How Can You Make Bread Rise Without Yeast?

September 22, 2022
Written by Allyza Cepeda

Missing an ingredient or two comes with the territory when you’re baking.

We’ve all been there when you’re already in the middle of mixing everything when you realize that you don’t have a particular ingredient! It’s particularly grating when it’s an important ingredient you’re missing that you cannot not have it. 

A classic example is when you run out of yeast. Although most supermarkets have it, not everyone is willing to make the trip just to get one missing item. 

The good thing is, that there are other ways to rise your dough using common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Check out all the available substitutes you can concoct in your kitchen below!

Baking Soda with Any Acid

The reason your dough rises after adding yeast is that when the sugars are released, the yeast consumes it, which in turn emits carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is what’s responsible for the rising effect in bread.

You can imitate the same reaction by combining baking soda with any acid to make your dough rise. Acids such as buttermilk, lemon juice, and milk combined with a one-to-one ratio of vinegar are the options you can choose from.

To use any of the above as a substitute, add equal parts of baking soda and lemon juice to how much amount of yeast was required in the recipe. 

For instance, if the recipe calls for one teaspoon of yeast, add a half teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of lemon juice instead. Buttermilk with a 50-50 mix of milk and vinegar is also a good substitute in place of a lemon juice.

You can then proceed to make and bake your dough as you would usually do.

But do note that you won’t need to let your dough rise (proof) when using these substitutes. Because in order for the reaction to work properly, you have to first bake your dough in the oven once you’ve added your final ingredients.

For best results, use fresh baking soda as those stored in open containers are only good until six months.

Double-Acting Baking Powder

Not a lot of people know that baking powder is made by combining baking soda as well as an acid-like cream of tartar. And when combined, it also provides the same carbon dioxide reaction that happens when you use yeast. 

As a substitute, double-acting baking powder will probably give you the best results because it releases carbon dioxide twice. The first is when it’s mixed with the liquid ingredients and the second time happens when it’s heated in the oven.

To use this substitute, just replace the yeast required in the recipe with an equal amount of baking powder.

Sourdough starter

The great thing about using a sourdough starter as a substitute is that it already contains naturally occurring yeast. Since it’s made from flour and water and then naturally fermented, it boasts of a slightly tangy flavor used to make sourdough bread.

Another amazing feature of sourdough starters is that you can maintain them for years. It continually ferments as you maintain it—providing a strong flavor as well as a soft and chewy texture to your bread.

The fermentation process in making a sourdough starter is the same as instant yeast. Both form bubbles of carbon dioxide within the dough to make it rise.

To replace one package of yeast (about two teaspoons), use one cup or 300 grams of sourdough starter.

Do note that if your starter is a bit thick, you can reduce the amount of flour in the recipe the next time you make it. But if it’s leaning more on the thin side, you can either reduce the water or add more flour so the texture is just right. 

If you’re using a sourdough starter as a yeast substitute, double the rise time as it reacts slower.

How to make your own sourdough starter

Growing a sourdough starter will usually take you a minimum of 5 days. But once you’re able to grow one, it’s easy to maintain. All you need are 2 1/2 cups or 600 grams of all-purpose or bread flour and 2 1/2 cups or 600 ml of water.

To make your sourdough starter, follow the day-by-day directions below:

  • Day 1: Combine 1/2 cup (about 120g) of flour and 1/2 cup (about 120 ml) of water. Mix and cover loosely with cling wrap or a clean kitchen cloth. Leave at room temperature.
  • Day 2: Feed the starter with a half cup (120g) of flour and half a cup (120 ml) of water. Mix and cover loosely again before leaving it at room temperature. By the end of this day, there should be bubbles forming, which indicates that the yeast is growing and fermenting.
  • Day 3: Repeat the same steps on day 2. Your mixture should start smelling yeasty and should also have a good amount of bubbles.
  • Day 4: Repeat the same feeding steps as previously mentioned. There should be more bubbles by this day and a stronger, more sour smell. Its size in the container should’ve also increased.
  • Day 5: Repeat the same feeding steps as before. If it still smells yeasty and has many bubbles then it’s now ready to use.

To maintain your sourdough starter, make sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool place such as your ref.

Use or discard half of your starter every week and then feed it with another half cup (120g) of flour and half cup (120ml) of water.

If you see any fuzzy, white formations or green molds, discard the starter.

Since sourdough starters take a minimum of 5 days to produce, this yeast substitute is only handy if you already have it on hand, unless you can wait five days before baking.

All About Yeast Substitutes

While the above substitutes will make your dough rise, do note that some results may still differ from your standard yeast. 

Some differences include your dough not rising as tall or there might be some slight distinction in flavor or texture. But if you’re out of yeast or just want to cut it from the food you’re consuming, the above substitutes are certainly worth using.

Another alternative to not using yeast is to just make quick bread recipes that don’t require yeast. However, quick bread is usually sweeter and is served with fruits or nuts (e.g. Irish soda bread).

Whatever you choose, there are always numerous workarounds that will suit your specific taste!

Allyza Cepeda
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