Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Simple Sourdough Bread Using Water Kefir Grains!

WOW! I created a new recipe for quicker sourdough bread that takes only 3 days (one day for starter) and not the traditional 5 days for the starter(and an additional 2 weeks to mature the starter) that is usually required for a sourdough starter to grow using only flour and water. Traditional sourdough starter recipes necessitate feeding the starter at least once a day while discarding half of it. I didn’t like the waste and waiting, so decided to experiment with another way to make a bread starter, using NO commercial yeast. Previously I used a tiny amount of commercial yeast for my sourdough starter; but using commercial yeast is not considered a “true” sourdough by purists. Thus the sourdough dilemma for those who do not bake every few days and do not wish to feed, clothe and shelter a sourdough starter for years. (That's what kids and baby goats are for.)

For my first sourdough starter experiment I found an online recipe using the kefir water after the second fermentation. The online method looked good; but my attempt failed--boozy liquid, stinky and no rising starter. I threw it out, lamenting the loss of expensive flour and precious time.

Water Kefir Grains

For my second experiment, I figured: Why not use some of those proliferating water kefir grains, instead of the kefir water, to get the starter fermenting? Why not try using it as a commercial yeast replacement for the dough? (Yes, I add a bit more leavening agent to the final dough, because I want extra insurance that it will rise. When I get adventurous, I may omit adding any leavening to the final dough and rely solely on the ambitious sourdough starter as it was meant to be; and leaven.)
It worked! The starter was ready the next day, without using commercial yeast. The final bread rose better than expected. Crispy crust. Soft interior crumb. Tangy buttery flavor and indescribably delicious! Besides that, I found another use for water kefir grains that I would have otherwise discarded. I am such a genius!
Look at how the plastic wrap "inflated" from the fermenting Levain!
My grandmother got me started on my quest for better bread. She would be so proud.

Me and my grandmother, Marie, baking bread together.

(IMPORTANT: Use all non-reactive tools and bowls, like glass or plastic—no metal.)

("Levain" is the French term for sourdough starter)
3/4 Cup Organic Spelt flour
1/2 Cup Spring Water
2 Tablespoons Water Kefir grains

(For the feeding on day Twoheaping 1/4 cup spelt flour and 1/4 cup spring water.)

All of the starter/levain
1 Tablespoon Kefir grains
About 3-4 cups all-purpose, organic EINKORN flour
1and1/2 teaspoons “Real” salt or sea salt
3/4 cup spring water

Afternoon or Evening of DAY 1 –
MIX together the Spring Water and Kefir grains in a bowl. 
ADD Spelt flour and stir about 100 strokes.
The consistency should resemble a thick pancake batter.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature.

Morning of DAY 2 –
Bubbling starter
“FEED” the starter a few hours before making the final dough: STIR the starter and add 1/4 cup Organic Spelt flour and, 1/4 cup spring water.  Let rise until bubbles form: about 4 – 8 hours. (Consistency should still resemble thick pancake batter.)

When starter is ready:
Starter stirred and ready to go
STIR starter (with rubber spatula) 
MIX Kefir grains into 3/4 cup Spring Water. (This is the "insurance" step that may not be necessary.)
ADD kefir mixture to starter and stir until combined. 
TRANSFER starter to a large bowl.

ADD 1 cup All-Purpose Organic Einkorn flour and stir to combine. 
STIR in 1½ teaspoons salt. 
ADD Einkorn flour, one cup at a time and stir to combine as dough begins to form.
KNEAD dough until smooth and elastic. (I first used the rubber spatula and finished kneading by hand.) 
(Pinch a small amount of dough--it will spring back when ready.) 
TRANSFER dough to greased bowl.
COVER bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 3 –
REMOVE dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (I place bowl in oven with a bowl of boiling water for about 1 hour.) 
PUNCH dough down and knead briefly on lightly floured counter top. 
FORM dough into 2 loaves.
PLACE loaves on greased and floured baking sheet.
SPRINKLE loaves with flour to prevent sticking. 
COVER loaves with parchment paper and then a clean towel or cloth napkin, ONLY while the loaves rise. Let rise until almost double in bulk, about 20 to 40 minutes.
PREHEAT oven to 450 Degrees Fahrenheit, while waiting for the loaves to rise.
About 1 minute before baking, pour about 1/2 cup hot or boiling water in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Even better: spritz the sides of the oven with a spray bottle filled with water. You do not want a pool of water sitting in the bottom of the oven.
CUT 1/4 inch slices into the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife, just before they go into the preheated and steamed oven.
Place loaves in oven.
BAKE loaves for about 10 minutes until they take on color and begin to puff up.
REDUCE oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
BAKE until done (about another 20 to 30 minutes.) 
ROTATE the loaf pan(s) halfway through baking time, to ensure even baking.
COOL loaves on wire rack.
STORE in sealed plastic bag when completely cool. Refrigerate after a couple of days.


  1. I just had the same idea with the water kefir (second ferment) and did it last night but it did not rise at I will try your way...just one question: why is your starter gray looking? Is it the color of the flour you use? thanks

    1. Starter looks tan in real life due to the Spelt flour. It appears gray here due to kitchen lighting and inferior camera.

  2. I just had the same idea with the water kefir (second ferment) and did it last night but it did not rise at I will try your way...just one question: why is your starter gray looking? Is it the color of the flour you use? thanks

  3. Thanks for posting! Did the kefir grains add any difference in the texture? (Did you notice you were eating them?)

    1. Great question! Yes the texture is different than when using yeast; the bread will be more dense when using the kefir grains. Also, I knew I was eating the kefir grains because I knew they were in the bread, but my "taste testers" did not mention it. When baking at such a high temperature (475F) the grains sort of "explode" into the dough; some may even leave little holes. Larger kefir grains may not get completely absorbed into the dough; and I have eaten a few grains-- it was like biting a tiny raison.)