How to make fresh yeast

After being in lockdown for over seven weeks now, you would have thought that the UK’s penchant for baking might have waned slightly, but it is not so.

Baked goods of all kinds, from breads to buns, scones to sourdough, are being produced by households across the UK and supermarkets are still struggling to restock baking essentials such as flour, sugar and eggs fast enough.

If you’ve been waiting to try your hand at baking bread during lockdown but are yet to find yeast in the shops, then you could try making your own. Here’s how…

How to make fresh yeast

Aidan Monks, baker at Lovingly Artisan (who just so happened to be awarded National Bakery of the Year in 2019) shared with how to make a sourdough starter from scratch, which you can then use instead of ‘commercial yeast’ to make bread.

‘Commercial yeast is what most people use to bake bread and what you can buy from the supermarket. That commercial yeast is not something you can make yourself – you do need to buy that,’ Aidan explained.

‘But what you can do if you want to bake bread without commercial yeast is apply the methodology of a sourdough starter to make fresh yeast.’

How to create and maintain your sourdough starter – by Aidan Monks

One of the most magical elements of making sourdough is the creation of your own starter! Imagine passing your sourdough starter down to generations to come!


  • 100g warm bottled mineral water (ideally Evian, due to the mineral content)
  • 100g Gilchesters Organic’s Wholemeal flour


  • A clean jam jar
  • One small spoon


This method is all about getting the consistency and texture right! The measurements will be more of a guide for you, as then it’s all about the feel! This is the first beauty of sourdough and why you will love it!

1. Add about 100g of water to a clean jam jar.

2. Add approximately 100g of Gilchesters Organic’s Wholemeal Flour. (you can add more flour if required, be bold and brave!)

3. Blend the flour and water with a teaspoon until you have created a rough paste, similar to the appearance of thick peanut butter!


You are looking and feeling for a rough paste, thick in appearance and texture. Add additional flour if the mixtures feels too loose to touch until you are happy with the consistency. Remember, making sourdough is all about the feel, you are simply getting to know your starter.

4. Cover with the jar lid or linen, don’t be tempted to tighten the lid too much, leave slightly open to the elements, as you want your starter to benefit from the lovely atmosphere and fragrance of your home! Imagine all those micronutrients in the air working their magic!


5. Keep your jar of starter in a room temperature of approximately 21 degrees, cosy but not too hot, the kitchen is the ideal. Your starter will not benefit from drafts or sunshine. The ideal location is normally the kitchen, you want to remember the feed! It’s a little like having a NEW family member of which you don’t want to neglect.


This is Aidan Monks’ personal preference; however you will read about alternatives!


Initially you should feed your starter once a day, whilst it is new, young and until at least 6 – 7 Sourdough loaves have been baked using it.

A young starter is less stable than an old starter, the older it becomes the better the performance.


1. Remove and discard the contents of your starter from within your jam jar with a small teaspoon. You need to throw away all of the previous mixture, don’t be frightened of doing this – as long as there is some residue on the edge of the jar, your starter will remain active once fed.


Once emptying your jar, you will be left with a light coloured, creamy liquid that is smearing the surface of your jam jar, this is packed with live microbes.

2. Pour approximately an inch of your Evian bottled water into your jam jar,

3. Add 2 large dessert spoons of your wholemeal flour and stir until thick paste forms. Add more wholemeal flour if required, and continue to feel the texture. You’re looking for a thick paste to form.

Repeat this whole feeding process (steps 1 – 3) every day for 7 days.


Your jam jar should be alive, full of bubbles and air, light in colour, creamy and slightly malty in tone.


A pleasant yoghurty smell


If you’re not ready to bake, store your starter in the fridge, this is called hibernation.


1. Remove your starter from the fridge, as your starter needs the warmth and atmosphere.

Your starter will need AT LEAST 2 days of feeding, following the recipe provided. Always store at room temperature prior to baking.

Remember you’re looking for the smell, texture and bubbles.

How to make bread using a sourdough starter

Explaining how to make bread using a piece of your sourdough starter, Aidan told that the day before you want to make bread you need to:

Step 1 – Mix a teaspoon of the sourdough starter with equal amounts of flour and water in a jam jar, it will bubble up and ferment to create a leaven overnight. (This leaven is essentially your commercial yeast substitute)

Step 2 – Leave your jam mixture to ferment for a day at room temperature (ideally between 21 and 26 degrees)

Step 3 – 24 hours later, when you are ready to make bread, mix half flour, half, water with a tablespoonful of your starter.

Step 4 – This mixture then needs to be left to ferment at least two hours before it’s ready to be baked.

Or, just following Lovingly Artisan’s simple sourdough recipe below to bake your own beautiful loaf at home…

Lovingly Artisan’s simple sourdough recipe

For your leaven:

( make the leaven 24 hours before)

  • 20 g mature starter/mother
  • 40g water 30’c
  • 20g strong white flour
  • 20g wholemeal Rye

For the bread dough:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 350g water at 30’c
  • 10 g fine salt
  • 100g leaven

1. Make the leaven by mixing together the mother, flour and warm water in a clean jam jar. Place the lid loosely on top and leave at room temperature 21-15’c for 24 hours.

2. To make the dough place the water and leaven into a mixing bowl and stir together till mixed. Now add the flour and with a scraper mix together taking care to scrape down the sides of the bowl at regular intervals until you get a smooth dough with no lumps. (you are only mixing the ingredients together at this point the kneading comes later). Now cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave to stand for two hours to Autolysis. This time allows the natural enzymes in the flour to activate and make the job of kneading a lot easier.

3. Now add the salt and use your fingers to brake the dough apart and allow the salt to mix evenly throughout the dough

4. Kneading or more to be more descriptive stretching the dough. Firstly dip your hands into a jug of warm water. Then push your fingers between the bowl and the dough and grasp the dough pulling it upwards feeling it stretch and tension. Then fold that stretched dough down towards the opposite side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat that process till you work your way around the bowl, doing this several times until you feel the dough start to tighten. Cover the bowl with the damp cloth and leave for 30min. After the 30 min repeat, the process and do this another 4 times. You should now have a smooth silky dough. Cover and leave for two hours to ferment and grow

5. Now prepare a bowl for the final proving of the Boule. Take a linen tea towel and liberally rub flour into the middle of the cloth in a large circle. Line a large bowl or basket with this cloth.

6. After two hours your dough should feel lighter to the touch and have more volume. It’s time to shape the dough ready for its final prove. The method you used to stretch the dough (4) you now repeat for one final time. When you have a tight and springy ball of dough you then place it into the linen line bowl and cover with a cloth.

7. You now prove the dough for an additional two hours at room temperature,21-25’, until it doubles in size. The dough is ready to bake when a finger gently pushed into the dough results in the indentation springing halfway back. If the indentation springs back all the way the dough is not ready and needs more time.

8. For the best bake use a Dutch oven, or turn the boule out of the bowl onto an oiled oven baking sheet. Lightly dust with flour and score the bread with a very sharp serrated knife to allow it to spring properly in the oven. Bake at 180 ’c for 40 to 45min

For further information, visit Lovingly Artisan’s website or Baking Club Facebook page.

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