An easy to make deliciously soft and light loaf of kefir bread with a hint of sourness, made with kefir fermented milk. Equally perfect for breakfast toast or teatime sandwiches. Freezes well and can be toasted from frozen.
We have become big fans of kefir; which, if you haven’t come across it, is a type of fermented milk. With a consistency similar to pouring yoghurt, it has a delicious hint of sourness – it is ideal in the summer months for soaking your overnight oats or bircher museli or whizzed into a smoothie.
It’s now available in many supermarkets, but it’s so easy and considerably cheaper to make your own once you have acquired the necessary fermenting agent, the kefir grains.
These look like small cauliflower florets; add the grains to milk (cows or goats) and leave on the countertop (or in the fridge if it’s particularly warm) for a day or so, sieve out the grains for reuse and you have a jug of health-giving fermented kefir. The grains are a symbiotic mixture of “friendly” bacteria and yeasts, and the resulting drink is rich in probiotics.
To keep the grains in peak condition, it’s important not to leave them too long in milk; the best way to keep them in tip top form is to feed them by making kefir. In summer, this isn’t a problem as by the time a litre of milk has fermented, we’re ready to use it. However, in winter we have far less need for it; Herbert our miniature Dachshund gets a little to drink every day, diluted down, to boost his probiotics and hydration. .
Over time the grains will grow and grow and you will eventually have more than enough to pass some along to someone new, who will rapidly become a paid up member of the kefir fan club. Spare grains are also good for dogs and Herbert happily gobbles them down.
We’re always looking for new ways of incorporating kefir into our diet, so I decided to try a loaf. Bear in mind, though, that the baking process will kill the probiotic bacteria, but the hint of sourness in the final loaf is worth it.
For this loaf use we used a mixture of water and kefir, and white and brown bread flours. While I used our home-made kefir, this loaf would work equally well with a bottle of commercial kefir, now widely available in many supermarkets. Use the unflavoured, unsweeted plain variety.
I made this loaf using my normal yeasted bread technique. Mix all the ingredients until they come together into a shaggy dough. Then knead the dough for about ten minutes until smooth and pliable. Place back in the mixing bowl, and cover (I use a disposable shower cap – we now take them from every hotel stay – or even a plate), and leave somewhere warm to rise. During the winter, raise the dough either next to a radiator or in the oven with the light on. After about an hour, once it has roughly doubled in size form into a loaf shape and place in a loaf tin.
To give the kefir bread its attractive shine, bake it inside a terracotta bread baking cloche with a little added water to provide some steam for a crustier crust. Remove the top of the cloche halfway though cooking to allow the loaf to brown.
The final result is a delicious loaf of bread with a hint of sourness, with a soft crumb, perfect at any time of day either as it or popped in the toaster.
Adding kefir to dough gives a hint of delicious sourness.
- 275 g strong white bread flour
- 125 g strong brown bread flour
- 160 ml water luke warm
- 100 ml kefir
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp yeast activated or quick.
If using activated yeast, dissolve it in the water. This isn't necessary if using quick yeast.
Add the flours to a large bowl. Add water, kefir, yeast and salt. Using your fingers, stir the mixture to bring the dough together.
Tip the dough out onto a worksurface. Knead until smooth and pliable - about 10 minutes. Form into a ball shape and place back in the bowl. Cover, and leave somewhere warm to rise for about an hour, until roughly doubled in volume. Actual timings depend on the ambient temperature.
Oil a loaf tin. Tip the dough out of the bowl, and roll into a sausage as long as the tin. Place into the tin seam side down. Cover again, and leave for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled again. After about 30 minutes, switch on your oven.
Bake at fan 200C/gas 7 for about 40 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.