Raising Bread with Raisin Water

Bread lovers know what sourdough bread is and how to make sourdough starter. Making sourdough starter is a step by step process in which natural yeast is cultivated over a week or longer by mixing wheat and water everyday.

Sourdough seems popular in the US. However, in Japan there are more popular kinds of bread called “Tennen Kobo/天然酵母,” which directly translates as “wild yeast bread.” Japanese bakers use various kinds of wild yeast cultivated from fresh and dried fruit instead of using commercially available yeast. There are so many Japanese blogs about experiments with wild yeast and bread making which made me want to try it myself.

Bread making with wild yeast starts off by cultivating wild yeast water. I had successfully made yeast water from the leftover pulp from my probiotic juice but I had failed twice to make yeast water from the residue of sake and apples. So what exactly is yeast water?

It’s the process of alcoholic fermentation. Last week I made yeast water from dried raisins. In a week or so, the mixture of water and raisins became lightly bubbly water. I fearlessly drank this water and was amazed by its taste. It tasted like ice wine!!

As opposed to sourdough making process, cultivating yeast water takes time with wild yeast bread making. Once the yeast water becomes bubbly, you can use this water to mix with flour to make a dough starter, which only takes a day. The rest is the same as making sourdough bread.
I love the taste and aroma of dried raisin yeast water. However making bread using this water was even better. The bread carries the best part of yeast water. Sweet and aromatic, I thought I could now end my search for my perfect bread recipe.

This recipe is not recommended for beginners since kneading and making the final adjustments of water depends on experience. Also note that wild yeast water tends to make dough softer.

Making wild raisin yeast:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of organic dried raisin
12 to 16 fl oz of filtered water

Mix the above ingredients in a sanitized jar and leave it in the fridge for 3 to 5 days since lactic acid bacteria can activate at a low temperature while unwanted bacteria will not grow in the fridge. This process is to make sure that you’re raising good bacteria for bread making.

Take the jar out and leave it at room temperature for a few days to a week till all the raisins start to float and get bubbly. Just remember to open the lid once or twice a day to let the contents of the container breathe.

Preparing dough starter:

1. Add ¼ cup of whole wheat flour and ¼ cup of wild yeast water together and mix well.
2. Leave it until it doubles in volume. Depending on the room temperature it can take from 8 hours to 24 hours. You may mix it several times while waiting for it to rise.

Making the bread:

  1. Mix 7 oz of baking flour, ¼ cup of whole wheat flour, 1 table spoon of sugar and 1 tea spoon of salt.
  2. Add dough starter and 3 fl oz of yeast water. Not much kneading is required. Just mix it all well by hand.
  3. Add water accordingly.  I added about 3 fl oz.
  4. Leave the covered bowl at room temperature for approximately 8 hours. During this time the dough will double or triple in size.
  5. Folding and resting for 15 minutes
  6. Use your cast iron pan or dutch oven. Sprinkle flours before resting dough to avoid bread sticking to the bottom of pan.
  7. Proofing for 2 to 3 hours until dough arise close to the double size. Keep the dough moist by covering pan with wet towel or wet paper towel.
  8. Preheat the oven. 350F for 20 minutes then 400F for 10 minutes. I used the pan without any lid. If you’re using dutch oven with lid, 450F for 25 minutes and then remove lid, lower the heat to 400F and wait another 10 minutes.

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