Tag Archives: kefir

Kefir bread

Kefir Bread — Whole wheat edition with raw hempseed and rosemary

Since apparently WordPress hates me today (as happens), I’m going to keep this short rather than try to recreate the text yet again.

Here’s what I started out with:

1/2 cup raw hemp seed (Nutiva)
1 cup kefir
1/2 cup milk (both this and kefir were nonfat)
1 teaspoon kefir grains (if you use store bought kefir, no worries, you can skip this step I’m sure)

There were put in my BlendTec blender to make into a smooth consistency.
Next, into a large metal bowl went:

2 1/2 cups of whole

To which I added the kefir blend, mixing everything by hand and then kneading the dough for about five minutes. The end consistency was just this side of sticky: enough to have the dough stick to the bowl and my hands a little bit but gentle persuasion was sufficient to get the dough into a nice orderly ball like so:


I covered the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise overnight. Keep in mind that the yeast and bacteria in kefir have a favorite food, at it is milk, not grain. Thus the dough will not rise as fast as with baking yeast. Also, that’s why there’s milk added, to give the little microbes a bit of food.

The next morning the double had doubled to look like this:


At which point I added

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon rosemary powder (easily could have taken more)
1 heaping teaspoon sodium carbonate (baking soda + 4hrs in a 400deg oven)

These probably could have been added earlier but… well, that’s how I did it.

Oiled up a cookie sheet (pan?) with olive oil and gently scooped up the dough and placed it on the sheet. Then gently oiled up the whole loaf to keep it from drying out. And then the whole kit and caboodle went into an oven

Pre-heated to 350deg

After 20min I put a bit of aluminum foil on the bread since it looked like it was already getting a bit dry and I wanted to have a reasonably soft crust.

Another 25min at the bread came out of the oven:


After letting it cool a bit (~10min), bread went on the cutting board and:


Looks good, no? Tastes good too. No hint of sourness or tanginess, but a nice full flavor that mixed well with olive oil and salt. The texture is both substantial yet light. Despite the lack of sugar, this whole wheat bread doesn’t have that “must be healthy” taste or mouth-feel. Overall I’m quite pleased with how this project turned out. Fairly easy, tasty, and less than a day from start to finish, which on a fermentation scale is pretty short. Variations to come for sure.


Kefir Modding : Engineering the SCOBY

Several weeks ago I ordered kefir grains. Although they were viable after their stint in an envelope for close to a week, the kefir they produced didn’t seem right in taste and flavor; harsher than what kefir should taste like.

Since this did not resolve after the first few batches, I bought some Lifeway kefir at the store. The idea was that since this kefir does taste the way I wanted mine to taste, it clearly had the right bacteria and yeast in the right proportions. Since the grains are just a polysaccharide, specifically kefiran, which provides a home for the yeast and bacteria that make up the kefir SCOBY, it seemed reasonable to assume that the ones from the store bought kefir would join their brethren.

What ensued was World War I in a jar. There were clear signs of some heavy use of chemical warfare. Although kefir normally produces some CO2 during fermentation, in the night that followed the mingling of the two colonies the amount generated was almost explosive.

After brewing up a batch of kefir with the grains that had multiplied quite dramatically during the short lived war, it was clear who had won. The kefir was still running and harsh.

Fortunately, I had another plan and ordered some Matsoni yogurt starter. This yogurt was described as having “a thick viscous consistency,” which suggested that Leuconostoc Cremoris bacteria in it were producing some nice polysaccharides. Plus since the other name for this particular yogurt is Caspian Sea yogurt and kefir thought to originate in the Caucasus Mountains right next door, it seemed like this ‘cultural’ addition might work.

And… It did!

The kefir that is now produced is much silkier in texture, the way that, in my mind, kefir should feel. And the taste has mellowed out considerably. Of course, the diversity of the SCOBY might have taken a hit, since suddenly a very large new population of just two strains was added. But maybe not. It’s possible that the weird texture and flavor were indicative of an unbalanced system, with one particular strain being overactive and the two new strains put the house back in order.

Thus is seems that SCOBY engineering was successful on the second try and that’s pretty good. As is the kefir, which just makes this experiment that much more satisfying.

Right, the “how to part” went missing. Here we go:

1.Poured off kefir, leaving the kefir grains in the sieve
2. Using a spoon, got all the grains together into a single mass, and flattened it out (gently)
3. Opened a packet of the Matsoni yogurt starter and sprinkled entire powdered content onto the grains
4. Gently worked the grains with a spoon to try to disperse the starter evenly throughout the grains, making sure there were no dry clumps of starter left
5. Mixed the grains into some room temperature milk and let the whole thing do it’s business for two days.