Homemade bread recipes usually call for either store bought yeast or a bread “starter” that is passed down from someone else. I’m a fan of both of those, but also LOVE bread made with kefir milk as it requires no additional yeast other than what naturally occurs in the kefir. Kefir grains are similar to a “scoby” used in kombucha or in making vinegar in that the grains are a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. To make kefir milk, you simply put your kefir grains in a jar of fresh milk, leave it to ferment for 24 hours then strain out the grains, add more fresh milk and start over. From this cultured milk, you can make yogurt, cheese, bread, add it to a smoothie as a gut health booster or just drink it plain. (it’s remarkably similar in taste to buttermilk) Kefir grains keep growing as you feed them, so if you’re interested in sourcing some, I’ll be more than happy to sell you some of mine, you can find them on the “Products” page of this website… and I have lots, lol!
Bread making was my biggest surprise in the world of kefir and I find the kefir milk to be less demanding than maintaining a sourdough starter. You can even put the grains “to sleep” in the refrigerator for up to a month if you’re going to be away or get tired of dealing with them. They’re very forgiving. I have had luck modifying all sorts of bread recipes with the kefir milk, simply substitute the milk in the same proportions of water as your recipe calls for and then leave out the yeast. Although this recipe didn’t come from it, a really good kefir recipe resource is the book, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditional, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses (this is an affiliate link) The title leads you to think it is only about cheese but it has all kinds of other recipes in there too. It is well worth the read if you’re interested in self sustainability. I’ll include another link with a picture of it at the bottom of the post. He also does a super job of explaining kefir grains, where they originated and how they were used historically.
Anyway, if homemade bread rings your bell, make sure you try the recipe below with kefir milk using NO added yeast or sourdough starter! Make sure to read the tips for success below.
1 1/2 Cups kefir milk (measure out and allow to age for a total of 48 hours)
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (white, wheat, rye, etc.)
1/4 Cup Honey
1/8 Cup Olive Oil (recipes with minimal oil work the best)
1 Tablespoon Salt
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in milk, honey and olive oil. Knead by hand for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed if dough is too sticky, but do not add flour after the first 5 minutes. If dough is still too sticky, lightly oil your hands. After kneading dough, transfer to an oiled bowl and allow to sit for 24 hours. After the first rising is complete, punch the dough down and place in greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise again in a warm place. The dough will not rise as much as you may be accustomed to, but it should still rise by at least half of it’s original size. (if you’re in a time pinch, I have also had success with only one rise, no punching down, and turned out great bread) Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Brush with butter or olive oil and serve.
Be sure to make some cheese to serve with it! 😉
Tips for successful kefir bread:
- For best results, allow the milk to ferment for a little longer than normal. Shoot for about 48 hours instead of the usual 24.
- Chose recipes that contain minimal oil. Recipes containing more than a quarter cup of oil tend to get too heavy and not rise as well.
- Just like regular bread, place pan in a warm place to rise. There is no harm in letting it go a little longer if it needs to rise some more.