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"They baked the dough that they took out of Egypt into unleavened cakes for the dough could not be leavened."
- RISE AND SHINE
- One pound of yeast contains approximately 3,200 billion yeast cells.
- RISE TO THE OCCASION
- The trick to light, fluffy baked goods is using the right leavening agent. And the key to baking matzah is avoiding leavening agents altogether. That's why matzah is called unleavened bread. So, what is a leavening agent anyway? Any substance that causes dough to rise is called a leavening agent. Recipes call for a variety of leaveners, including water, egg whites, baking soda, and baking powder. These cause something in the dough-whether it's steam, air pockets, or gas-to expand.
- Yeast is the most common leavener in bread. Made of living plant cells called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeast can be found in the air, on the surfaces of wheat grain, or packaged in stores. The tiny organisms eat dough, producing carbon dioxide gas and alcohol as waste products. As the yeast cells dine, the carbon dioxide they produce takes up space in dough, causing bread to rise. Carbon dioxide gas expands even more when heated, so when dough is baked, more rising occurs as the gas bubbles swell. The alcohol burns off in the oven, and the heat kills the yeast organisms.
- In some pastries, steam is the leavening agent. When water in these batters is heated, the steam produced takes up more space than when the water was liquid. Recipes that call for baking powder or baking soda work like yeast recipes. When the sodium bicarbonate in the baking powder or soda combines with an acidic ingredient, carbon dioxide is released and helps the rising just like yeast does.
- INFLATED EGOS
- Matzah and hametz are made from the exact same ingredients--flour and water. The only difference between the two is that matzah is carefully watched to make sure it doesn't rise, while hametz is allowed to rise naturally. If we think of yeast as the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, that encourages us to sin, we see that it does so by inflating our egos and making us appear greater than we really are. If we leave it unchecked, the yetzer hara will puff us up until we've become self-centered. Matzah, however, doesn't have time to rise. It symbolizes the willingness to commit ourselves to God, to others, and to mitzvot.