I, TFC, have a confession to make: I have always been afraid of yeast. I baked with yeast only once, and that was at a baking class I attended last year. At home? Never. It is truly incomprehensible, as I have never had a bad experience with yeast. It’s impossible to be traumatised if you’ve never been negatively affected. And yet I always shied away from a recipe if it involved yeast, no matter how badly I wanted to try it, e.g. pizza, cinnamon rolls, bread. Why? Well, I never believed my dough would rise. I figured I would just be one of those terribly unlucky people whose dough wouldn’t rise, which would devastate me, and just the thought of it devastated me, so I made sure to steer clear. It’s unfounded, and not to mention absolutely silly, but for the six years or so since I took an interest in baking, that was my wholehearted belief.
And then, I found a recipe that made me go “hmmmmm”, followed by “this requires yeast, but hmmmmm”. I could not get it out of my head. I thought about making it like it was my job. But what about the yeast? I would sigh and close the page, but I found myself going back to it every so often and dreaming about the day when I would finally be brave.
Yesterday, for no rhyme or reason, I decided that the time has come. Today, exactly one month after I discovered the recipe, I tried it. You would not believe how many prayers I said or how much my hands were literally shaking – you would think I was going wingsuit flying or something! Thanks to my mother’s delightful classic Kenwood mixer, the dough came together beautifully, and after two hours of rest, it rose. And oh, how it rose! Behold, the beauties that are responsible for dispelling my stupid fear of yeast…forever.
Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook via TheKitchn. But I warmed up the milk like someone said to, otherwise the yeast will not dissolve! (Honestly, if that had happened I would have cried.)
Other changes I made:
– I used brown sugar for the dough (of course I did)
– I used 5/6 cup chopped dark chocolate + 1/6 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips…only because I was 1/6 cup shy of de chocolat noir
– I skipped orange zest altogether – not the biggest fan of the chocolate-orange combo
– For the topping I chose to use coarse sugar
They are not perfectly pretzel-shaped, but that’s a-ok by me as long as they’re tender and delicious, which they are – yay!
Yeast, you’re magic and I love you.