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a homeschooling mom of four who used to blog about food, has a book about sourdough, and who is now walking through the grief of losing my dad.
Hi, I'm Kels!

The Best Sourdough Glazed Donuts

I am beyond excited to share this post. I have wanted to post on baking with natural yeast for a long time (over a year now) but something else always came up. I first learned about natural yeast, also called a sourdough starter, from my sister in law over a year ago. I bought the book, “The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast” by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson at Costco and devoured every word. It’s both an informational and recipe book and I learned a lot from reading it. I was hooked on the idea and got my own starter and started my experiments with natural yeast. At first I was completely terrified and intimidated with keeping the thing alive, and I kept thinking I had killed it and would start over. I finally got the hang of it and had some success making bread with it, but after several months I got busy, had a baby, and just didn’t keep it up.
Not until I decided to research ways to “cure” this stupid gluten intolerance I’ve been experiencing did I come back to natural yeast. I stumbled upon an article explaining how natural yeast or sourdough starts break down the gluten in flour. I was intrigued. I picked up my book again and right there on its pages it says the same thing, that natural yeast bread is digestible for those with gluten sensitivities! I immediately e-mailed my sister-in-law about it and asked her to find me some more starter to try and see if I could actually eat bread again. Just the thought . . . oh how I have missed a good piece of toast every once in a while! I am fine without all of the crackers, cookies, processed goods, cereals, etc. but sometimes a girl just wants a sandwich!!!

If you are thoroughly confused and wondering what on earth I am talking about, be patient with me! That was a brief background on my experience, with a lot more to come.

First off, WHAT IS IT? Wild yeast is everywhere around us. The white substance on grapes? Wild yeast. Because wild or natural yeast is alive, it is constantly growing and needs to be fed (another post). There are different types of natural yeast. For example, you make beer with one type, and bread with another. There are over 1,000 different varieties of wild yeast. Until the late 1800s, all that anyone used to bake bread was this natural yeast starter or sourdough. After that, commercial instant yeast became popular and natural yeast went out the window for the convenience instant yeast provided. By the 1980s, rapid rise yeast came into play, as did a rise in celiac disease, gluten intolerance, acid-reflux disease, diabetes, and wheat allergies. Interesting.

A natural yeast start is made by combining and fermenting these yeasts (found on grapes, berries, apples, wheat, etc) with water and flour, and then keeping them fed and alive to use in baking. A start is a wet substance, not a powder. These starts can be multiplied, divided, frozen, dried, and kept either in the fridge or on your counter top. By combining the wild yeast with flour and water, an environment is created that allows the yeast to thrive and grow. The yeasts feed on simple sugars found in the flour and break down other harsh things like gluten! “As they feed, they release carbon dioxide, creating bubbles of gas in the starter. This gas (carbon dioxide) is what allows natural yeast to raise bread. You want it to be bubbly, or it won’t raise bread well.

“The slow raising process of natural yeast as many critically important health benefits. Here is what science can prove:

1. Natural yeast slows digestion to help you feel full longer, making it a natural way to eat less.

2. The organic acids produced during natural yeast fermentation lower the glycemic index of bread.

3. Best of all, natural yeast lowers the body’s glycemic response to all carbohydrates. An intriguing 2009 study showed that not only did natural yeast bread lower the glycemic response better than whole wheat bread made with commercial yeast, but the body’s glycemic response also remained lower when eating a meal hours later. No other kind of bread produced the same result.”

(taken from The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast)

Baking with this type of yeast takes time. You have to keep something alive in your fridge . . . which seems weird at first! It also takes a lot longer for the bread to “proof” and to rise before baking. It’s a process that seems daunting, but ends up being well worth the effort and doesn’t take long at all if you realize that you don’t have to do anything during that time, you are just waiting or sleeping or blogging . . . it’s worth it. You mix up some bread, let it sit on the counter all day or overnight, shape it into loaves/rolls/etc., let it rise for a couple of hours, then bake! I have been having an absolute blast over the past couple of weeks making bread, scones, English muffins, and tonight as I type there is a loaf of whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread on my counter cooling off – and smelling heavenly.

Here’s to a lot more information to come and hopefully some natural yeast converts along the way!

Comments +

  1. […] when refrigeration wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind. I have touched on this with Natural Yeast, which is the process by which grains are fermented and made more digestible, but that is only one […]

  2. […] have been using a variation on honey molasses bread ever since I began using natural yeast. We have loved it plain, with cinnamon & raisins, as dutch oven bread, cinnamon rolls, scones, […]

  3. Julie says:

    Are there good books or resources that you have found over time that you would recommend reading?

    • Kelsey says:

      My favorite book for all over health and food philosophy that makes sense to me and where I really got a fire lit under me was “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. For just natural yeast, I like Melissa Richardson’s The art of baking with natural yeast . . . it’s got some great information, but I haven’t loved the recipes out of it. So for informational purposes I would recommend it. But I have a lot of that info on my blog anyway. I love the book “The Bread Builders” but it’s hard to find cause it’s old. Also “Tartine” is a good one. . . you could check your local library for some of those!

  4. Kristin says:

    Thank you for your blog! I have recently become interested in baking more healthy homemade bread for my family and this is exactly what I was looking for. Question: so are “natural yeast starters” and “sourdough starters” the same thing? Thanks in advance!

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about me

Hey, I'm Kels!

a homeschooling mom of four who used to blog about food, has a book about sourdough, and who is now walking through the grief of losing my dad.

I have lots of recipes and resources, but now it's just about me being real, walking through the messy and beautiful parts of life.


How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

I am so excited to take you, step by step, through the process of making your own sourdough starter. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but if you stick with it, your time and patience will be rewarded with a lifetime of sourdough goodies!

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