Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baking with Natural Yeast

Here's a loaf of plain whole wheat with my pear plum vanilla jam.     De-lish.
Warning.  This is a brag post.  I made all of this bread.

I. Made. It. 

Which is kind of a Christmas Miracle.  In August and September, but whatever.   Just ask Eric.   He keeps grinning and patting me on the head like a toddler who just tied her shoes for the first time.   

It took us a couple of months to balance out the yeast start we got from Melissa Richardson and Caleb Warnock from their new book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast.   As soon as I got it in July, I followed the directions to activate it.   We totally took advantage of the natural moldiness yeastiness of Indiana plus the freak summer weather - hot as an oven.   I spent days proofing jars and ice cream buckets full of yeasty stuff outside.   I learned a lot and eventually we got two great starts going and we're figuring out how to make good bread with it.

This is not your store-bought yeast.

I am not a bread maker normally.   I make bread once a year, at Christmas.  The rest of the time, I leave the bread baking to Eric.  And Eric is really good with bread.  

But there's something about this natural yeast that makes me want to play.    I feel like an alchemist mixing up some magic.  Here's a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread I made.  K2 likes it toasted and then dipped in melted honey butter.    Oh. My. Gosh.

The thing that I like about this yeast is that the dough tastes good.   None of that weird aftertaste.   And none of the gas you get if you eat a wad of dough made with store yeast.   This is good stuff.

One of our starts got really sour and I made this loaf of white sourdough bread. It was wonderful with lasagna.

I've learned a few things as we've worked with this dough.    For us, it takes a loooong proof [first rise] and a long rise again after you shape the loaves.    It takes all day or overnight to proof it and give it a first rise.    Then you shape the loaves and let it rise again.   It takes us another 3-4 hours to get it to double in size.

It's totally worth the wait.

This means that I have to plan ahead a bit, and that I absolutely positively cannot rush.   Which is really good for me because normally I rush, rush, rush all the time.  It's nice to have something that needs me to wait, wait, wait.    Every time we've waited, we've gotten really great bread.  

Here's pic of some cinnamon rolls just starting the second rise.   They were delicious.   

Want your own start?    Get a copy of the book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast and contact the authors.  They'll send you a start for free and you can start making your own magic.   

Here's a link to the hardbound copy: 

and here's a link to the Kindle version: 

If you like to make bread, or if you want to learn how, or if you're trying to put a little less synthetic and a little more natural in your life, you'll love it. 


  1. I really want to try this...just have to get my butt in gear and get on it. Starting something always takes forever for me. But I will do it!

  2. I can almost smell it!!!! Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!!

  3. This just got me off my butt and inspired to do something bready and yeasty! These look utterly fabulous! Mmm.... What kind of flour are you using here?

    1. I used both plain white flour from Sam's and some whole wheat that we grind ourselves. The yeast works well with both.

  4. Robin I just found your review of our cookbook and I am so happy that you have been able to do so much with the yeast! Keep up the great work!

  5. Robin I would also love to use some of your posts as guest posts on my blog. If that is ok, email me at

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