Can I make bread without yeast?

Bread. Such a simple creation yet so delicious. Bread is a staple in every household and is the basis for all our favourite sandwiches.

We love bread in our house and there is a constant supply of it. It is a bad day when we’ve run out of bread!

Homemade yeasted bread can be so time consuming and can sometimes take a few hours, if not the whole day to make! Or days if you are baking sourdough!

If you’re in a rush or have ran out of yeast you might be thinking, ‘Can I make bread without yeast?’.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can! Let’s take a look at what types of bread can be made without yeast.

What is yeast? 

Yeast is a single-celled microorganism that is part of the fungus family. It needs moisture and sugar to thrive and grow in. 

 

When yeast is added to the dry ingredients and left to prove, the yeast begins to eat on the sugars produced by the flour and any added sugar added by you.

As it grows, carbon dioxide begins to form, expanding the dough and making it rise.

Types of yeast

Yeast comes in different types. The most common ones you will find at the grocery store is active dry yeast and instant yeast (or rapid yeast).

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast can be found in large packets or in individual sachets. This type of yeast is called active dry as it needs to be activated in water first before it is mixed.

This can take up to 15 minutes, depending how fresh your yeast is.

You will know when it’s activated and ready to mix with your dry ingredients when the yeast mixture is full of bubbles and looks frothy.

 

Instant Yeast

Instant yeast is probably the easiest one to use and the one that I have a constant supply of in my house.

Instant yeast is what it says it is; instant. You don’t need to wait around for it to activate like active dry yeast. You can mix it in directly with your dry ingredients.

Instant yeast is particularly useful if you tend to use a bread maker as you can add it directly to your bread pan with the rest of the ingredients.

 

Fresh Yeast

There is also fresh yeast which comes in a block of what looks like butter. It is harder to find as it is not very common in general grocery stores.

It works similarly to instant yeast in that you can mix it in directly with your dry ingredients.

But, since fresh yeast comes in a hard block, it is better to dissolve it in water first before mixing in with the flour as it makes it easier to manage.

Bread Without Yeast

No one can deny that yeasted bread beats all other types of bread any day of the week.

Yeasted bread is fluffy, chewy, soft and has a delicious yeasty taste and flavour.

It is definitely possible to make bread without yeast.

Bread made without yeast is usually known as unleavened bread and before yeast was discovered, unleavened bread is what all of our ancestors would make.

Making bread without yeast is not as time consuming as making it with yeast.

It can literally take you 10 minutes to mix, knead, rest and bake your unleavened bread.

How to Make Bread with Just Flour and Water

The main ingredients used in bread are flour and water, everything else is additional, even yeast. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that when you are making bread without yeast, you will not get the same rise and texture as you would with yeast.

If I want to make something in the form of bread that is quick, I will go for a simple flatbread recipe or a quick naan bread recipe. 

Both can be made with just flour and water, and optionally you can add any herbs, spices and oils. 

Using just water and flour for flatbread or naan breads works really well as both types of bread are flat and don’t require yeast anyway.

If you want your quick naan bread to have a lift to it, you could always substitute the flour with self rising flour or just simply add some baking powder.

Bread with self-rising flour 

If you want to make more of a substantial loaf without using yeast, you can opt for ingredients that are used as leavening agents. This can be in the form of self-rising flour, baking powder or beer. 

You might be thinking, beer? Really? Beer is actually a great leavening agent for bread. The carbon dioxide in the beer is what will make the bread rise in the oven. 

 

Combine that will either self-rising flour and plain flour with baking powder and you will get a nice rise to your bread. 

Of course, we had to try this out, so we used a recipe that used self-rising flour and beer to make bread.

The bread certainly rose, but it was super dense and didn’t really taste of anything.

Soda Bread

We also tried a soda bread recipe. Soda bread is notoriously known as being quick, easy and tasty. 

It is a very popular irish recipe that a lot of us make when we don’t have time waiting around for yeasted bread to do it’s thing.

Although the soda bread came out looking much nicer than the loaf made with self-rising flour, it was still quite dense and heavy. 

You can find the full recipe here.

bread on wooden chopping board with knife

Before yeast was even a thing, everyone used to make bread with just flour and water, so you definitely don’t need yeast to make bread. 

But, now that we know how good yeasted bread is, it’s hard to go back.

Making bread without yeast goes really well with flatbreads or naan bread recipes and you don’t need the yeast to give a lift and a rise. 

If you are after a more substantial loaf, definitely opt for yeast if you can. If not, soda bread is a great alternative if you don’t have any yeast in the house. 

If the reason why you don’t like making yeasted bread is because it can take forever and requires a lot of elbow grease, it might be time to invest in a bread machine.

Happy baking!

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