After experiencing one too many yeasty-smelling, hard-as-a-brick loaves of bread, I swore off all recipes containing yeast. The desire to master this fickle ingredient was always there, but I remained too chicken to try again...until the other day. By following the pizza crust recipe inVegan With a Vengeance, I've wisened up, and I'm ready to share my new-found knowledge of yeast with my fellow vegan bakers.
How I finally tamed the yeast beast and made a successful pizza crust:
I proofed the yeast by mixing it with water and sugar. After ten minutes, it wasn't crazy foamy, but there was definite life, so I decided to proceed.
I used tap water. Seriously. In the past, I'd always used filtered water, the same stuff we drink, but it was impossible to get the temperature right. Yeast likes warm water, and the easiest way to get that is straight from the kitchen sink. [Nasty chemicals will probably dissipate in the oven, right?]
I gave in and used white flour. White flour hasn't made an appearance in my kitchen for a couple years now, but something inside me said that using it would make all the difference. That tiny voice was right. More gluten means more stretchiness. Soft yummy stretchy dough, all thanks to white flour. [To be totally fair to whole wheat, I used 2/3 all purpose, 1/3 ww pastry.]
I turned the oven on 200 degrees F and set the bowl of dough on top, where it's nice and warm. We keep our house pretty cool, so I knew that was probably the only place it would rise.
At the risk of sounding like a total moron, I kneaded the dough. I finally realized some time last year that this was an essential step to bread making. Yes, laugh all you will, I used to think it was something unnecessary cookbook authors threw in for posterity. Stupid, stupid. Not only is this step crucial to activate the gluten in the flour, it's also pretty fun, too. I kneaded the pizza dough for a full ten minutes, as directed.
As promised, the dough was stretchy and puffed up nicely during baking. For the final results, you will have to wait until tomorrow, when I will reveal the finished pizza and its very special topping...