This is the third time I have made bread using kefir inspired by Celi @ thekitchensgarden.com.
My first attempt I made the bread in tinned form and encouraged by the enthusiasm with which they were received I have had a couple more goes.
I have switched to feeding my kefir grains with goats milk as I prefer the smooth results I get with this and I can make a simple cheese with it too.
Room temp 67.6 º F 19.8º C (new thing, I am going to try and always note the temperature of the room if I can when baking) as it makes a huge difference to how fast or slow the processes go.
- 150 g room temperature water
- 200 g freshly fermented bubbly kefir (made with semi skimmed St Helens goats’ milk)
- 150 g very strong flour (Canadian 15% protein from Waitrose)
- 2 dessertspoons Glastonbury honey
Mix the above ingredients together well till they form a smooth mixture.
Leave in a covered bowl for 15 hours at about 19º C, it will ferment quicker or slower depending on your ambient room temperature.
If you make a note of the temperature and the times each time you bake then you will get an idea of how it works where you live and in your season.
- 350 g very strong flour (high gluten 15% protein)
- 350 g Stanway Mill (all purpose culinary white stonemilled flour)
- 14 g salt
- 185 g water room temperature
- 40 g light olive oil or softened butter if you prefer butter
- A big handful of large raisins or whatever fruit you have available
Mix all the above ingredients (except the raisins) together well to form a dough. I am currently mixing in a stand mixer and it takes about 3-4 minutes to get a good dough which leaves the sides of the bowl by the time it is ready. Be prepared to adjust the water (or, heresy I know add more flour if the dough is not to your liking),
Leave to prove for 2 – 3 hours in a lightly oiled and covered bowl until you can see that there are bubbles forming in the dough and it feels alive under your fingers. It should have risen by maybe a third to a half.
Divide the dough into two parts and make one part as a plain boule and the other as raisin bread.
I used some very large raisins to do this. I wasn’t happy the last time I tried this. I had added the raisins at the mixing stage and they broke up and smeared inside the dough and I couldn’t control their distribution very well, so this time I did it differently.
I patted the dough out into a very rough rectangle and placed my raisins over one third of the rectangle. I then folded this over the centre part and placed more raisins on top of the fold and so on, always keeping the raisins inside the dough. I then patted it out again and repeated. I then gently shaped the folded parcel into a boule and tucked it seam side up into a well floured banneton and popped the usual shower caps on top to cover the bannetons. As you can see in the final photo it came out a little tight at the bottom but none of these huge raisins were on the outside burning and I was pleased with the distribution inside.
The second prove was a leisurely five hours in length and could probably have gone for another hour I suspect.
The loaves were baked at 220 C (conventional electric top bottom heat on a kiln shelf) for the first twenty minutes with steam in a tray and then the oven temperature was lowered to to 200C for another twenty five minutes. I put the loaves back in the oven once I had turned it off for another ten minutes as they felt a bit soft.
So I reckon you could bake them for at least 50 – 55 minutes if I make them again.
This bread is soft and mild and full of good calcium for old bones like mine and it has been a hit with everyone who has tried it. I have experimented with mixing the kefir with some white sourdough starter and it produced a much more sour flavour to the bread. It still rose but we prefer this mild and delicate taste.
A couple of other lovely bakers making kefir bread with their tweaks and variations are:-
Carl Legge and ofbreadandquinces both of whom have good experiences with doing this and I suspect there are many other quiet kefir bakers around the world. Real bread – but made a different way from the normal sourdough.
Oh and Zeb likes it too, but he likes most things apart from pickles…
And after all that I completely forgot (birdbrain that I am) to show you Kefir Levain no 2.
I have the minutest video clip of Brian cutting the finished bread in half on my Flickr Photos
listen to that crunchy honey scented crust!
Love the photo of the bread with a beam of light into it! Lovely!
Zeb is not into pickles? Cute… I have never tried giving pickles to Buck, I bet he would eat it, that dog will inhale anything!
You and Celia form a great virtual baking team! I would gladly sample anything you’d like to bake for me ;-)
Thanks Sally, your enthusiasm is infectious. And you are most welcome to share any bread with me. I would gladly munch my way through the delights coming out of the bewitching kitchen xx
WOOT! I love posts like this…not only do you get an amazing recipe for what to do with all of that milk kefir that you have to churn out to keep your non-dairy kefir making grains happy but you get 2 additional recipes (call them trials for want of a better word) AND you get 2 new blogs to check out! Bonus all round methinks :). Thank you SO much for this post. I plan on perfecting sourdough bread over our rapidly approaching iceage of a Tasmanian winter as we have a huge 4 oven wood burning stove (called Brunhilda) that is pretty much on 24/7. She heats our home, our water and dries everything and turns this frigid house into a blissful place to exist over winter. I want to make good use of all that free cooking ability and aside from making lots of soups, stews, cooking endless pots of dried beans to freeze for summer etc. perfecting sourdough is too good an opportunity to miss and this recipe promises to be my new go-to recipe to perfect. Cheers for all of your efforts in sharing and photographing your results they are incredibly well appreciated by this cold afflicted calcium needing middle aged penniless student Tassie hippy ;)
Cheers Narf77 – I haven’t got the non dairy sort of kefir (water kefir?) but I have heard they are harder to keep happy. We put a couple of blobbies in some coconut milk yesterday and it seemed to start fermenting. Kefir is still a bit mysterious to me I guess. Baking and making bread through a cold winter sounds a great way to be. All best from us here – trying to be summery – Briatol, West of England
I just toss my kefir grains into whatever non-dairy milk I am using at the time. I have even tried them in chickpea milk (read “chickpea thin porridge ;)” ) and they cultured it and kept on surviving. All of that “you have to give them EXACTLY what they need or they will croak is a bit of rubbish in my mind. So long as you dunk them back in regular milk on the odd occasion so that they remember they are kefir and not some ungodly creation that needs to evolve and take over the kitchen you are safe. I do a 2 days in homemade soy milk (heavily laced with date puree as they LOVE sugar…) which I use in my morning green smoothies and a day in regular whole milk which I used in making cakes etc. for Steve. Love your blog by the way, Bristol eh? Apparently it’s warming up a bit now. Steve comes from Liverpool (up till he was 4) and then “Sarf end on sea”. I am Aussie through and through but not from Tassie, we just inherited 4 acres out in the bush from my dad when he died and moved here from Western Australia. Sort of the equivalent of living in sunny spain and moving to the gulag archipelago! ;) Cheers again for your wonderful blog and this amazing recipe that I am sharing with all of my friends it is SO good :) (and another way to use up my milk kefir)
Are your kefir grains like mine in appearance? There is the other sort which are small and sort of transparent and not cauliflower like? I also use metal utensils and they seem to survive the vibe quite happily and as long as they are fed with something like you say seem to get on with it. I am not so keen on drinking it but I do like using it in cooking and for bread and I keep thinking it should make great scones if you catch it before it gets too sour. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your Tassie blog, it is so very different from the ‘quiet’ but noise polluted suburbs of a big city where I live. Do you think you will stay permanently where you are? Loved reading the heart post, you are very funny and have a great writing style. I was thinking if I had any heart pictures to add to your collection. I have one of hearts cut out of a piece of toast somewhere and the dog eating it. I will send it to you when I find a link. Joanna
Mine are like yours, milk kefir. I used to have some water kefir grains (the little glassy looking ones) but I didn’t bring them with me to Tasmania when I moved from Western Australia. Mine have proven themselves to be true survivors. They have cultured all kinds of “milks” including homemade soy, almond and oat and even chickpea “milk” that was like a thin yellow porridge but they STILL cultured it and came out the other side alive and kicking and reproducing like crazy. I dunk them in regular milk every couple of days and use the regular milk kefir that results in making cakes. I make a lovely sourdough carrot and kefir cake that is amazing and that Steve loves (my non-vegan husband). Use it in anything that calls for yoghurt or milk, it is amazing in baking. I am very flattered that you read some of my posts :). I love your blog and have been following you for a while but not commenting. I would love to see the dog eating heart toast and will share it with the rest of my dear constant readers if you allow it :). We are all a bit “doolally” on Serendipity Farm and my ethos is if you can’t beat them, have a bit of a laugh about it and take a break for a cup of tea and suddenly everything seems a whole lot better :). I can’t see the point of wallowing in anything other than jelly ;). I really love your blog and although our life here might seem a whole lot different to yours, we are just normal city folk who ended up getting the chance of a lifetime when my dad died and left us Serendipity Farm. We are learning the hard way BUT we are horticulturalists (both Steve and I) and so we have a bit of an idea what we are doing but “ideas” and “putting ideas into practice” are two VERY different things ;). We are attempting to do this all using permaculture principals and stay tuned (should you choose to keep reading but I DO understand if you don’t because I write small novellas of posts ;)…AND comments ;) ) because things are getting exciting and we are building an enormous fully enclosed veggie garden to fight the possums and wallabies at their thieving game…cinderella SHALL have some veggies come next spring! ;). Have a wonderful day and hopefully spring is treating you well :)
I am going to copy your comment to my friend who does lots of gluten free and vegan baking for her friends and community, who just went off with pots of grains from me this weekend. I am a dreadful gardener, but I try to do bits and pieces as I can manage. And yes, do share my dog toast photos if they take your fancy, I have put link in the comment I just left. My sister once woke me in the night, when we shared a flat (apartment) shouting ‘there’s a possum in my drawers’. Unlikely in London… but it turned out a bird had fallen down the chimney, whose skeletal remains we found many months later and she must have been dreaming she was in Australia once more. (drawers as in chest of drawers, not Victorian underwear) and on that note I must clothe myself and get out of the house. :)
Let your friend know that the kefir might be a little bit shocked at first being thrown into something that isn’t milk but they will be happy as clams if you make sure to have enough sugar for them to eat. I reckon they are greedy sugar hogs to be honest. I think that dairy has the right balance of sugars for them but they are thriving on my homemade date paste (get a bag of cheap dried dates, cover them with boiling water and let them soak till they have swelled up and are soft, process them in your blender with some of the soak water till you have a nice thick unctuous paste and then use it in place of sugar, especially good for we vegans as dates are incredibly high in iron ;) ) and the last lot of homemade soy milk that I laced liberally with date paste and tossed my kefir grains into must have been particularly tasty as when I lifted them out to dunk them back into “real” milk for their 3 day refresher, they were actively feeding! Lots of long strings of slime and all from some organic soy beans and a pile of dates! Whodathunk eh? I think we vegans have to experiment. Don’t just buy garbage from the supermarket shelves because I SWEAR they put all of the floor scrapings into vegan junk food and “meat analogs”…it certainly tastes like they do! I have been vegan for 17 years now and haven’t expired yet despite not using any meat subs or superfoods or soy protein powders…there are a lot of poor vegans out there who believe all that garbage about having to supplement their lives out the wazoo. It’s a load of old bollocks ;).
If you ever got a possum in any form of drawers watch out! You had best hope that it was one of the gorgeous little ringtailed (white tailed) possums that are incredibly cute and that you can pick up by hand. If it is a brushtail RUN! They are like hairy little wolverines with attitude. We get them coming up onto our deck rails to steal the tiny cheese cubes that I put out for our blue wrens and cuckoo shrikes to supplement their diet. We own 2 American Staffordshire Terriers (a.k.a. “pitbulls”) and these possums could care less! They strut up the deck and when the dogs hear them and race out to chase them up the deck rails they sit in the trees just out of reach and scream at the dogs! They are Aussie Larrikins of the highest degree ;). Have a great evening (you are probably asleep as I type this). I get up pretty early and it’s only 4.27am here. Steve’s mum lives in Liverpool and we have a clock on the P.C. that tells us what time it is in the U.K. (he rings her fortnightly) and the clock says it is 7.28pm. Unless you are like me and fast asleep and drooling on the couch at that time because you get up at 3am so that you get HEAPS of early morning delicious time to yourself where no-one else wants you and you can blog and read other peoples posts with impunity…you will probably still be up. Have a great evening and give Zeb a pat for me :)
Morning Narf77 – you get up early over there. I was making supper so you were right on your timings, by now I reckon you will have done a full morning’s work probably. So when those long chains of slime appear they are feeding ah ha. I washed one and took it apart one time to see what it was exactly, because it is hard to see when it is covered in kefir, good camo, and it was quite hollow and full of a slippery liquid which Dom calls kefiran I think, and it kind of all unfolded, I guess what is interesting is all the convolutions creating this massive surface area. I have seen the slime chains on kombucha usually when you give it different food, or split the layers up. I tried feeding a new layer with some rosehip hedgerow syrup I had bodged together last autumn and it went into shock and sank to the bottom of the jar. I took it out and spoke kindly to it for a while and cleaned it up a bit and put it back and then it decided to be brave and I think it liked it eventually.
I can well believe what you say about the vegan food in the supermarket. It is one of the things that puzzles me, all these complicated highly processed ingredients that vegans write about, so it is very reassuring to read what you write. I confess I haven’t been to Liverpool, I am very sedentary, I go up to Cumbria from time to time as my Dad lives there, but I am a soft southerner most of the time. My dogs would probably chase your possums, they chase the squirrels and cats and the foxes that come through. Inside every poodle is a wolf, or so I like to think :) Time to do some dishes now. Nice chatting with you !
I will send you a couple of possums if you like for your dogs to chase ;). I reckon they would make it through the post, not much kills them I can tell you! They eat potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and thrive on them! Anyway, just about time for me to wake Steve up with a coffee and get stuck into our day. It’s just on 6.40am here and I am almost over my self induced “me” time…gotta find it where you will! Steve lived in South End on Sea for most of his life. His folks moved down there when he was 4 and moved back to Liverpool later in life. He knows the south like the back of his hand :). Have a lovely evening doing whatever it is that you love to do. Think of me cutting up ex fish farm netting to make our HUGE veggie garden and shovelling off tonnes of horse poo that we scored for free (so long as we dug it up and hauled it away that is ;) ) thats the thing about being a penniless student middle aged hippy, you are time rich money poor! “Bring on the shovel Steve!…” ;)
I love the kefir bread with raisins, that tang with the sweet complement each other so! But i cannot make this one too often because i turn into a pig and i have to keep eating raisin bread, have to. So I only make it when there is a swarm of people about who will eat it first! Lovely photo Joanna… c
Ah the politics of making desirable bread :) All good food is best shared I agree. Just still so excited here by making bread this way, opened up a whole new avenue to explore thanks to you Celi xx
Excellent post and outstanding photos.Look forward to making kefir bread.
Glad you enjoyed the post Fran :)
this looks great!! really like the look of the crumb with the huge raisins- they are huge, they look like prunes! You’re like my kefir conscience. Mine have gone into the fridge again for barely once-a-week feeds, and each time i see the jar, i feel slightly guilty about the neglect. I toyed with the idea of making something along the lines of labneh, but the drained kefir seemed too little and watery to be nudged into that direction, so back it went into the fridge. I think i’ll only have time for more kefir experimentation after July!
You make me laugh Michael about being your conscience :) I am sure it will wait for you. I dried and froze mine for a while when I felt too guilty about it. The raisins are about an inch or so long, but I think it could be good with prunes too. I like pruneaux d’Agen best!
My taste buds are living vicariously through your blog, Joanna. They thank you. Heaven knows they get no homemade bread from me at the moment. Beautiful photo, and yes, those raisins are a size I have never seen before!
I used to post about almost nothing but bread Ardys, kind of why I began blogging. I am always pleased when people still read the posts so thankyou for your kind words. I think the raisins swell up in the long prove and take moisture from the dough, and then maybe in the heat of the oven they expand ss the dough expands, so they look really big by the time you come to slice it?
Splendid! Quick question re your bannetons – are the cloth linings custom for those specific bannetons? And, most importantly, how do you care for them between uses?
Hope things are going well, and that spring is moving in with soft, warm and quiet dignity.
We are sort of in summer, some good warm days and then a backslide into wind and rain, very all over the place, certainly not dignified!
Doc, These two wicker bannerons are the first ones I ever got and the linen is stiched into them. I love them a lot. My method of looking after them is to 1) them to dry after I have used them, either on a sunny windowsill or on top of the boiler. Then I shake out any loose flour and store them away in a warm and dry place. 2) once in a while I brush them out and 3) even more rarely rinse them through, linen, basket and all amd leave to dry.
Looks delicious and I’m glad Zeb likes it! I would love a slice right now. Those look like what I know as raisins – I have been confused at times with American recipes which call for raisins but it seems they actually mean sultanas.
Hi Ann ! Wish I could slice you some up right away. I am not too sure about raisins and sultanas. Brian says sultanas are made from light coloured grapes and raisins from darker grapes. So I guess the bgiger the grape, the bigger the raisin?
I love raisin bread. So addictive. I can imagine this bread being wonderful lightly toasted then buttered. Wonderful! xx
yes, your imagination is spot on there Charlie – and we were given some delicious homemade banana curd which made the whole ensemble awesomely delicious. Most of it being eaten by others. I think I have had one slice so far ….
I love when you post your experiments, Joanna! And I love that you experiment with bread and fermentation! These are lovely and I so wish I could taste them- THOSE RAISINS ARE HUGE- I guess we don’t have that size readily available in our grocery stores. I have never understood the difference between sultanas and raisins, so am perhaps ignorant of the grades and sizes of dried fruits available.
But those loaves are rather spectacular- thanks for sharing!
I think possibly we get dried fruit from all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East so there is a lot of variety here. We don’t grow mamy grapes and I have never come across English raisinx. Maybe if we had home grown ones, like I guess you have in the States it would be different? These came from Scoopaway and next time I am there I will pay more attention and see what I can glean about them xx
I’d never even heard of kefir bread before this so I’ve been avidly reading through your links to see what it’s all about. It does look lovely with the raisins in it – so lovely it’s giving me toast cravings!
It is quite new to me too Debbie! The wonderful world of bread :) It keeps well too. we are just cutting the second loaf, the one with no raisins in it today :)
I’ve just spotted that you’ve mentioned my blog on your Friends page. Thank you so much! I am positively giddy!
I used to have a blogroll in the sidebar and then I read this post Blogroll or Links Page? on Timethief’s incredibly useful site and apparently it slows down loading times to have one in the sidebar for people who have dialup connections and so on and she suggested having a separate page for Linky Love. The only trouble is I forget to look at it and update it, which is what happens when you get a bit ploddy about blogging. So I’m delighted you are pleased :)
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I was wondering where you got your grains from? I am thinking of making cottage cheese, from Darina Allen’s book and whilst looking up where to get liquid (vegetarian) rennet came across a supplier in Wells, Somerset who sells Kefir Culture in sachets. One sachet is made ujp with 5l of milk which is quite a lot. Would love to hear any comments you have. Like people in other posts thanks for your recipes and posts. Mary
Hi Mary, the grains were a gift from a blogging friend who I refer to in the original post. Kefir culture in sachets as far as I understand doesn’t build the grains but works more like a dried yoghurt starter. The grains are supposed to be unique in that lots of people try to make them from scratch but I haven’t come across anyone who has done it yet. To make cottage cheese you wouldn’t really need kefir to do it. Kefir is a symbiotic culture, similar to kombucha and to the one that grows and makes vinegar which you might be familiar with if you make vinegars from scratch? Traditionally people pass kefir grains on for free. They grow at their own rate so maybe the online people who are selling them have run out or something like that. All best, Joanna.
Today I’ve made for the first time a kefir bread .
I used your recipe with some “improvements” on it :I added 25 g white active starter to make the pre-ferment and done 2 stretch & fold during the first prove of the dough at 60 and 120 minutes. For me the second prove took only 2 hours ,instead of 5-6.
I like the taste of this bread ,it is not sour , not at all, maybe because of the small quantity of honey that we used .I’m very happy with what I did this time .
I forget to mention that I’ve used 50 g of rye flour , decreasing at 300 g the quantity for all purpose white flour.
That sounds great Adriana! I made some more in the week and mine proved more quickly as I put it on a heat pad under a tub. I also do folds as and when I feel the dough needs it, usually one or two. I just keep on experimenting so I am very pleased that you find it useful in your own baking :)