Monday, January 11, 2016

Making Exceptional Yeast Cakes, Weeks 4 and 5

Week 4

至三七日,出之,盛著甕中,塗頭。
After another seven days, bring them out, pack them into a weng, and seal the head [with clay].
Still not having a weng, I settled for some air-tight glass jars.  I think that, because I was simulating the hut with a plate and some boxes, this stage was pretty much a no-op compared to stacking the cakes on the plate like we did last week.



The cakes smell about the same as they did the week before: sweet and caramely, with some odd alcoholic notes.  They leave behind a pretty large amount of a dark brown liquid.  I didn't taste it.

Week 5

。至四七日,穿孔,繩貫,日中曝,欲得使乾,然後內之。
After another seven days, bore a small hole in each cake, thread a rope through them, air the whole string in the sun, really make sure it’s dry, and then place the cakes inside.
The cakes are still really damp, about the same as last week, and have the same smell.  I think that they came out of the "hut" way too damp, but I'll have to roll with it.  Next time, maybe I'll use a cardboard box with saran wrap on it or something.

I used a small copper needle that I hastily made out of some wire to thread some clean string through the cakes:
One lesson for when I do get a proper weng is that the opening needs to be somewhat larger than my hands!  It was really hard to get the cakes out.
Now I have a beautiful yeast cake necklace.

The cakes are firm but still a little fragile.  I'm nervous about lifting up the string off the table top for now since they're still very damp and they break apart under pressure.  Some of them are firmer than others - the ones at the bottom of the jars seemed to be particularly firm.

I'll let this dry on the table for a few hours and then move it somewhere less in the way, with some air flow.

But!  Now we're ready to start fermenting.  And not a moment too soon, since Birka is coming up  in three weeks and I want to bring something to enter, plus I've committed to making three things for the arts and sciences competition at King's and Queen's A&S the week after.

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