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Trying to Get a Rise Out of You

Did you ever stop to consider yeast?


A quick thought, at least?


Let us raise a glass to toast these little microorganisms. Without whom we would have neither toast, nor anything celebratory with which to fill that glass.


Like wee tiny financial-planners, they increase our dough. Like single-celled nannies, they help raise our buns in the oven. Like a microscopic, luxury roadside-service, they lift your Rolls.


Are these metaphors too half-baked for you? Is my language too flour-y? Would you prefer I leavened you a-loaf?


Don't be so crusty and be thankful for yeast. They make our breads and brews better.


Of course, they give up their lives to do so. But there's so many. Many many many. Really LOTS of them out there. We're never running out of yeast. And they depart this realm doing what they love—converting sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide. We should all be so lucky.


Plus they leave behind bread that is spongier, more voluminous, lighter, almost cloud-like. That the products of our own life's labors should bring such immediate joy and sustenance to others.


No one's really certain where and when this partnership began. But we can trace leavened baking back a very long time. One idea is that wet, flatbread dough was left outside on a warm day, and naturally occurring strains of environmental yeast just kind of invited themselves over and helped themselves. They puffed up the heretofore unpuffed bread, adding their flavor and texture along the way—and we liked what we discovered. Done. Easy as sliced bread. (Well, technically that came much, much later down the line.)


Next time you visit a bakery, before you feast maybe consider the yeast for a second at least.



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