Mavis’s Hop Yeast Bread

Listeners to ABC radio 936 Tasmania on August 22nd might remember the mention of a hop yeast and bread.  It was given to me by Mavis Beattie, a recipe that has been in her family for generations.

I had wanted just such recipe for decades.  She has generously said that it can be shared with everyone.

I like the flavour and texture better than sourdough, and have found it much more successful. I tend to get distracted and not give proper attention to sourdough plants, and so they invariably die.

However, with this recipe of Mavis’s, the yeast needs little attention.  I keep a bottle in the fridge (PET bottle), and then just boost it with the prescribed mix to invigorate it when it’s needed.

I was so pleased to show my success to Mavis when I first made the yeast.  Mavis is a member of the Derwent VAlley Garden Club and so I took it along to show her at the meeting that evening.  I’d taken it in its Coke bottle “home”.

As it bubbled and frothed away beautifully, the bottle bulged rather alarmingly, so I had to remove the lid every now and then to let out the gas. The aroma was rather interesting (!), but the dough that was set with the yeast sponge overnight and the resulting bread next day was the best I have ever made.  It’s a totally different, subtly different flavour, reminiscent of decade past.  It simply has to be tried to be experienced.

Mavis Beattie’s Bread Recipe with Homemade Hop Yeast

Hops should be available from home brewing shops.

HopYeast starter

1 organic potato – unpeeled (scrubbed), 1 tablespoon hops and water to cover well. Boil until cooked. Cool.

Mix 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon sugar to a smooth paste using a little of the cooled liquid. Tip this mixture into a saucepan containing the cooled hop/potato mixture. Mash everything and pour into the bottle in which you have put 4 organic sultanas. Set in a warm place to work.

I use a 1.25 litre plastic lemonade or tonic water screw top bottle. It takes the pressure better than a glass bottle.

Hop and potato yeast – to feed plant (after about 4 days)

Boil a medium potato in about 3 cups water until tender. Place a small handful of hops in a mixing bowl. Pour over the boiling potato water. Allow to cool. Hops should have sunk to the bottom.

When cool, add liquid only to 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix together and top up the starter. Fill the bottle to no more than ¾. Screw the lid down firmly.

Mixture is ready to bake when you undo the bottle and the ‘starter’ rushes out.

To make Hop-Potato Yeast Bread (basic recipe)

 Put 1 cup flour in a mixing bowl. Pour in about 1 – 1 ½ cups of bubbling starter. Mix, then leave overnight in a warm place (I sit mine in a cupboard on top of the hot water cylinder).

Next morning – add about 1 pint water (warm) alternately with extra 4 to 5 cups flour to make a soft dough.

If not using bread-mix flour, add a small handful of salt. Mix to a soft-firm dough, leave to rise.

Knock back and put in bread tins. When risen, cook 30 to 40 minutes (20 minutes on High 200 degrees C, and 10 to 20 minutes on 180 degrees C.

Oil can be added, any kind of flour can be used, though keep about half as plain white flour for best texture (as with any bread).

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