Learning to Bake with Natural Yeast

I have always known that eating whole grains is the best thing for your body. I also knew that unless they were prepared correctly they really didn’t do much good because your body couldn’t digest them. I have researched it over the years, knew that I really should be sprouting my wheat or soaking it to make it easier on our bodies to digest and to obtain maximum nutrition.  The reality was that it seemed way too overwhelming, and too time consuming. I didn’t want to have to go through the whole long process every time I wanted to make something with wheat. So I’d either just use white flour, or still use wheat despite the fact that I knew it wasn’t going to really do much for me.  That’s where I had pretty much left it.

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Recently my friend Lily told me about a class she had attended on Natural Leavening by Melissa Richardson that was amazing. Melissa had explained all the nutritional benefits of using natural yeasts from starts for your baking. The natural process of the yeast in the start breaks down the wheat into its greatest nutritional value making it easy to digest and giving you all the nutrients that you should be getting from your whole grains. Melissa also explained that if she didn’t make the whole process super easy and doable busy moms would never do it. I whole heartily agreed! That’s where I’ve been for the last few years. My friend intrigued me.  I went to Melissa’s blog The Bread Geek and bought her book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, and began reading everything I could.  I was intrigued. I was especially curious to see if you could actually use natural starts with out the result tasting sour. Everything I had ever tried before that was related to soaking, or starts always turned out sour which is not my favorite.  She claimed that the bread could have a very mild, non sour taste.  I was really hoping that was true.

So I begged a start off of my friend Lily and decided to see if this really was doable.

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I made my first batch of bread with them. I didn’t form them the best, and it took a lot longer for them to rise than what the recipe said. I just waited till they had risen fully which was almost 24 hours just in rising. They looked good, they smelled good, but after that first bite it had the sour flavor I am not a fan of.  Beau was OK with it, the kids not so much. It was edible and I was still willing to eat it knowing the health benefits. But the fact that she claimed it didn’t have to taste sour was still at the back of my mind. I knew there had to be a way, so I started researching more on her blog and on the Origional Fast Food Blog in their leavening section. After reading through all the comments, questions and responses I came to a couple of conclusions.

1. Once I feed the yeast I need to bake it within 36 hours.  If I go longer it will be sour.

2. I think my fridge is a bit too cold, so it takes longer for the start to grow, which ends up making the bread sitting longer than 36 hours when I go to bake bread.  So I’ve started leaving it on my counter top when I want to speed up the process a bit. If I want it to slow down I put it in my fridge, based on if I have time to bake it or not.

After changing these two things the last three times I have baked something have all turned out great. No sour taste at all. I made some whole wheat crepes that were really good.

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We then made these blueberry muffins from her cookbook. They were AMAZING.  Really.  My kids devoured them. My husband commented more than once that he is sold on these muffins. They were light, fluffy, yummy and 100% whole wheat.  Now we have tried lots of healthy recipes lately that claim they taste amazing… but they were far from it. These really were amazing.

I baked another batch of bread last night.  This morning the kids all asked if it was sour?  They tasted it, declared that it wasn’t and have already devoured a whole loaf. Now this one was a bit more dense since I had started it too late yesterday and didn’t want to stay up till wee hours of the morning. But there was no sour taste so to me that was a huge success!

So from my first week of doing this, here are my thoughts.  This is so doable.  You have to slightly think about the process different and when you want the finished product and when to start it. But once you get in that groove it is very doable.  If your interested in learning yourself check out and read her book.

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Melissa has also agreed to come and teach a class for my friend Lily and I. We need 20 people total.So if you live in Utah Valley and are interested we’d love to have you join us.  It costs $10 or $20 if you’d like a copy of the book as well. We are excited. Especially to be able to ask questions to a real live person, rather than just doing searches on the internet. We are still nailing down a date in May, but if you are interested let me know and I’ll put you on our list to pass the details on to.

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6 thoughts on “Learning to Bake with Natural Yeast

  1. Christy says:

    I wish I lived there! I have just started doing sourdough/natural leavening as well. It isn’t that time consuming, once you figure out your systems. I have made bread, waffles and english muffins, but still want to explore lots of other things! The book I uses says that using more starter will also reduce sourness (seems counterintuitive, but it reduces the rise time, thus reducing the souring time) Shalae – I so wish you lived closer to me! 🙂

  2. satippetts says:

    That’s really good to know Christy! I was wondering the same thing last night, when it was taking longer for the bread to rise. It didn’t call for nearly as much start as the other two recipes I used which turned out great. So I think I’m going to try that method as well and see how it works. Thanks for the tip! I too wish we lived closer. I’d love to visit with you and find out where life has taken you the last few years.

  3. AprilM says:

    I’m going to be there to pick up my BYU student daughter the third week in April. Schedule it then, and I’m in. 🙂

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