This week I have been hearing a lot from friends and family who want to make bread but can’t find any yeast in the shops. So this week I am going to share with you substitutes for yeast and a sourdough starter recipe.
First let's talk about yeast. Baker’s yeast is the name for the strains
of yeast commonly used in baking bread and bakery products. This serves as a
leavening agent which helps bread to rise or otherwise expand and become lighter
and softer by converting the fermentable sugars present in the dough into carbon
dioxide and ethanol. Bakers yeast is hard to come by at the moment so this brings me to other rising agents that you can use to bake with at home.
How to Substitute Yeast in Recipes:
It can be tricky to substitute yeast in classic kneaded bread doughs the structure of
gluten protein in those products is very strong, and substitutes such as egg whites,
baking powder, or baking soda are not powerful enough to stretch that protein
network. Yeast itself on a microscopic level “kneads” dough to help it grow and
improves the texture of the bread.
There are some substitutes for yeast that you can use in recipes such as batter
breads, pancakes, pizza dough, and cakes. The texture of the finished product will
not be quite the same if yeast is not used. The crumb may be more coarse, or the
product may not rise as high or be as fluffy or light. But the cake, or pizza crust, or
cupcake will still be acceptable. When substituting other leaveners for yeast, don’t
look at the amount of yeast called for. The substitution will depend on the amount of
flour used in the recipe.
About 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, plus an equivalent amount of acid, is used to
leaven 1 cup of flour in most recipes. If, for instance, a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for the yeast. You will need more baking soda if you are making a recipe with whole grains; add about 1/8 teaspoon more per cup of flour.
Baking powder can be used as a yeast substitute in recipes such as cakes, pizza
dough, cupcakes, pancakes, muffins, and batter breads. Do not use baking powder
in kneaded yeast breads. To substitute baking powder for yeast in recipes, use about
1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder for every cup of flour. If the recipe calls for
whole grain flour such as whole wheat or rye flour, add another 1/4 teaspoon of
baking powder per cup. Baking powder has an expiration date; check the date before
you use it.
Eggs or Egg Whites
Beaten eggs and egg whites can be used instead of yeast as leavening in batter
breads, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and pancakes. If a recipe calls for eggs or egg
whites, use them as a substitute for yeast. Beat them separately from the other
ingredients with an electric mixer. Beat whole eggs for about 5 minutes until they are light and lemon coloured. Carefully add the remaining ingredients to keep as much air in the batter as possible. Then get the batter into the pan and the oven quickly. To use egg whites for leavening: Separate the yolks from the whites, being careful not to let any yolk into the white, which will reduce foaming. Put the whites in a clean bowl and beat with an electric mixer, adding some of the sugar the recipe calls for to stabilize the foam. Combine the remaining ingredients, then carefully fold in the egg whites. Pour or spoon the batter into the pan and bake.
If a substitute doesn’t work at first, don’t give up. Look at the product. Is it not brown enough? Brush with milk or a sugar solution before baking next time. Is it too sour? Use baking powder instead of baking soda next time. Did it not rise enough?
Increase the amount of leavener the next time you make it. Substitute ingredients can be tricky so make sure to take notes while baking as this can help when altering recipes. Last but not least! The good old sourdough starter!
I have had some time to do some more sourdough research while home and here is a step by step process and recipe to try. All you need to start is flour, water, and a little bit of patience. Once combined you will start to cultivate natural yeast found in our environment. To start your starter off you’ll have to feed it almost every day to get it active. The overall process takes about 7 days from start to finish. It is not uncommon for it to take up to two weeks or more for the starter to become active This might sounds a bit vague, but growing yeast can be unpredictable at times. Please be patient.
DAY 1: MAKE THE STARTER- Combine 60 g (1⁄2 cup) of plain flour and 60 g (1⁄4 cup) of water in a large jar, food storage container, plastic or glass jug. Mix with a fork until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot for
DAY 2: BUBBLES!? Today, you’re going to check if any small bubbles have appeared on the surface. Bubbles indicate fermentation. If you don’t see anything that is OK, the bubbles might have appeared and dissolved overnight. You don’t have to do anything else right now. Rest the starter in a warm spot for another 24 hours.
DAY 3: FEED YOUR STARTER - Whether bubbles are visible or not, it’s time to start the feeding process. To begin, remove and discard approximately half of your starter from the jar. The texture will be very stretchy. Add 60 g (1⁄2 cup) of plain flour (all-purpose) and 60 g (1/4 cup) of water. Mix with a fork until smooth. Cover loosely, and let rest in a warm spot for another 24 hours.
DAYS 4, 5, AND 6: KEEP ON FEEDING! - Repeat the feeding process outlined on Day 3: Remove and discard half of the starter, and feed it with 60 g (1⁄2cup) of plain flour (all-purpose) flour and 60 g (1/4 cup) of water. As the yeast begins to develop, your starter will rise, and bubbles will form on the surface and throughout.
DAY 7: A SOURDOUGH STARTER IS BORN! - Your sourdough starter should have doubled in size. You should see plenty of bubbles, both large and small. The texture will be fluffy and should also smell pleasant. If all this is happening then your starter is ready to use! Please keep in mind, if your starter is not ready at this point which is quite common (the temperature might be too cold, your timing might be off, the yeast might need more time to grow etc.), continue to feed it for one to two weeks or more. Be patient! Keep in mind no two starters are alike. As long as your starter is bubbly and it has doubled in size, you’re all set.
A FEW TIPS.
Just like any living creature, it must be kept alive with regular feedings to maintain its strength. If your starter is not strong, your bread will not rise.
HOW TO FEED YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER -
You’re going to repeat exactly what you did on Day #3 Feeding Routine:
1 - Begin by removing and discarding about half the starter.
2. Replenish what’s left in the jar with fresh Plain flour (all purpose) flour and water.
3. Cover loosely, and let it rise at room temperature until bubbly and double in size. Once it falls, the bubbles will become frothy and eventually disappear. Then you’ll know it’s time to feed your starter again.
4. Feed your starter everyday if it’s stored at room temperature. If you keep it in the fridge, feed it once a week.
PS: If you miss a feeding, don’t worry- your starter is not going to die. It might look ugly (and smell horrendous) but it usually just needs a few feedings to get back to normal.
**** If you see dark liquid on your starter this is a form of naturally-occurring alcohol known as hooch, which indicates that your sourdough starter is hungry. Hooch is harmless but should be poured off and discarded prior to stirring and feeding your starter.
WHEN IS YOUR STARTER READY TO USE? Your starter is ready to use when there are small and large bubbles on the surface and throughout. The culture should be spongy or fluffy in texture and have a pleasant aroma.
STORAGE OPTIONS - You can store your starter at room temperature if you bake often—let’s say a few times a week. This will speed up fermentation, making the starter bubbly, active, and ready to use faster. Room temperature starters should be fed one to two times a day, depending on how quickly they rise and fall. Or store your starter in the fridge, loosely covered or with a lid. You’ll only need to feed it about once a week or so to maintain its strength when not in use. When you are ready to make dough, feed your starter at room temperature as needed, to wake it back up. It is recommended to do this the day before you use your starter so it really active for baking with.