Grocery shelves across the country have been wiped clean of yeast and flour as Americans stuck at home take to baking their own bread during lockdowns. But using this prepper hack, you won’t ever need yeast to bake bread again, so shortages won’t matter!
Tess Pennington, the owner of Ready Nutrition and author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster wrote: Take the guesswork out of bread making with this old school trick. Years ago, Pennington wrote an article on 3 ways to make your own yeast but expressed that now is the time to expand on that in order to help readers see how easy it is to get back to the basics.
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Making your own bread starter is a great way of simplifying the bread-making process and there are a few advantages to this. By making a starter, you significantly increase your chances of making perfect bread. That’s because when a starter is established it already has the yeasts activated and the fermentation process naturally occurring. You can read more about the process here. As a result, once the starter gets going, you’ll never need yeast for bread again because the starter will be collecting wild yeast from the air.
Bakers get better results with their breadmaking when using boiled potato water than they do when they use activated yeast bought from the grocery store. These are the advantages to using a potato starter:
1. Quicker Rise: Potatoes contain potassium which causes the yeast to rise faster than it would with breads that contain only wheat.
2. Light Crumb: When you boil potatoes, it enlarges the starch molecules. This makes it difficult for the proteins in the flour to form gluten (the enemy of light, airy bread, and pastry).
3. Moist Texture: Potato starches absorb more water than wheat starches, leading to a moist texture.
4. Longer-Shelf Life: The bread will stay soft for days thanks to the potato starch molecules’ ability to keep wheat starches from getting stale.
You Will Never Have To Use Yeast Again When Bread Making With This Old School Trick
This recipe does require a small amount of yeast, however, you can click here for a starter recipe that is totally yeast-free. All you need to make your sourdough starter is flour, water, and a container large enough to hold 2 quarts to keep it in.
Overnight Sourdough Bread Starter
- 2 potatoes, unpeeled (about the size of a large hen egg)
- 2 cups potato water
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- 1 cup bread flour
- Boil potato, save potato water (unsalted).
- In a mixing bowl, add cooled potato water, sugar, yeast, and flour.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the mixture to sit overnight.
- Put the mixture in a wide mouth jar and cover loosely–never use a tight-fitting lid. In about five or six days it should be ready.
- Feed starter regularly. Each time you remove a portion of the starter for a recipe, reserve at least 1/4 cup and replace the amount you have taken out with equal amounts of flour and water. I normally feed my starter 1 cup flour and 1 cup filtered water.
Once your starter has been established, its time to start baking some bread! This is my favorite bread recipe and it rises easily, has a crunchy crust, and the dough has great structure.
Basic Bread Recipe
- 1 cup bread starter
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/2 – 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Grease bread pan and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add the starter and remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Note: Add water a little at a time until the consistency is right.
- Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough comes together. The trick is to coax the dough into a soft, smooth ball. When you begin to feel air in the mass, it’s approaching the right consistency.
- Add dough to bread pan and brush with melted butter.
- Allow bread to rise for 2-3 hours.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until bread is golden brown on top.
If you do not plan to use your bread starter, simply store it in the refrigerator. The cold temperature of the refrigerator will cause the starter to go dormant and can be left for up to three months in the fridge. When you are ready to use your refrigerated starter, take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before use.
I’ve also heard that yeasts of various kinds grow naturally on plants. I guess it would take some experimentation to find the right kind.
DIY Yeast recipe
Put some dried fruit, raisins, apricots or prunes, for example, into a jar with 3-4 tblsp (30 to
40ml) of cold water – Use filtered water (Chlorine kills yeast)
When the water turns cloudy, strain out the fruit, add 3-4 tblspn (30 to 40) grams of flour to the mixture (add an ‘equal mass’ of flour to the mixture – any type flour will do)
Leave somewhere warm for 12 hours to allow the yeast bubbles to grow
Take some of your mixture and repeat the water and flour process, adding 30 to 40 ml of
cold water and 30, 40 grams of flour – leave for 24 hours
Your yeast should now be very bubbly – should be ready to use in baking
Fresh fruit peels, like apple peels, as could sugar-heavy water from boiled potatoes can
also make yeast, same method.
An almost empty beer bottle may contain enough yeast to start a yeast colony.
DIY Baking Powder
A common ingredient in baking recipes, baking powder is a combination of baking soda and acid. It’s the leavening agent that gives a desirable lift to cakes and breads. When mixed with a liquid, baking powder releases bubbles of carbon dioxide, which causes baked goods to rise.
Cream of tartar combined with baking soda is the safest bet for baking powder substitution. If you have a jar in your spice cabinet, go this route. To replace 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar.
The acidity in buttermilk allows it to stand in for baking powder. To substitute for 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Reduce the other liquids in the recipe by 1/2 cup to maintain the desired consistency.
Sour Milk can also be a substitute As with buttermilk, it has the acidity necessary for a successful swap. Note: Only use milk that is soured with a tangy smell—go ahead and throw away lumpy or rancid milk. No one wants that.
To substitute for 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/2 cup sour milk and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Reduce the other liquids in the recipe by 1/2 cup to maintain the desired consistency.
You can also make sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup milk and letting it sit for 2 minutes.
I haven’t tried these, but I’m sure they’ll work.
Use a large container when making any kind of starter. You’ll be surprised at how much a starter recipe will expand. I’ve cleaned several overflown starters off of the counter.
Don’t remember where I found these, but it was recent and don’t believe they were on Tess’ site as I don’t visit there unless some reference here directs me there.
As to finding flour in the grocery store, good luck. There haven’t been many packages in the store I shop at for several months. Last week there were five packages. Before Kung Flu there were ~100 available in several brands.
Thanks. Useful information about bread starter culture.
I’m not sure what the author is saying about gluten, but it is not “…the enemy of light, airy bread…” In fact, gluten is what makes bread’s light and airy texture…white bread anyway.
I always add gluten to all purpose flour when making white bread (not so with bread flour however). It keeps the loaf from becoming dense and heavy.
if you DO have yeast, here’s an excellent recipe from kulafarmer.
2 cups lukewarm water…disolve 2 tablespoons(i use 8) of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast into it.
in the mixing bowl add 4 cups flower, 2 teaspoons salt…..
wait a couple minutes, and stir yeastwater into flour.
it will be very wet, with no need to knead it. let sit in a warm place for an hour.
grease/butter the breadpans, or even pyrex ovenproof baking bowl and pour in mix, after pushing out most of that air(instead of kneading).
here’s MY next step….turn oven on for one minute….not any more, then place pans in oven, after turning it off, and leave sit for a half hour or so, until doubled, at least…..then turn on oven to 350, and set timer for 35 minutes, maybe 40. adding the sugar has made it WAAAAY better for ME, just my opinion. this is now my favorite bread. i will never have to buy bread in a store again. too easy, and soo good!
My Grandmother used to make the best white, and sourdough bread ever. I could eat an entire loaf hot out of the oven, with butter and her delicious homemade strawberry jam piled on every slice !
My Dad told us that when he was growing up his mother made two loaves of bread every day. She’d get up ~4:30 make the dough and a pot of coffee, after kneading the dough, she’d put it in the oven, then back to bed until ~6:30. When she got up to the real start of her day, the bread would be ready to come out of the oven. She was still making bread almost every day in her seventies.