I have noticed a popular trend lately: more and more people are saying “No!” to breads made with yeast. Modern yeast was developed during World War II, so the “tradition” of using the modern yeast is really not that old. Do not confuse the tradition of using different kinds of fermentation in baked goods to using dry yeast, which usually comes pre-packaged. So why did many people around the world switch to dry yeast for all of their baking needs? The answer to that is easy – convenience; and after reading this article, you will see why.
In this article, you will find five different recipes for creating a leaven for sourdough breads without yeast. These are recipes for leaven only, and before baking, leaven should be turned into dough. The recipe of a dough for baking bread is a very individual thing. To leaven, I usually add flour (does not have to be the flour used to create leaven), sugar, salt, butter and water and/or milk until I achieve the necessary consistency and taste. Before baking the bread, let it rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours. I’ve personally tried several of these recipes, and I can confirm that if you are willing to put in the time, the taste of such breads made without yeast is simply delicious.
Recipe #1 – Rye Leaven
Step 1 – Day 1: Mix 100 g. of whole grain rye flour with water to the consistence of thick sour cream, cover with cloth and put in a warm place without drafts (usually for 8-10 hours). I prefer to leave overnight.
Step 2 – Day 2: I usually do this step in the morning. Check the mixture; sourdough bubbles should appear. If there are few of them, do not worry. Now you need to “feed” the mixture. Again, add 100 g. of flour and enough water to the mixture, until you have the consistency of thick sour cream. Once again, leave it in a warm place. It is suggested to leave overnight, but if you do this step in the morning, you can do step 3 in the evening (again 8-10 hours).
Step 3 – Repeat step 2. After the mixture stood for 8-10 hours, it is ready for use. It is good to begin making the final dough early in the morning, so it will have enough time to rise.
Recipe #2 – Raisin Leaven
Step 1 – Day 1: Knead a handful of raisins and mix with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of rye flour, add 1 tsp of sugar or honey. Place the mixture in a jar, cover with a cloth and put in warm place.
Step 2 – Day 2: Strain the mixture, add 4 tbsp of flour and warm water until the mixture is thickened to the consistency of sour cream, again put in a warm place.
Step 3 – Day 3: The leaven is ready. Separate the mixture into two halves: to one half add 4 tbsp of flour and water (until mixture is of sour cream consistency); use the second half for making dough and baking bread.
Recipe #3 – Grain Leaven
Step 1 – Day 1: Soak 1 cup of grain (wheat for wheat bread or rye for “black” bread) for germination, wrap the dish in a towel and put in a warm place.
Step 2: This step is to be done as soon as the grain has sprouted. Grind the sprouted grain, mix with 2 tbsp of rye flour and with 1 tsp of sugar or honey. Put the mixture in a warm place overnight.
Step 3: The mixture can now be divided. One half mix with flour and water and place in the refrigerator. The other half can be used for the preparation of sourdough.
Recipe #4 – Kefir Leaven
Take yogurt or old kefir (preferably homemade), age it several (2-3) days until bubbling and water separation, and odor, which is consistent with sour kefir or yogurt.
Add rye flour until the consistency of liquid sour cream. Stir well and cover with a gauze and leave for a day. The leaven will begin to actively sour, it may even sour excessively.
After a day, add rye flour to the consistency of the dough for pancakes, stir thoroughly. Again, cover and do not touch until the mixture matures.
It takes several hours, but the leaven will begin to actively bubble and rise. If the container is small, it can “climb out”. During this active state, it is to be added to the dough.
Recipe #5 – Hop Leaven
Step 1 – Day 1: In the evening, fill the thermos with 1 tbsp of dry hop cones and 1 cup boiling water. Close the thermos and leave until morning.
Step 2 – Day 2: Strain the infusion into a 2-liter jar, add 1 tbsp of sugar or honey, stir well, add the rye flour to the consistency of thick cream. Put in a warm place and cover the jar with a cloth.
Step 3 – Day 3: The leaven will become liquid and foamy, the scent may be unpleasant. Add flour until the consistency of thick sour cream, cover and put in a warm place.
Step 4 – Day 4: Stir the mixture, then add warm water (1/2 or 1/3 of the leaven volume), stir and add flour until the consistency of thick sour cream.
Step 5 – Day 5: Repeat step 4.
Step 6 – Day 6: Use part of the leaven for the preparation of sourdough. To the rest of the leaven add flour and water until thick sour cream consistency and place in the refrigerator.
As you can see from the recipes above, it does take quite a bit of effort before the much desired result can be achieved. The good news – a skillful baker has to prepare leaven only once, for leaven can be constantly separated: part is used in the preparation of the sourdough and part is increased in volume by adding flour and water and is left in the fridge until next time. Have fun with it! And one last advice – It is important to start baking homemade bread in a good mood!