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There are thousands of cooking blogs -- each week, we bring you highlights from the best. This week, we've got yeast on our mind, in one form (Your Best Dinner Rolls: 48 recipes strong and counting!) or another (see Merrill's yeast-free baking crusade).
Susan Tenney, a nurse practitioner by trade, began baking bread just four years ago after signing up for a short artisan bread class. She was hooked, creating the blog Wild Yeast to document her observations, successes, and failures, and becoming an important online source for novice and experienced bread bakers alike.
Why bread? Bread is "perhaps the most universal of foods, a thing virtually synonymous with food itself," writes Tenney. "Infinitely versatile and varied, everyone likes it, every cuisine includes it, and no meal is complete without it." But it's just as much about the act of baking, she says, "a process that engages and satisfies every single one of my senses." And much like the rest of her life, "I try to control every variable I can think of, and it's still entirely possible that something I didn't think of, or can't completely control, will crop up to produce a completely unexpected result -- for better or worse. It keeps things interesting, and me on my toes, and a little humble."
Tenney's recipes truly run the gamut, from Tangy English Muffins and Apple-Walnut Sourdough to High-Extraction Miche, Tortas de Aceite, and Grape Schiacciata (similar to focaccia). The detailed instructions and precise, scientific measurements might seem intimidating at first, but the fact that Tenney, a relatively amateur baker, is behind it all is reassuring and inspiring.
Between the links in Wild Yeast's blogroll to online Baking Communities and other helpful sites, and a great community-oriented feature called YeastSpotting (a weekly showcase of yeasted baked goods from around the web), it's a 2.0 bread-baking lovefest. Visit Wild Yeast, immerse yourself in the bread culture, and get that starter started.