You don’t need commercial yeast to make a delicious loaf of bread! Bake homemade bread with wild yeast from scratch. I’ll show you two alternatives to make wild yeast starter from scratch at home with fermented honey water or fruit yeast water. Bread with wild yeast starter is easy and cheap to make and so delicious – it tastes just like ordinary yeast bread or even better!
Wild yeast bread is made by spontaneous fermentation involving wild yeasts and lactobacilli. Honey and fruit water is used to catch wild yeasts and lactobacilli which naturally leaven the bread. Wild yeast bread with fermented honey water or fruit yeast water has hardly any taste at all – a sweet and mild taste – like store-bought white bread. So start a fun kitchen science project today and bake bread with wild yeast from scratch!
Wild Yeast Bread Vs. Sourdough Bread
To be clear, this bread is no sourdough bread! Sourdough bread and wild yeast bread are made differently and also taste differently. Wild yeast bread is leavened with wild yeasts, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and lactobacilli. Whereas sourdough bread is leavened with acetic acid bacteria and lactobacilli. So sourdough bread tastes sour because of the acetic acid bacteria, while wild yeast bread has a sweet and unobtrusive taste, more like sandwich bread.
Where Does Wild Yeast Come From?
There’s a debate about where wild yeasts come from. Some sources say that wild yeasts are flowing around in the air and honey or fruit water is used to catch those wild yeasts from the air. However, other sources say that wild yeasts are already in the honey or on the skin of fruits. The wild yeasts are just “asleep” and as soon as you combine them with water, spontaneous fermentation starts. Still other sources think that spontaneously fermented breads only rise because you introduce lactobacilli and acetic acid bacteria from your skin into the starter. So, wherever wild yeasts come from, they soon grow in your wild yeast starter and help to rise your bread! 🙂
How To Prevent Mold Growth
I get a lot of questions from my readers about how to prevent mold growth on wild yeast starter. To be honest, I haven’t had a problem with mold growth so far.
But to prevent mold growth, just stir wild yeast water once or twice a day. Because mold usually grows on the surface, stirring prevents the growth of mold. And as soon as the wild yeast water starter is populated with wild yeasts and lactobacilli, they inhibit the growth of undesirable organisms, such as mold.
Help! Why Does My Wild Yeast Bread Not Rise?
Wild yeast growth depends on a lot of factors: It depends on where you live, how the weather is, if it’s summer or winter, how often you bake wild yeast and and and.
I often make homemade yogurt, spontaneously fermented wild yeast bread and homemade sourdough bread from scratch, and sometimes even homemade small beer and vinegar in my kitchen. And while I had some problems when I started making homemade bread from scratch, with bread not rising well or sourdough developing a too sour of even a bad off-taste – way too-cheesy or even chemical. Now that I’m regularly making yogurt and bread in my kitchen, the problems disappeared. And not because I’m getting better 😉 but because my kitchen is now populated by wild yeasts and good bacteria which are essential for homemade yogurt and spontaneously fermented bread. So if your wild yeast bread failed the first time, just try again! 🙂
However, keep in mind that wild yeast bread will always taste different depending on where you live. There’s a myth about local yeasts that can only thrive in one area and die in another but this only a myth: For instance, Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis can also be found in French or German sourdough according to this source. So not the species that populate the wild yeast starter vary but the ratio. And therefore wild yeast bread taste different depending on where you live.
Winter Vs. Summer Baking
Yeasts and lactobacilli like warm temperatures, so your wild yeasts grow better and the bread rises faster during the hot summer months. And they don’t grow so well in the cooler months, on rainy days or if there’s a sudden change in temperature (e.g. if you open the window on a cold winter day). So in winter and on rainy days, just give the wild yeasts more time to grow and your bread more time to rise.
What Honey Should I Use?
I‘ve used organic orange blossom honey and wildflower honey so far but you can use other types of honey as well. And I’ve only used organic honey to catch wild yeast so far: I haven’t tried it with non-organic honey, so I don’t know if this also works.
Can I Use Tap Water
I always use tap water for wild yeast water. But tap water doesn’t have chlorine in it where I live. I haven’t made wild yeast starter with chlorinated tap water yet. If you’re worried about killing the yeasts with chlorinated tap water, you can simply use filtered tap water, spring water or bottled water instead.
What Flour Should I Use?
I always use whole wheat flour or first clear flour for the starter and all-purpose flour for the final bread dough. I use flour with some bran in it for the starter because I find that it helps with the rising. But if you don’t have whole wheat flour or first clear flour at home, just use all-purpose flour or bread flour for both, the starter and the bread dough.
Should I Add Salt?
I usually don’t add salt to wild yeast bread because I’m trying to reduce my salt intake because it’s supposed to be better for health. And unlike bread with commercial yeast, wild yeast bread tastes just as well without salt! Besides, salt retards yeast growth. So if you have problems with your wild yeast bread not rising well, just omit the salt. But if your wild bread rises well, you can add salt (or other spices) if you want.
Homemade Bread With Wild Yeast
Wild Yeast Water With Honey
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 cup (200ml) lukewarm water
Make Wild Yeast Starter
Combine honey and lukewarm water in a glass or mug. Don’t use metal because honey is slightly acidic. Stir until the honey is dissolved.
Cover With Muslin
Now cover the honey water with cheesecloth or other thin fabric to keep off flies. And secure the fabric with a rubber band. You can also close the tumbler loosely with a lid but don’t close it tight because wild yeast water starter needs air. You may know that yeasts don’t actually need air because they can thrive with and without oxygen. But the yeast growth rate is higher if there’s air present.
Let Ferment For 5 Days
Let the wild yeast water starter ferment for 5 days at room temperature. Stir it once or twice a day.
Symbiosis Of Wild Yeasts & Lactobacilli
After about 3 days, you can usually see that wild yeasts and lactobacilli are growing in the wild yeast water. There’s now a symbiotic culture of wild yeasts and lactobacilli in the wild yeast starter. The wild yeast-lactobacilli culture always looks a bit different. It always looks a bit like a jellyfish floating in water. But sometimes it’s more at the bottom, while sometimes it’s floating at the top.
After 5 days, wild yeast water is strong enough and you can now use it to make wild yeast starter.
If you want, you can take a small sip of the fermented honey water: It’s absolutely safe to eat because it’s nothing else than young mead or honey wine. Honey water fermented with wild yeasts and lactobacilli is a probiotic beverage that boost your immune system and help you fight diseases according to this source. Fermented honey water tastes mild and slightly of alcohol and not at all sour like sourdough.
Wild Yeast Starter
- 1 cup (200ml) fermented honey water (wild yeast water)
- 1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour or first clear flour
Combine Ingredients & Let Rise Overnight
Combine flour and all of the wild yeast water above (fermented honey water) in a big glass or porcelain bowl. Again don’t use a metal bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the starter rise for 12 to 24 hours depending on the weather and temperature.
Wild Yeast Bread
- 1 cup (200ml) wild yeast starter
- 1 cup (200ml) cold water or wild yeast starter
- 4-5 cups (500-600g) white flour
- optional: 1/2 tsp salt
Combine Ingredients & Let Rise Overnight
I usually use all of the wild yeast starter I made and make wild yeast starter from scratch again for my next wild yeast bread. But you can also use just 1 cup wild yeast starter and add 1 cup cold water because 1 cup wild yeast starter is usually enough for the dough.
Mix all ingredients for the bread dough. Put the dough into a greased pan and let it rise overnight covered with a kitchen towel.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake the wild yeast bread for about 30-40 minutes.
Alternative: Wild Yeast Bread With Fruit Yeast Water
You can also make bread with homemade fruit yeast instead of honey water. Wild yeast bread with fruit yeast water is much faster to make than bread with honey yeast water: While it takes between 6 days and one week to make wild yeast bread with honey water from scratch, it only takes a bit more than 2 days from start to finish to make fruit yeast water bread. You also don’t have to make a starter for fruit yeast bread, after 2 days you just combine all ingredients for the final bread dough.
Fruit Yeast Water
- peels and cores of 1 or 2 apples (or other fruits)
- 1 cup (200ml) cold water
- optional: 1 tbsp brown sugar
- optional: 1/2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
Make Fruit Yeast Water
Only use sound apple cores without mold for fruit yeast water. Put apple peels and cores into a glass or mug. Don’t use metal because apples are even more acidic than honey. Pour cold water over the apples peels and cores.
Optional: You can also add brown sugar and organic apple cider vinegar but this is optional because it works just as well without it (or even better). If you add vinegar and sugar, fruit yeast water usually needs more time to ferment.
Apple Seeds & Cyanide
You may know, that apple seeds contain cyanide (or rather amygdalin) which is poisonous. Cyanide is water-soluble but you don’t have to worry about adding apple seeds to your fruit yeast water because heat destroys cyanide. So after baking, fruit yeast water bread is absolutely safe to eat. Besides, you only use a small amount of apple seeds which can be detoxified by enzymes in your body even if eaten raw according to this source. Moreover, bitter almonds, peach kernels and cherry pits – which all contain cyanide (amygdalin) – are often used as flavoring.
And there’s an advantage of adding the seeds because I find it prevents the growth of mold on fruit yeast water.
Let Ferment For 2 Days
Now cover the glass with cheesecloth or loosely with a lid. And let the fruit yeast water starter ferment for 2 days at room temperature. Stir it once or twice a day.
After 2 days, the fruit yeast water becomes cloudy, brownish and bubbly. The fruit yeast water is ready when you see some foam on top and the fruit yeast water is actively bubbling: You can now use it to make wild yeast bread.
Bread With Fruit Yeast Water
- 1 cup (200ml) fruit yeast water
- 3 1/2 cups (420g) flour
- 1/2 cup (100ml) cold water
Make Bread Dough & Let Rise For 6-8 Hours
Remove the peels and cores from the fruit yeast water. Then combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Put the dough into a greased pan and let rise for 6 or 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). And bake the fruit yeast water bread for about 30-40 minutes.
More Bread Recipes Without Commercial Yeast