The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Successfully got brewers yeast to ferment flour

Tandem Tails's picture
Tandem Tails

Successfully got brewers yeast to ferment flour

This probably isn't anything mind blowing, but it was a fun experiment.  I brew a lot of beer and had some extra WLP001 (chico) yeast slurry that I wasn't going to use and wanted to see if I could get it to start fermenting bread flour.

I took 3/4 cup of yeast slurry and added it to equal parts water and whole wheat flour.  I then used the standard sourdough feeding schedule.  I discarded all but 50g, adding 40g whole wheat flour and 40g filtered water twice daily for about a week.  One morning I woke up to see the starter was extremely active and had risen extremely well.  It also smelled pretty nice and had a slight sour twang.

I wasn't sure how well it was going to do on its own so I did a couple hybrid loaves but yesterday I finally did two 100% leavened loaves using nothing but the beer yeast starter.

My method was to make a levain with some of the unfed starter, bulk ferment for about 14 hours overnight, proof for 3-ish hours and then bake.

Here's the recipe for the bread in the attached photo, a turmeric almond loaf:


* 50g starter

* 50g WW flour

* 200g bread flour

* 200g water @ 85'F


* 410g bread flour

* 320g water @95'F

* 108g levain

* 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

* 80g slivered almonds

* 11g sea salt


* mix levain at 8am

* autolyse at 2:30pm

* mix at 3:00pm, 4x folds over first 3-4 hours

* bulk ferment until 6:30am the following day

* proof for ~3 hours or until it passes the finger dent test

* baked at ~450'F in a dutch oven, covered, for 38 minutes and uncovered for 14 minutes.

Ambient temperature in my house was 68'F.

mikedilger's picture

In times past using barm from fermenting ale was the most common way to make bread.  Propagating a starter as we do today was actually the less common way of doing things... depending of course on the region, time period, etc... but in my experience I've seen more references to barm than to dough from the previous batch.