I have been researching fermentation a lot lately, and it’s one of my newest “from scratch” goals.
I came across a free ebook from Cultures for Health on Milk Kefir. I almost didn’t download it since I know how to make milk kefir, but I thought I would browse the topics and brush up on troubleshooting issues and try to become more of a kefir expert.
While I have heard of using kefir in recipes and to make cheese, I wasn’t familiar with kefir on the cellular level to realize all the things I could make with it! The book states that I can use kefir to culture items to make probiotic mayo, salad dressings, and hard and soft cheeses, among many other things, and that kefir is a culture to act as a kitchen’s one-and-only culture.
I have been wanting to catch some wild yeast and make a sourdough starter for many years, but since I don’t love sourdough, it always seemed like it would be an adventure to be had for a time when I had nothing better to do. Since I am pretty busy running around with the little ones, I haven’t had any boredom to motivate me to grow a pet-sourdough starter.
When I was reading up on milk kefir, I realized that the grains contain both bacteria and yeast, a fact that my nose knew but my brain did not realize. This milk kefir sourdough bread is simple and seems to be pretty failproof. No yeast is required since the kefir grains have yeast! I didn’t even follow the recipe and it turned out just fine.
Below is a direct copy of the recipe, found here.
4 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons honey
Scant 2 cups milk kefir
Mix flour and salt well in a large bowl. Pour in honey and 1½ cups milk kefir; mix well. Add additional milk kefir until dough is sticky but pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead 5-10 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl and ferment for 12-24 hours.
Punch down. Place in a loaf pan, cover, and let rise in a warm place until it reaches the top of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until done through and golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
When I made the recipe, I had two preschoolers helping me, and I didn’t even successfully put in all of the ingredients. I completely and accidentally left out the honey. Also, after I got started making the dough, I realized I only had about 3/4 cup of kefir. My solution for my lack of kefir was to substitute water for the lack of kefir, and I made sure to pinch off a small kefir grain and throw it in with the dough (which I think was unnecessary). I started my kefir sourdough recipe at about 12pm on a Wednesday, I punched it down at 1pm the following day, and cooked the bread at about 5pm. The resulting bread was lip-puckeringly sour! Since the recipe calls for allowing the bread to ferment for 12-24 hours, my bread-making process of 29 hours was way too long of fermentation for my liking. Next time I make this bread for a dinner I will start the process before bed the night before. But for any homesteader who loves sourdough, I think milk kefir sourdough bread is the way to go!