Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Math is NOT hard! Adjusting yeast for slow rise bread.

Those of you who have read a few posts here may know that I am a huge fan of cold-fermentation. The long, slow process allows the flavor of the grain to fully develop and the ability to bake bread on my schedule, rather than the dough's, is extremely useful.

Most recipes can be made using this method, just start with cold ingredients and reduce the yeast a bit. Therein lies the rub, or the knead. How much do you reduce the yeast? What is 'a bit' anyway?

While wandering the tubes of the internet today, I stumbled across this post at The Fresh Loaf. It has an actual formula for calculating the amount of yeast you need when you adapt a recipe to the long, slow fermentation method.

The math of yeast

Using Susan's Farmhouse White Bread as an example, let's see how this works.

Her recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of yeast and 60-90 minutes of bulk fermentation, so let's start by converting the yeast to teaspoons: 6 teaspoons to be exact. We'll use 90 minutes, or 1.5 hours, since that's about what it takes when I make this bread. My typical long, slow rise time is 12 hours so that's what we'll use. Then we do the math, which gives us 3/4 teaspoon of yeast.


6 teaspoons of yeast X 1.5 hours
12 Hours

-- = 3/4 teaspoon

This looks about right, but I have to test the theory later this week. After I get to the store and buy some bread flour. Because I don't have any in this house. Whatever the heck is up with that. Bad breadie!

Theories are great and all, but we want to know about your real-life experiences trying this. If you adapt a recipe, please stop back and let us know how it worked.

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Blogger KitchenKiki said...

From 2 tablespoons to 3/4 teaspoon?

Wow, that sounds so little.

I think I'm doing my cold fermentation wrong.

2/26/2009 8:45 AM  
Blogger Natashya said...

Of course, you didn't see me phone my daughter for math tips on recipe division yesterday...
not sure what has become of my braincells. Must be the wine!

2/26/2009 2:34 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...


I know! That's why I am hoping some people will test this with their favorite recipes and report back. On the other hand, one of my favorite bread recipes makes 3 baguettes and uses 1/4 tsp yeast with 12-24 hours of cold rise. So maybe that's really right. Please, bake something and report back!


A little stuffed piggie whispered in my ear. grin

2/26/2009 3:29 PM  
Blogger Simran said...

Beth, I just tried cold fermentation for the first time following your pizza recipe and it was perfect.

Also wanted to tell you that I am cooking you blog - as in, cooking the bread you picked for each month starting from the pizza in March. Hope you don't mind. Please let me know if you do, and I'd take down the post rightaway.

2/28/2009 11:17 AM  
OpenID said...

OK, so just putting the cold dough into the fridge to prove overnight. Tired, as baking late and just realised that I used the TABLEspoon measure rather than the TEAspoon measure for my yeast.
Might just come down to find a bread monster oozing from my fridge in the morning.
Will keep you posted.

3/05/2009 2:47 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

Cold fermenation is best, but if you really need to make bread in a hurry I have found a way that works splendidly for me! I forego the wooden bowl (I know) for a glass bowl. After I have put the dough in the bowl and cover it, plastic wrap or a towel both work, I place the bowl in the kitchen sink that has the drain plugged. I then run hot water into the sink, not the bowl, until the bowl begins to float. Oh, and be careful to not let the towel hang down into the water. Then I cover the entire sink with a large cookie sheet. I have found that for me it inly takes about 30-40 minutes to double in size. If I am in a hurry I can have the bread in the oven baking usually by the time it would have taken to do just one rising on the countertop,

3/18/2009 2:03 PM  
Blogger bajaraquel said...

I have a small cottage bakery out of my house. Considering I live in a concrete house with no heat in Ensenada, Mexico, cold fermenting is mandatory. I've been disappointed with the taste of the bread because it tastes beery. Big fat DUH!!! Too much yeast. Good lesson in why to cut down the yeast in a cool ferment. I'm going to do the math and give it a try with less yeast.

3/23/2009 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you done writing this blog? just curious

4/06/2009 4:16 PM  
Blogger Gwen Mangelson said...

I am lookingo for a wheat bread recipe for my husband for his bread machine- any good ones to share?
I am also looking for good wheat bread recipes that do NOT go in a bread machine for myself to make!

7/07/2009 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you use this formula, do you let the dough rise at room temperature, or do you put it in the refrigerator?

3/03/2010 8:04 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Anon, I'd ferment it cooler than room temp to avoid losing all the sugars to the yeast activity (cold stops yeast from eating sugars). If not the refrigerator, than look for a place that's cooler than the counter: garage in winter, patio...

3/04/2010 5:51 PM  

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