Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Home Made Yeast Water Kefir Bread

I recently started making a 'quick bread' that I don't knead. When the dough is more elastic it kneads itself through digestion. I am not really a 'bread maker', I am more an alchemist. I always have to see what happens when I mix things a certain way or I add something to the dough. Experimenting with bread baking does not always work out. I have witnessed some spectacular disasters. However, the water kefir dough experiment did work out.

If you want to make a quick loaf of bread then the way you mix the ingredients is as important to the process as what you add to the dough. Rather than the cups of flour measured into a bowl, raise the yeast and add the yeast mixture to the flour method... I added a good amount of warm water to the empty mixing bowl (with a little sugar added) and left the yeast to rise.

After that I don't measure out how much flour to add. Once the yeast has risen I add enough flour to soak up the water leaving an elastic dough that cannot be kneaded by hand. If too much flour is added and the dough becomes dry and knead-able then this method wont work without kneading. To make good bread a firm dry dough has to be kneaded to get air into the mixture.

I add and stir the flour into the watery yeast in the mixing bowl and I keep adding flour and stirring the mixture until I have a sticky but firm dough. For those who like cups and measurements just use your favorite bread recipe but do not add so much flour that the dough becomes firm and dry.

As I was stirring I added some water kefir that I make using 'Kefir Water Crystals'. You don't need to add much water kefir (or milk kefir) - just add 'some', like two tablespoons and keep stirring until everything is mixed together. Oh! I add salt when I add the flour.

Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise at least once, allowing the yeast to turn the mixture into a stick mass. That can take anything from ten minutes to half an hour depending on the temperature of the room.

Once the dough has risen mix it down with a mixing spoon (preferably not metal) and beat the mixture until the dough forms into a tight ball. You can add some olive oil to make the mixture easier to beat. You are beating air into the soft dough with a mixing spoon rather than kneading the dough. Using a little olive oil makes the dough less sticky.

I allow the dough mixture to rise two or three times, each time beating the dough down into a tight ball before I add the dough to the baking tin. Then I let the bread prove in a warm oven before turning the oven to 200°C (400°F) to bake the bread once the dough has risen inside the baking tin.

What I find really amazing is how adding the water kefir to the dough mixture changed the bread. I don't think one should add too much kefir or it will overtake the taste of the dough. I added only a small amount of water kefir and it totally changed the texture of the bread.

Once left in the baking tin to rise the dough was elastic enough to hold its own form. When water kefir is not added to the mixture the dough usually spreads all over the baking tin as it rises. This water kefir dough also rose differently than a normal yeast only dough.

This is not a crusty bread. After baking the crust remained elastic. The baked bread dough also remained elastic and soft but firm. The finished bread does not have a 'kefir' taste. The texture of the bread is altered by adding the water kefir to the dough mixture.

Adding home made water kefir ferment to the bread dough mixture significantly alters the yeast rising and digestion process. I usually allow the bread dough to rise three times, mixing it back down each time over forty minutes as the kefir dough rises pretty fast (much faster than usual with yeast bread).