I tried out another of the historical bread recipes which are made without commercial yeast. This time I made the ‘Turkish Pea Yeast’ of 1819. It’s a recipe for bread which is naturally leavened with a pea starter. Even today, bread is naturally leavened with yeast-free chickpea starters: In Greece chickpea leavened bread is called eftazymo, in Cyprus arkatena and in Turkey it’s called nohutlu ekmek. Here are more recipe for chickpea leavened bread: chickpea yeast bread, arkatenio or eftazymo recipe and chickpea starter.
The historical pea yeast recipe doesn’t state whether to use green peas or chickpeas. Because all yeast-free pea starter recipes which I’ve found were made with chickpeas, I used chickpeas too. But it probably works just as well with dried green peas.
Because I didn’t know if the chickpea yeast would work and how the bread would taste, I made just a small test bread.
Chickpea Leavened Bread Without Commercial Yeast
- 1/4 cup split chickpeas (chana dal)
- 200 ml boiling water
Pour boiling water over the chickpeas. Let it stand for about 12 hours in a warm place. I placed the chickpea starter in the 120°F (50°C) warm oven but that was too cold. So I put the starter outside in the sun – it was a hot day. Just after some hours in the sun, there were lots of bubbles and foam on top. And it smelled terrible! 😉
I also tried to make starter with chickpea flour but that didn’t work.
Chickpea Leavened Bread:
- 1/2 cup chickpea yeast liquid
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
Using a spoon, stir together flour, chickpea liquid (without the chickpeas) and salt – don’t taste the dough: Like the dough of salt rising bread, chickpea leavened bread dough contains clostridium perfringens (article about salt rising bread and clostridium perfringens). But after baking, chickpea leavened bread is safe to eat according to this source (pdf). Place the dough in a greased pan and let it rise until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the bread for about 40 minutes.
While the bread was baking, the whole house smelled of cheese!
The texture of chickpea leavened bread is good – light and soft – like homemade yeast bread. It still smells of cheese after baking but it doesn’t taste of cheese. Bread with chickpea yeast is better than other bread recipes without commercial yeast, but I prefer bread made with honey water or fruit yeast.