Last year I was given some kefir from my friend Becky. Don’t ask me too much about kefir, cos I’m still learning about it. It’s basically something that looks like a small, glutinous brain, which you put in milk (I have milk kefir you can also get water kefir) and it does something to the milk after a day or so which you can then drink or put in smoothies and it has magical qualities.
Something like that.
Every day, however, I fear I am going to poison everyone with sour milk, which is what it tastes like. This isn’t helped by my partner saying “What IS this stuff? Are you sure it’s safe?”
It doesn’t really taste great on its own. I originally started it because my eldest has eczema and it’s a battle to keep her probiotics/prebiotic level high (this is another, long story). But we channel Gwynnie whilst we imbibe it.
The thing with kefir is that you get lots of it to use up. We can only use so much in smoothies so I started thinking what else could I do with it? And then I decided to put it into my sourdough. Not loads, but about 60g (that’s all I get per yield) of it which I used as part of the ‘water’ element (I add 335g of liquid to 500g of flour so my kefir takes up some of the 335g, make sense?) And it works really well. It gives the loaf a lovely rise and you get a wonderfully moist crumb – less air holes I find (see photo below, the main photo shows the crumb after the first slice when there are more air bubbles), but a really nice sourdough for making sandwiches. And it’s tasty. Really tasty.
(I’m not pretending that any of the nutritional qualities of kefir are kept during the baking process.)
The other thing I’ve been adding is oats. I grind them up in my Nutribullet to make oat flour, and I don’t add more than 10% of the total flour content – so no more than 50g of the 500g of flour. (Oats don’t naturally contain gluten, but if you are coeliac do read this.)
Again this adds a lovely dimension to the bread. I made some the other day with oats and my children said the bread was “particularly delicious”.
I’ve also used kefir in place of buttermilk in my prune and almond loaf to great success.
I have tried using milk kefir in pancakes, scones etc., when I had too much. But I have to say that I never really got used to the sourness of the milk kefir, having to overcome my “the milk is off” sense in order to use it, so I actually threw mine out last week. However, I have started to drink water kefir, which is a completely different taste, more pleasant, but in our heat I have to watch the fermentation! My husband is even drinking it, says it gives him more energy, talks about it to all his office staff, which is quite something, mind you he only started eating avocados last year and those have to be disguised heavily.
I have never tasted water kefir Georgina but you are making me want to try it! I honestly can’t taste it in baking, but I never use too much because I never have that much.
I too have a jar of kefir grains and I have used the fermented milk to ferment dough as an alternative to sourdough and it works very well. There are some notes on my old blog about doing that if you are interested one day. You can also drain it and salt it and have it as a labneh type cheese. I like the look of your oaty loaf – it looks beautiful!