The Four Loaves of the Apocalypse, or Baking with Brewers’ Yeast

More baking with brewers yeast with my Champagne Yeast Pita and Champagne Yeast Brioche

Four breads
Sometimes I get crazy ideas.  Like using "I Can Spell" as my campaign slogan for class secretary in 5th grade.  Or bringing my mom a plastic boat when the washing machine overflowed and flooded the kitchen.  I mean, she did say to "Go get something!"  Way to be specific, mom.  But I actually had a good crazy idea a few weeks ago.  I thought that it would be Fun to experiment with different strains of brewers' yeast in my bread.

Granted, bakers' yeast has been optimized for baking, so I guess it's a fan of the particular sugars present in wheat flour.  But all yeasts eat sugars and expel carbon dioxide and alcohol.  I figured that baking with brewers' yeast might be a fun experiment. So, The Beloved and I took a trip out to the local home brew store, American Brewmaster.  I came home with a veritable Treasure Trove of goodies.  I bought three kinds of yeast, some Belgian candy sugar (which sat on the sidelines during this experiment--I kind of forgot about it.  You'll see it in action soon enough, though.  I promise), and some dry malt extract.  I was going to get the syrupy malt extract, but The Guy told me that it is Very Susceptible to bacterial infiltration and just to get the dried.  I sullenly accepted his advice.
The Yeasts

Dry Malt Extract
So, then, there they were.  All my ingredients.  Facing me. Day after day.  Finally, after a couple of weeks, I broke down and decided that That Day was The Day.  I decided to be kind of scientific-y about the whole thing.  Each dough used exactly the same ingredients in the same proportions.  The only difference was the type of yeast I used.  I also labeled everything and gave all the dough the same amount of rise time both on the counter and in the fridge.Next Button


  1. says

    So cool! This totally lends credence to the B&B (Brewery and Bakery) idea that Nick and I have been nursing for a while now. So interesting to see how the different yeasts work – I can’t wait to do my own experiments with brewer’s yeast!

    • says

      Camille, if you and Nick make the B&B happen, I am coming to the opening! Now that I’ve done some experimenting, I think the possibilities might actually be limitless. You must start playing immediately! 🙂

  2. Hilah Johnson says

    Thanks for this! I’d always assumed brewer’s and baker’s yeast were not exchangeable. Now you got me all excited to go to the homebrew shop!

    • says

      It opened a whole new world of possibilities, bread-wise, @google-afd6a762b92a3db25cb94570e301aa5f:disqus ! Enjoy and experiment away! I’m thinking playing w/a champagne yeast and using some champagne *in* the dough would be fun!

  3. Ryan says

    Some beers are bottle-conditioned- meaning live yeast and extra sugar are pitched into the bottle to start another fermentation. Since the yeast is still alive, I wonder if you couldn’t just substitute a bottle conditioned beer for the water AND yeast in your recipe, and if a proper rise could be achieved that way. Yeast tends to settle in the bottle, so I’d probably give it a good shake before attempting this.

    • says

      That’s an interesting idea. My only concern about that would be that once the beer is carbonated via the bottle conditioning, most of the yeast would be killed off by the alcohol in the beer. On the other hand, I don’t see why you couldn’t give it a shot to see what would happen. Some of the yeasties might just be dormant and throwing them in with a bunch of new food would wake them up.

      Maybe try an experiment where you drain off all the beer and then pour the sediment out into a cup with a bit of warm water and a pinch or two of sugar and let it sit awhile to see if the yeast will start eating. If so, full steam ahead! If you try it, let me know, @3108fcc1a480dcff2c76ad5b3f49257a:disqus . I’d be interested in hearing your results!

  4. Becky says

    Fantastic! I was just wanting to try out brewer’s yeast for bread and am so glad I found your thread. I, too, live near American Brewmaster and will go out there today. I bake a lot with various wild yeast cultures from around the world and have been considering trying to introduce a brewer’s strain into one of those cultures to see if some kind of symbiosis might be possible among the naturally occurring yeast/bacilli and a 2nd yeast. Perhaps because brewer’s yeasts aren’t supercharged like baker’s yeast they might not out-compete. Can’t wait to try! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • says

      Honestly, Jean, I have no real idea. I don’t do substitution baking, so I’ve never tried to make a gluten free version. There are many experts who could help you, though. Janice Mansfield comes to mind: I do know that you can’t just substitute one gluten free flour for the AP that I used. Since you won’t have gluten for structure, that has to come from gums, such as xanthan gum. I do hope Janice will be able to help. At the very least, I’m sure she has some lovely gf bread recipes on her site. 🙂

  5. Ken says

    I’m a brewer and I currently have a batch of cider brewing using the wild yeasts from the skin of the apples. I might try and replicate one of your loaves using my dregs when this cider gets finished, and see how different from a sourdough it is.

  6. Sara Schlesinger says

    My husband has just started brewing beer, he first gave me leftover yeast and now he’s giving me spent grains. Do you think I could work some of the spent grains into the recipe? I had to dry them because I couldn’t come up with a recipe fast enough to use them wet.

  7. Michael K. says

    I searched ‘net for this kind of experiments, and was glad there’s others interested in using beer yeast in baking. Just for this week, I tried to expand volume of yeast gathered from the bottom of the commercial beer bottle. It seemed to succeed, and I created sourdough from about a litre of yeast and flour mixture. Bread rised well during baking, and had a delicious crust. I think I’ll repeat what I learned and maybe publish what the process yielded.

    • says

      Wow–love that you used “collected” yeast from the bottle. I’d love to see photos of your results if you feel like sharing. You can email to onlinepastrychef at yahoo dot com or post them to the “Jenni Field’s Pastry Chef Online” facebook page. Thanks so much for stopping in, Michael!

  8. Danielle says

    Hi Jenni! I just stumbled on your article many years hence — so interesting. Do you still bake with brewers yeast or was it just an experiment and you’re back to baker’s?

  9. says

    Hi, Danielle! I still do–not for all loaves, but occasionally. I made a champagne yeast pita last year, and I’m making a champagne yeast brioche for a blog post in a couple of weeks!


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