Kefir Fermented Bread Dough – No Yeast!

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 and whole grains. Use this dough to easily make crackers, cinnamon rolls, bagels, bread and more!


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Making Grains Healthier

Some time ago I wrote 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.

Here are a few links that might help, if you’re struggling with resources for preparing healthier grain recipes:

Healthy Grain Preparation Resources

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’re new to milk kefir, please visit this post on the basics of milk kefir care and use. —<<<<

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 l Fermented flours are healthier and easier to digest l Homestead

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 and your results may vary. Be sure to check out the six ways you can use this kefir fermented dough below.

Kefir Fermented Bread Dough Recipe

If you'd like a fermented, yeast-free bread recipe, you'll love this milk kefir-fermented bread dough.  Fermenting your bread dough will aid in digestion and make it more nourishing for you and your family.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy bread, kefir bread, non yeast bread, soda bread
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Let is sit over night in a non-reactive bowl (like ceramic) to culture.  You can culture your dough 12-24 hours.
  4. When the dough is ready, pop in back in your mixer and add the salt and soda.  Mix well.
  5. 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.
Recipe Notes

*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.

I've made this bread with 100% rye flour and loved it; you can use a combination of flours, too.

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

Following the recipe above will get you a basic dough and from there you can do many things.


Roll out dough, using a little arrowroot powder or cornstarch to prevent sticking and cook in pan on stovetop until slightly browned on both sides.


Shape dough into any sort of roll you desire and bake at 350F/177C for about 20 minutes. You can also freeze dough to pull out and bake later.


Whenever you’re baking crackers, you must watch them carefully to be sure they don’t burn. To make kefir fermented crackers:

  1. Roll out dough thinly and evenly to about 1/8 of an inch. Be sure your dough is as uniform a thickness as you can make it.
  2. Spread butter or coconut oil on top along with any seasonings you like. 
  3. Dehydrate or bake at 200F/93C degrees until crisp.

Cinnamon Rolls

To make kefir fermented cinnamon rolls:

  1. Add a little Sucanat to your dough when you are mixing in salt and baking soda (about 1/4 cup).
  2. Roll out into rectangle shape. 
  3. Spread with butter, applesauce, cinnamon, Sucanat, or any other options that you like.
  4. Roll as you would ordinary cinnamon rolls.
  5. Cut with dental floss and bake for approximately 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!


To make your favorite bagels from kefir dough:

  1. Add additions to dough after salt and soda such as cinnamon/raisin or onion/sesame seed etc. 
  2. You can cut these out into rounds and boil for 30 seconds, removing and placing on pan to bake after they float.
  3. Or, you can bake them right away at 350F/177C for 20-30 minutes.
  4. An option is to glaze them before you bake with egg white/water wash and sprinkle with any toppings you like.


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 350F/177C until the top is nicely browned and it has a hollow sound when you knock on it, about 40-50  minutes. To be sure your loaves are cooked through, use a meat thermometer to double check. A finished loaf of bread should have an internal temperature of 180F-200F (82 C – 93C).

Kefir Fermented Loaves Baked in Stoneware Pans for Best Results l Homestead

And More!

With your kefir fermented bread dough you can also make

  • Empanadas
  • Bread sticks
  • Pizza pockets
  • Tortillas
  • Scones, etc.

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. 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 adversely affecting your culturing dough.
  • Make sure you’re fermenting in a non-metal, non-reactive bowl. Glass or ceramic will do well. 
  • 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. 

>>>>—Click here for a classic soda bread recipe (that comes in two natural colors!)—<<<<

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?

Free Sample

For more baking inspiration and to learn about kefir, please check out the Homestead Kitchen section of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. With over 400 pages of homesteading how-to’s and DIY’s, you’re bound to find something here for you. For a free sample of that chapter, or any chapter in the book, simply email me at, and I’ll get you set up. To learn more about the book, click below:  

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Cover graphic gratefully attributed to this Pexels user.

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59 thoughts on “Kefir Fermented Bread Dough – No Yeast!

  1. Just wondering, I only have water kefir, is it possible to use maybe half water kefir and half cream or yogurt? Or half water kefir and half and half? Thank you, so excited to see a way other than needing to keep a sourdough starter going 😀

    1. Its worth a try – that’s what I always say in the kitchen! You can take some of your water kefir grains (you have a ton, right?! Those things multiply like crazy!) and turn them into milk kefir grains. Follow the link in the article for our milk kefir post and scroll down to where I talk about Northern Homestead’s article on switching your kefir grains from one to the other. It can take a few days/few batches but you should be able to have both water and milk kefir, if you’d like! The water kefir will ferment the dough on its own, you just miss out on the milk fat and flavor. Let me know if combining the water kefir and the yogurt works – I’ll amend the article and let people know they can try that if it works!

    2. This is how I make my kefir bread. I take all purpose flour, salt, milk kefir mix starter dough until it is sticky. Let it ferment for three days on kitchen counter. Then I mix remaining flour in and form it into a ball. I then place on parchment paper and place in a bowl, let it rise for 2 or 3 days. The starter and dough will smell very fruity.

      Heat oven to 425 degrees, place dutch oven with lid in the oven. Once oven has reached temperature, take dutch oven out and carefully place dough with parchment paper inside, replace lid and put back in oven for around 15 minutes.

      The dough will rise a little in the oven during baking. It turns out chewy and tangy. I love it for breakfast or with liverwurst. Before warned you will get the whole loaf in one sitting, so make a small batch.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing that, Scott! I love learning how many people do the same thing but with their own take. With all the time fermenting I bet it makes a wonderfully tangy bread – ooh, now my mouth is watering.

  2. Great post. My body and wheat are not the best of friends so i’m always on the look out for ways of getting the foods I love without the not so happy side effects.
    Congrats on being chosen as a featured post on this week’s Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I hope you’ll join us again and share more of your awesome posts.

    1. Well, it kind of depends on what you mean by allergic. If you can eat it, oat flour can work well. There are also bean flours and nut flours that can be used to make bread but all these alternative flours require something to help the dough stick together since they are without gluten. You can try buckwheat, which has a lower gluten level than straight wheat if you don’t want to mess with alternative recipes. If you need no grain whatsoever, this is THE best bread Paleo (no grain) recipe I’ve tried so far All of Danelle’s recipes are fabulous – at least, the ones I’ve tried. I haven’t tried baking a gluten free bread that isn’t made with nut flour so I’m not helpful with a recipe for that – nose around the internet and you’ll find some lovely ones, I’m sure. When I first went off wheat, I just stopped eating bread and bread products because I didn’t know yet what was causing the problem. I’m now eating a (mostly) paleo diet until my gut heals. Whatever recipe you try, you can add kefir to it and it will help ferment the dough. I hope that was helpful – just holler if I made you more confused. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Andrea! Let me know how it goes with water kefir – or if you post one of your own, link it here and I’ll share it around!

  3. Hi wondering if I’m not using freshly ground flour would the measurements still be the same as far as the flour goes? Thanks!

    1. I would let the flour cool before you use it if you’re particular about measurement. When you grind, it creates heat and a lot of air gets trapped inside the flour. Floof (is that a word) the flour around to cool and aerate it and it should be just fine to measure then. Wathcya makin’?

    1. Good question and I will go clarify that! You use the fermented milk. Strain out the grains, put them back in the whatever they’ve been fermenting in, add milk to at least cover the grains (I usually ferment 1 quart a day) and then put a loose fitting lid on the top.
      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. I would like to try your recipe bread. Looks great but I only want to make one loaf a week. How many cups I will need to adjust the recipe. Thanks

    1. Start with five but you may need another half cup or so. If you’re combining ingredients and doing some of the kneading in your mixer, the dough will clear the sides of the bowl when it’s the right consistency. If you’re hand kneading, the dough should stop sticking to you when there’s enough flour. The longer you knead, you may notice that the water present continues to absorb into the flour to the point you need a bit more. Use as little flour as possible after the 5 1/2 cups to avoid drying out your finished bread. Hope that helps!

  5. Thank you for this yummy bread recipe! I’ve never used Rye to make anything…only to feed my sourdough starter. This weekend I tried to make rye sourdough cinnamon rolls using your recipe. They had a wonderful flavor and I love that I can use my milk kefir in these. Just curious, I didn’t have much rise and my cinnamon rolls were definitely not as pretty as yours…. very sticky and wet. The dough pretty much stayed the same size, as well, while resting/rising in a warm spot for a little less than 24 hrs. Maybe 22 hrs? I didn’t realize, until after I had mixed them up, that I should have let the flour cool down after grinding the rye into flour. Was that my problem? Do you know what I did wrong? I used my wondermill mixer and maybe I didn’t mix long enough? Always scared to over work my dough. Thank you! My children gobbled up the cinnamon rolls! They had no idea how “healthy” these were! 😉

    1. So glad you enjoyed the cinnamon rolls, Lu! I had this vague memory that rye flour doesn’t rise as high as wheat flour so you’re supposed to use a mix of the two. Turns out, I actually remembered something accurately! The gluten in rye behaves much differently than the gluten in wheat. Here’s a great article on the rye and it’s characteristics. Try mixing your flours and see if that’s helps get you some bulk. Let me know how it goes!
      The best rye bread I’ve ever had was 100% rye, black, Russian bread. The loaf was tiny but it was so, so good. Now my mouth is watering…

  6. I use goats milk kefir . Always keep a glass milk bottle with it in the fridge. Use it for everything from pancakes,baked goods, breads, buns. I use what I need and then fill up the bottle to the top to mix in with the kefir left in the jar. Give it a good shake put it back in the fridge with a lid and it makes up a new batch. To start it use a tablespoon or two of kefir crystals in a glass milk bottle and pour in the milk leave for a couple of days. You can eat the kefir but generality I reuse it. Buy the kefir crystals on line or in the health food store. It is great and healthy at the same time .

    1. Yes, absolutely! This is very adaptable. I’d say make it at least five times before you find your groove and have a chance to experiment with the various things you can make with it. Let me know if you need anything.

  7. I made this using 50-50 all purpose and whole wheat in total 10 1/2 cup flour. I followed the rest exactly. The dough kneaded beautifully but after close to 24 hrs, it was extremely sticky. It was impossible to knead or shape. It was still goo even after folding it. I scrap it off the counter and flop it into the pan and bake. The bread didn’t rise much but it was not heavy and I like the taste. What can I do differently to avoid a sticky dough?

    1. Thank you for reporting back – it’s always fund to know how things turn out! Sticky dough is sometimes relative to you and where you are – is it particularly humid where you live this time of year? Was it humid that day you made the bread? If not, there are two things you can try – the first is to add less moisture as you initially mix up your dough. The other is to either flour your hands or use water on your hands to manipulate the dough. Water seems counter-intuitive, but it really does work. You can also use flour, just add in only what is necessary to work the dough. I think the only “secret” is to play around with the recipe until you find what works best for taste, the ingredients you typically use and the environment of your kitchen.

      You may be able to do a second rise, if you’d like more height in your loaf. It might work – the kefir will continue to ferment and cause rise, but I’m not sure what the baking soda would do.

      Was that helpful at all?

      1. We had rain that day so it could be the weather..
        I’m a newbie at making bread. I started to bake bread b’cos I wanted to go yeastless and I find kneading dough very therapeutic so I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to knead it after the 1st rise – am I weird or what? Haha…
        I’ll try with less liquid the next round and the water method. Thank you so much!

        1. I know what you mean about kneading – some days, it’s therapy!

          Let me know how it works out next time and we’ll see what else we can come up with, if you’re still having problems. You may also discover that you’d like to try sourdough at some point. Sourdough bread dough is pretty elastic and you’ll enjoy kneading it and watching it do it’s thing. For now, though, I’m confident you can get this kefir dough how you like it with a little experimentation.

    2. I put just a bit of oil in my bowl and roll the dough around to coat it with the oil. I have done this rather than introduce new flour to a sticky dough with good results.

  8. I am new to bread making and am keen to try the challah. Do you add more sugar because challah is a sweeter bread? I will be using spelt. Very excited

    1. Yes! You can use honey, rapadura, etc., and/or add in raisins, dates, cranberries. You can also leave out anything sweet, if you just prefer a quality egg bread. Let me know how it turns out with spelt, if you can.

      1. Im looking forward to trying this with my goat milk kefir. What Id like to know has anyone tried it with olive oil instead of coconut oil or butter? How did it turn out? Thanks

        1. So glad you’ll be trying the bread – I hope you love it! I’ve used olive oil in this recipe, as well as sunflower and avocado oil. I didn’t detect any noticeable differences in the finished product, though perhaps someone with a more discerning palate could. I typically use whatever oil I have on hand for bread since it’s such a dense dough.

  9. A first look this is a real winner. I happen to have a jar of milk kefir just finishing brewing. I immediately made half the recipe and put it on a 40 degree C pad to ferment until tomorrow morning about 16 hours. Kefir I can keep alive and make it every day, but maintaining sourdough starter is a bit of a pain.

    My real aim is to make bread from durum wheat. I have access to about 50 pounds of the grain, which I home grind into flour, and either have to use it or take the loss.

    I hope this kefir method is the solution.

    1. Let me know how it turns out, James! I’ve fiddled with several grain combinations and can’t think of a reason why durum might pose a problem.

      I hear ya about sourdough! It took me a long time before I was willing to mess with it and I still neglect it all the time. There are only so many things I can keep alive.

  10. I was looking at some artesian type doughs you make up and can use up to 2 weeks, baking a little when ever you need from the dough in the fridge… IF you made this and put in fridge how long could it last so one could make up a small amount daily for hot bread?

    1. You’d have to experiment, but I would suggest holding off on adding the baking soda when you mix. Add the soda when you’re ready to bake it and see if you get enough of a rise. As far as how long it would last, the kefir will continue to ferment, though very slowly, in the fridge. Like sourdough, it could ferment beyond where you find it palatable, but it won’t really go “bad”. Like I said, experiment – and if you strike gold, be sure to let us know. 🙂

  11. I’ve made this recipe a few times now and each time it turns out different although delicious with a great crust. I find it’s splitting on the side when I put in the oven. This time one of my loaves split on the bottom as well. Am I not proofing it long enough for the second rise or maybe my bread pans are too small? Just curious because it is such a great recipe and my husband loves the bread but he is not a fan of kefir!!

    1. That’s a tricky one, but I have to ask first if you’re slashing along the top of your loaf before you bake it. That’s the best way to control the splitting that happens naturally as the bread rises while being baked. If one cut down the center doesn’t work, you can try three cuts across. After that, you might try placing a ramekin of water in the oven while you bake the bread to add a little moisture to see what happens.

      A lot of things can affect bread dough, including ambient temperature, how evenly you measure, etc. Add in the fact that kefir is a living thing and it makes for a surprise!

      If none of the above work, you can also try baking your bread in a Dutch oven, as opposed to traditional bread pans. Or, as you say, your pans might be a tad too small – are they cast iron? They tend to be smaller, which is great for sourdough, but might be too restrictive for a soda/kefir bread.

      Let me know how it goes!

    2. You know what else you might try, Gina, is putting an oven safe bowl filled half way with water into the oven with your bread load while it bakes. See if that helps the splitting, if nothing else did. 🙂

  12. Haha I have prepared my spelt dough for Fermenting. I have halved the ingredients but forgot when it came to the butter which has the full quantity added. I will find out if this matters tomorrow!!

    1. Cool – spelt! I think the more butter, the merrier. 🙂 Seriously, though, it shouldn’t end up mattering too much. Thanks for keeping us in the loop – let me know your thoughts on the completed product. Did you use 100% spelt, or did you mix it with other flours?

  13. Does this recipe make two loaves of bread? Also, can this bread be done in glass bread pans, or can it be done by splitting the dough, shaping it into two oblong ovals, and baking them without pans on a pre-heated bread/pizza stone in the oven?

    1. Yes, it will make two loaves of bread and yes, they can be made in glass pans. The loaves won’t rise quite as high as a yeast bread so the more narrow the pan, the taller the resulting loaf. Cast iron bread pans are great for this because they are more narrow than conventional bread pans.

      Yes, you can also shape and bake on a stone. Times will vary – for two baguette-type loaves, I’d check the bread at 35 minutes. Continue to check until the loaves sound hollow when tapped and/or when a thermometer pushed into the center of a loaf reaches 190 F.

  14. …Also, how do you add the salt and baking soda the next day so that it’s distributed evenly, if you don’t have a bread machine or mixer, but just your hands? Or do you have to use a machine of some kind?

    I just mixed the dough, so I’m on day one of this adventure, and I will hope for a reply by day two! 🙂

    Thanks so much for the recipe and inspiration!

    1. Good question! No, you don’t need a bread machine at all. To evenly distribute any add-in, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured counter.

      Knead the dough into a flat rectangle. Mix together whatever add-ins you have, in this case the salt and soda, in a small bowl.

      Evenly spread the mixture over your flattened dough – you can use a sifter, if you like.

      Roll the dough up into a rope and start kneading the tar out of it. Mix and knead and mix and knead until you’re confident those items have been moved around enough. It requires more elbow grease, to be sure, but consider that your workout for today.

      Good luck and let me know how it turns out! I suggest you make the recipe several times to get a good idea of how the kefir dough performs. Kefir is a living thing and you may get slightly different results each time. All part of what makes bread baking fun to do at home!

  15. Thanks for your speedy, precise and ever-so-helpful replies.

    Here’s one more: Why do you recommend adding the salt and baking soda after the soaking period? I’m curious only because other trad-food recipes I’ve seen online for kefir bread have these added in from the start. I apologise if you’ve already answered this elsewhere, but this curious mind wants to know!

    1. That’s a very good question! I do it at the end because I don’t want the soda or the salt to interfere with the kefir in any way. Salt can be caustic to yeasts and bacteria; soda likewise. In these small amounts, it would probably be fine, but I don’t like to mess with the mojo of my kefir. I just let it do it’s thing. 🙂

  16. Once I have let the mix ferment for 18 hours and then add the baking soda and salt, should I let it rise again or put it straight in the oven?

    Tracy (UK)

    1. Great question! You do not need to do a rise cycle since the soda will be doing the work of lifting. You can let the loaf rest for five-ten minutes once you have it shaped so that the soda can engage and start its work. Just be sure to place it in a preheated oven.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  17. I would love to try this recipe, if only the ingredients were all measured by weight instead of volume. It is the most accurate way to bake; each volume cup measures just a little differently than the next, and home bakers all have different ways of measuring in their cups (scooping, packing, leveling, etc.), so there is no guarantee the recipe will turn out as the original did. But a gram is a gram. Plus, whole grains measured in grams or oz. measures out to the same weight in flour when milled, so it’s even handier for that reason. No need to second guess how many cups of grain will produce how much flour. Otherwise, this looks amazing.

    1. I think you’re brave enough to try it with cup measurements, never fear! It’s bread, and bread is very forgiving – especially fermented breads. Have fun!

  18. I completely agree with Sara! Would love to try this but am completely at a loss when presented with “10-11 cups of wheat” rather than “X grams of flour”.

    If anyone can figure out converting this into mass units, that would be extremely helpful!

  19. Hello fellow bakers,
    Wanted to reply on the cup/gram conversation. Also my experience with the type of flour.
    I use 2 cups of kefir (1 cup =130 grams) and 3 cups of flour (1cup= 120 grams). I’ve used 1 cup of strong flour, 1 cup of wheat flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour.
    For the easy recipe you could say a cup of kefir is also 120, so that all cups are 120…easier to remember. Then add some spoons of kefir as you see fit, for a dough that doesnt stick too much to the bowl. (Its good to do this by eye/feel anyways as the flour varies in quality etc and not every kefir weighs the same.)
    After kneading i leave this for 18 hours (up till 24 hours) before taking it out. It triples in size (only using kefir!)
    Then add a teaspoon of salt and fold the bread (using water on my hands in stead of flour) before putting it in a well oiled covered pan of glass. This is useful as you can see how much the bread rises without opening the oven door.
    So no yeast, no baking soda, only kefir! It gives a nice elastic crum with enough holes, just not the huge ones you can get with sourdough bread.
    I still need to experiment more (i want to try adding egg/sweeteners) but for now this is my contribution, hope it helps!
    Have you tried only using kefir as a rising agent Homestead lady?

    1. Thank you for the wonderful info, Irene! I only did that once when I forgot to put in soda – ha! With these lovely instructions, I’m happy to try again.

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