is shockingly bland and proper artisan bakeries are few and far between.
Three years have passed since my eye-opening trip to Munich, and I have returned to my former ways of eating little to no bread (it’s probably better for the waistline that way). But then it dawned on me that if I could just get over my dislike of yeast then a whole new world of baking would be open to me.
So, with National Baking Week starting today I hereby end my boycott of all things which require proving and thus will I begin my adventure with yeast.