This experiment which I started last month, came to me in a round-about way.
(But, before you read much further – the recipe at the bottom is for using dry packaged yeast)
My husband’s oldest brother’s first daughter, Karen Marie Kennedy, (say that 10 times) temporarily left her LA life for Ireland to cook. A director, writer, editor, and recently launched her first film, took the leap of faith and left her Hollywood life for the Old Country to live and cook among new friends, rolling hills, townships, pubs, Guinness, cobblestones, cows in the road, fog on the path, cold ocean breeze, tending the garden, scaling your own fish, deboning your own chicken, and creating your own bread.
I follow her blog….. and envy every word. When she posted about working with live yeast I was so excited for her. It peaked my own interest a few years back. I was watching a brew show filmed by the DogFish Brewery and saw the episode of them capturing Egyptian wild yeast for one of their craft beers. How cool is it to capture Egyptian wild yeast for a beer in this modern age while knowing that ancient civilizations depended on this to make beer and bread, and they would have starved without it.
With this – I researched a bit and decided ‘what they hay? I’ll give it a try.’ I got my supplies together to capture my own wild yeast – 3 simple things, a large sealed container, flour and water. I started the growing process and religiously fed my concoction every 12 hours for several days. I popped the top off and walked around the yard with the bucket. Came inside, fed it and sealed it. When it started bubbling, doubling, gurgling and producing hootch I knew it was working. Now the trick was to keep it alive. And I did – not only that, but alive and growing, growing A LOT. I then tested by making a simple kettle bread. Mixed 1 cup of my wild live yeast, 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. I covered it, Iet it sit overnight and it puffed up beautifully. I dumped it onto a floured bread board, turned it a few times, let it rise again for 2 hours, covered, then baked it in a screaming hot cast iron pot for 30 minutes. What came out was AMAZING. A gorgeously crusty bread, tender, creamy and light on the inside, divine with butter and honey. This I can make from scratch – total scratch. It was then that a very odd thought came to me, if you want to become indispensable, learn to capture wild yeast. It gives you the ability to make bread and beer. In case there is a planet crisis, armageddon, a comet hurling towards earth – If you can do this, you will absolutely never get voted off the proverbial island.
The recipe below is for Kettle Bread (using packet of active dry yeast).
- 3 cups Bread Flour
- 1 +1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast – (not fast acting or bread machine yeast)
- 2 cups warm water
- In large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and yeast. Stir together until well mixed. Add water and stir until a sticky dough forms and there are no dry patches. Cover with plastic wrap or an airtight lid and place in a warm place to rise 12-18 hours.
- Turn risen bread out onto a floured surface and dust with more flour. Cover with cling wrap and then a dish towel and allow to rise for another two hours.
- Thirty minutes before bread is finished rising, preheat oven to 475 and place cast iron dutch oven, lid and all, into oven to preheat for thirty minutes.
- Remove dutch oven and carefully set on a heat resistant surface. Set lid aside on another heat resistant surface. Using both hands, pick up dough and shape into a ball before dropping it into the pot.
- Place lid back on pot and return to 475 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- After thirty minutes remove lid and continue baking bread for another 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely.