Posted on 4 Comments

Make Your Own Yeast

Active, bubbly, sweet-smelling wild yeast. Who needs instant?

Blame it on the Coronavirus!

That and the perplexing penchant of people to horde commodities they think may dry up. Toilet paper at first, then flour, bleach and sanitizer, face masks … and now yeast!

That all seems so long ago. There was never a real shortage of these items, just pressures on the supply chain! Flour seems to have made a return, along with hand sanitizers. Even face masks are in greater supply. 

But yeast … well, it’s still hard to get!

Hijacked supply of yeast

Professionals and serious home bakers are up in arms! The yeast supply has dried up, they say because legions of hobbyists are making enormous demands on the inventory. Using it to make bread to stave off boredom during these days of social isolation. They have “hijacked” the supply of yeast that professionals need to make their “daily bread.”

In the online baking forums, you’d think there was the smell of revolution in the air. Many say that instant dry yeast, which is often in plentiful supply, is going to service the whims of people just wanting to stay busy. Or to the profiteers!

One baker took out his frustrations on the yeast suppliers who, he said, should “earmark” a large part of the supply for bakeries, so “we don’t succumb to irrational behaviours; and we can have some he confidence in our sources of yeast.”

Companies who make yeast, one post said, were “contributing to the irrational behaviours by not putting forth efforts to communicate with and assure product to bakeries.”

Rediscovering sourdough

This poor fellow is understandably upset, but others are using this situation to reacquaint themselves with the time-honored practice using a sourdough culture to leaven their bread.

It’s a simple solution, one that may require a few adjustments to schedules and recipes. Still, it ultimately will produce great bread, both in terms of taste and nutrition.

Flour and water, that’s all it takes to get a good sourdough starter going.

And time.

A friend for life

You can’t make a sourdough starter overnight. Time and patience. But once it’s established, you’ve got a friend for life!

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for the sourdough starter we use at the Happy Monk Baking Company. We call her Bettina. And there is lots of her!

I’m thrilled to oblige these requests. I feed Bettina every day, and once or twice a week, use about a kilo of it to build the Happy Monk breads. 

There’s lots of discard. Almost every day, I remove two-thirds of the starter and replenish the supply with fresh flour and water. I put the discard into jars, which go into the refrigerator … until there is no more room! Some discard starter gets made into waffles or pancakes … or quick pizza dough.

And some of it gets flushed down the toilet. Sadly.

It’s nice to know that part of Bettina can go to a good home. Just as long as she’s fed and cared for!

It’s an awesome responsibility!

Try making your own starter

That’s one reason why I try to get people to make their own starters from scratch. By urging the naturally occurring yeast organisms to live in a culture of flour and water, you build a deep bond with the starter. Like it’s your own child.

You feed it every day … or most days. And when you open the container and see those happy carbon dioxide bubbles and get a whiff of the sweet smell, you know it’s content. You’re making it comfortable. 

If you neglect the starter, you won’t see as many bubbles. If you take a deep whiff of a hungry starter, the aroma will blow your nose off! It’s “hangry!”

But your starter can be really forgiving. If you stick it in the fridge and forget it for a week, you can still bring it back … and soon it will be its sweet-smelling self again. It’s a miracle! You see why I call it a friend?

Seven easy steps

I encourage you to try making your own starter. Google sourdough starter guides, and you’ll be inundated with hits. Allow me to suggest a tried and true site: The Perfect Loaf, operated by the blogger Maurizio Leo. His “7 Easy Steps To Making an Incredible Sourdough Starter From Scratch” is excellent.

Get going on it tonight, and by next weekend, you might be ready to make bread.

If you’ve got a happy, active sourdough starter and you feel ready to make bread, may I suggest you start with something simple.

Try a very basic sourdough loaf. Four ingredients, maximum: Flour, water, starter, and salt. You can add a handful of sesame seeds or oatmeal flakes to sprinkle on the crust, but that’s not essential.

Try this recipe from the New York Times. There are about 10 minutes of hands-on time and up to 24 hours of waiting. If you follow the instructions carefully, you’ll undoubtedly get a beautiful smelling loaf. It will taste great too. 

Try, try again

If it doesn’t rise as much as you like, don’t feel discouraged. Try the recipe again. Experiment, try something different.

Learning to bake any bread — sourdough or not — can be a long road.

Have you got the patience for it? If you love bread as much as I do, the trials and tribulations will pay off. Try to find success early, keep at it. Stay with the same recipe for a while until you’re ready to move on.


Rugbrød going out Sunday morning, for smørrebrød at lunch! For all to enjoy, but especially for my two Danish friends who have been clamouring for this Danish style rye for weeks! And @ellasharpmorton just back from Denmark, triumphant from her artistic conquests and rugbrød in her tummy!
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#rye #ryebread #rugbrød #danishrye #danishryebread #smørrebrød #openfacedsandwich #openfacesandwich #openfacedsandwiches #woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfiredryebread #breadhead #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #bbga #southpenderisland #southpender #penderislandbc #penderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (R Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ] ...

27 1
Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ] ...

38 2
Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, o Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Struan Bread; Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Struan Bread; Happy Monk Blog: Revisiting Rachel Carson and her landmark Silent Spring - [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Struan Bread; Happy Monk Blog: Revisiting Rachel Carson and her landmark Silent Spring - [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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#happymonkbaking Seed Feast!
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#sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #breadhead #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #redfife #redfifewheat #seedbread #realbread #bbga
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Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat  Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold  to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall.  The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking

Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall. The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye-Buttermilk Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Pandemic is Beginning to Leave Its Mark. Again! [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye-Buttermilk Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Pandemic is Beginning to Leave Its Mark. Again! [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But bei ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry
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Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees ho Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste!  Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste! Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - This week's Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Loaf, featuring Barry's Bees Honey!; And Blog Excerpt: Confessions of a Would-Be Baker [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye f Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ] ...

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The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written o The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread! 
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Sourdough Pan Loaf raised on a pedestal.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sandwichloaf #panloaf #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourd Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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55 0
100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on t 100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga

100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga
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46 1
Rye Currant Sourdough coming out of the oven ... t Rye Currant Sourdough coming out of the oven ... this one worked. No curses because it’s Sunday.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #coboven #cobovenbaking #cobovenbread #ryebread #ryecurrantbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #penderislandbc #southerngulfislands #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany

Rye Currant Sourdough coming out of the oven ... this one worked. No curses because it’s Sunday.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #coboven #cobovenbaking #cobovenbread #ryebread #ryecurrantbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #penderislandbc #southerngulfislands #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany
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4 thoughts on “Make Your Own Yeast

  1. There is also the unique terroir of one’s own yeast. In your case, the flavour of the Southlands.

    1. Mais certainement, c’est le terroir du Southlands!

  2. David, I would love some of your Betinna!!..I would love to experiment and make some bread.
    Thx. Laurel

    1. Go for it, Laurel!

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