Kombucha Bread

This bread gets its airy crumb from kombucha. SCOBY (the gelatinous mass that builds up on the surface of homemade kombucha) is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts. Yeasts as in the stuff that can raise breads. So, why shouldn’t we use it to bake some bread?

That’s my kombucha down there. It’s red because it’s been living on a mix of green tea and hibiscus for a few years now. It was an accidental mix-up one morning. It was still early and I dumped the wrong pitcher of cold tea on the scobys. Well, I really love the flavor, it goes great with frozen raspberries or strawberries in the 2nd fermentation, and the kombucha is producing scobys like crazy with that tea mix. I didn’t see any reason to change it back to normal.

To use the scoby, it needs to be liquefied. I fished the topmost layer out of the jar and threw it into the blender with a bit of the kombucha and some water. The result was a pink smoothie, which I then mixed with equal parts medium rye and bread flour and a little bit of sugar to make a pre-ferment. That way all the little creatures could work their magic over night and develop some extra oomph.

After 12 hours in the proofing box, I had a nice and bubbly pre-ferment. The box was set to about 28°C / 82F because Kombucha loves it warm. At room temperature, I’d have to at least double the time..

I mixed the final dough, using half bread flour and half ancient red wheat and let it sit in the proofing box for about 2 hours before I shaped the loaf. I placed the banneton in the proofing box as well, just for an hour or so, and then moved it to the counter overnight.

I woke up to a loaf that was ready to hit the oven asap. Kombucha is really unpredictable. It depends on the age, on how many of those yeast strands stick to the scoby, room temperature, etc. So if you copy this, don’t necessarily stick to my timetable! Your dough and bread will tell you when they’re ready.

I had to bake this one at full proof, so there’s no scoring.
I prefer 3/4 proof, deep scores or natural rips and lots of oven spring!

Kombucha Bread:

  • 1 small SCOBY (about 40g)
  • 100g kombucha
  • 130g water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 100g bread flour
  • 100g medium rye flour

Using a blender, mix the scoby and the liquids to a puree, then add the flours and the sugar and mix those in by hand. Let ferment as warm as possible (28-30°C / 82-85F) until nice and bubbly. I had to wait about 12 hours.

  • pre-ferment
  • 200g freshly milled ancient red wheat (or any other wheat)
  • 200g bread flour
  • 1 tsp sugarbeet molasses (you can use blackstrap molasses)
  • 170g water
  • 12g salt

The dough will be very wet and sticky. Keep kneading until it passes the windowpane test and then do some rounds of stretches and folds over the two hours of the bulk rise. The texture will improve greatly.

Shape your loaf, place it in a banneton and let it rise at room temperature overnight, until it feels puffy and pillowy. Pre-heat your oven to 250°C and bake your bread with steam for 40 minutes total. Turn the heat down to 210°C after about 10 minutes.

There are very subtle undertones of “something different” but you can’t really taste the kombucha in the finished bread. It goes with sweet toppings as well as savory.

Today’s bread baking playlist courtesy of the radio:

  • Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast
  • Guns ‘n Roses – Paradise City
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Black Summer
  • The Offspring – Pretty Fly
  • Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
  • AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long
  • Corey Taylor – On The Dark Side

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