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How to Bake Bread with Yeast Water

yeast water bread baking

Many have watched my video about how to make yeast water and were asking how to bake a bread with it. So I decided to make a video and show (and for some: prove) you how it’s done.

Baking with yeast water is not much different from baking with sourdough: Both should be made with a pre-dough. Though I wouldn’t rule out that one can use the yeast water directly in the bread recipe, it might take a lot longer for the dough to ferment and rise.

Why Pre-Dough?

In the pre-dough with the yeast water, the yeast can double, triple, quadruple … over night or several hours during the day. This makes it much more powerful and more active and once mixed with the remaining ingredients, it can thrive better and faster. It still might need a longer period of time to rise the dough compared to what you are used to with store-bought yeast. However, the time is still significantly shorter than a direct mix.

Another reason is, that if your pre-dough fails to create bubbles and rise, you know that your homemade yeast didn’t turn out good and can start over before wasting all the other ingredients and the time for kneading until you learn that this bread will not rise. So, it is also a check on your yeast. If it performs well, then you know you can go ahead and your dough will rise to a nice bread.

Feeding the Homemade Yeast Water

In this article’s video, I also show how to feed the yeast water and answer several questions that came up in the comments of the video and the blog post. I hope this will clarify some of the questions and help you, to successfully implement this technique of bread baking.

How to bake bread with yeast water

The Proofing time

It might happen that your yeast water let’s your dough rise faster or slower. Every yeast water is different and it might become stronger and more active over time if you use and feed it on a regular basis. If your dough does not rise, even though your pre-dough was very active, something else must have gone wrong.

If Your Dough doesn’t Rise

Let’s not forget that yeast is still a sensitive organism and you can easily kill it with water that is too hot or if it gets into direct contact with salt. So, let’s talk about what’s “lukewarm”. Luke-warm water is used in most yeast recipes. Some yeast recipes call for cold water – those recipes require a very long proofing time and this is mostly used in rolls. So, most of the time you need luke-warm water and the temperature that is associated with that seems to be rather hot on some websites. For that reason I will not give you an exact temperature to measur but instead a temperature that most parents can relate to: a little below baby bath temperature! It should feel warm but just not comfortable warm.

What about salt? Well, there is the saying that salt can kill the yeast and there is something to it but it’s not that bad. I would recommend to just either mix the ingredients and the yeast first and then add the salt a little later or just put the ingredients into your bowl in a way where the salt and the yeast / yeast-water don’t touch each other directly. This said: There is a special baking technique where salt and yeast are mixed with each other before baking … but that’s on a different level and I will get to that another time with store-bought yeast.

I hope you are successful with your yeast-water bread and get a loaf at least as nice as the one I got!

How to bake with yeast water, homemade yeast

Your Baking Timeline

With the pre-dough and the proofing time, the bread isn’t baked that fast. Here are two suggested timelines:

Baking Bread for Dinner

  • Prepare the pre-dough in the evening of the previous day and let get active over night.
  • The next morning, prepare and mix with the main-dough, e.g. at 9 am.
  • Let rise 2 to 3 hours (until doubled), e.g. until 12 pm.
  • Shape the dough and let rise for another 2 hours.
  • Bake at 2 pm, get it out of the oven at 3 pm, and let cool until dinner time.

Baking Bread for Breakfast

  • Prepare the pre-dough in the morning e.g. at 9 am.
  • Let stand for 8 hours, e.g. until 5 pm, then prepare and mix with the main-dough.
  • Let rise 2 to 3 hours (until doubled), e.g. until 8 pm.
  • Shape the dough and let rise overnight in the fridge.*
    * Alternative: Let it rise for two hours and bake at 10 pm, get it out of the oven at 11 pm and cool overnight, no baking in the morning.
  • Bake the next morning, e.g. at 7 am, the bread will be finished and cooled by 9 am.

Pin Bake Bread with Yeast Water

Bread baking yeast water
yeast water bread baking

Baking Bread with Yeast Water

Barbara
4.89 from 9 votes
Course Bread
Cuisine German

Equipment

mixing bowl
proofing basket (optional)

Ingredients
 
 

Pre Dough

  • 150 g wheat flour (AP or Bread Flour or spelt flour)
  • 200 ml yeast water (alternative 1 pouch dry yeast)

Main Dough

  • 150 g wheat flour
  • 280 g whole wheat flour
  • 80 g rye flour
  • 12 g salt
  • 1 to 2 tsp bread spice (optional)
  • 230 ml yeast water

To keep dough from drying

  • 1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

Instructions
 

Making the Pre-Dough

  • Mix the yeast water with the flour until all lumps are gone.
    Cover it and set at a warm place in the house for about 8 hours.
    Don't forget to feed the yeast water!

Making the Main Dough

  • Add all ingredients for the main dough into a large mixing bowl, add the pre-dough and start mixing on a lower speed for 5 minutes and then increase the speed and knead for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the bowl, then fold and shape the dough as shown in the video.
  • Cover the dough with a thin layer of vegetable or olive oil, put it back into the bowl, cover it and let rise at a warm place in the house until it has doubled its size. This can take 2 to 3 hours.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and again start to fold it and shape it.
    Prepare a proofing basket (if you have one) with flour or alternatively put flour onto the dough and use a bowl for the next step.
    Put the dough seam up into the proofing basket, cover it with a kitchen towel and let rise again.
  • About 30 minutes before the dough has proofed enough: Put either a baking sheet or a cast iron pot int the oven and pre-heat the oven to 230°C / 450°F.
  • When the dough has again proofed to about double its size, it's time to bake it.
  • Remove either the baking sheet or the cast iron pot from the oven. Tip: Put some pachment paper into the pot for easier removal.
  • Flip the bread onto the baking sheet or into the pot, then cut a cross (X) into the top of the bread. Close the lid (pot) and put the bread into the oven.
  • Bake the bread for an overall of 60 minutes. If you are baking with the cast iron pot, remove the lid after 40 minutes and continue to bake the bread without the lid.
  • After 60 minutes your bread should be perfectly ready. Let it cool completely before you cut it.
Keyword baking, Bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About The Author

29 thoughts on “How to Bake Bread with Yeast Water”

  1. 5 stars
    Was just reviewing the results of 80+ loafs I’ve baked in the last 2 years, and this one I have marked as the “Best loaf I’ve baked”.

    Very few failures with WYW and love the fact, while a sourdough like process, there is no sour taste in the bread.

    I did not have any problem obtaining yeast during the pandemic, but have been trying to incorporate WYW into as many bakes as possible because of the flavor, longer shelf life [assuming it is not consumed by bread velociraptors].

  2. Sylvia Crawford

    5 stars
    Baking my own sourdough bread for a few years now. Started out with artisan breads and store bought yeast, then sourdough bread tried many recipes to gain confidence in experimenting with my own starter and breads. I saw for the first time several posts on YouTube using “yeast water”. I made the yeast water using the methods of three different presenters including yours. I took what I liked from each for my yeast water recipe. The recipe for the bread and the replenishment of the yeast water was solely from your site and your recipe. I made a few adjustments based on my experience and baked my first loaf after an overnight refrigerator rest to bake in the am. Covered the loaf in the proofing basket with a piece of parchment paper to cover place a cutting board over it turned things upside down and slashed the now top of the loaf then lifted the paper and dough into a hot Dutch oven replaced the lid baked in a 450F preheated oven for 20 min removed lid and baked uncovered for 30 more minutes unable to attach a picture of this loaf. Waiting for it to cool completely before slicing. Hopefully the crumb and taste equals the look of this bread. So easy to make and easy to clean up after and simple to replenish the yeast water supply.

    Sylvia

  3. Hi, liked you’re detailed explanation.
    My main dough isn’t double in size even after 4 hours now..any suggestion?

    1. Hard to tell what’s going on. Maybe your yeast water isn’t strong enough, yet? Keep waiting and see what happens. Maybe put it into the fridge over night and try again the next day.

  4. 5 stars
    WOW! I used fresh home milled rye and red winter wheat berries and left out the anise and fennel as we don’t care for those.
    After shaping I questioned if the WYW would have enough power for the final rise. This dough was stiff.
    WRONG! It was beautiful.
    I even got a good ear and played a little with some additional scoring. It took the score very nicely.
    So far, I have yet to have WYW fail and IMO the ONLY downside is the longer proofing time but the flavor is superb. I don’t have any problems getting commercial yeast but given what WYW brings to the table, don’t see me buying any more in the near future.
    Thanks for the recipe it will be in my future bread rotations.

    1. Hi Craig,
      what a wonderful feedback! I am very happy it all worked out perfectly. I, too, think the taste of this bread is fantastic. If you want to share a picture, I just asked for that on my facebook page. I was trying out a new bread recipe just today and posted the picture there.
      Best,
      Barbara

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you very much for your instruction. I did it!
    After I’ve made bread from yeast water/sourdough starter couple times but not really got any good results so I’ve been searching for more information then I found your coming video which is this one.
    Today, I got the best looking loaf ever, now waiting it to cool down to taste it.
    It took longer to proof I think because of it’s quite cold here. I found your explanation really helpful, checking the dough and wait until it’s ready, keep telling myself “Be patient, Barbara said it could be longer”. It was part of failure in the past that I didn’t wait till its proof.
    I wish I could attach the picture of the loaf.
    Thank you again. I send my love from the down under, please stay safe.
    Kind regards,
    Mandy
    PS: there wasn’t the amount of yeast water for the main dough in the recipe but you mentioned it in the video.

    1. Hi Mandy,
      I am happy that you had success with my recipe :-) I fixed the missing yeast water in the main dough, thank you for letting me know. Enjoy your baking and you please stay safe, too!
      Greetings from Texas, Barbara

      1. Roopashree Ranganatha Rao

        Amazing recipe mamm…pl suggest me with whole meal or whole wheat flour that is available in india..I am diabetic ..hence looking for healthier…

        Also I have no scale to measure..pl share the same recipe in cup measurement..

        Among all the other bread starter this one is most organic..

        Thank you so much mam

        1. Hi,

          you can use whole wheat flour in this recipe. Maybe you will need to add more water to the dough because whole wheat flour usually soaks in more water.
          For the cup measurement: If you look at the recipe section of this blog post, right under the ingredients, there is a link to switch from the metric system to the US customary system. I hope this will help.
          Best,
          Barbara

  6. Hello Barbara,

    Thank you for the awesome recipes and videos!

    I made my yeast water, and it grew really nicely. However, little pieces of the date have came off and are now floating around in the water. Should I pour the yeast water through a sterile cheese cloth to clean out those bits, or will that catch too much of the yeast as well?

    Thank you,

    Devan

    1. Hi Devan, I have the same here with my most recent batch. I will just pour it through a fine sieve and I don*t think it will be a problem to have some tiny little pieces left. I think a cheese cloth might be a little too much filtering. Also, if they sink to the bottom of the bottle and you don’t use the entire yeast water, you might not need to take them out at all and just carefully pour the water part into the recipe?
      Best,
      Barbara

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you very much for the timely recipe. I use dried raisins for my Wild Yeast Water {just started WYW about 5 weeks ago} and was wondering if the raisins which are removed are ever used in bread. They are certainly moist, and have a slight fermented aroma. Just hate to throw anything away.

    1. Hi Craig,
      If you are baking a sweet bread or sweet rolls, yes, you can add them to the dough and bake them with the bread/roll. We have quite a bunch of raisin bread and rolls in Germany but since my family doesn’t like raisins, I usually don’t bake any of those. You could bake the Easter Bread with them.
      Best,
      Barbara

  8. Greetings Barbara,
    I’m very happy that I came across your site. So far, I have made a Mischbrot and a Sourdough 100% Rye Bread with some success. I am planning to make this bread with yeast flour in the next day or so. I notice in the write up for the recipe that the amount of yeast water to use for the main dough is missing. Thankfully, you say how much to use (230 ml) during the video. You will probably like to update your recipe. Your blog and videos are very well done!
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Lauri,
      you are right, I forgot to list that second batch of yeast water. Thank you for letting me know, I put it in now. Keep up the good baking!
      Barbara

  9. Can this recipe be made with all purpose flour and would the pre-dough be the same proportion

    1. Bonnie, as I mention in the video, I am using all purpose flour there. Bread flour is hard to get these days. Just keep in mind that every package of flour is a little different and might need more or less liquid, that’s all. You can always switch bread flour out for AP flour. The only difference is that bread flour has more gluten, which is good for the consistency of the dough. But there is no downside to using ap flour.

      1. 5 stars
        I use and make the recipe I love, then add 1/2 to 1 cup of the yeast liquid. Sometimes, I make a dough with 1/2 cup liquid and 1 cuo flour of my choice. Then, I setit aside to rise. I make my yeast water with raisans. Raisans work well. Then, when I need my water, I strain the water through a metal strainer. I then put 2 T. Sugat and 1/2 to 1 teaspoons salt. Shake it throughly and refrigerate it. I shake the refrigerated water every day and open the jar to let the pressure escape. Then close the jar until tomorrow . I made a dough and it rose overnight really well.

  10. Thank you for the informative video! I have made my yeast water and am making my predough. Can you use a bread machine with the yeast water?

    1. The difficulty might be here, that the machine is expecting the usual proofing time of yeast while this yeast water might need a longer proofing time. I guess you will have to try it out, I have no experience with using this in a bread machine.

  11. 4 stars
    Hallo!
    Ich wohne seid Anfang Januar diesen Jahre in den Staaten und habe per Zufall ihre Website entdeckt!
    Ich bin wie Sie leidenschaftliche Köchin und Bäckerin.
    Diesbezüglich hätte ich zwei Fragen an Sie.
    Würden Sie mir verraten welchen Gusseisernen Topf (Marke) Sie in ihrem aktuellen Video benutzen.Ich möchte mir nämlich auch einen zulegen um Ihr Brotrezept nachmachen zu können.
    Ich habe festgestellt, dass Roggenmehl hier in den USA sehr teuer ist.In welchem Supermarkt kaufen Sie ihr Mehl ein?
    Danke schon mal im Voraus!
    Liebe Grüße aus Germantown,Nashville
    Katja

    1. Hallo,
      der Topf den ich benutze, ist ein Cuisinart Topf. Es gibt ihn in verschiedenen Farben und sowohl rund als auch oval: https://amzn.to/2Wl1pEt
      Das Roggenmehl bestelle ich inzwischen über amazon in einem großen Sack https://amzn.to/2VW3BTU. Hier in Texas habe ich oft Schwierigkeiten, Roggenmehl zu finden. Manchmal bekomme ich es beim Whole Foods und mit Glück sogar im Angebot aber oft genug ist es nirgens zu finden. Ich habe auch einen Sack Spelt (Dinkel) hier stehen. Mit Dinkel zu backen ist aber immer etwas schwieriger, weil das so sensibel ist.
      Eigentlich sollte ich im Juni nach Nashville fahren, meine Tochter sollte da an einem Seminar teilnehmen. Ich befürchte allerdings dass es ausfällt … macht ja zuzeit auch Sinn. Ich wäre aber gern mal in Nashville, hoffentlich ein anderes Mal.
      Liebe Grüße aus Texas,
      Barbara

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