Four attempts so far and the best I can produce is sweet library paste. I cut the sugar down by a third, by half, by two thirds…but still the dough won’t rise one iota. Frustrating as this is, it’s an object lesson in the lethality of sugar, at least where microbial life is concerned.
We’re accustomed to thinking of sugar as food for microbes, but in truth they can only take it in very small doses. I remember getting into a debate with the wife of a friend over this subject. “If sugar is so deadly to microbes,” she argued, “then why do I see mold growing on old jam?”
“You haven’t seen mold growing in jam,” I countered, “you’ve seen it growing on jam.” Which is to say, in the little pools of condensation on the surface of the jam where the sugar concentration is well below what it is underneath.
I was pretty smug that evening. Not so much today. However I’m still impressed that just a couple of ounces of sugar can kill off pretty much every living thing in a dough that weighs over a pound. It’s an impressive display. Sigh.