Homemade Wild Yeast

1/25/17

 

I made twenty loaves of bread last week like a completely *normal* human being and wanted to share with you about my yeast process. Wild Yeast is what we called it at the bakery and the name has stuck. It was incredible to really challenge myself in this way. Some of the days, the girls played with Max, but others ones they continuously explored in flour and now I know how to get through any sort of focus needed activity out in the world. I'll bring a pound of flour and two individual sized baking sheets. Perfect. 

I made loaves with the mixer, loaves completely mixed by hand, elderberry loaves, reishi mushroom, charcoaled bread, morel-chamomile, rosemary, raw honey, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salted cardomom and a basic baguette to name a few. The only way I have ever known to make bread was with homemade yeast and please don't judge me, but I never even knew dry active yeast existed until about a year or two ago. I learned most everything I know from when I worked early mornings in a bakery for quite sometime, while I grew Lue in my belly and it was one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs I've had. (And I've had a lot of jobs) The whole cafe's baked goods, breads for sandwiches, and savory and sweet delights fell on my shoulders each morning, so I couldn't screw anything up. 

 Homeade Wild Yeast is what was used to make bread before 1876, before active dry yeast came out. It's also what inspires me with a foragers lens, because anyone could make an insanely amazing bread from very little and the yeast that grows is better than any dry active bread yeast I have ever used. 

The ratio for recipes is generally a 2:1 ratio in terms of Wild Yeast to Dry Active Yeast, but depends on the consistency of the bread yeast. You'll get to know yours very soon with use. 

Homemade Wild Yeast 
2 cups filtered water 
2 cups flour 
Jar 
Cheesecloth 
String or Rubber band 


In a jar or container, combine both water and flour and mix gently. Cover with cheesecloth and string and store in a dark-ish cabinet for two days. There will be a bubbling that starts to form. Care for it every other day, adding the same ratios and following the same gentle mix so the flour is combined. The process obviously takes a little more intention and patience than ripping open a packet of yeast, but adds so much more to a loaf of homemade bread both in terms of taste and care. I love this process. For me, it has been like caring for something.. checking in on it and watching its development. The biggest reward is a warm loaf of homemade bread and it is a conpletely approachable recipe. Bread making is honestly therapeutic. Besides the flour mess! I am not even joking, right now I have such a big mess in the kitchen from tonight's two loaves, but it's just a part of the trade off to getting to cook and bake with the girls close by. I love that and wouldn't trade it for the world, mess and all. 

Each time you pull from it, or after you gauge how often you'd like to make homemade bread, you can add the ratio to stay on top of the supply. It lasts really well and such a beautiful process to see unfold. 

Things I've notated, my breads rise so much better when the yeast is at least three days processed. When I was cranking out many different loaves, I combined the ratios and would want to pull from it the next day to use but didn't give it nearly enough time to process even though there was ample yeast from precious processing. So my bread turned out in taste but not in rise/height. Just a thought! 

I'd love to hear if you have any questions, or recommendations on loaves you'd like to see me try. 

 

 

 
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