Yesterday, I transferred six gallon of new Sauvignon Blanc wine from its primary fermenter (food-grade plastic bucket), into a secondary fermenter (glass carboy), leaving behind billions of yeast cells that had done their job beautifully. I was diluting the slurry of yeast collected on the bucket's bottom, to make it easier to pour out when I thought, "I wonder if it could bake bread?".
I scooped out 60g of the much diluted slurry--looked like slightly muddy water--and added 60g of first clear flour, and one-eighth tsp. of diastatic malt powder. Well stirred, I put it in the microwave, with the door propped ajar to keep the light on. (76°F). I chose first clear flour for its ash content, and added the malt powder for a little bit more sugar boost. Champagne yeast is expecting a very sugary environment. Six hour later it peaked, I fed it twice more (no additional malt powder), at approximately six hour intervals; the last six hour spent at 55°F in the wine closet while I got some sleep. I baked a single batard this morning with 300g of this 100% hydration "poolish?", 45g whole Rye, 138g each of AP and Bread Flour, and 9g of salt--this is essentially my weekly sourdough formula with about 4% more leavain than usual. I fermented and S&F'd the dough as always. Bulk fermentation was one-half hour longer than with my usual levain, and the final proof took two hours, again about one-half hour longer than usual. Baked: Pre-heat 550°F, reduced to 450°F immediately following loading, steam for 15 minutes, finished at 430°F an additional 15 minutes.
The wine yeast, Lalvin EC1118, is an old friend. As I understand, it was first isolated to make champagne. It is very alcohol tolerent (18%) and ferments cleanly and completely, In addition to fermenting white wines, I've used it over the years for finishing high alcohol beers like Imperial Stout or Barley Wine, and restarting stuck fermentations. I've characterized it to fellow brewers, "If there's sugar in old tennis shoes, this yeast will ferment them."
Here's the loaf
I guess, at the end of the day yeast is yeast. The taste of this bread, obviously, lacks the slight tanginess we experience in its sourdough form, but the wheat flavors, and rye base note come through cleanly. I'm curious what beer yeast might do. Beer yeasts are especially noted for contributing flavor to beers. There is a beer yeast especially isolated to ferment wheat beers, that contributes a banana-like flavor to the finished beer. I wonder what it would do in bread dough: yet another thing to put on the list to try; it keeps getting longer.