Making bread with wine yeast

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Assistant Cook
Mar 25, 2004
Middleburg, VA

Quick question for you bakers. I'm a vintner and usually have a bunch of wine yeast left over after fermentation.

I recently purchased a bread maker, and today I tried making bread with Montrachet wine yeast. It didn't work (didn't really rise that much).

Store bought yeast is expensive (and it seems especially so when I throw away orders of magnitude more yeast than it takes to make bread).

Has anybody tried wine yeast to make bread? Is bread yeast the same as saccharomyces cerevisiae (wine yeast)? Maybe it's not as good a "bubbler" as bread yeast. Any thoughts?
Much to my regret I am not a baker. I did think about this though and I may have a theory. One of our bakers can correct me if I am wrong (and you may already know the answer). It seems to me that bread (baking)yeast is designed to eat sugar and give off carbon dioxide whereas wine (or brewers) yeast is intended to eat sugar and give off alcohol. That could explain why the vintners yeast didn't work.
Both wine and bakers yeasts convert sugars and simple starches (you know, those things we can no longer eat: CARBS!] and produce both alcohol and carbon dioxide.

I believe bakers' yeasts originated as wine yeasts, but have been modified through careful selection to become particularly active and appropriate for baking purposed.

Still, there is no reason why wine yeast should not work for bread making. My guess would be that perhaps more would be required for the same result. I would try doubling the amount called for in the recipe. I'm unsure as to the result of escessive yeast when using a bread machine, but in the "old fashioned" way, the dough simply rises faster and sometimes larger. The effect on flavor is slight.

Welcome to the board, and keep us posted on your efforts using wine yeast. We're interested. Recently we had a discussion about trying to use the yeast that naturally grows on the surface of grapes, so your input will be of particular interest.
Darn, I just wrote a long reply, hit submit, and it didn't post. Bummer!

Anyway, YES, I'll keep you posted on making bread with wine yeast. Let’s see, what’d I say (after a bottle of wine, mind you!) Oh, yeah.

Hell, I like the taste of yeast (yeasties be my friends), so doubling up on the amount seems just fine to me.

Some thoughts...

Perhaps wine yeasts need more time for hydration and cell division (there's no need for fast action with wine) OR, maybe the wine yeasts just throw in the towel ‘cause they KNOW they’re gunna get cooked in a few minutes, instead of getting buzzed!... OK... nahhh). Maybe a longer rise would be beneficial, or maybe mixing the yeast in the warm water with a little honey or sugar added for food (contrary to the bread machine maker's recommendation to put the yeast in a dimple on top of the flour) might get them going stronger, especially if the whole wheat setting is used (on my machine it lets the mix sit for 30 minutes before mixing and kneading).

Or… how ‘bout using wine yeasts for a sour dough starter. Yumm!

Some more food for thought: different yeasts used in winemaking result in very different gustatory and sensory characteristics and are a major stylistic tool in winemaking (e.g. some yeasts consume more malic acid, while others produce more polysaccharides [resulting in a fuller palate weight or “sweetness”], etc.) Have you guys ever experimented with different bread yeast strains? ARE there different bread yeast strains available on the market?
I have one question for all of you. Did you ever eat a bread without yeast? I didn't but would like to try though I'm not sure what it might be like. These days Jews eat it because they celebrate Pesah. Hehe, thank God it lasts for only seven days a year. :LOL:
Don't bother with matzah; it sucks big time. While I admit aesthetically, it has some appeal, and the texture can be interesting, the taste is scarcely better than cardboard.
jasonr said:
Don't bother with matzah; it sucks big time. While I admit aesthetically, it has some appeal, and the texture can be interesting, the taste is scarcely better than cardboard.

I wouldn't go that far.. yeastless bread is very different. If all you compare it to the likes of french or sourdough bread, sure it's going to seem very odd. That said, not everything has to be a big puff of nothingness to be tastey. Try not to limit your thinking strictly in terms of good vs "sucks big time." Don't be afraid to open your minds a little bit :P
Odds are all of you have eaten Mexican burritos - made with FLOUR tortillas -a flat, unleavened bread! And they taste pretty goo, too! The tortillas, I mean. I prefer corn tortillas, but that's beside the point.

The world is full of flat greads - matza;h is but one. Each has a somewhat diffeent flavor, depending upon ingredients, proportins, and baking methods. Just as a quick example, the flavor of a handmade flour toritlla is very different from that of machine made tortillas - vive l'difference!!
Don't forget pitas... Very neat texture!

Beer predates wine, doesn't it? So wouldn't beer yeast have been the original bread yeast?

Beer yeast is still used by a lot of bakers who swear by it.
I'm not much of a baker but I have read a bit about about if you used the wine yeast as a starter and exposed it to the air to attract airborne yeasts? As in to make a starter? :idea: You would maintain the (since I love wine I would think wonderful) taste and add another dimension - or perhaps add just a little bit of baker's yeast to sort of give the wine yeast a kick start? Doesn't yeast eat pretty much everything in it's path once it gets started? I may be all wet about this but surely our resident bakers can correct me if I'm wrong!

Oohhh I wanna keep posted on this experiment!

Also if you buy good yeast in bulk (small amounts if you like) it will keep for a long long time properly refrigerated! I've had success with year old yeast kept that way.
"Yeasts" do eat a lot of different things, but there are a lot of different yeasts, each with pretty much its own food preferences. Wine, beer, and bakers' yeasts are all probably strains of the same basic yeast - which requires simple carbohydrates such starches and sugars.

There is no yeast left in finished wine. When the alcohol level reaches a critical point, the yeast dies and settles to the bottom, and the clear wine is decanted. No live yeast in beer, either.

I wouldn't wager on whether wine or leavened bread came first. Yeasts are everywhere, grapes grow in only certain climes. But grain must be harvested, winnowed, and ground to make even a flat bread, while wine and/or vinegar can form from merely leaving grape juice stand, exposed tothe air. (Not a great wine, mind you, but wine, nonetheless.)

So if wet flour was left esposed, it, too, might be contaminated with yeast and thereby originate leavened breads. So either bread or wine could have occurred accidently quite earl;y in Man's history. Beer, made of fermented grains similarly attacked by airborne yeasts, might well have occurred at the same approsimate time.

Imagine how tricky it would have been for those early vintners, brewers and bakers to get just the contaminent they needed instead of those that are conducive to vinegar, mold, etc.

WHOOPS! I just thought of something: wine came first! I recall seeing birds, having partaken of over0ripe berries, totally bombed! :D So, since it occurs naturally, wine had to be first!
Oh Indeed! I remember the birds feasting on Mountain Ash Berries (not fit for human consumption, mind you) which had fermented a bit due to a dry spell, and being quite besotted! What a sight!
Well, I said I'd do it when my grapes ripenened. They have, and I did, and it worked!

I took a large bnch of my Thompson Seedless - they were a dull green rather than the shiny skin I'm accustomed to in the market. So I rubbed one and voila! Shiny. The dullness ust be yeast. So minsed the bunch with 1 cup of water, repeating two or three times, and brushing with a pastry brush to dislodge the yeast.

Then I added a tsp of sugar and 1/4 cup flour and let it stand, covereed, overnight. Next morning - disappointment: looked like nothing had happened. Except it had a faint aroma of yeast. So I added enogh flour to make a moderately soft dough, put it in a covered bowl, and after four hours, nuthin'!

The heck with it. I left it overnight.

When I looked at it this morning, my little ball of dough had filled the bowl - easily four times its original volume.

But now the dough was just plain wet! So I kneaded in more flour, finally getting a soft dough.

The loaf turned out just fine, and had a slightly nutty flavor - qite good.

So the answer is, as we already knew,: wine yeast works just fine. :)
Oldcoot - That is splendid - can't wait to try in our grape growing season - Jan-March.
I worked in the wine idustry for some time, but never came across anyone baking bread with wine yeast. However, I am going to contact winemakers and hear if anyone can help. But here we have a tradition of baking rusks with fresh must. They are delicious, dried and eaten by soaking in your cuppa coffee. Visitors always leave the country with bags of rusks (the must ones are special and difficult to find, but others are made with yeast or bakingsoda and buttermilk).
The recipes for must rusks inlcude no other raising agent than the wine must (I can post recipe if anyone would be interested). So the same can be done for bread, without sweetening the dough. And this seems very similar to what Oldcoot achieved and proved.
As an alternative, when there is no longer must, raisins are used. These are crushed, boiled for ten mins. and when cooled down some yeast is added. The mixture is left for up to 30 hours when the reaisins float to the top and then used with the other ingredients.
Good cooking
"Rusk" is anew term to me, MAWS - what are they? I'm not much for dnkin' abything in my coffee, but I'll try most anything once. Go ahead and post the recipe. Might be fun to try.

Okd Coot
Hi - Rusks, or the eating thereof probably sounds a bit vulgar to one who hasn't grown up with the stuff. Basically it's a sweetish bread/muffin, often made with flour and bran/muesli - for health. After the dough is mixed (it's thicker than a muffin mix) small pieces are formed into balls the size of a golf ball and then these are fitted closely in a buttered baking pan. Once they are baked, they're separated and dried in a very cool oven - usually overnight.
I baked a batch for me and the Grey One as well as for the grandchildren this afternoon. But I always look for short cuts and bake in bread pans and then cut them into longish squares. These dunk easily. After all, most of the shop-bought ones come in these shapes.
Stay well all
Cooks Illustrated said:
Yeast has changed over the centuries. Until the 1700s, bread was produced from bitter beer or brewer's yeast (called barm, referring to the liquid in which yeast grows) or from fermented solutions of grains, potatoes, malt, or sugar. Each method was problematic and unpredictable. In the late 1700s, Holland became the first country to produce a compressed baker's yeast from spirit distilleries. The Viennese refined the process shortly thereafter.

You mentioned using your yeast in a bread machine. My guess is that your problem has more to do with timing than anything else. You're using yeast that's already done it's fermenting job, right? If the specific gravity of your wine has stabilized, that means most of the yeast that you're tossing probably isn't active/alive. I'd try to make a sponge (or pre-ferment) with the yeast:

Prepare ahead of time in a glass bowl 6oz (by weight) of the flour you're going to use, 6 oz (by weight) warm tap water, and the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and puncture to add some vent holes. Leave yourself a six hour window for it to activate, bubble up, then slightly drop back. Then replace the yeast in your bread recipe with this sponge, and make as normal.

That's the full weight of my three batches of bread speaking.
See now, I like Matzo (the correct spelling). It is a recipe nearly 6000 years old. The magic of Matzo is the way it carries the tastes of the foods you put on it. Also, egg matzo, onion matzo and other flavored matzo’s are available. In addition to that you can make Matzo brie, a recipe that predates French toast by ohhhh maybe 4000 years. Easy to make: crumble the matzo in to pieces about the size of half dollar coin, mix egg and milk in equal parts and soak the matzo in the egg/milk mixture until it soaks in well, pour off the excess and then fry in a pan as you would scrambled eggs. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or maple syrup. Very very good.

SO open up your minds and try it. You'll like it.
There IS a difference in yeasts. Bakers yeast generates more CO2 and less alcohol. Wine makers yeast generates more alcohol and less CO2.

It's an interesting experiment to try to make bread using wine yeast. I guess you can expect it to be as successful as trying to make wine with bakers yeast...:mrgreen:

The only alternative to yeast bread isn't matzo. Yeast is not the only leavening agent. You can make fine breads using chemical leaveners such as baking powder. Here's a very quick and very simple recipe for one:

Classic English Soda Bread

3 C Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 C Milk

Before you do anything else, preheat the oven to 425 F. Then collect the ingredients and begin the recipe. Otherwise, there won’t be enough time for the oven to reach temperature before you’re done. Plan on mixing the ingredients just before baking.

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the milk in gently until blended.

Place the dough on an oiled cookie sheet. Shape it into a round loaf about 8 inches in diameter with a rounded top. Dust the top with flour.

Using a bread knife, make two cuts at right angles, edge to edge, on the top of the loaf. (about a quarter of an inch deep)

Cover with an inverted stainless steel mixing bowl. Bake 30 minutes.

Remove the bowl and bake for another 30 minutes.

Cool before serving.
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