A while ago I bought a jar of organic honey from a stall at Salamanca Market in Hobart. The honey was collected in some of the pristine old forests in Tasmania. It is a strongly flavoured, rich honey. Organically produced, cold extracted, unheated, unprocessed, pure raw honey. (www.miellerie.com.au)

Apart from enjoying the wonderful honey, I had an idea. Some time ago I read just a few words about honey yeast. The gist of the idea is that in raw, organic honey there are yeasts that remain dormant. If the honey is diluted with water the yeasts can be activated. I found a few more words about honey yeasts in issue 3 of 'Bread Magazine'. So, keeping it simple I worked with honey and water, then when I could smell the yeast activity, I took some of the water and added it to a mix of flour and water (50/50 brown rice flour and water). It was more than 24 hours before I saw the first activity in the preferment, so I left it longer. Eventually I could see some tiny bubbles forming in the preferment. Next I mixed a dough, similar to my baguette dough. Fermentation was still slow, so it was another overnight bulk ferment, before I shaped the dough and left it in a banneton to proof.

Eventually it went into the oven; and that is when the excitement began! Ok, I am a bit obsessive about bread. The dough had only been in the oven a few minutes when I started to see the oven spring expanding the loaf. Usually there is a little movement in the first 10 minutes, then a little more until 17 minutes. This seemed pretty rapid!

Picture
Honey yeast loaf.

I had to wait a few hours for the loaf to cool before I could see what the crumb was really like. I was not disappointed. For a first loaf using a new technique I was very pleased.

Picture
A slice of Honey yeast loaf.

Overall, only a few tweaks needed to refine this recipe. The flavour captures the richness of the Lake Pedder Nectar. With this honey yeast loaf I can demonstrate, once again, that gluten free bread does not need to be boring!

 


Comments

24/09/2013 14:47

WOW! This is an awesome yeast. I am imagining all the magic from the ancient Tassie forest!
When I was about 7 I remember my uncle Hubie showing me how he centrifugally extracted the honey on his farm. I loved watching it drip by drip filling the jar. Liquid gold

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13/10/2013 13:04

This is a very timely find - I had literally just been playing around with this process myself when I saw your post. However, my results were not as good - basically because the honey water I had on the go was 'spent' by the time I got to it. Your post has reignited my faith in this as a process - thank you.

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Chris Stafferton
13/10/2013 13:52

Hi Oliver,
I have been playing with Honey Bread a little over more over the past few weeks. My main concern is that I have no idea what yeasts and bacteria are in the mix. With sourdough, depending on the ingredients you use, by the time you have a mature starter you can be fairly confident the starter culture contains yeast and lactobacillus. Using a honey starter is quite different. It is a relatively quick process, and as I have been unable to find any published research in this area I really have no idea of the microbiology of the honey water.

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14/10/2013 06:11

Chris

thanks for the reply. As my focus is strongly on producing gluten free sourdough with local ingredients, honey as an ingredient has piqued my interest. It being the end of the summer here, I also have some zucchini which is lactofermenting for a zucchini bread. Is this something you've tried? How about what they call 'sweet cider' here - apple juice that has started fermenting?

thanks again

Oliver

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Chris Stafferton
14/10/2013 13:56

Hi Oliver,
My honey yeast bread is not sourdough. I may seem a bit fussy making this distinction, but sourdough depends on a culture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Ideally the culture is produced by fermenting flour and water. The leaven (starter) I used for the honey yeast bread was made with organic honey and water - no flour.
When I make gluten free sourdough I usually do not use honey, or any other sweetner. The enzymes, yeasts and bacteria develop sugars from the flour in the dough, so there is no need for added sugars. I only add sugars to produce a particular effect - like the molasses & buckwheat bread I blogged a while ago.

Your plans for zucchini bread sound interesting. No, I haven't tried anything like that. I have restricted myself to a fairly small 'palette' of ingredients so that I can explore them and gain a better understanding of them.

I am fascinated by lactofermentation of vegetables, but that will have to wait. My footprint in the family kitchen is already substantial! :)

Chris

PS Thanks for letting me know about the subscription issue.

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    When I had to go gluten free I was disappointed at the taste and texture of gluten free baked foods that were available. Packet mixes were very disappointing. So I started to develop recipes that are good to eat.
    There was so much to learn along the way. Eventually I made progress with bread that looked, felt, smelled and tasted like real bread!  From there I have been exploring and learning more about basic gluten free ingredients to make a range of bread, pastry and pasta!

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