converting recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast

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I’m starting to leaf through my bread making cookbooks to see how one converts recipes made with commercial yeast into recipes made with a wild yeast starter.

wild olive bread As I am reading, it has also occurred to me that people might want to try making the wild bread with olives but don’t want to have to go through the sometimes heart-rending but thoroughly rewarding process of capturing their own yeast. Not to mention that they might want to have olive bread TOMORROW rather than in 6 to 18 days….

There are two ways that this can be achieved:

  • Simply scatter olives over any plain bread dough at the time of shaping and form the dough into a ball.
  • Make a yeasted starter and add it to the dough instead of the wild yeast starter

In the sourdough section of Artisan Baking Across America, Maggie Glezer wrote the following:

Any sourdough-based recipe can be converted into a yeast-based recipe. The bread will not have the complex flavor […] of a true sourdough, but it will still be a very fine loaf.

To convert a recipe from sourdough to commercial yeast, you will just use a small amount of yeast in the levain and omit the sourdough starter. […] Dissolve ¼ teaspoon yeast in ¼ cup warm water and use 2 tablespoons of the yeasted water per cup (150 grams, 5.3 ounces) flour. […] Be sure to reduce the water measure in the levain by the same amount as the added yeasted water.

Let the levain, which is now technically a pre-ferment, ferment for 2 to 3 hours, or until it has risen to about half again its original volume, then refrigerate it overnight until ready to use. Let it come to room temperature before adding it to the final dough. Continue with the recipe as directed – there is no need to add more yeast.

So, to translate this to be specifically for the olive bread, (note that I haven’t actually tried this but it SHOULD work…) here’s the method:

Pre-Ferment for Olive Bread
based on instructions in Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer

wild yeast starter . yeasted starter . bread

yeasted starter
yeasted water

  • ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ c warm water*


  • 2 Tbsp yeasted water (from above)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • ⅔ c unbleached all-purpose flour


  1. On the evening before baking: In a small bowl, stir yeast into water until the mixture looks like very thin cream.
  2. Put the flour and plain water into a medium sized bowl. Addonly 2Tbsp yeasted water. Stir with a wooden spoon until most of the lumps are gone and the flour looks to be encorporated. Cover and leave on the counter at cool room temperature overnight. (Put it in the fridge if your kitchen is above 25C overnight.)
  3. Baking Day Morning Proceed to the bread section of the Wild Bread with Olives bread recipe. If the starter has been refrigerated, take it out and allow it to return to room temperature before proceeding.

*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. However, one should never use water from the hot water tap. Heat some cold water (use a kettle or microwave) and add hot water to cold and use the baby bottle on your wrist method to check that it is not too hot to kill yeast. Yeast starts to die at 120F (48.9C) The yeast will still work if the water is cooler – it just takes a little longer.

Okay, now that going from wild yeast to yeast is solved, does anyone know how I go about converting a recipe that calls for yeast to one that encorporates wild yeast? :lalala:

This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, equipment and techniques, food & drink, posts with recipes, sourdough and wild yeast on by .

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  • Paz

    Yum! That’s all I can say. ;-)

    World Bread Day is coming soon. I’ll be posting the info on my blog soon. I hope you’ll be able to bake more different types of bread.


  • ejm

    That really does say it all, Paz!

    Yes, I heard that World Bread Day 2007 is approaching and I too am looking forward to it. The only difficulty will be deciding what bread to bake!