The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Baking without commercial yeast

nancycola's picture

Baking without commercial yeast


I'm a newbie to The Fresh Loaf and hate that this has to be my introduction to this site, but here it goes.

I'd been baking artisan-type breads from home for about 6 years. Then a few months ago after a helpless period of severe skin problems despite my dermatologist's help, I went to a holistic doctor who confirmed I have a Candida infection. I needed to cut out, among other things, yeasted bread. You can imagine how depressed I was.

It's been about 4 months since that diagnosis and my skin troubles are more or less under control now. I want to bake again. Before the diagnosis I'd gotten Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" book. I looked in it again the other day and was hoping to skip out on commercial yeast and just bake from the long-rising starters he has in there. But all the recipes call for commercial yeast in addition to the starter. Is there anyway around this?

I want to bake without commercial yeast and just natural starters I make myself. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks a bunch.



Nickisafoodie's picture

Hi Nancy,  sorry to hear about your condition. 

You do not need yeast in those recipes, but may have to allow for more rising times.  A vigorous starter that is properly fed and refreshed 3-5 hours prior to baking will work fine.  First and second rises: Instead of doubling in 45 min to one hour with yeast, it can take 90 min to 2.5 hours depending on flour, temperature, conditions, etc.  Suggest looking at the sourdough and poolish entries that you will find in forums and search box, hundreds of posts.  There is no right way as you can get great results under a variety of methods.  A bit of study and practice and you will be rocking!  And you surely will prefer these breads given complexity, ease of digestion, more flavor, longer keeping and more.  This site has all you will need and will take you down many interesting paths!!

Good luck...

breadinquito's picture

for sure, if you tolerate gluten...i made from scratch my own sourdough starter almost 3 years ago, and I now use also to make panettone, brioche bread, is the way i made it:

1) get an old glass jar and clean it very well

2) start pouring in it a small amount of unbleached or all purpose flour (say 50 gr, for istance) and about 25 gr of  lukewarm water (good quality water) stir well: you should get the consistency of a pancake batter and cover the jar with a lid (plastic wrap helps too) making sure some air may reach the mix you made it.

3) Let rest 24 hours at about 70-75 faranheit away from direct sunlight and wind.

4) repeat step 2 for at least 3 days more...always adding the quantities of flour and water I suggested not be frightened if in the second or 3rd days your sourdough starter will smell something like rotten doesn't mean you're failing something's a part of the process

here in Quito, with an average room temp of 70 degrees, the first bubbles started to appear at the end of the second day..your house's temp will help or slow down the process, if a bit cold, try this trick: get a glass of water and get it to boil in the microwave (3-4 minutes)? then without taking out the glass of water put your jar of starter...well, i wish you good luck! It takes a quite a long time and patience, but the rewards will come in the future!! Happy weekend and baking from Quito. Paolo


pd: once you managed creating your starter, do not hesitate to write me about quantities to use to make bread, feeding wishes :-)

Doolan's picture

Hi there ...can you please tell me how much starter toput into my dough ingredients...i have not started making bread because i cannot understand the instructions of any of the recipes even though i cook and bake constantly....what i dont understand is ....does the starter become the dough or is it added to the i thick?? I cannot eat wheat or yeast si you may not be able to give me advice but if i can just get started. Woukd be happy

scottsourdough's picture

Look around for threads about sourdough--there really are hundreds of them and many knowledgable people that will help you out.

For a good tutorial about making a starter, try this link

Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

recovering.  I wouldn't rush into baking with yeasts, sourdoughs, or anything with molds or fungi while you're still even a little bit sensitive to them, wild or tame.

Bodies take time to heal and longer than we think.  We have to learn to be patient with ourselves.   Rushing into baking may seem smart but if the rash comes back, you may have twice as long to wait until you're baking with anykind of yeast again. 


nancycola's picture

After considering all the replies here, I've decided to proceed with my plan with extreme caution (and fun!).

I have been doing very well on this diet so far and I don't want to regress but the holistic doctor who put me on this diet told me from the beginning I could eat bread without yeast. So, I'll just have fun with my own starter and very, very sloooow rising breads. I won't rely on it for food as much, just want to keep the skill of bread-making fresh. It'll be more about experimentation right now.


Thanks again. Your help means a lot to me.

Happy Holidays,


Alfie's picture

My father was a baker with as many as 39 outlets.  I love baked goods and the hammer of discipline has fallen.

I have had symptoms for years but not until recently does it seem to be that I have candida.  I have have been trying oil of oregano for the last 4 days and it seems to be working.  It has anti-fungal properties.

I have been eating flat breads but they are rich in carbs which could add to the problem.

Good luck,



flourgirl51's picture

Yeast dies at a low temp so how does dead commercial yeast impact yeast sensitivities?

clazar123's picture

That is exactly what I have always wondered! Yeast perishes at 140F. Spores are destroyed at 131F according to the National Institute of Health in the USA so a loaf of bread reaching an internal temp of 190-205F will kill all yeast and spores included. Real medical issues should have real science behind its medical recommendations.This is not the forum in which to discuss that.

The yeast species is so ubiquitous to our environment that if a person has a reaction to yeast, it is a tough problem to treat. There is absolutely NO WAY to avoid yeast in the environment/food but a good doctor (possibly an allergist) and nutritionist can help an individual with their reaction to it. Perhaps there needs to be more medical intervention and less amateur intervention to help the individual.  This is NOT a medical forum.

By the way-sourdough IS yeast! It just has a different "last name" than commercial yeast.Please see an accredited doctor for your unfortunate circumstances.

To answer your original question:

The baker can always bake using just sourdough or just commercial yeast or any combo thereof. The long, slow rise of the sourdough yeast builds flavor and the quick rise of the commercial yeast gives the baker a consistent and faster rise. My recipes are set up for sourdough but I often add some commercial yeast because I don't have enough time in my day. :)

Good Luck and Good Health.

Jo_Jo_'s picture

You could simply skip the yeast entirely and use other leaveners like baking power or baking soday with buttermilk etc.  You could make biscuits, tortillas, pancakes, crepes, and other type of flour based baked goods to use as your sandwich breads.  There are also many recipes for quick breads that are savory rather than sweet, so that you could cut down on the sugar too.  No clue about the medical issues, but if it's simply yeast you need to stay away from then there are a lot of alternatives.


nancycola's picture

I was diagnosed with the candida overgrowth by a holistic doctor. After that I looked up other surefire, scientific ways to get a firm test other than kinesiology (which this doctor used) and found that there were no tests that would be 100% accurate.

The comment about yeast being killed in the baking process is interesting. Again, I'm not totally sold on the whole candida thing either but the alternative, western science way to treat my problem was worse. My quest goes on.

Either way, I'm grateful that there are enough people on here for a discussion about this. Thanks!


flourgirl51's picture

I contacted LeSaffre Yeast Corp/Red Star Yeast Comany regarding this topic as there seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding baker's yeast and candida. I received this reply from Carol Stevens of LaSaffre/Red Star:

" Yeast is "killed" at a temperature of around 140 degrees F. It is killed within the first 5-8 minutes when the dough is baking in the oven. There are no living baker's yeast cells in a loaf of bread." Also " Commercial baker's yeast is not the same type of yeast as candida and it does not cause candida infections There are many different types of yeast and candida is one of them. Commercial baker's yeast is another one called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae."

I hope this helps to clear up this question about candida and baker's yeast.

nancycola's picture

Thanks for calling Red Star Yeast Co.

I've been back on other fermented products like pickles and wine (not at the same meal exactly) for the past some months. Things have been mostly okay.

At the same time I've been avoiding store bought bread. When the weather gets cooler, I'll start bread baking again, trying it with slow rises with homegrown yeasts and let you know how it goes. I'll also try with commercial yeast and report back.



chirpy's picture

Just a thought - Granted, certain temperatures kill yeast, but that doesn't mean that the dead yeast is any less of an allergen. My allergy to dust mites exists whether the mite and his leavings are live, or not alive. I would suspect if one is allergic to yeast then you are allergic to it whether it has been killed, or if it is alive.

Sorry about your plight.

Also - I found a recipe in Grandma's old recipe book for Salt Rising Bread. It contains no yeast. It works from a starter based on potatoes, sugar, water, salt and cornmeal. The dough contains: milk, baking soda, water, shortening and salt + flour.

If you'd like the recipe, I'll post it here for you. I've not made it myself - but am intrigued and would like to make it someday.

nancycola's picture

More food for thought.

Lately I've been trying to live by my mentor's words. "It's all about balance". It can be that I didn't need to eat bread at every meal.

Chirpy, I have a hard time with dairy so I will seek out the recipe but don't post it just for lil' 'ol me.


Olof's picture

This website got me on the track of making a starter:
Only, my starter needed more than the 5 day indicated, I'd say another 5 days. So, 10 days altogether.

There is also a recipe for a sourdough only bread with simple instructions:

I introduced myself with a recipe of a multigrain ryebread (photos included):

Hope this helps.

Doolan's picture
Doolan starter is looking great in its day 3.....i hate to throw out two thirds, feels like tossing out an embryo....what if i put some in a clean jar and feed it separtely as i see on some forum replies that day 4 can flop so by keeping two going from first starter, one in fridge i could save three days of nurturing if first one fails.....or am I being pesimistic already?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Discard.  (that's a subtle order)  :)  

Keep in mind you are not cutting your starter or hurting it.  It is not one organism ("embryo") but many.  There are thousands of living single celled adult organisms in the culture and they demand to be fed or they will go catatonic.  (Discard into the compost where they can have all kinds of bio-fun!)  

It is better to reduce them in number and generously feed the remaining beasts than to try to feed them all only a little tiny bit (to keep a budget) and have the starter growth stall on you.  Remember to grow and maintain a culture for bread baking not take over the world.  If you don't discard, and feed the hungry bacteria and yeasts properly, you will soon have bathtubs of starter and it won't even be a stable yet.  (and where would you take a bath?)  

Stability improves with generations of healthy growth and so we have to keep their numbers in check.  Much of the mature starter is waste by-products (the more mature, the more waste) great for flavour but lousy for beasts to grow and stay active.  "Discard and clean their cage."

I feel it is pointless to save starter culture in this early stage to grow separately.  If you want two starters, divide the starter once it has proven itself to make bread.  

Mini Oven

Doolan's picture

Cheers Mini ....i have been punished anyway as starter flopped back to a stiff flat paste today day four ...might try water kefir if i can find some ...

Dont worry, i will promise to discard as instructed xxxx

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

taste it first and give it more time (don't discard) if it tastes like wet flour.  Temperature makes a big difference.  If you decide to start a second one, keep an eye (and take notes) on this first one as well.  It is typical of a starter to act dead when it is setting up, patience!  Tell us how it tastes and smells.  

Doolan's picture

Hey mini x went to have a taste but the smell stopped me x searching for water kefir in the hope i can cut down the time it takes to build a starter ...havent baked a single loaf yet..but i am making beef jerky xxx

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Smell of beer means the yeasts are hungry!  The starter should no longer be separating and showing bubble activity with this next feed.  Good news!  

Doolan's picture

I chucked it out as it was green...oops....we had two day cold snap and it shrunk back to one inch high with green bumps so i tossed it in the not a good move i am guessing ...?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Keep the next one out of the sun?   Highly suggest to try the unsweetened juice instead of water.