Saturday, June 17, 2017

Water Kefir Bread

Help! I have become a fermenter.

 
In early May, I went to Bakerz@Work Academy to attend a water kefir demo. Firstly, let's settle this. How to pronounce kefir. The folks at the demo say "kiefer" as in Kiefer Sutherland. If you go to youtube, you will hear all sorts of pronunciation. I lean towards kur-fear. It sounds more natural to me based on the spelling. Anyway, however you pronounce it, water kefir culture is quite fascinating. Or weird if you're not into it.

The class was quite chaotic. The attendees came with all sorts of experience. Some had zero experience like me while others had dabbled in it. After a while, some people asked all sorts of questions and of course it confused the hell out of me. The person giving the talk focused on answering questions and I couldn't make much sense of it. Later a chef came and he wrote down the process and that made things clearer for me. We were all given some water kefir to drink and I wasn't put off by it because I've had it before. It's kinda like a lame version of apple cider vinegar.

water kefir starter
In the second half of the workshop, two chefs came to show how to make bread using the water fermented with water kefir grains. I like that the chefs weren't stingy with sharing of knowledge. My experience making bread at BITC was the total opposite. Can't ask this and can't ask that. By the way, BITC, the school where I learnt to bake has closed. Very sad about that but you know, the writing was on the wall.

The chefs used a mixer that I've never seen before - Ankarsrum Original Mixer or AO. It is kick ass. I was drooling. See here if you want to see the mixer in action. The mixer alone costs $1,399. The add-ons are relatively cheap. But I'll never be able to own something like this.

These are water kefir grains. I was given some at the workshop to start my own home fermentation. These grains are called blessings for reasons unknown to me. The grains are reusable and they also multiply when given sugar water. Yeah, the multiplying part is kinda creepy.


There is one rule in water kefir fermentation - no metals allowed. Other than that, just feed the grains with boiled water (cooled of course), raw sugar and sucanat. (I have experimented with mineral water and the result is better; not sure why.)  If you go to youtube, you will find all sorts of different formula. I'm following the formula given at the class and the only thing I dislike is having to use sucanat because it's hard to get and it's not cheap. Bakerz@work does sell it at their supply store. One day I'll substitute it with cane sugar or something.

This is the shop owned by Bakerz@work. It's tiny but packed with goods. It's on the ground floor of Shaw Tower.

Later, I found using paper towel to cover, sealed with a rubber band works better

The whitish stuff on the surface are bubbles.
This was my very first fermentation. After 24 hours, you have to separate the grains from the liquid and let the liquid ferment another 24 hours. (second fermentation) During the second fermentation, you can add fresh or dried fruits to the liquid to give it flavour. After the liquid has completed the second 24hours fermentation, you can use the liquid to add to flour to make your starter.

Because the grains multiply each time you ferment, you end up with a lot of grains. I usually throw the excess away. I have drunk the fermented liquid several times and I cannot say with certainty my gut health has improved. On the internet, people talk about how beneficial this drink is. I would still see a doctor if my gut were sick and not try to treat it by drinking this fermented water. Anyway, I'm more interested in making bread than drinking the liquid. Interestingly, hubs refuses to drink it. This is a guy who eats and drinks anything and he rejects water kefir...

When you use water kefir to make your starter, you don't have to use commercial yeast. This is my third starter. The first two weren't so active.

This is the first loaf of bread I made using water kefir starter. Can you see how flat the bread is? I think my starter was not strong enough. The bread didn't taste great. Just okay.

This is my second time making bread with water kefir starter. I think it was under baked. The taste was a bit weird.

This was my fourth time baking this bread and my best effort. The taste though, I've grown to dislike. I have however, grown to like drinking the fermented liquid. It's like light soda.

The whole of June I haven't done any baking or fermenting. I don't know if my grains have died in the fridge. I was too busy with my bag patterns. I think I'm ready to dive back in and this time I hope to get a better tasting bread.

Making water kefir bread is a lot of work.
Day 1: Feed sugar water to grains
Day 2: Remove grains and continue fermenting
Day 3: Make starter using water kefir and flour
Day 4: Make bread

If you are interested in this water kefir thingy (and located in SG), you can join this fb group: SG Fermentation Friends. Look under "Files" and there's lots of info. You can also find people who are willing to donate their grains. There is another fb group which I'm in but you need to attend the water kefir workshop in order to join the group.

4 comments:

Jane McLellan said...

I listened to a talk about kefir, as a drink, for health, I didn't realise it could be used to make bread. Interesting.

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Jane, you can replace some or all water in a recipe with water kefir. If you don't use commercial yeast, you'll need to make a starter consisting of equal amount of water kefir and flour. I'm going to try making bread using flavoured water kefir.

Ely said...

I was just about to ask of you had tried using flovored water. In any case, I only know of kefir in relation to yogurt drinks so this is very interesting. I don't know that I would ever try this method, but if ever I come across some water kefir, just maybe... and bonus, it sounds like a successful fementer for your climate!

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Ely, since you bake bread, I encourage you to seek out water kefir grains to at least make a loaf of bread. See if there are any donors near where you live. Before I attended the demo class, I had no idea there are so many people in Singapore who are so into this fermenting. There is also milk kefir and kombucha. I'm not sure I have enough fridge space to go into milk kefir and kombucha!

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