Kombucha Recipe: Kombucha Bread Starter + Kombucha Sourdough and Kombucha Hotcakes Recipes

If you let Kombucha ferment for a longer time, or maybe if you’ve got a busy Continuous Brew set up, you’ve seen plenty of dark brown, maybe gloppy strings of yeast collecting near the bottom of your brew.

While an overabundance in our maturing Kombucha can be a bad thing, there is another use for those extra yeast, and one that makes great use of Kombucha’s naturally sour flavor. Yeast is used to make bread. Starting to get the picture??Kombucha Sourdough Bread and Pancakes by Kombucha Kamp

History of Sourdough

Egyptian hieroglyphics show baking.

Historically, bread has been an important part of the human diet. The oldest breads are the unleavened types such as pita and naan. According to historians, leavening was in use as far back as 6000 years ago (4000 BC). Leavening occurs when wild yeasts populate a mixture of flour and water.

The yeast feast on the carbohydrates (sugar) of the grain and attract lactobacillus to create a symbiosis (sound familiar) and ferment. This fermentation process breaks down the naturally occurring phytic acid, creates a lighter texture (yeast release carbon dioxide) and preserves the bread from spoiling too quickly.

Almost no store bought breads today have undergone any fermentation; they are usually unhealthy gut bombs of refined flour and sugar designed to get you addicted to the rush. But bread was not always such a poorly understood product.

In fact, bread was such a precious commodity that in the 16th century, bakers were often bankers, using loaves of bread as currency.

During the Gold Rush of the 1860’s, miners who roughed the elements in the Yukon and California were known as “Sourdoughs” due to the lump of starter they wore on their person to keep it warm. They knew that it was nutritious, hearty and comforting.

Boudin_Bakery__San_Franci-Boudin_Sourdough_BakeryThe most famous sourdough bread in the United States hails from San Francisco. But why this place in particular? Is it just because the best bakers live there? Or perhaps the water is different on the West Coast?

No actually, this is due to a very special (and particularly active and tasty) yeast that thrives in the San Francisco climate dubbed lactobacillus sanfrancisco.

Boudin’s Bakery has maintained their mother culture for over 150 years, even surviving the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

Alton Brown explains WHY sourdough rises
(from his awesome show Good Eats)

Since Kombucha is also a symbiosis of bacteria and yeast, it is an excellent source for making your own sourdough starter at home.

Moreover, using Kombucha yeast dregs jumpstarts the process and reduces the amount of time needed for an active starter.

Kombucha Kamp reader Sissy L Menz offered her recipe for making a Sourdough Bread stater using the spent Kombucha yeast from the bottom of the brewing vessel.

Kombucha Bread Starter by Sissy

bubbling Kombucha bread starter by Sissy Menz
bubbling Kombucha bread starter by Sissy Menz

When Kombucha is ready to be “harvested” you may have noticed a significant amount of yeast on the bottom of your brewing vessel.

Sometimes it might just be very dusty looking. Sometimes it looks murky.

This is perfect for making a revved up wild yeast bread starter!

Start Your Starter

    • Large bowl
    • Cloth cover
    • 1½ cup of KT dregs from bottom of jar
    • 1½ cup flour
  1. Sanitize the bowl with distilled vinegar and filtered water.
  2. Add flour and KT to bowl.
  3. Mix until combined. It can be a little lumpy.
  4. Cover with cloth.
  5. Set aside for 24 hours.
  6. Check the starter to see if any bubbles of formed and if it has doubled in size.
  7. If it isn’t bubbly or hasn’t doubled, then feed it another 1/2 cup of flour

General Tips

  • Letting the dough rise near your Kombucha brewing vessels is a good idea as it will capture wild yeast that is in the air.
  • If after 24 hours the starter doesn’t have a ton of small bubbles and hasn’t at least doubled in size just feed it.
  • As soon as it gets lots of small bubbles, and a nice sour smell then you have a mature starter and can bake bread with it.
  • Store in the fridge between feedings. It will keep several months. To revive, remove from fridge and feed.
A vibrant, bubbling Kombucha sourdough starter
A vibrant, bubbling Kombucha sourdough starter

Some recipes call for feeding the starter 3 straight days before baking. It all depends on the strength of your starter, how bubbly it gets and how much wild yeast is naturally cultivated.

If it’s not looking active enough, just feed it like Sissy says and give it 8 – 10 hours to bubble up, then bake with it or move it to the fridge if it’s ready, or feed it the next day if it’s not.

Here’s a great, simple way to make use of that lovely, sour Kombucha bread starter you’ve just cultivated!

Kombucha Sourdough Bread Recipe

adapted from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon

Makes 1 loaf.

    • 3 cups of Kombucha sourdough starter
    • 4 cups of flour – wheat, rye, spelt or combination
    • 1 tbsp sea salt
    • ½ cup of filtered water
  1.  Starter should be room temperature and have been recently fed.
  2. Combine starter, salt and water in a large bowl and mix until the salt has dissolved.
  3. Slowly mix in the flour. It may be easier to use your hands.
  4. If the dough is too thick, add more water. The dough should be soft and easy to work.
  5. Knead in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Shape into a loaf. Avoid pressing down on the dough to do this. Place in a buttered loaf pan.
  7. Cut a few slits in the top of the loaf.
  8. Cover with a cloth and let rise 4-12 hours (depending on temperature)
  9. Once it has doubled, then bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
  10. Allow to cool before slicing.
It will keep for up to a week without refridgeration.

Here’s another great use for starter from podcast buddy Sandor.

Alaskan Frontier Sourdough Hotcakes

adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Mix batter the night before for breakfast pancakes. Makes about 16 pancakes.

    • 1 cup Kombucha sourdough starter
    • 2 cups lukewarm water (to make the yeast happy!)
    • 2½ cups whole wheat pastry flour &/or white flour
    • 2 tbsp sugar (or other sweetener)
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I recommend melted butter or ghee)
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. In a large bowl, mix the starter, water, flour & sugar.
  2. Stir until smooth.
  3. Cover and let ferment 8-12 hours (overnight). **Don’t forget to replenish your starter.
  4. Beat the egg and add to the batter with the butter and salt.
  5. Stir until smooth.
  6. Mix the baking soda with 1 tbsp of warm water, fold it gently into the mixture.
  7. Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle and grease.
  8. Ladle batter into pan and cook until many bubbles have formed.
  9. Flip pancake and cook until medium brown.
  10. Serve warm!
Garnish with homemade compote, spiced yogurt, maple syrup, creme fraiche or favorite topping.

Have you made Kombucha Bread before, or just want to try it?
Leave a comment letting us know how it went! 🙂

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Responses to Kombucha Recipe: Kombucha Bread Starter + Kombucha Sourdough and Kombucha Hotcakes Recipes

  1. Hi, I have a few questions.
    How long can the starter sit on the counter without being fed? I left it alone on the counter for a couple of weeks without feeding, and it smells very tangy, but is quite bubble and more liquidy. If I fed it every day 1/2 cup flour, it was very thick and not bubbly.

    Secondly, does the starter need to be stored in glass, plastic or metal? Does it matter? Because I know that kombucha should be in glass.

    I’m so glad I found this recipe. I have so much kombucha, I’m trying to find different uses for it, and I love to bake, so making bread with the kombucha is beautiful 🙂 Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Thanks Jennifer! We recommend storing the starter in glass as it is the least reactive material. As to how long the starter can be left unfed, its a tricky question. We’d recommend checking on it at least once a week so to see if it needs food. You can also store it in the fridge for a longer time. Of course, if you forget about it, you may be able to revive it provided it is free from mold.

  2. Three-step bread fermentation

    I live in Brazil and when I first tried to bake sourdough bread here I was very disappointed with the small rise I obtained compared to what I had in Alaska. I decided to add some Fleischmann’s and got both the tart sourdough taste and the light fluffy texture. After brewing Kombucha for some time I added it as well and found that the bread stayed moist longer and had added flavor value. My practice now is to begin the day before with my yeast starter which I have maintained for many years. The next morning when I add fresh flour I also add a cup of Kombucha (so the old yeast dominates) a while later I add the commercial yeast. Then when I see that expanding I add flour while kneading and form loaves.
    I decided to mention this alternative after reading of someone who threw away an old yeast culture. Not Necessary!

  3. I am in the process of bottling my JUN (green tea and honey) kombucha home-brew, and am interested in collecting the yeasty globs on the bottom of my brew to make sourdough bread starter. Does anyone know if JUN brew yeast works just as well? Also, I’d prefer to use a non-wheat flour for the sourdough bread- such as rye, spelt, and/or millet. Has anyone done this successfully? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  4. I have tried both the bread and the Hot Cakes and OMG the hot cakes are the best! Thank you kindly for sharing this ‘must keep’ recipe, love your work! Xx Jody

  5. AARGh – why didn’t I check BEFORE I threw the KT yeasty dregs down the drain? I suspected I could have used it to make sourdough. Sigh Never mind – there’ll be lots more to come I’m sure, and I’ll definitely give this a go next time the yeasty stuff needs a clear out from my brew.

  6. I have been trying to make a starter for the first time and it has formed its own scoby on top! I started with home made brown rice flour and kombucha and was feeding it 1/4 cup of rice flour and 1/4 cup of water twice a day for 4 days and then 1/2 cup of each per day. It began bubbling a little after 4 days but has now stopped completely and is growing a thick scoby. I thought I may have been feeding it too much so I haven’t fed it in 2-3 days. It’s been about 2 weeks all up now…. what did I do wrong and is there any way to save it??

    • We’ve not worked with rice flour before. In the sourdough starters we have made, we’ve also never had a SCOBY grow. So we did a a quick comparison of wheat and brown rice in terms of macronutrients, it appears that brown rice has significantly lower amounts of protein. This difference in nutrient composition may be causing the Kombucha to treat the brown rice flour as a sugar source, hence the culture formation. This is a great inspiration to try to create a gluten free Kombucha sourdough starter!

  7. As I write this, I am eating a warm slice of my first loaf of Kombucha bread that I just baked! Yummy!!! I made RYE bread using half white flour and half rye flour. I even added caraway seeds to the dough before baking. The flavor is outstanding!!! I am so excited that I can bake with kombucha and well as drink it.

  8. I love all the uses for Kombucha and have experimented with sourdough bread. I have found that if you use kombucha yeast for the starter, the bread takes longer to rise, but has more flavor. Also, if you have a recipe that call for adding packaged yeast to a starter made with kombucha, it doesn’t work as well as adding a bit more kombucha yeast. I think the organisms are probably a little different and don’t work together as well.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! Wild yeasts will behave differently than commercially produced ones but the health benefits & flavor will outmatch their commercial counterparts. Anyone else care to share their experience with their Kombucha sourdough starter?

  9. Making that bread do you really have to kneed it in the bowl?
    Wouldn’t be just as good using a dough hook in a mixer?
    I want to do this but I also want to do it as easy as I can.

  10. I’ve been using this recipe for my first attempt at sourdough, using my kombucha and it seems to be working well, but I’ve noticed that my starter separates. It doesn’t even take 12 hours after stirring it and feeding it for it to separate again. It ends up with starter on top and a layer of light colored, sour tasting liquid on the bottom. I’ve tried pouring it out but the layer of sticky starter on top prevents it from getting through, so I’ve been just stirring it back in. Is this normal?

  11. I always get some of those yeasty globs every time I decant kombucha. Would they survive if I just started collecting them in a small jar? Should I keep them in a little kombucha? On the counter or in the fringe? Give them a taste of sugar? I have never done sourdough any way so being a strong kombucha guy I really should start this way.
    I REALLY need to do a clean out of my 2 1/2 gallon crock. That SCOBY is taking it over. I am down to a three quart max brew now. The rest of the crock is full of SCOBY. I could get enough yeasty bits that way but i am really wondering about the best way to save up the ones I get so often as I bottle up my brew.

    • You could certainly save your yeastie bits. They’d probably best serve you as a source of living B vitamins. Dehydrate them or toss into smoothies!

  12. I have made the bread and hotcakes with great success. Thanks for the recipes. Any thoughts of how to make cinnamon buns from sourdough starter?

  13. Hannah, this is brilliant. I’ve been making KT for 4 years now and just got the idea for bread. I thought… maybe KT could do it. KY does everything! Then I found your site. OMG I mixed my KT in and it instantly looked like pancake batter, bubbles and all! I hope for some super duper KT powered, scobified bread.
    Last thing, what is the best container? I am sort of out of jars right now between making KT, yogurt, and collecting honey. Can I use plastic? Thank you Hannah the KT goddess!

  14. i was wondering, if the starter is bubbly does that mean it is matured? or is there another sign you have to look for before making it into dough and whatnot?

  15. Most awesome recipe google search has ever provided me! Someone said their starter had protective SCOBY superpowers and they are absolutely correct 🙂 My whole kitchen looks like a science fair now; crocks, jars, brewing vessels, buckets, and now two very happy sourdough starters AND two loaves of bread rising on top of my stove. Thank you so much for providing this very useful and simple (simple in a good way where the imagination can run wild with it!) recipe!

  16. This is great news. I wanted to start making homemade bread again, but want to make healthy sourdough. I’ve never worked with a starter before so I guess my first try will be with Kombucha yeast when I do my first cleaning of my continuous brewer. Thanks for the article!

  17. I’ve baked this bread with good results most times. I think that adding a little sweetener helped it not be sooo sour. I even tried making raisin cinnamon bread–so, so… I’ll have to keep trying and perfect that recipe! It’s a great starter though and very simple. I do have a question: I have a starter that I made a few days ago. It reached it’s “maturity” a couple days ago, but I forgot to put it in the fridge. Now the starter is smelling really strong–sort of like alcohol. Is this still safe to use?( My house is kept between 60-65 degrees, in case that matters.)

  18. If you just use the yeast, it’ll still take some time for it to mature and stabilize. Basically, the best way to make a starter is just leave the wet flour to spoil, then salvage a bit and mix into a new batch of wet flour to spoil. When it starts smelling less like feet and more like one of those rich creamy French cheeses that smell like feet, it’ll incidentally also start raising bread.

  19. This is awesome, I just was researching where I could get a sourdough starter, and I can use the yeast from my continuous brew to make some…SCORE!

  20. You can bootstrap a decent starter quickly with kombucha. I had a mature starter which over time obviously mated with kombucha and developed protective scoby superpowers. Mind you, it’s not only yeast, it actually develops the white bacterial pancake on top and you can use it to ferment tea.

  21. I’ve been culturing my own sourdough starter for the last 2 years but, guess what: I’ve literally thrown it away (in the compost) after trying with Kombucha!
    I prefer to use the Biga, the Italian traditional preferment, which works best with weak flours.
    So I mix 2 parts of flour to 1 part of KT the night before, then let it sit overnight at room temperature. In the morning it is doubled, and much softer, so I just mix it with another 2 parts of flour and 1 & 1/2 parts of water, plus some salt.
    The rest goes as it usually did for me: KT has just simplified my bread baking work, while at the same time making it more tasteful!

  22. I have a question. When you feed your starter with more flour, won’t you also need to add more liquid. Should you use warm water, or kombucha, or yeasty kombucha from the bottom of the jar? I am eager to try this bread!

  23. Can this be used replacing the flour with a gluten free substitute? And thanks for the recipe…my wife bakes and I just told her about this option. Beginning to peak her interest in this.

      • As long as the yeast can extract food from the flour, it should work. I would try a brown rice flour or something like that first to see how it goes.

        • I’ve been making sourdough with millet flour (though haven’t tried with kombucha yet). works fine and awesome bread.

  24. Love this idea … gotta remember it in 3 mo when my CBS vessel comes due for semi-annual cleaning. Love the festive punch recipes, too!

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