Fermentation was the basis of our study and I was intrigued about how a simple mixture of flour and water could become a living thing. The yeast begins modestly, but then transforms the dough in my hands into a complex three dimensional structure. It begins from virtually nothing – two ingredients brought together attracting wild microorganisms from the rich invisible ecosystem that surrounds it.
And then it breathes into the dough becoming delicious, complex sustenance. Soft street pretzels, oozing pizza, flaky danishes, and drizzled hot cross buns all come together from the simple anaerobic process of this primitive form.
Chocolate was equally fascinating. Melted chocolate appeared to be simply its liquid state brought about by heat, but the specific temperature and whether or not microscopic crystals had formed affected its ability to take shape and be molded into lollipops and candies. Without these crystals, chocolate wouldn’t have the ability to become smooth ganache or coat the outside of a truffle with sparkling sheen.
There was much at work that was beyond what I could see. Invisible forces were giving rise to bounties of bread and delicate sweetness.