If you’re trying to avoid commercial yeast or are simply looking for a healthier way to prepare bread, try this! Here’s a recipe for kefir fermented bread dough with no added commercial yeast. Also included are several other bread products you can make with this dough besides bread loaves.
For more baking inspiration, please visit one of our favorite books below:
Making Grains Healthier
Some time ago I posted about my struggle with grain consumption. I’ve spent time learning about how to properly prepare grains in order to digest them more readily and without bodily upheaval.
Nourishing Traditions has been a great help to me, as have other publications. I’m grateful to have come across all of this information when I did. Click here for more of that discussion. I’m a big fan of quality gluten free baking, too. For a fantastic gluten free pizza dough, click here. (FYI, I also review that pizza oven book from the picture above in this post.)
I took a class in natural leavening, or sourdough, and learned how to prepare various baked goods with it. I love it and feel it’s a wonderful way to ferment our grains to make them healthier. Sourdough culture also provides a way to avoid commercial yeast (a boon to anyone and everyone struggling with yeast overgrowth).
My other favorite fermenting and (slightly) raising agent, however, is milk kefir. When I’m short on time or mis-time my sourdough culture, I use this kefir fermented dough to make bread products.
Kefir as a Fermenter
Once you’ve become an expert milk kefir fermenter and drinker, you’ll be ready to try this recipe. I promise it’s not rocket science, it’s just bread.
If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of milk kefir, just visit this link for all you ever wanted to know about kefir cultured dairy. You can use buttermilk for this recipe, too, but I prefer milk kefir. The recipe was passed onto me by a friend who has a friend who is clearly some sort of savant, because this recipe is genius.
Said savant is Caralee Ayre and I have since become acquainted with her; if it weren’t for a crazy remodel and family commitments, she’d be writing this article for you. You’re stuck with me, but we’ll muddle through as we explore this wonderful kefir fermented bread recipe that uses no yeast and only has five ingredients.
I’m going to give you the recipe and then we’ll talk about it and the various things you can do with it.
Kefir Fermented Bread Dough Recipe
Don’t be afraid to experiment with this recipe. Kefir is a dairy product made of of live cultures; consequently, it has a mind of it’s own.
- 10-11 cups of freshly ground Kamut, spelt or preferred wheat
- 3 cups of whole milk kefir*, stirred
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1/3 cup melted grass fed butter or coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- Mix the wheat, kefir, water and fat together until completely mixed blended. You’ll knead the dough for several minutes, so if you want to put this in your bread mixer, feel free to save your arms.
- Need until the dough is elastic and has a bit of a shine to it; poke your finger into it and if it holds the indent, it’s done.
- Let is sit over night in a non-reactive bowl (like ceramic) to culture. You can culture your dough 12-24 hours.
- When the dough is ready, pop in back in your mixer and add the salt and soda. Mix well.
- From this basic dough you can make any bread product you want from loaves to cinnamon rolls to crackers to bagels! See the rest of the post for details. If you’re making bread loaves, you’ll bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour.
I’ve made this bread with 100% rye flour and loved it; you can use a combination of flours, too.
*You can also use real, cultured buttermilk (not the dead/pasteurized stuff from the store). Or you can use a high quality, plain yogurt instead of milk kefir.
You’ll need about six cups of grain to grind up to make around 10 cups of flour.
6 Breadstuffs to Make with Your Kefir Fermented Dough
So, following that recipe will get you a basic dough and from there you do many things. Here are some of Caralee’s ideas:
Roll out dough, using a little arrowroot to prevent sticking and cook in pan on stovetop.
Shape dough into any sort of roll you desire and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can also freeze dough to pull out and bake later.
Roll out dough and spread butter or coconut oil on top along with any seasonings you would like. Dehydrate or bake at 200 degrees until crisp.
Add a little Sucanat to your dough when you are mixing in salt and baking soda (approx. 1/4 cup) and roll out into rectangle shape. Spread with butter, applesauce, cinnamon, Sucanat, or any other options that you like and then roll as you would ordinary cinnamon rolls. Cut with dental floss and bake for approx. 20 minutes.
They are delicious as is or topped with a little cream cheese or sour cream mixed with honey and vanilla to make them extra special. It makes great cinnamon swirl bread, too!
Add additions to dough after salt and soda such as cinnamon/raisin or onion/sesame seed etc. You can cut these out into rounds and boil for 30 seconds, removing and placing on pan to bake after they float but I prefer just to bake them. You can glaze them with an egg white/water mix and sprinkle with any toppings you like.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
You can make loaf bread with this dough if you use small pans and make sure that the bread is cooked through before removing it from the oven. These work best formed as peasant loaves like challah. However, if you’re using pans, try stoneware for the best results.
Bake at 350 degrees until the top is nicely browned and it has a hollow sound when you knock on the top. I’ve even left them in the oven for about an hour after turning it off to ensure they cook well through.
With your kefir fermented bread dough you can also make Empanadas, bread sticks, pizza pockets, tortillas, scones, you get the picture!
Notes on Flour, Dairy and Equipment
- I use Kamut, a trademarked name for a Khorizan variety wheat, and ancient relative of Durum wheat. This is my absolute favorite wheat and we grind it ourselves. Being an ancient grain, it’s not nearly as gluten saturated and we buy organic so it’s not riddled with herbicides. Kamut is rich and light and delectable. We buy ours from Alpine Food Storage which is a Utah company but you can also find it at Azure Standard and other places. If you’re an exclusive white flour user, this may seem heavy to you so just fiddle around with it until you like it and until you can wean yourself off white flour. For more information on why I use Kamut, here’s an article I wrote for Mom Prepares.
- Use live, from the animal, raw whole milk for kefir if at all possible. However, pasteurized milk can be used in your kefir culture.
- Use filtered water so that no chlorine or fluoride from city water is messing with the mojo of your culturing dough.
- Make sure you’re fermenting in a non-metal, non-reactive bowl. Glass or ceramic will do well. My favorite fermenting bowl comes from Horseshoe Mountain Pottery.
- I usually use Redmond sea salt, but any sea salt will work.
Does This Taste Like Baking Soda?
Although this bread is made with baking soda it’s not as soda-y as soda bread. The kefir culturing breaks down the grain and activates the gluten and there’s only a hint of that soda bread poof and crunch.
If I’m not using sourdough for my bread making, I’m using this kefir fermented bread dough recipe. I’m happy to not need commercial yeast anymore for most things.
So, what will YOU be making with your kefir fermented bread dough?
Cover graphic gratefully attributed to this Wikipedia Commons user.