How to Make Soft Hop Yeast and How to Use it in Bread Making
Hops: the Herb
Hops are a papery, yellowish-green flower, best known as an ingredient in beer. Hops have a relaxing effect on the central nervous system. They are useful for relieving tension and anxiety, especially where the tension leads to pain, restlessness, headaches and indigestion. The bitters in hops aid the entire digestive system, enhancing the action of the liver and digestive juices. Hops are also widely used to treat insomnia, often helping when nothing else does.
The Hop vine is native to Asia, Europe and North America, where it grows wild in meadows and along riverbanks in rich soil and full sun. It has been cultivated for brewing, and is commercially grown in a wide range of climates and soils. Hop is a member of the Cannabaceae family.
The hop vine grows both male and female flowers, on separate vines. Only the female flowers are used for herbal purposes. The petals contain various oils and resins that prevent bacterial growth and provide a pleasing bitter taste.
*Those with marked depression should avoid use of hops.
Why I use Hop Yeast
There is nothing like a sick child to make a parent search for a cure, and I am no exception. My second son was always full of spunk and go. He excelled at everything he did, especially if it involved running, jumping or throwing. He had his drawbacks: He could not sit still. He could not remember directions, or even focus on one thing long enough to understand what he was being told. In short, he exhibited every sign of Attention Deficit Hyper-active Disorder (ADHD).
Knowing that many of these disorders are allergy related, I sought to find out what he was allergic to, before he reached school age. Eliminating the usual culprits, like sugar, food coloring and preservatives, seemed to have no effect. Then we ran out of yeast bread. Since I had several loaves of quick bread available, plus biscuits and tortillas, I put off getting more.
Over the next few days my son’s behavior improved drastically; but, as soon as yeast bread was available again, he went crazy. He realized it too, and cried uncontrollably over his inability to focus. We immediately cut yeast out of his diet and received a loveable, responsive, active little boy in return!
But, diet changes are hard. Cutting out yeast bread not only meant no more sandwiches, it meant no more breadsticks or pizza. No more cinnamon rolls, and no more raised doughnuts. I began looking for an alternative. Homemade sour dough bread caused no ill behavior and was acceptable for sandwiches; but, who wants a sour cinnamon roll?
In an old cookbook, which gave directions for cooking on a hearth, I found recipes for making sweet yeasts. The book mentioned that brewer’s yeast (dry-active yeast) could be used, but the results were not as pleasant. This intrigued me, and I figured I had nothing to lose by trying an old recipe. It took several tries to get the amounts correct, since measurements were given in handfuls and teacups, but the smell and taste were well worth the effort! Our table is now properly supplied with bread that not only nourishes, but calms the hyper soul.
The following are my recipes, as adapted from The Young Housekeeper’s Friend.
Soft Hop Yeast
- 3-quart saucepan
- 1 quart glass jar with lid
- small sieve
- 1/3 cup dried hops
- 6 cups quality water
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast or
- 1/3 cup good soft yeast from previous batch
- Simmer hops in water for 1/2 an hour letting the steam escape, to make a strong tea. The water will boil down to about 3 1/2 cups.
- Sterilize jar and lid in boiling water. I do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and over the lid.
- Place flour and salt in sterile jar, and strain boiling tea over the flour. Stir thoroughly. It is important to scald the flour to keep the yeast from souring.
- Cover loosely and allow to cool.
- When it is cool (not cold) add yeast and stir to incorporate. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment, producing a quality yeast.
- When it has fermented (6-12 hours), cover tightly and store in a cool place.
Yeild: 3 1/2 cups soft yeast.
Keeps 2 week, properly stored. When the yeast has a strong tart smell and watery appearance, it is too old for use.
Soft Hop Yeast Bread
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 ½ cups milk
- ¾ cup soft hop yeast
- 10-12 cups flour, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- In saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer ten minutes, to form a thin gruel. Transfer to a non-metal mixing bowl.
- Stir in milk, to cool the mixture.
- Add yeast and 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat) to make a thick batter. Mix thoroughly and cover. This is called a sponge.
- Let sit in a warm (room temperature) place 2 – 12 hours. It can be worked again when the surface appears somewhat watery, though it is best to mix the sponge in the evening and finish making the bread the next morning.
- Stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour, to form stiff dough.
- Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, cover with more flour and knead to incorporate ingredients (10-15 minutes).
- Leave dough on the work surface, to rest while you clean out and grease the mixing bowl.
- Knead dough for twenty minutes, to develop the gluten. Return dough to mixing bowl and cover.
- Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk. This rising will take 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how long the sponge was allowed to develop.
- Knead again, divide and shape into loaves. This recipe will make three 4” x 8” loaves, or two 5” x 9” loaves. It can also be divided and shaped into rolls or hamburger buns.
- Place the dough in greased pans, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. This rising should take no more than an hour.
- Mix glaze and brush on loaves or rolls.
- Bake loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 50-60 minutes, or until the bread comes away from the sides of the pan and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. - Rolls and buns are baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 25 minutes.
- When bread has baked, turn out of pans onto a wire rack to cool. For a softer crust, cover loaves with a hand towel while they cool.
Note: this dough tends to rise up and not out, so make the base of the loaves or buns the desired size of the final product.
Making BreadClick thumbnail to view full-size
Various Uses for the Bread Dough
This dough may be kept refrigerated, and baked up one loaf at a time, thus providing fresh bread every day. Sweet breads, doughnuts, and crust for apple dumplings or pot pies can be made with the addition of butter, eggs, sugar and spices.
These ingredients are combine with the dough after the first rising to keep the dough as fresh as possible. It also allows for a variety of breads to be made out of one batch.
Sweet bread (one loaf):
To two cups of light (risen) dough, add 1 egg, ¼ cup softened butter and ¼ cup sugar, using enough flour to make it workable, and kneading until thoroughly incorporated. Dried fruit, herbs, seeds and/or nuts may also be added. Shape, let rise and bake.
To two cups of light dough add ¾ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons softened butter, 2 eggs and your choice of cinnamon, allspice, lemon, cocoa or vanilla. Work these ingredients together, adding enough flour to shape the dough. Deep fat fry in oil. If using a skillet heat 1 1/2" of oil until it is still. Fry until golden brown, turn and fry the other side. Doughnuts should be turned twice while frying to cook clear through.
Take two cups of light dough and roll in shavings of cold butter three times, adding as little flour as possible. To make the crust, roll the dough thin, sprinkle shaving on half of the dough, and fold. Roll again, to the same size as it was to begin with. Repeat two more times. Divide dough and roll to the appropriate size for the pie or dumpling.
If you like this bread, but would like a bit more beer flavor, use 4 cups of barley malt (omitting the whole wheat), to make the sponge.