Master Breadmaking

A fascinating study in how bread has been made for thousands of years….

I think it is in Italian… but it is mostly banter. The visuals carry the story. The Bakery:

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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40 Responses to Master Breadmaking

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    At this very moment I am in the middle of making a couple of loafs of sourdough bread, to be baked first thing tomorrow morning. I have become tired of crappy store bought breads with poor flavor, weak crumb and tough crusts! Home made is solid food that is a pleasure to consume and does not upset this old digestive system! Giving the flour time to ferment is the key. pg

  2. Steve Crook says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that as part of keeping a grip on my desire to eat bread and other baked stuff I’m going to bake rather than buy. If I can’t be bothered to bake I don’t get to eat baked stuff.

    No idea how well it’ll go, but I think it’s worth the effort even though my relationship with fermented baking has always been a bit hit or miss. Mostly miss, apart from Stollen, and I’ve got pretty good at that…

  3. spetzer86 says:

    What were the little twists she was making with the small bits of dough and the little dowel? They showed her making a ton of them, but nothing afterwards.

  4. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    A good thing about sourdough [see p.g.s. above ] is that nature supplies the yeast.
    All the shut-ins from Panic 2020 decided to “learn” to make bread. A photo story showed a lot of failed attempts. Old flour and old yeast provide great learning experiences, but not much edible bread.
    Because such stories were in the news, an older friend gave us his bread machine with the wish that we would pay him with a couple of loafs. The thing wants dry yeast and powdered milk. Neither of which we had. I’ve never used a machine to make bread.
    Yeast sales were up over 410% during the first 2 weeks of April compared to last year.
    Anyway, I checked the jar of yeast I did have. Too old as a test proved, so threw it out.
    If you think grocery stores are short of toilet paper, try to find yeast.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    I would have to agree, there was a lot of interesting movements and a very general demonstration of the old ways but very little real information on actual bread making.
    That seems to be the case, as I study Utubes on bread making there is science and a LOT of art involved. A very living organic effort in creating the “Staff of Life”. With every batch I make it art becomes a bit more natural and a bit less forced. And after all, I get to eat my mistakes. With a bit of butter or home made Jelly or Marmalade, heavenly…pg

  6. jim2 says:

    Supposedly, there is something special about West Coast sour dough starter. King Arthur flour offers a starter they term “Classic”, although they don’t say it’s West Coast.

    That site also has a ton of info on baking and recipes. Here is their take on sourdough:

  7. Nancy & John Hultquist says:


    Maybe a form of twisted Cinnamon Roll with icing, mostly sugar and maybe cream cheese. One site calls them twisted cinnamon roll dunkers.
    Cooking web pages are nasty with ads, two or three lines of text, pretty photos (often repeated), and the writer’s self promotion.

    If I have a little extra pie crust dough, I just flatten it, sprinkle with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and maybe chopped Pecans, and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Not worth a photo, but tastes great.
    Bread dough would make a softer product.

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    Nancy & John Hultquist mentions the difficulty of obtaining yeast in the store. I had been making sourdough bread and my lady remarked that she wanted sweet bread and not sourdough for cinnamon rolls so she pulls out some packets of yeast from her pantry stores, “Use by date” June of 2010! A bit old? Do you think? She attempted to pick up new stuff in the stores and the shelves are bare. So I’m working on a recipe that tones down the Sour and improves the Sweet. Until I’m successful she will just have to complain while eating the rolls and bread that I make…pg

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    I think the curls were for fresh noodles. She had a pot of water boiling in the background.

    Per yeast:

    Probably over s decade ago I bought a huge package of dry yeast at Costco. Probably a pound of it. Divided into one cup jars, one to the fridge, rest to the freezer. The current jar was moved to the fridge from the freezer some years ago. Still works great.

    Store your yeast in jars in the refrigerator or freezer, not in the cupboard.

    Per sourdough:

    I’ve made starter a dozen times. It is just yeast + lactobacteria. There are many kinds of yeast and many lactobacteria, so particular kinds give some flavor variation. I’ve typically used regular bread yeast and a shot of milk or yogurt to start the starter. It has worked every time.

    Cup of flour (optionally add tsp sugar), + 1/2 tsp yeast + 1/2 cup of fresh milk or yogurt, + enough water to make a soft dough. Put in a tub with a loose lid and let it sit overnight.

    There is a balance of lactic acid holding back the yeast and yeast eating the sugars / starches holding back the bacteria. It reaches a balance over time. Then add a cup of flour to move the growth back toward yeast, or wait longer to move it to more acid.

    I currently have 2 jars, 1/4 full with lid slightly loosened, of both sourdough starter and plain yeast sponge in the fridge. I’ll sometimes go a week or two not using them or feeding them. When needed, I take it out, into a tub, add a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water, and let it set, room temp, for a few hours then treat it like fresh starter or sponge. Sometimes I’ll freeze it for months. Restart is the same. Defrost, add wet flour, wait a few hours and go.

    I never do the “move one cup forward throw out the rest”. Excess starter gets mixed with the same amount of flour and turned into bread… (1/2 tsp salt per cup of flour, enough water to make a dough). If I want a break from breadmaking, it goes to the fridge or freezer.

    San Francisco is cool and damp. So the wild yeast and lactobacteria are a bit different from the eastern types. That makes a somewhat more sour dough. But so does letting the dough ferment longer… Maybe I’m a pleeb, but it just seems like most other sourdough bread to me. Subtile differences, but not enough for me to really care about.

    BTW, I’ve used my own yeast sponge and no milk at all in my bread maker machine. Or fresh milk. Or canned. It is just a mixer and tiny oven. You just can’t do the long duration timer thing with fresh milk as it wants to sour over many hours. Dump in and turn on, no problem.


    You might want to try making some sponge using beer or wine yeast then use it for bread. There’s some difference in flavor, but it ought to be O.K. and won’t be sour.

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; I did threaten to use wine yeast that I have, It is a Champagne yeast, so very neutral in flavor. I would fear beer yeast would have it’s own flavor notes. Good for me 8-) but my lady would have another point. I prefer the natural sourdough flavor and finished bread consistency that I’m getting. Getting my bread making technique right is the challenge at this point. I think that adding sugar to the sponge will tip the balance towards the yeast, increase the rise. So less sour and softer the bread in the finished product. Moving toward GP flour and less bread flour also helps, specially in getting a softer crust.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Fats / oils soften the crust & crumb. Non-fat breads are tougher and stiffer.

    Like putting lots of fat layers gives a flaky pie crust or pastry. Fats in the dough gives softer finish to bread. Brush the finished loaf with melted butter for a very soft crust. Between about 1 tsp and 1 Tbls per cup of flour. Can be added to the flour just before starter is added.

    Think of it as plasticizer for the glutin ;-)

  12. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith replied 3 May 2020 at 4:38 pm GMT:
    You might want to try making some sponge using beer or wine yeast then use it for bread. There’s some difference in flavor, but it ought to be O.K. and won’t be sour.

    Has anyone here tried using the yeast residue that’s inside every bottle of craft beer that’s described as unfiltered? Empty the bottle, then swirl water around the bottom, and reserve whatever residue can be poured out.

    I know how to use yeast residue from freshly emptied bottles for homebrewing beer: I’ve got the Erlenmeyer flasks and air-locks in stoppers for propagating yeast that I started in rehydrated dry malt extract. I’m ignorant of any reason that it couldn’t be used in flour for bread, altho’ it’s possible that the home baker would prefer yeast from a lager instead of a hop-intensive India pale ale. But speaking of ignorance, I’ve never tried to bake bread. D.m.e. might sweeten bread, being a form of sugar that’s derived from malted barley; it’s available from homebrewing shops. Having speculated on that, my fermention equipment is sitting neglected in storage, so experimentation realistically ought to be done by someone herein who understands making bread.

    Of course, such experimentation would provide an excuse to drink really good beer of the bread-makers choice.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    There really isn’t a major difference between beer yeast and bread yeast. Champagne and strong wine yeast continues growing to higher alcohol concentrations, having been selected for that over centuries. There are subtle differences in flavor some folks claim matter, but I’ve never been good at finding them (I’m from the “beer is beer” cohort and don’t care if one is dryer or has aeromatic overtones vs another, it is still beer.)

    THE oldest bread recipe we’ve found has you make bread dough then just barely sterilize the outside in an oven to preserve it… THEN you crumble into water later to make beer, having proven there’s yeast in it… So IMHO using beer yeast for bread is just returning to the 5000 Y.A. roots.

    FWIW, I have a packet of beer yeast in the fridge and would have already trialed it, but for having a full fresh loaf of bread on the counter. So in a day or two I’ll be able to report.

    There is the complication of ale yeast vs lager. Until the New World contact, bottom fermenting yeast making Ale was the norm. After that, Germans started making Lager. Only recently it was worked out that top fermenting lager yeast came ftom South America as an accidental back introduction. So any big difference will likely be there and most likely Ale yeast is closer to bread yeast (being old world for both.)

    I have some of each, so in about a week can likely trial both (depending on how fast I can eat the bread and the yeast viability)

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    Every bottle of Sierra Nevada beer has a pinch of yeast in it as it is finished in the bottle. As it settles to the bottom it would make an interesting project. Pour off most of the beer to drink and then proof the bottle washings…………………might take a 6 pack to gather enough…………………sounds like a difficult project for some dedicated experimenter… 8-) …pg.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Some British bottled Ales have bottle finish yeast. I’ve used them to make beer before, so know it is viable. One of these I think…

    Might need to buy one of each to be sure you get the right one ;-)

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve started an Ale Yeast sponge culture. About a gram or two of dry high end Ale Yeast, in about 4 oz. of water (125 ml), with a tsp (5ml) of sugar, then about 1/2 cup (4 oz volume or 125 ml) of bread flour stirred in.

    This is wetter than my usual sponge as this yeast expects a very aqueous environment, so want a lower challenge starting case. Sugar is stirred into warm water, then yeast sprinkled on top. It absorbes the sugar water and wakes up happy, sinking to the bottom. Then I stirred in the bread flour. It is now about like a thin pancake batter.

    Inside 8 hours, it ought to get rolling and make bubbles and foam some. Then I’ll add enough flour to make it more like a typical sponge (gloppy dough stage). Continued fermentation then will confirm it has the chops to eat flour. I’ll then use a couple of ounces of it to make a small loaf of bread using bread flour. Don’t know if that will be tonight or tomorrow. Depends on the yeast growth.

  17. patrick healy says:

    Come on you Yanks!
    What is all this sour dough stuff?
    Have you never heard of Irish soda bread? It ain’t rocket science.

  18. Power Grab says:

    I seem to remember making a loaf of beer bread once. I had to go out and buy a can of beer since I don’t imbibe. But it was a simple matter of adding the beer to self-rising flour.

    Here is a page with a recipe and some discussion:

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Um, my Irish grandparents who came over during the potato famine would not take kindly to your accusations…. Yes, I’m a “Yank”… Yes, I’m a mutt with English Mum and Irish / Amish German Dad. But to accuse me of not knowing how to make Soda Bread! Why, the NERVE!!

    /sarc; for the faux incensed insensitive ;-)

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, the Ale Yeast (from an open packet stored in a jar since 2015) didn’t ferment, so I’ve added a different Ale Yeast of the same date from a sealed foil, packet. We’ll know in a few more hours if it is alive… Oxygen or heat inactivation, that is the question.

    I have a similar date lager yeast if this fails.

  21. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith replied 4 May 2020 at 2:37 pm GMT:
    There is the complication of ale yeast vs lager. Until the New World contact, bottom fermenting yeast making Ale was the norm. After that, Germans started making Lager.

    For the sake of other readers, I must point out were E.M.’s distinction accurate, his yeasts would be worth some serious genetic research, because they behave oppositely to the norm. For everybody else, including my own batches of homebrewed beer:
    ale yeasts ferment on the top, in warm environments;
    lager yeasts ferment on the bottom, typically in cooler environments.

    You can readily confirm that difference by watching active fermentation of the unfermented brew from the boiling kettle, as done in repurposed glass bottles of several gallons capacity (a.k.a. carboys, typically 5 or 7 gal.) that’re familiar from upside-down use in 20th-C. office water coolers. To see fermentation once it “takes off” (woo-hoo! ), curious viewers need not bring magnifying optics nor specialized-spectrum lighting to the party.

    There’s a complication to consumer choices, as home-brewing guru Charlie Papazian cautions [⚛]:

    Unfortunately, only ale yeasts are dependably available in dry form. If the package claims that it is a lager yeast, its behavior will be similar to ale yeasts, and for all intents and purposes, it is an ale yeast.

    E.M.Smith replied 4 May 2020 at 2:37 pm GMT:
    Only recently it was worked out that  top fermenting  lager yeast came ftom South America as an accidental back introduction.

    Fascinating! So I found, by a cursory search, a Wikipedia article with a citation and link to Diego Libkind &al. 2011: “Microbe domestication and the identification of the wild genetic stock of lager-brewing yeast” [*]. An excerpt from its abstract:

    Lager-beer, first brewed in the 15th century, employs an allotetraploid hybrid yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus (syn. Saccharomyces carlsbergensis), a domesticated species created by the fusion of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae ale-yeast with an unknown cryotolerant Saccharomyces species. We report the isolation of that species and designate it Saccharomyces eubayanus sp. nov. because of its resemblance to Saccharomyces bayanus (a complex hybrid of S. eubayanus, S[.] uvarum, and S. cerevisiae found only in the brewing environment). Individuals from populations of S. eubayanus and its sister species, S. uvarum, exist in apparent sympatry in Nothofagus (Southern beech) forests in Patagonia [….]

    Hmmm. Might the usefulness of the previously unknown yeast have been discovered by some Central Europeans when they tried to brew an alcoholic beverage based on potatoes, which also are indigenous to S. America? Another hypothesis (not by me) is that fruit flies contaminated with that yeast had been attracted to wooden kegs of beer loaded below deck for a return voyage from a S. American port to a German port. The latter seems to me to be quite a stretch, but matbe other readers will suggest scenarios that make it seem more plausible.

    Note ⚛: Charlie Papazian 1994: The Home Brewer’s Companion, p. 88. He gained fame as the guy with a  Ph.D. in nuclear-physics  B.S. (U.Va.) in nuclear engineering (my draft downgraded per Wikipedia) who digressed to writing The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, its 1st edition published in 1984. The latter work is a how-to book that’s rich in technical detail, which provided a confident start to myriad novice home-brewers, including myself. It’s now in at least its 4th edition (2014), if not its 5th. “”.

    Note *: “” cites Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.  2011 Aug 30; 108(35): 14539–14544, and provides a link to the readily Web-accessible “”. For some reason, the presumably more spacific “” has its accessible link instead to “”.

  22. Compu Gator says:

    p.g.sharrow replied 4 May 2020 at 2:50 pm GMT:
    Every bottle of Sierra Nevada beer has a pinch of yeast in it as it is finished in the bottle. As it settles to the bottom it would make an interesting project.

    I was actually leaning toward recommending cultivation of yeast residue from Sierra Nevada‘s “Summerfest Lager“, which is a pilsner, thus using lager yeast, but I suspect that they filter that out. Not to worry: They offer a newish “Southern Gothic”, which contains wheat, and they market it as “unfiltered Pils[ner]“. But heavily hopped brews, like S.N.’s “Pale Ale” and hoppier digressions from that brew that defines it American style, bring an advantage of tending to inhibit bacterial growth.

    Or Anchor’s “Steam”™, a hybrid that’s the product of a smallish S.F. brewery (est. 1896) that was famously saved from bankruptcy in 1965 by Fritz Maytag. It’s fermented warm but with lager yeast, reputedly once depending on S.F. fog for initial chilling to yeast-friendly temperatures, then “aged cold” [⚓]. Beware that to dodge its trademark, the style has been more-or-less officially dubbed California Common.

    Or even Guinness Stout, which as still sold in bottles in Florida, is brewed in Ireland, but I coulda sworn that I’d bought some bottles brewed in a Caribbean country [♣].

    By the way, in the U.S.A., the term on the label indicating carbonation by adding yeast to the bottle before it’s capped is more likely to be “bottle conditioned

    p.g.sharrow replied 4 May 2020 at 2:50 pm GMT:
    Pour off most of the beer to drink and then proof the bottle washings … might take a 6 pack to gather enough.

    Or maybe add a step of preliminary research, by taking advantage of stores that allow customers to “mix & match” bottles into de facto “sampler” 6-packs. As a practical matter, you should choose from bottles in which you can see yeast residue when you hold them up to the store’s lighting. Then after dispassionately evaluating them at home, you ought to be confident that in the next step of your research, you’ll make an appropriate choice with whatever single-brew 6-pack yeast source you buy. That step, of course, will be only to assure yourself of obtaining a sufficient volume of more-or-less identical yeast strains. Recognizing that brewing is a water-intensive process, when you decant & reserve the bottled liquid to obtain its yeast, you’ll certainly want to prevent your bread-making from causing any environmentally callous waste.

    Note ⚓: Yep, Fritz was an heir to the fortune of those Maytags.  At the time, he was  Until 1959, he had been a far-from-impoverished grad student at Stanford, studying an esoteric field: ‘Japanese Literature’ i.I.r.c.  He then leapt into studies of microbiology, and over time, eliminated the quality issues that made kegs of Anchor beer unpleasantly, um, variable, in taste, which had caused customer push-back that dragged down its business. So it’s no surprise at all that “This venture did not initially meet with enthusiasm from his family back in Iowa.” Well! I have no trouble imagining his family’s grumbling: “First it’s grad-school for ‘Japanese Literature’, and now it’s a failing brewery! This boy needs to get serious about his future! What could he possibly be thinking!?” Dang! I’m getting frustrated with rewriting text when Wikipedia disagrees with details from my memories, when all I wanted was to nail down some dates: “”. Fritz’s eventual success made his “Steam Beer”™ a starring exemplar that predated the early craft-brewing boom. As he got the brewing & business issues under control, he was famously coöperative in assisting novice microbrewing entrepreneurs who, if successful, would become his competition. Inc. magazine explains why, in more-enjoyable reading: “Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing [:] for setting limits”, By “Inc. Editorial, Inc. Staff”, but signed “Bo Burlingham” (2005), on the Web: “”.

    Note ♣: How what I’m about to report as a widespread preference is a mystery to me, but during the prolonged heat of Florida summer, racially black immigrants from various Caribbean countries (incl. a Jamaican shift manager I once worked for during some blue-collar employment), do not want a chilled lager, but instead want a stout ale, notably a Guinness. But I do acknowledge the classical advice “de gustibus non disputandum”. And there is a less roasty alternative that’s available here, “Dragon Stout“, which its label describes as “original Jamaican since 1920” (try to ignore that it’s brewed by the people also responsible for the wretched “Red Stripe” lager); its bottles also have residual yeast, altho’ maybe less than Guinness. “Guinness has a significant share of the African beer market, where it has been sold since 1827. About 40 per cent of worldwide total Guinness volume is brewed and sold in Africa, with Foreign Extra Stout the most popular variant. [….] The beer is brewed under licence internationally in several countries, including Nigeria,[121][122] the Bahamas, Canada,[123] Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea, Namibia, and Indonesia. [….] The UK is the only sovereign state to consume more Guinness than Ireland. The third-largest Guinness drinking nation is Nigeria (est. pop. 205 million), followed by the USA”. “”.

  23. Compu Gator says:

    Compu Gator replied 5 May 2020 at 3:00 am GMT:
    Note ♣: How what I’m about to report as a widespread preference is a mystery to me [….] But I
    do acknowledge the classical advice “de gustibus non disputandum”.

    Upon further review, I realized that my footnote ‘♣’ failed to present the relevance of the ethnic market for Guinness here in Central Florida: One can sometimes find better prices for Guinness, e.g., $8.99 per 6-pack, at local markets or convenience stores that serve a predominatly black customer-base, than at “discount” liquor chains or groceries.

    So I would not be greatly distressed if E.M. were to decide to delete that footnote in my recent “3:00 am” posting as identified above. After all, brewing is already a digression from the declared topic, albeit closely related in many ways.

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, so I got top and bottom backwards for yeasts. My bad. I think it was yeast deposited on the bottom of ale bottles that was the false memory trigger.

    FWIW, in hot environments when physically active, I prefer a cool not cold English Ale to an American style almost beer at ice temperature. The cold shot of iced beer makes it hard to drink without “brain freeze” or a bit of tummy churn. I think 45 F to 60F is about ideal.

    I posted on another thread that I’ve got a ‘loaf of bread worth’ of flour fermenting in a warm place using American Ale yeast dated 2017 and will know in a few hours if it rises well and / or tastes right.

  25. H.R. says:

    Since the yeast shortage was brought up, I checked at the grocery store yesterday and no yeast packets to be found.

    They had small jars of yeast. One was fortified so your bread has all the vitamins and whatnot of enriched flour. The other said it was inactive yeast. I’m still puzzling over why they would use that descriptor, unless it’s a warning to activate the yeast before using it.

    We’ve had enough reports from both coasts and the middle to declare a national yeast shortage.

    There were bread shortages the first couple of weeks of shutdown. My guess is that some people, with time on their hands being off work, decided to bake their own bread. It wouldn’t take much to raise demand for yeast by a factor of 5 or 10, quickly wipe out store stock, and put suppliers way behind.

    Now that the commercial bread bakeries are catching up, and some people are returning to work, let’s see if yeast starts showing up again.

  26. Compu Gator says:

    Compu Gator replied 5 May 2020 at 3:00 am GMT:
    Note ⚓:
    Yep, Fritz was an heir to the fortune of those Maytags. [….]

    Upon further review, I realized that my footnote ‘⚓’ was another digression from the declared topic. So I would not be greatly distressed if E.M. also were to decide to delete that footnote in my recent “3:00 am” posting as identified above. Altho’ declining to take webmastering action, thus leaving it, in would also be “no biggie”.

    I didn’t shorten it myself, while retaining its HTML-festooned draft in my log file for future use, because it had become way past time for me to wrap up my elaboration of my draft, and post it. To a great degree, it was a self-contained example of the centuries-old tension between writers and editors evoked by deleting perfectly good words. Because a crucial characteristic of WordPress-hosted postings puts me in both roles, sometimes a few hours of sleep makes a big difference.

  27. E.M.Smith says:


    Maybe in a few hours after I’m sure the final edits are up…


    Why I’ve been talking about making sponge. Basically just a yeast farm. Strongly conserves yeast supply.

    When I start on a bread making binge, instead of using loads of commercial yeast, I take about 1/2 tsp. from refrigerated storage and grow about a quart of sponge. Then that gets used about 1/4 cup per loaf made. More flour added to the sponge, like for sourdough starter, but no milk or other lactic acid bacteria source. I’ve run a batch for months some times making dozens of loaves.

    A couple of decades back I figured out I was spending as much for those dry yeast packets as for flour, per loaf. That offended my sence of efficiency and cost control. First iteration of the fix was a 1 lb. yeast package from Costco. A few years later, the last 1/3 was no longer working well, having absorbed enough moisture in the fridge to age out.. 2nd. Iteration was dividing into small jars, then freezing some. That was my second pound of yeast (about $3 then). Third iteration was adding a sponge tub and sour dough starter tub. I’ve yet to buy a 3rd package of yeast… still have about half of that second pound in the freezer. I go through about 1 tsp per year for sponge making, on average. More when I use it dry to make jars of breadmaker premix, but I’m down to about 6 of those a year and dropping as I make more variety loaf types.

    So in times of yeast shortage, you just need one packet.

    Or a neighbor willing to share starter or sponge.

    BTW, I kicked up my breadmaking so as to have fresh while cutting store exposure trips. I can live with canned milk, but just dry crackers gets old fast… Didn’t know when frequent shopping would be safe enough again. Only in the last few weeks have they got the plastic barriers, gloves, masks thing going here. So bought my first store bread in months a few days ago.

    Not surprising, but my taste for white foam nothing bread seems to have faded…

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    The first rise is done. I’d mixed the bit of Ale Yeast sponge into 2 C. bread flour, a bit under 1 C water, and 1 tsp salt. (No milk, oil, sugar or anything else as I want to see it grow on just flour).

    If was a relatively wet dough, kind of like for ciabatta bread.

    After rising (it bubbled well and about doubled or a bit more) I turned it out on a floured surface and worked in more flour with modest kneading to a soft smooth dough stage. Formed a loaf, and it is now doing second rise in a loaf pan.

    A few more hours and we’ll have the flavor answer.

    Tasting a bit of dough was not remarkably different from other bread dough. Maybe a bit more interesting overtones at the edge of perception… or it is 10 minutes to lunch and I’m hungry…

  29. p.g.sharrow says:

    Back in “67” I was hanging out with a bunch of Limeys in their NCO Club in HongKong. I’d been marooned there for 10 days due to a SNAFU due to the war. We were swapping lies and testeing the beer, when it became time for another round. As the beer tender was taking our orders the Brits suggested I try Guinness Stout, “Sure! never had that one, why not?” So soon I have this big glass of some warm brown “liquid” in front of me.
    Now we had been having a spirited discussion on the prowess of their professional Navy vers that of the American Navy of “amateur” citizen Sailors. I pointed out that we could only find that out, If our Navies had a real set to and we most certainly wouldn’t want that to happen. We agreed to that fact as our next beers arrived.
    I took a big swig of that warm Stout, Kind of tasted like a chocolate made in a road tar bucket and about the same consistency …… kind of smiled and said “that is not too bad”, and shouted for another round. After that I was part of the crew! …pg

  30. Compu Gator says:

    H.R. replied 5 May 2020 at 2:51 pm GMT:
    They had small jars of yeast. One was fortified so your bread has all the vitamins and whatnot of enriched flour. The other said it was inactive yeast. I’m still puzzling over why they would use that descriptor, unless it’s a warning to activate the yeast before using it.

    That was my initial reaction, too, but altho’ sensible, my cursory search on the Web seems to indicate that it’s incorrect.

    Try, e.g., either of these Web pages:
    • “Inactivated Yeast [:] Also Known As Deactivated Yeast”:, or
    • “Active and inactive yeast”:

    In the latter source, it seems that the label “brewer’s yeast“, in the context of baking supplies, identifies a dead yeast (marketed using the kinder, gentler adjective “inactive”) that is used in baking as a “food supplement” (notably B-vitamins), for flavoring, and for its physical properties, but being dead, it will not ferment bread dough. I assume that it will also not ferment wort (i.e., the output of a boiling kettle for brewing).

    To ferment bread dough, bakers need “baker’s yeast“, which is alive and active.

    I suspect that “brewer’s yeast” got its confusing label because it’s often (or nearly always?) prepared from brewing by-products that are available only after fermentation has completed, and then is processed into becoming, um, dead. I also suspect that the label often enough causes serious frustration among grocery &c. customers who find packets of yeast bearing that label, and quite reasonably–but incorrectly–assume that they can brew with it: “Honey, I just found the yeast I need for trying home-brewing; it’s stocked over here with the baking supplies.”  Sigh.  What such customers need in that context, albeit suboptimal for home-brewing, is “baker’s yeast“.

    Beware that I have no experience baking with grains, so I might’ve misunderstood crucial baking terms.

  31. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Per your mention of checking smaller stores to get items wiped out in the big stores, it will probably hold true for yeast.

    I love sourdough bread, the Mrs. not so much. Since I have to limit my bread intake, a loaf would go bad on me before it was half finished. I might go ahead and make small sourdough loaves like they serve in the nicer restaurants along with dipping oil. That would keep my tendency to OD on fresh-baked bread under control.

    I was just checking yeast availability to give a field report back here, but I figured I’d pick some up and freeze it for emergency use when I run across some.

    I’ve been interested in the flatbreads (the prepper thread) and although I couldn’t get that nice Diablo sandwich maker that Greg demonstrated on that thread, I did manage to pick up the square cast iron version on the cheap.

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    Silly me, skipped the step of “check internet for someone already done it,”

    They have and it worked.

    They make a sourdough style loaf, but without the sour. Dutch oven process and all. I’m going for more of a regular white bread.

    There are other cases that pop up searching on “ale yeast bread”. In general, it works, the bread tastes like bread, and a whole lot of people SPECULATE that it won’t work, will taste funny, or have peculiar needs / issues but somehow the folks who actually did it had no problems.

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    I have a collection of half and quarter sized bread loaf pans just for the purpose of making smaller loaves for one or two people. Sometimes I mix cut down batches of dough. Sometimes a full batch and refridgerate it for a few days, using as desired, or freeze it in small loaf shaped chunks for months. Just defrost it and rise like usual. It is slow, but works.

  34. E.M.Smith says:

    The bake has started. 45 minutes at 350 F then 15+ minutes to cool, so about one hour to the taste test. Rise was good and looks like a regular loaf.

  35. E.M.Smith says:


    Nice story and I admire your diplomacy…

    While I’ve never had a beer I couldn’t drink (though some barley wine at 18% came close…) I’ve never been a fan of chocolaty stouts or dark oatmel stouts. Really, anything the color of road tar…

    I really like a Pilsner or a British Ale.

    The best beer I ever had was on tap at some random pub in the west side of London. I have no idea what if was or how to find the pub again. I was teaching a Unix class and some of us went out for a pub visit after. I was just happy to be done and paid no attention to how we got there or what was served me. Just said something like “give me a real British Ale on tap”.

    I figured all British beer would be like that. Spent years trying to find something close. I think it needs the proper pub handling to be right. Bottled just isn’t the same.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    In the bake, the aroma is a bit different. It has more of an “earthy” note to it. Not bad, just different. A bit like cooking in a camp grounds or a clay oven outdoors. Less of the sharp alcohol ferment bread smell.

    Cooling now, it is a great looking loaf.

  37. E.M.Smith says:

    Very nice soft crumb. Neutral flavor. Slightly off white color (likely from the flour, a 25 lb bag of house brand bread flour from Smart & Final that doesn’t have “bleached” written on the front) . A very nice loaf of bread that I’d never know was made with Ale Yeast if I had not made it myself.


    I think you ought to give a try to using your wine yeast for non-sourdough bread.

  38. p.g.sharrow says:

    I’ll have to try that for the next batch. I started a batch of sourdough this morning. After a half a dozen batches I find I really prefer my bread to any of that store bought stuff ! It’s more like real food even on it’s own, then just something to stick food in or on. After the shortage in the stores pushed me into making my own, Why Not! Flour, water, and salt. pretty simple ingredient list, just find some kind of leavening, Yeast is free or nearly so, Making bread is easy, making Good bread is the challenge. Like making beer or wine, GOD makes it. It is up to the technician to do a good job of helping out. technique, technique, technique is the secret. I’m still learning 8-) …pg

  39. jim2 says:

    I loved Guinness Stout back in the day. If you’re game, try Chimay Grand Reserve. It has a pretty thick layer of sediment in the bottom ;)

  40. Timster says:

    Interesting reading from everyone. I found this a couple of weeks back and had had three attempts at it so far :

    Second and third attempts not as successful as the first, I suspect due to the room being too warm and the fermentation running away. Dough ended up very wet and as a result did not “sit up” rather it flattened out in the cast iron pot before baking. Still tasted fine, but not really very high slices.

    Next one will ferment for less time and/or at a lower temp.

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