Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Everlasting Yeast and a Bread Recipe

I think you know by now that I want to encourage those who are yeast shy to at least try and make a loaf of bread.  I've posted a couple of recipes on my blog here that are perfect for beginners, no kneading and yeast batter breads, and then a couple of other breads once you've built up your confidence.  I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert, but I've made more homemade bread than a lot of folks so I say with humility that I think I have a feel for it.  And it's a good thing, because you'll need it for what I want to share with you.

If you ever wanted to try your hand at making homemade bread,  this is absolutely not the one you want to be your first. No, it's not difficult, there's no kneading, so that's not it, but it does require a "feel" when putting it together.  And it requires patience. 

I used a yeast starter called everlasting yeast.  My sweet friend Peggy, of Peggy's Pantry, had posted an interesting article on long term storage of  comfort food.  This is a subject I'm greatly interested in, and Peggy has been an angel about sharing information and resources.  She referred me to another one of her friend's sites, Jarolyn's Back to Basics:  Provident Practical Preparedness, and it was there I found an interesting article on making your own yeast.

When I did the post on homemade butter, I lamented about the cost of butter at the supermarket.  But have you seen the price of a decent looking loaf of bread?  Gasp!  Almost $6.00 here. For a loaf that is comprised of mostly air, it's $3.00.  Absolutely outrageous, in my opinion. The cost of yeast isn't exorbitant, but it's not inexpensive.  With some time and attention, you can have yeast that will last long enough to become a family heirloom, smiles.

Yet there was the tiniest issue with the everlasting yeast.  I wasn't able to find a bread recipe that specifically used it. I asked Jarolyn and she suggested I use the water and starter in place of the liquid in the recipe, and adjust the flour accordingly.  So, I had to experiment.

I loathe experimenting with recipes.  I am pretty much a recipe follower.  Oh, sure, I might add a little extra this or a little extra of that, omit an ingredient if it's something I don't like, or swap one thing for another, but that's about the extent of my creativity ~ and my courage. 

But I had a quart of starter and now I was committed to use it.  I figured I needed a big recipe because of the volume I had (and no where have I found does it say you can use less and keep the rest...but that's an experiment for another day).  I found one that worked satisfactorily, but let me cut to the chase to share the recipes for the starter and the bread, and the mixed reviews of the results.
We are talking a farm-sized recipe here.

Everlasting Yeast

1 quart (4 cups) warm, unsalted, potato water
1/2 tablespoon dry yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white or whole wheat flour

Mix all the ingredients together in a glass, plastic, or ceramic container (not stainless steel).  Loosely cover the top with a cheesecloth (I just kept the lid to my container ajar and it was fine).  Leave in a warm place to allow the mixture to ferment. I stirred it a couple of times as the ingredients will separate, and then left it overnight on the counter.  You will see it start to bubble and if you smell it, it will smell yeasty and perhaps a little like alcohol.  Don't worry.  It's supposed to.  I then put it in the refrigerator and it sat there for a couple of weeks, and I stirred it every couple of days, while I looked for a bread recipe.

The night before I wanted to use the starter, I took it out of the fridge and let it set out overnight on the counter.  Stir well just before using. Use the entire starter, reserving one third cup of the to starter for the next batch of everlasting yeast. To your one third cup of reserved starter add everything except the 1/2 tablespoon yeast, and follow the steps as explained in the beginning.

The Bread Recipe

As I said I could not find a recipe that specifically required the use of the everlasting yeast. The following is an adapted recipe.

1/2 cup butter melted, warm
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) salt**
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs slightly beaten
1 full batch of everlasting yeast (minus 1/3 cup for next batch of starter)
11 cups all purpose flour, plus more to achieve appropriate dough consistency

In a very large bowl, combine the butter, salt, sugar, beaten eggs.  Add the everlasting yeast. Mix well.

Add 3 cups of flour to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.  Add another 8 cups of flour, 2 cups at a time, mixing well in between. 

Now, at this point, the dough was still too gloppy for me, and I sifted in  1/2 cup of flour at a time, stirring with each addition, until I achieved a proper bread dough consistency.  There is where prior experience and a feel for bread making is important.  I can't tell you how much I added, but it was probably another 2 cups and even then the dough was very soft, more like a stiff batter dough, definitely too wet to knead.  At the risk of making the dough too heavy with flour and ending up with a doorstop I decided it was enough.  Plus, I had qualms on  how well the everlasting yeast would work in making the bread rise.

I greased my bowl and let the dough rise, until double in size, 90-120 minutes.  I punched it down, and divided the dough into thirds, putting two of the thirds in  greased 8x5 loaf pans and making a round loaf (slashing the top for decoration) with the remainder.  Let the dough rise a second time, until double in size, another 90 minutes or so.  Dough rose beautifully, but more slowly than "conventional" yeast breads.

Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 375*F.  Put the loaves on the middle rack and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the bread from the oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

This made 3 loaves of bread, but only because I used one portion to make a round loaf.  That last portion could have been divided into 2 loaves, for a total of 4.

Bread Review:  The first thing we noticed is that the bread was not salty enough.  I followed the original recipe using only the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the bread was bland.  (I've since made another batch of bread using the starter,  1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat, and a full 1 tablespoon of salt and  it was very good!). 

The bread was not particularly beautiful to look at, smiles.  It looks rustic but not artisan, if you know what I mean.  Perhaps it needs an egg wash to give it a bit of a glaze or some melted butter after it comes out of the oven.

This bread keeps very well.  Even after a week, the first loaf I had cut into still seemed fresh (though I wonder if credit could be due in part to those special amber colored bags produced just for preserving bread).  Also, while I generally don't like frozen bread, this bread froze and thawed beautifully without loss of flavor or texture.

As I hinted above, I have made a second batch of bread, with some changes and greater success.  I'll share that story in another post.  


  1. Thank you so much for experimenting and leaving us with the results. I'm sure going to try this because I love bread and the cost of everything including, yeast is so high. I've been baking more bread these past few years and have tried a few recipes. I'm always up for another one and this one looks intriguing ;-)

  2. I remembered that you like old time recipes. I found this website you might like. It also has a recipe for bread using your starter

  3. Wonderful post, Katy. Thanks for your reference.

  4. I agree, not enough salt (or yeast) for 11 cups of flour, but I really like the thick crust (I love bread crust!!) GREAT post, you definately give a great review.

  5. I will have to try one of your easier bread recipes one of these days. That bread though looks so delicious. I love bread but still have an "issue" with yeast. I need to get over it already!!! I had to laugh where you wrote that you loathe experimenting with recipes! I can totally relate. I like to follow a recipe and hope it comes out good the first time! I saw a cooking show recently where they made the same recipe 100 times until they perfected it. I would go insane doing that!!!

  6. That took courage Katy..good for you!! I like experimenting with breads. Our friend Trish got me interested in 'starter yeast' and I kept it going for awhile and then went on holidays and that was it for that yeast:) I may just try that again.

  7. Hope you've had a nice summer holidays Katy! I like experimenting with bread and yeast as well. My mum used to make her starter with just water and some wheat flour, but it needed more time to become active.
    Your bread looks lovely! I love that crust!

  8. I haven't been over to your blog in months, Katy and I feel just awful about it! As I expected you are still a whiz in the kitchen though and your sweet bread recipes make my mouth water :) One day I hope to be able to bake a loaf as wonderful as you do! xoxo

  9. I think your bread looks beautiful, Katy. And most importantly, it sounds like it tasted great. That's wonderful that it keeps so well, too -- I've found that we'd better eat up homemade bread pretty quickly because it doesn't seem to be that great after three/four days.

  10. Your bread looks great! So nice of you to do all the experimenting on this recipe. I like using starters, it give the bread a fabulous flavor.

  11. That bread looks really delicious to me. the crust looks nice and thick just like I like it!

  12. Thanks for sharing your experiments and tips on bread making. That bread does look awesome!! I think the soft interior and crusty top says that you are a pro at breadmaking!! Cheers:)

  13. I rarely make bread because hubby needs gluten-free. This looks so delicious, I am tempted to make it for myself.

  14. The bread looks fantastic, but you're right, this is a very labor intensive recipe. I don't know if I would have the required patience for this.

  15. First a chuckle:) I've been playing catch-up today and it's amazing how much bread baking has been going on in my absence.

    All year I have been promising myself and readers that I will attempt to over come my yeastaphobia. I have bookmarked many of your bread technique recipes for "someday", Katy and yet, THIS may just be the one to begin with.

    I've seen many recipes in my pre-1950 book collection that use such a starter. It almost sounds like a sour dough starter but I'm not sure and I don't want to confuse the issue, lol...

    Thank you so much for sharing. I'm so glad I chose today to pop in!!!

  16. I live a 4000' you have High altitude adjustments for me ?? It makes a huge difference. Thank you. I did sign up for emails.


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