I had been reading and reading and reading a little more about the benefits of drinking kefir and kombuchu daily. The only real problem is it's only found in health food stores or places like Whole Foods and we know what that means. $$$$$$$$$$. So I started doing a little research about making my own and found I could do it for very little money and very little time. It just required something I did not have__starters.
Thanks to the FaceBook trading sites I found both from a very kind man in my same little suburb. I have been a fermenting fool lately with large jars of yeasty milk and yeasty tea doing whatever they do in the process. I can't say I really love the taste of either of them, but I have noticed some benefits from using them so I will continue. But I am finding I have much more than one person can consume. ( Ask me how many others in the family will touch it?)
When I have leftover Kombuchu I don't mind throwing it down the drain. It is nothing more than a tea and sugar base, so I have very little actual cost in it. But the kefir is a fermented milk product and at about $4 per gallon I just cannot waste the milk. Consequently I am always on the lookout for recipes to use some of the excess kefir. I have made soft cheese, scones and biscuits and they were perfectly fine, but not terribly inspired and then I found a recipe for sandwich bread. Since the kefir grains use yeasts to ferment the milk, using the kefir to ferment the flour causes the yeast already in it in it to raise the bread. Kooky, yes, but it works.
3 cups kefir
3 cups unbleached flour
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
In a large glass or stoneware bowl mix 3 cups of kefir with 3 cups of unbleached flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-24 hours. The mixture with become like a thick liquid. Add the remaining flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt to the mixture. Stir until the mixture holds together. Since bread making is an inexact science and the air moisture can alter the amount of flour needed have an extra 1/2 cup flour out and work as much extra in as necessary to have dough that separates into 2 parts and holds its shape. Put it into 2 well greased loaf pans and cover the tops with plastic wrap. When the dough rises to the top of the pan remove the plastic and bake in a 350 degree over for about 40 minutes.
Immediately when you take it out of the oven either rub butter over the top or spray with olive oil. The top crust is a little hard and the butter or oil softens it a bit.
This is a dense bread, perfect for toast or sandwiches. With a serrated knife I can hand slice it into slices little more than 1/4 inch thick. It has a nice yeast flavor, not at all sweet and a very mild salt flavor. It is almost the perfect bread for a southern tomato sandwich (that is 2 slices of white bread, good mayonnaise, and thick slices of vine ripe tomatoes) and it's also wonderful toasted with butter and homemade cherry preserves. ( It would probably be delicious with any preserves, but I have only made cherry this year) I made 4 loaves this past week and they baked perfectly. I am going to try monkeying with some additional flavors and herbs soon, since my kefir stash is increasing daily and it looks like I am going to be baking a lot of bread.
If you live close to me and are interested in making your own kefir but need a starter just let me know. My starter grains are multiplying like crazy and I can hook you up. If you decide to join the kombuchu ranks I have a starter for that too!
UPDATE: This afternoon I had a craving for something sweet but did not want to actually take the time to make anything. After rambling through the cabinets I found a package of Son3's chocolate chocolate chip muffin mix. It only calls for milk and I used some of my kefir instead. I mixed it and let it sit in the bowl while the oven preheated, then put it in a mini muffin pan. The results were outstanding. The muffins were so light and fluffy and now are so gone!