The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wild yeast starter - NOT sourdough

  • Pin It
tutti's picture

Wild yeast starter - NOT sourdough

hey everyone,

i've been creeping these forums for a few months- since i've started baking. i'm just wondering whether it is possible to capture wild yeast but not have the starter/water/whatever go sour. one poster talks about it here. she loosely describes her method in her post, but does anyone know about a conversion chart that lists 'wild yeast water'? i wouldn't know how much to use in a recipe...

one of the reasons i want to start using wild yeast is because my bread always turns out yeasty tasting, even the loaf that i think i overproofed. is this normal, or should i use less yeast? i am baking using sprouted wheat berries, so i am reluctant to change the amount of yeast (~2.5 tsp active dry/loaf) because it might affect how much my bread rises.

thank you!!

proth5's picture

2.5 tsp ADY is about the right amount for 5 cups of flour - so depending on your loaf size that could be the right amount.

Our friends at Fleischman's yeast tell us that a yeasty taste comes from over-fermentation - and your experience with overproffed loaves might bear this out.  You want to be careful about how long you let the dough ferment - it should double - not much more.

I seem to recall my old pal Betty Crocker counseling me that the yeasty taste is a result of letting the dough rise at too warm a temperature.  She contended that even doubling the yeast (to make the bread rise faster) would not result in a yeasty taste, but the high temperature fermentation would.  Again "over-fermentation" is coming in to play.

So, you might want to start there.

Although the yeast-water looks like a fascinating practice.

Hope this helps.

clazar123's picture

Whether it is in a flour/starch base or a carbohydrate/fruit/sugar base-yeast is yeast. I made 1 loaf using wao's yeast method with fermented fruit in water and it was quite delicious but I think my flour based sourdough was easier to manage long term.Maybe it is just what I am used to doing.

Don't let the term "sourdough" fool you. My bread is never sour.I make all kinds of loaves: white-whole wheat-fruited-sweet-savory and none of them are sour. I don't like sour bread. You can certainly culture your sourdough starter to produce really sour bread, if you want to.

As for the yeasty taste, I concur with the above comments. If you have to have a short rise time, you have to have a really active sourdough starter or you use commercial yeast.But if you have some time,either use small amounts of yeast (1/4 tsp) and do an overnight fermentation or use sourdough and a little yeast.The flavor boost is quite amazing.I frequently mix my dough in the evening and throw it in the refrig in a covered plastic. The next AM it is almost doubled. I let it warm up a bit, shape,proof and bake.

Try the water/fruit/tea yeast sometime. Delicioius fun.

tutti's picture


thanks for everyone's comments, they were really helpful! this place is amazing...

also, after a night in the fridge, how long do you let your dough proof for in the loaf pan and at what temperature?

can you share with us your sourdough starter recipe clazar123? well, i have only looked up peter reinhart's version and it seemed very involved (3 seperate recipes to follow, more than a week) so i automatically thought yeast water would be easier.

thanks again!!

Yumarama's picture

The "sour" part of "sourdough" means fermented, not bitter.

You may note that there are enough people on these boards perplexed because their sourdough is NOT "sour" enough for their liking to show that fermenting doesn't automatically translate to bitter or acidy flavours. The acid content of the bread, that part that gives the dough the "tang" people associate with "sour", can be manipulated through temperature and proofing times, as well as by how you feed and store the starter.

But you can absolutely make bread without that tang using sourdough.

And yes, you can cut back on the ADY you use, it just means giving your dough more time to rise. This too would depend on temperatures, sugar content (commercial yeast does like it's sugar!) etc. so it's not strictly a "reduce yeast by X and add Y time" type of formula.

A Hamelman BREAD baking group