Yeast – Jamie. Jamie – Yeast.

Somehow I refuse to believe that yeast and I are not meant for each other. I always come back and try again. There’s a good relationship in there somewhere, we just haven’t found it yet. At least we respect each other, or at least I respect The Yeast. A lot. I believe yeast is a very powerful and versatile being and that once we get to know each other better we will be able to achieve a lot of culinary goals together.

For now though, there’s a lot of struggle and misunderstandings. Most of the times we make a compromise, like yesterday when I wanted to make bialys which, for those who just like me, have never heard of those things before, are kind of like bagels, only they don’t get boiled first and they don’t have a hole but are rather punched down in the middle, leaving a depression which is then sprinkled with a mixture of finely chopped onions and poppy seeds. They seem to be a pretty New Yorkish thing and since I consider myself pretty up to date with all things edible, I was a bit confused wondering why I had never heard of bialys before.

So, naturally, once I learned that bialys exist, I had to make some myself. It’s a simple yeast dough, which usually means that I spend all evening in the kitchen either tearing my hair out in despair or leaving dough traces all around. I swear there were little bits of yeast dough everywhere. I don’t know how this always happens, it just does, as my husband never tires of pointing out.

In my own defense I would like to add that I only had two recipes and they both were Americans one, meaning that I had to deal with converting all the measurements, which added to the hair-tearing-out part of this specific cooking experience.

On the plus side I’d like to say that the dough rose perfectly. I used a trick I had read somewhere and put it in the oven with the lights on. Apparently that’s a damn good place for yeast dough to rise and practically climb out of its bowl.

The next struggle came when I had to punch in that depression which is practically what makes a bialy a bialy. Yeast dough has its own will when it comes to shapes and stuff, so convincing it to please, PLEASE stay flat in the middle is not as easy as it sounds. Then came the onion mixture, then came the oven. I had the bialys in the oven for about 30 minutes until they were brown and crispy on top and then set them on the counter to cool down. Two were eaten right away and considered tasty, the rest was packed in freezer bags and then put in the freezer.

In the end, I felt like this was one more step towards a wonderful and enriching relationship. We’re not there yet, though. But I’m confident that one day we have learned so much from each other that baking with yeast will just be easy-breezy for me. That day will come. I am sure.